West Seattle Bridge Digital Town Hall Wednesday at 5 p.m.

April 21st, 2020

Councilmember Pedersen and I will co-host a digital town hall with SDOT on the West Seattle Bridge and traffic management in West Seattle while the bridge is closed. The town hall will be from 5 p.m. to 6:30 on Wednesday, April 22nd.

RSVP for the Town Hall

SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe will be presenting, and available for your questions.

You can sign up to participate here; you’ll receive the link to the meeting an hour or so before it begins.

SDOT’s presentation to the City Council from Monday morning is linked here; you can watch the Seattle Channel meeting video here.

Councilmember Pedersen is Chair of the Council’s Transportation & Utilities Committee.

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West Seattle Bridge to be Closed through 2021, at Least; COVID-19 Updates

April 17th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge to be Closed through 2021, at Least

On Wednesday we received the news none of us wanted to hear: the West Seattle Bridge will be closed through at least 2021, if it ever re-opens.

It’s impossible to overstate the impact this will have on West Seattle.

The bridge opened in 1984, and was designed to last 75 years.

I’ve heard shock and anger from residents and businesses about how disruptive this will be. So many West Seattle residents leave the peninsula each day for work; small businesses are already reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 virus.  West Seattle residents were the most affected by the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct during 2019. The West Seattle impact during the squeeze lasted about 8 months and approximately 30,000 transit rides on bus lines travelling routes that went to West Seattle.  The bridge closure will have a threefold impact both in time and number of commuters impacted.

I’m working to schedule an electronic town hall with SDOT soon and will let you know as soon as it’s scheduled. In addition, SDOT will present to the City Council at the Council Briefings meeting on Monday at 9:30 a.m. You can watch the meeting live at the Seattle Channel website or afterwards on the meeting archive.

We will need additional work to manage traffic and mobility: every option must be on the table. We will need to work with other governments and the private sector. It’s clear that what we are doing today to provide alternative routes will not be sufficient once traffic returns to normal levels. Below I’ve listed suggestions I’ve heard from constituents.

Here’s a summary of what SDOT has done in recent weeks to adjust signals and monitor traffic:

SDOT adjusted signals at the following intersections and dates:

Here’s information on traffic counts:

Traffic volumes on the lower bridge decreased from a high of over 15,000 or April 2nd and 3rd, to around 8,000 on April 8 and 9, when SPD began enforcement of restrictions on the use of the bridge.

SDOT 4/15 UPDATE

The SDOT presentation from Wednesday doesn’t include any good news.

SDOT notes that they do not yet know if repair of the bridge is feasible technically or financially. If repair is feasible, it could provide up to 10 years of additional use. So the West Seattle Bridge will need to be replaced, the only question is when.

SDOT proposes three phases for work the bridge: 1) slow or halt deterioration, 2) shoring, and 3) repairs.

SDOT notes that the cracks on the West Seattle Bridge continue to grow, though at a slower rate than when vehicles were on the bridge. SDOT has installed real-time monitoring equipment, and is inspecting the bridge daily.

Slowing or stopping bridge deterioration is needed due to the ongoing cracking, and the compression of bearings on Pier 18, creating additional pressure which affects the whole bridge.

The second potential phase of work is shoring the bridge, to add temporary support to the bridge to preserve its integrity and enable repairs.

The third phase, repair, depends on resolving whether the bridge can be stabilized before further deterioration makes repair infeasible; permitting; and whether repair is technically or financially viable.

SDOT is creating a Technical Advisory Panel with experts on bridge design and construction, geotechnical engineering for bridges, and marine/maritime expertise.

SDOT estimates a $33 million budget through Phase 2, shoring. This does not include the cost of repairs, which have yet to be estimated, and would likely be significantly more expensive.

As more work is done, it will become clearer whether it makes sense to proceed with shoring and repair, or if moving to replacement is a better choice. SDOT has said the bridge is not in imminent danger of collapse, though with cracks expanding, this must be monitored. Some of this work may be needed to ensure the bridge doesn’t collapse.

Sound Transit’s ST3 plan for light rail to West Seattle includes a bridge to either the south or north of the West Seattle Bridge, with a planned opening date of 2030, so this will need to be kept in mind moving forward.

Developments on social distancing re: the COVID-19 virus may affect the use of public transit; that’s another relevant factor moving forward.

I’ve expressed concern to King County Metro about ongoing cuts to service on the water taxi, and bus service in West Seattle. They note that ridership levels are currently very low; I appreciate their collaboration moving forward, and planning for adding back service.

SDOT has a West Seattle High Rise Bridge Safety Project webpage; you can sign up for e-mail updates there, and report road conditions at 206-684-7623 or by e-mail at 684-Road@seattle.gov.

Earlier updates from my newsletter are linked here: West Seattle Bridge Closure (March 25), West Seattle Bridge Update (March 27), West Seattle Bridge Update (April 3), West Seattle Bridge Update (April 10).

In the context of the bridge, a number of constituents have asked about property taxes and the center city streetcar. The King County Assessor sets home values that serve as the baseline for your property taxes. Here’s a link to the Assessor website, which also includes information on how to appeal property valuations. Here’s my blog post from 2018 with information about how property taxes are set.

COMMUNITY SUGGESTIONS

Thanks to all the community members who have proposed potential actions for time when the bridge is closed. Below are a few of the suggestions my office has received so far:

  • More express buses/more buses, especially to employment centers
  • Access for company shuttles to use the lower bridge (e.g. Amazon, Microsoft)
  • Ferries: re-directing some ferry traffic from Vashon/Southworth to Downtown, or adding trips from Fauntleroy to Downtown
  • Water taxi: adding trips, and other locations in West Seattle, and adding destinations beyond Downtown (e.g. Ballard, Expedia), similar to the “Mosquito Fleet” of yesteryear
  • Adding bus access to the water taxi throughout the peninsula
  • Emphasizing biking and walking on the lower bridge (especially e-bikes)
  • Creating a “park and ride” on the east side of the bridge for residents, to park their cars so that they could bus ride or walk across the bridge, then access their cars
  • Speeding up work on the East Marginal Way project to separate bike traffic between West Seattle and Downtown from freight
  • Better traffic control on West Marginal Way, safety at Roxbury/Myers Way at 4th, Sylvan Way, adding a left turn light on 16th Ave SW at Holden, and repairing pavement on Roxbury
  • Maintain telecommuting

COVID-19 Updates

Show Your Favorite Small Business Some Love

West Seattle Junction Association just launched its Small Business Relief Fund, a fundraising campaign to help small businesses throughout West Seattle cover their costs while business is down or doors are closed.  The Junction will cover processing fees, so 100% of your donation goes to your favorite small business.  Neighbors have already given more than $11,000.  #WeGotThisWS

South Park and West Seattle Community Support

If you need help, want to volunteer, or want to give to assist your Covid-impacted neighbors, try one of these community resource exchange websites:

Visiting Your Neighborhood Parks

With more lovely weather expected this weekend, many of us will want to visit our favorite parks.  Parks and Rec staff will be monitoring parks through the weekend and will close parks that become too crowded.  It’s OK to visit your favorite park, but keep moving while you’re there.  Keep walking, running, rolling or biking. That means no gatherings at our parks.

If your usual park is too crowded or closed, discover a new park in your neighborhood.

Questions about what’s open and closed?  Seattle Parks keeps this list updated.

Alki Beach will have some special restrictions to discourage crowds and keep people moving:

  • Parking lots at Seacrest and Don Armeni remain closed
  • Fire pits and picnic shelters are closed
  • No beach activities allowed

It’s important to stay at least 6 feet away from others – and avoid groups – whenever you’re outside your home, including when you visit a park.  If you see crowds forming, let Parks know:

Stay Healthy Streets in High Point this weekend:

Select streets in High Point will be open to pedestrians and cyclists this weekend as part of a Stay Healthy Streets pilot.  These car free streets were selected to amplify outdoor exercise opportunities for areas with limited open space options, low car ownership and routes connecting people to essential services and food take out.

After an initial evaluation, the City plans to convert approximately 15 miles to Stay Healthy Streets in the coming weeks. They will continue to re-evaluate after this weekend’s pilot and work with community and stakeholders on additional suggestions and recommendations.

Emergency Childcare

Everyone’s schedules have been become topsy-turvy because of Covid, and some parents may be struggling to find childcare.

If you are a healthcare worker, first responder, grocery store worker, or pharmacist, the City of Seattle is providing emergency childcare for your children ages 3 through 12.  Check with your employer for a direct link to access the program, or request emergency childcare here.

If your child is younger than 3, if you require childcare outside Seattle, and for all other parents who may need childcare, contact Child Care Resources for assistance.

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West Seattle Bridge Update; COVID-19 Update; SPD Crime Dashboard; March Constituent Email Report

April 10th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update

With the length of the bridge closure uncertain, but not short, ensuring good access to fire and EMS services in West Seattle is of vital importance.

My office inquired with Fire Chief Scoggins about Fire and EMS response in West Seattle during the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. Chief Scoggins noted in an update,

The Seattle Fire Department is currently conducting a comprehensive GIS analysis of the impacts on fire and EMS response times due to the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. We expect that analysis to be completed by April 17.

The analysis includes a review of response times before and after the bridge closure, how often and when the lower bridge opens for marine traffic as well as the delays caused by rail traffic.

During the Spokane Street Viaduct construction project another ladder truck was added in West Seattle with funding provided by the Seattle Department of Transportation. This deployment model is just one of several options we will be considering.

In response to the observations of many District 1 residents of inadequate signage at the lower bridge about the restrictions on the use of the bridge and enforcement of those restrictions, SDOT has added new signage to emphasize that access to the bridge is limited to emergency vehicles, transit, and freight. The Seattle Police Department began enforcement earlier this week. I appreciate these steps.

Some restrictions are clearly understandable and necessary. In the days after the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, emergency response vehicles were stuck in traffic.  The upper bridge handled around 100,000 vehicle trips daily, and the estimated capacity of the lower bridge is a maximum of 20,000 trips. So there’s no way all the trips can fit, or even come close to fitting.

That said, I will continue to lift up the voices of West Seattle residents in advocating for traffic management improvements during the bridge closure.  I hope SDOT will re-evaluate the decision they are announcing today that they do not intend to relax restrictions, if the new signage and enforcement result in significantly lesser volumes of people using the bridge, especially during times of day when use is lower, but some people work (e.g. overnight), and for health care workers during the COVID-19 emergency).

That said, there’s a necessary note of caution: once traffic patterns resume normal levels, additional use of the lower bridge will be more difficult. SDOT estimates citywide vehicle traffic is currently 40% of normal, and King County Metro has curtailed service, with reduced ridership 72%.

Two of the buses that are rerouted on to the lower bridge are the C Line and Route 120; both are among Metro’s top 10 routes for ridership; both have some trips cancelled currently.

SDOT Traffic Reports indicate the other east/west access points to the peninsula, Highland Park Way SW, combine for an average of 50,000 daily trips (19,400 for Highland Park, 31,400 for Olson).

Councilmember Pedersen, Chair of the Transportation and Utilities Committee and I have convened biweekly meetings with SDOT to review progress.

SDOT has released inspection reports for the West Seattle Bridge from 2013 to 2020. You can access them at the project webpage or an SDOT blog post.

The Seattle City Council Insight website did a review of the reports, with an explanation of some of the technical terminology.

The March 20, 2020 report is sobering, noting “Since our initial recommendation, our biggest concern has become the extent and rate of cracking near the quarter points of the main span could lead to collapse in the near future if strengthening is not implemented quickly.” The February 21, 2020 report had recommended reducing use of the bridge to two lanes in each direction.

It’s clear the City Council should have been informed about these issues earlier.

One report I’ll be requesting additional information about is the 2014 consultant report, which raised the possibility of a permanent remedy to cracking (based on information known at that time). If you have questions about the reports, please let me know.

The Seattle Times reports that a report on collapse risk should be available in a few weeks.

The Council requested reports on the West Seattle Bridge, regarding congestion management, in both 2015 and 2016.

In 2015 former Councilmember Rasmussen commissioned a West Seattle Bridge/Duwamish Waterway Corridor Whitepaper, and obtained funded for studying the recommendations in the 2016 budget. This led to a May 27, 2016 Progress Report.

Later in 2016 I sponsored  funding in the 2017 budget for studying additional recommendations in the Whitepaper, one of which touches on the challenges at the 5-way intersection underneath the bridge. This led to a March 2017 Congestion Management study.

Neither the 2016 Progress Report nor the 2017 Congestion Management study mention issues related to cracking in the bridge.

To report current conditions on roads and traffic, ask questions, or make recommendations to SDOT, please e-mail 684-ROAD@seattle.gov or call 206-684-ROAD. I’m happy to pass on question and suggestions as well.

At the March 31st City Council Briefing meeting, SDOT indicated an estimate on costs and length of closure was 3-4 weeks away. SDOT has indicated that the bridge must be shored up as a first step, before repairs can proceed, and design for shoring the bridge is currently being worked on.

Below are questions SDOT has sent replies about; the Council hasn’t yet received a report assessing overall condition of bridges in Seattle.

What is the role of the state and federal government as it relates to the WSHB?

Our bridge inspection program is supervised by the WSDOT Local Programs group.  This group is part of the WSDOT Bridge Preservation Office (BPO).  At the federal level, every state DOT is assigned an FHWA Division Bridge Engineer for Washington. At this point their responsibility is to monitor how we handle the situation and comment if they think we need to do something differently.

The reference to pile-driving nearby (Terminal 5 as I recall) as a possible cause or factor in the cracking problem raises the issue of the need for forensic engineering work. I realize the primary engineering task before us is to stabilize and repair the structure. At the same time, it seems that some analysis to figure out what action(s) caused or contributed to the problem would be in order. Is SDOT contemplating or doing such work?

SDOT and the Port of Seattle are confident that impact on the WSHB by pile driving operations at T5 is extremely unlikely.  This is because any vibrations caused by the pile driving activity at T5 attenuate to a negligible amount before reaching the nearest part of the WSHB foundation system which is nearly 1800 feet away.  Moreover, if vibrations from the pile driving at T5 were significant enough to have affected the WSHB, we would have seen significant damage at other building/facilities between T5 and the WSHB.  We are not aware of any such damage.

Questions re: technology used in monitoring

We will be deploying instrumentation on the bridge to measure the distribution of stress throughout the bridge and for movement of specific bridge components. These instrumentation techniques are far more accurate and useful than video instrumentation, since range of visibility from the video instrumentation is limited by comparison.

COVID-19 Update: Small Business Assistance, Hygiene Access, Rent Assistance, More Parks Closures

Looking for help for a small business? 

Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED) has created a detailed list of resources and relief available to small businesses from the city, state and federal governments.  Please share this resource widely.

OED also holds a weekly call for small businesses to share new information and answer questions, every Wednesday from 11am – Noon.  Sign up for the next call.

On Monday, Council will discuss and vote on my legislation to help small businesses and nonprofits weathering coronavirus-related hardships.  CB 119766, co-sponsored by Councilmember Tammy Morales, will restrict increases in rents for small businesses and nonprofits during the public health emergency, and require payment plans that will allow such tenants to pay rent due over a longer period of time.  A coalition of small business owners recommended rent payment plans as a way to help their businesses survive the drop in revenue.

I know that many landlords are going above and beyond to help their small business and nonprofit tenants stay alive during this crisis, and I am grateful for their proactive work, especially as they, too, are likely feeling a financial burden.  Unfortunately, we are also seeing some landlords refuse to work with tenants right now – even some who clearly have the ability, but refuse to be flexible during this unprecedented crisis, as highlighted in this Danny Westneat Seattle Times article.  Unless we act now, more of Seattle’s beloved small businesses and essential nonprofits will be forced to close their doors.  We can’t let that happen.

Limited hygiene access for people living unsheltered

From the earliest days of the coronavirus, we have been told that the best way to stay healthy is to wash your hands – frequently and with soap and water.  Yet for the almost 6,000 Seattleites struggling without homes, washing their hands or otherwise staying clean and healthy is increasingly out of reach.  With most businesses and community centers, and all libraries shut down, it is distressingly difficult to find an available toilet or sink stocked with soap.

At Wednesday’s Select Committee on Homelessness, which I Vice Chair, we heard from service providers sharing the fear and desperation their clients feel at not being able to clean their hands or relieve themselves during this public health emergency.  Other West Coast cities have been able to quickly add dozens and even hundreds of hygiene facilities as the Covid19 crisis hit, but so far, Seattle has added only 14 toilets and 6 handwashing stations for the thousands of people living unsheltered.

I have long pushed for increased investments in public hygiene facilities, including leading the Council in adding $1.3M in the 2020 budget to purchase and operate 4-5 mobile pit stops.  On Wednesday, I asked the Mayor’s Office to join the Council in addressing this problem with a sense of creativity, urgency and determination.  Seattle’s response to coronavirus has been singled out nationally for our effectiveness in “flattening the curve,” but in this instance, our support for those who are struggling the most lags far behind.  We can do better.

New Rental assistance available through United Way of King County

If your household has lost income due to coronavirus, you may be eligible for rental assistance.  This new program will help King County residents who are late on their rent, have experienced a significant reduction in wages as a result of the public health crisis, and whose income is at or below 50% of Area Median Income (AMI).  $5 million is available, including $1 million from the City, and is expected to help up to 2,000 families stay in their homes.  To apply, call 211 or fill out this online application.

Parking Enforcement Changes

SDOT has announced changes to parking during the COVID-19 epidemic. Payment is not required to park on streets, and hourly time limits are not being enforced outside of Residential Parking Zones.

The City earlier suspended enforcement of 72-hour parking, and added temporary restaurant loading zones.

Information on the parking policies, as well as a parking program for healthcare and human services working is available at the SDOT COVID-19 Parking page.

More Parks Closures

The Mayor has announced the weekend closure of Seattle’s 15 largest parks and beaches: Alki, Arboretum, Cal Anderson, Carkeek, Discovery, Gas Works, Green Lake, Golden Gardens, Kubota Garden, Lincoln, Magnuson, Seward, Volunteer, West Seattle Stadium, Woodland.

We must continue our collective effort to promote physical distancing and prevent what has been on-going gatherings in major parks.  Other cities across the nation, like Austin and Los Angeles are also closing major parks for the weekend. The change is effective Friday, April 10th at 11pm and parks will reopen on Monday, April 12 at 4:30 am.

Over the weekend, Seattle will have Seattle Police Department and Seattle Parks and Recreation Ambassadors in those parks to remind individuals to comply.   If you see people gathering in Parks that are closed this weekend, you are encouraged to:

SPD Crime Dashboard

The Seattle Police Department Crime Dashboard is now again fully online.

It now allows for searches at the precinct level (e.g. SW Precinct), then at the level of micro community policing plan neighborhood areas (MCPP).

SPD also has a Calls for Service Dashboard.

March 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 March, what I refer to above as “case management services.” The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in March related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.  Please note the new COVID-19 row highlighted in yellow.  These are a mix of case management services to get individuals the help they need in this crisis as well as emails answered in response to constituents contacting my office about Emergency Orders and emergency legislation related to COVID-19 response.  I have a debt of gratitude to the work being done by my team to respond urgently to people in crisis in this difficult time.

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COVID-19 Update; King County Metro Service; Census Day; West Seattle Bridge Update

April 3rd, 2020

COVID-19 Update

Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order Extended

The Governor has extended his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order until May 4. The order still allows you to get outside and take walks or enjoy your local neighborhood park, as long as you’re practicing proper social distancing.  That means staying at least 6 feet away from others at all times and avoiding groups.

For more information from King County Public Health, you can check out their dashboard here which has information on testing and results, and a clickable map showing the rate of positive test results by zip code and by city.

Council President González, earlier this week, extended the order for the Legislative Department to work remotely through April 24. Given the Governor’s announcement, I expect this to be extended again through May 4.

The Council passed a few new bills in response to COVID-19:

  • Legislation to create a new $5 million grocery voucher program to support low-income families facing food insecurity because of the response to COVID-19. The vouchers will be worth $800 and sent to 6,250 low-income families to purchase food, cleaning supplies, and other household good at any Safeway in Washington. My amendment to the legislation will encourage partnerships with stores in addition to Safeway.
  • Legislation to create a COVID-19 Donation Fund which creates a structure to expedite the receipt of donated private funds prescribed for emergent needs. My amendment to this legislation requires that the reporting on how donated funds are spent includes an accounting across priority uses.
  • A Resolution that requests the Governor impose an immediate moratorium on rent and mortgage payments, and calls on our federal delegation to do the same. Note: there is no rent moratorium in place.

Prohibition on Evictions for Renters, Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Prohibition on Some Foreclosures

Since it’s the beginning of the month, and many people have rent due I want to remind readers that the Mayor, on March 14, issued an emergency order to prohibit residential eviction, and the Council subsequently approved the emergency order. So although there is no rent moratorium in place, there is a prohibition on evictions.  The current eviction moratorium is in place for 60 days. The moratorium says that your landlord “shall not initiate an unlawful detainer action, issue a notice of termination, or otherwise act on any termination notice, including any action or notice related to a rental agreement that has expired or will expire during the effective date of this Emergency Order, unless the tenant’s actions constitute an imminent threat to the health or safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant’s or landlord’s household members.  Further, no late fees or other charges due to late payment of rent shall accrue during the moratorium.”

The Courts are not hearing eviction cases right now so even if your landlord issued an eviction notice in violation of the moratorium, there would be no court to hear the case.  Even if the courts were to resume hearing eviction cases, the moratorium gives you another protection because it states that “It shall be a defense to any eviction action that the eviction of the tenant will occur during the moratorium, unless the eviction action is due to actions by the tenant constituting an imminent threat to the health or safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant’s or landlord’s household members.”

Finally, the Sheriff of King County has also agreed to cease execution of eviction orders during the moratorium.

The City of Seattle has funded about $3.3 million for our own eviction prevention programs. The State also has rent assistance programs.  We are working to update program qualification criteria to allow a. renters with a billing statement as described in this eviction moratorium Q&A to access rental assistance funds (without an eviction notice as previously required).  For information about how to get help with your rent, you can contact 211.

Additionally, this article from the Seattle Times has a lot of great information about how to approach your landlord and discuss possible payment plans.

Finally, if you would like to share your story you can email CD19_rent@seattle.gov or fill out this form.

Finally, evictions for small business commercial tenants and non-profit tenants are prohibited as well and there are protections in place for people with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Homeowners can look up whether their loans are backed by the mortgage companies through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s websites. Fannie Mae’s online form can be found here, and Freddie Mac can be found here.

Looking for ways to help?

Blood supply is low in Seattle, and blood donation centers are open and need your help.  In order to ensure social distancing, you can make an appointment ahead of time.  Find a location and schedule your donation here.

Want to volunteer or find an organization to support?  United Way of King County has a special online COVID-related volunteer clearinghouse.  At this week’s District 1 Community Network meeting, Phil Tavel shared another similar emergency response effort online to connect individual volunteers and community organizations with local needs:  WestSeattleCovidRecovers.  The platform works much like the United Way platform, but is focused on West Seattle.  The United Way Platform is Citywide, but still allows you to search by zip code, to find something close to your home.

King County Metro Service

King County Metro noted earlier this week that bus ridership is down 72%.

With significantly lower ridership during the COVID-19 epidemic, Metro reduced service on most routes on March 23rd.  Metro announced today that they will further reduce service as well on April 6th. This Metro Matters post explains the workforce impacts of COVID-19, and decisions about which routes will continue, and which will be suspended.

Metro has a webpage showing which bus trips are cancelled for each bus route.

Census Day

Wednesday, April 1 was Census Day! If you haven’t already I encourage you to fill our your Census form at www.my2020census.gov. Happening every 10 years, and mandated by our Constitution, the Census has last effects. A complete Census count ensures that we receive our fair share of federal resources for federally funded programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

For more information about Seattle’s efforts to ensure a safe and accurate count, please visit www.seattlecensus.org.

West Seattle Bridge Update

The West Seattle Bridge remains closed, and the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge is open for only emergency vehicles, public transit, freight and access to Harbor Island.

The West Seattle Bridge normally carries 100,000 cars daily, and 17,000 transit riders.

SDOT has said the maximum traffic the lower bridge can handle is 20,000. Normal traffic on the lower bridge is 10,000 vehicles; a traffic count last week showed 15,000.

SDOT has indicated it will be placing better, larger signage in the approach to the bridge about permitted uses; with current signage, it’s difficult for some drivers to see they aren’t permitted until it’s too late.

I have asked about potential enforcement action; SDOT is considering this, though one challenge with enforcement is how to do it without slowing traffic.

Current traffic on Seattle roads is significantly lower than usual. During the last week SDOT has estimated that citywide traffic volumes have been between 33% and 40% of normal. King County Metro is running fewer bus trips than usual. Once traffic increases, there will be more pressure on the lower bridge, as well as on southern access points to the peninsula, the 1st Avenue South Bridge, and the South Park Bridge.

SDOT continues daily inspections of the bridge, and is working on a plan to shore up the bridge before proceeding to repairs. They don’t yet have a timetable for the duration of the closure; earlier this week, they estimated they would know in 3-4 weeks. SDOT has said the closure will not be of short duration.

A number of constituents have asked about what happened on the bridge, and what led to the problems with cracks. The website Seattle City Council Insight, which covers the City Council, has an informative post, What Happened to the West Seattle Bridge?, with background on the design of the bridge, the physics of the bridge, and the location of the cracks.

A question I and others have asked SDOT to examine is about piling work at Terminal 5, which was being done during the last quarter of 2019, and is continuing.

You can sign up for e-mail updates at SDOT’s West Seattle High-Rise Bridge Safety Project website, which includes links to SDOT blog updates. An FAQ has been posted as well.

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West Seattle Bridge Update; Capital Projects Watch List Resolution; Map of Restaurants Open for Delivery and Takeout; Representative Jayapal Telebriefing on Federal COVID-19 Relief Bill April 1; SDOT Answers to Council Questions on the West Seattle Bridge

March 31st, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update

On Monday, March 30th, SDOT presented an update at the Seattle City Council’s Briefing meeting, one week after the closure of the West Seattle Bridge.

Here’s a link to the SDOT Presentation; you can watch the meeting at the Seattle Channel meeting archive.

I emphasized to SDOT Director Zimbabwe the shock in West Seattle at the sudden closure, and universal support for the quickest action possible. While not to downplay the importance of the COVID-19 emergency, the bridge closure is yet another emergency for West Seattle; its importance cannot be overstated, on a peninsula with limited access points to the rest of Seattle. It carries as much traffic as the former Alaskan Way Viaduct.

In response to Council questions, SDOT Director Zimbabwe said SDOT does not yet have an estimate for how long the bridge will be closed, or the cost of repairs; he estimated 3-4 weeks before this information is available, and he said that the closure won’t be of short duration. SDOT indicated that the bridge must be shored up as a first step, before repairs can proceed. A likely option is to use carbon fiber wrap, as was used for the Alaskan Way Viaduct in the years before it was removed.

I emphasized I was willing to assist however possible, be it through championing funding, expediting any permits needing Council approval, authorizing alternative design and construction methods, or other actions. I also emphasized the need for transparency with the public moving forward.

I asked if SDOT will consider opening the bridge to limited traffic (e.g. 1 lane in each direction) before full re-opening, and Director Zimbabwe said they can consider, but depending upon the result of monitoring traffic volumes on the lower bridge.

I appreciate SDOT’s quick action to install a temporary stoplight at the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden Street; I’d like to see similar action in addressing traffic management, which will become more difficult after the COVID-19 epidemic abates, and traffic volumes increase.

SDOT provided a timeline for bridge inspections, which the federal government requires every two years. Beginning in 2014, SDOT performed annual inspections, and noted moderate crack growth in August, 2019. Inspections in October, November and December showed ongoing growth in cracking.

On February 21st, SDOT’s engineering consultant recommended limiting the bridge to 2 lanes in each direction. On March 19, the consultant recommended closure. An SDOT engineer inspecting the bridge the morning of March 23rd recommended closing it that day.

This SDOT Blog post includes a time-lapse graphic of the growth of the cracks, and the significant expansion in March.

I appreciate the action on behalf of public safety, in particular and the willingness of SDOT Bridge Group Supervisor Matt Donahue to act quickly and call leadership from the bridge on March 23rd. However, notice should have been given to the Council and public earlier.  In the best case scenario, the Council and general public would have been notified during the last three months of 2019, when monthly inspections started; this should also have been included in the 4th Quarter capital projects report to the Council. I appreciate the Council’s Transportation and Utilities Committee Chair, Councilmember Pedersen, focusing on this issue, which is relevant throughout the city.

At the very least, I believe that the Council and the public should have been notified on February 21st, when SDOT’s engineering consultant recommended limiting the bridge to 2 lanes in each direction.

SDOT reported that any repairs that take place in the section of the bridge above the Duwamish navigation channel would trigger a requirement for Coast Guard approval, in its federal role with jurisdiction over marine waterways. That would likely add additional time to the closure.

In response to a question my office asked last week, SDOT indicated the assessment of bridge condition ratings for bridges in Seattle will be ready this week.

SDOT’s presentation also included updated information about the lower (Spokane Street) bridge.

SDOT indicated the daily capacity of the lower bridge is 20,000 vehicles, which is stop-and-go traffic.

Last week a traffic count showed 15,000 vehicles; EMT vehicles were stuck in that level of traffic.

In response to written questions regarding the use of the lower bridge overnight, when traffic is lower, and for emergency responders such as nurses, firefighters and police officers, SDOT has noted they are limiting access to emergency vehicles, freight, and transit, and has replied, “We are monitoring traffic on the Low Bridge 24-hours a day from our Transportation Operations Center.  As new traffic patterns develop, we may be able to adjust access.”

SDOT is requesting residents honor the limitations on bridge use.  If residents do not observe these restrictions, SDOT says that they will work with the Seattle Police Department to enforce them.  In addition, Director Zimbabwe seems to be suggesting that the ability of anyone to use the lower bridge could be at risk in the future, if drivers do not observe these restrictions.  “To enforce the lower bridge restrictions, SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe said ‘we have support by the Police Department,’ along with signs, but enforcement might need to increase. So far, there’s been little or no traffic policing. ‘If we have everybody trying to use the lower bridge, nobody will be able to use the lower bridge,’ he said.  See today’s Seattle Times article for more.

SDOT will be completing a load rating study of the lower bridge, which opened in 1991, and will inspect the bridge weekly.

In response to my question about addressing the 5-way intersection below the bridge, SDOT indicated they are using data to adjust traffic signals on a daily basis.

SDOT noted that in the fall of 2020, they plan to begin a study on the West Seattle Bridge’s remaining useful life; they noted a similar study has been ongoing regarding the Ballard Bridge. The West Seattle Bridge opened in 1984.

SDOT has a project webpage for the West Seattle Bridge, where you can sign up for updates. SDOT also posted a summary of the March 30 meeting on the SDOT Blog.

I am sending all constituent questions and suggestions to SDOT. SDOT’s answers to Council questions to date are included below.

Capital Projects Watch List Resolution

The Council adopted Resolution 31942 I sponsored, along with Councilmember Pedersen, Chair of the Council’s Transportation and Utilities Committee. The resolution adds work related to the West Seattle Bridge to the 2020 Capital Project Watch List for enhanced reporting.

Map of Restaurants Open for Delivery and Takeout

The City of Seattle has developed a map showing restaurants that are open for delivery and takeout. To use the map, enter an address or zip code and search, or select the pin icon to the right of the address box, click on the map, and find all the available restaurants nearby. Once you select a restaurant, they can place a takeout or delivery order directly through the app or can receive directions to the restaurant.

If you are a business owner and would like to be added to the map, please contact supportsmallbiz@seattle.gov.

Background information is available here.  This is part of the City’s campaign to support small businesses during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Representative Jayapal Telebriefing on Federal COVID-19 Relief Bill April 1

US 7th District Representative Jayapal will host a tele-briefing on the federal emergency COVID-19 relief bill, and what impact it will have in Washington State, on April 1 at 5 p.m.

You can watch at https://www.facebook.com/RepJayapal/, or dial in by phone at 855-286-0292.

Additional information on federal assistance is available at her COVID-19 website.

SDOT Answers to Council Questions on the West Seattle Bridge

SDOT has answered some of the questions sent by my office and the City Council. Here’s a link to responses from SDOT so far. Below are highlights:

Has SDOT received word from the Coast Guard about flexibility re: times the bridge can remain open w/o or with limited closures?

The Coast Guard has broadcasted a notice to non-commercial vessels with a request to time transit and requests for openings during non-peak commute times. We are making a deviation request for am/pm peak close periods that, if they are not objected to by local mariners, can last for 180 days. Additionally, we can request an official rule change for a close period, but that is a 6-month process and subject to any objection from the local maritime community.

Can SDOT allow vehicle traffic on the lower bridge overnight? I have heard from more than one person whose work shift begins at 3 a.m., when traffic is lighter.

We understand the inconvenience the closure of the High Bridge poses to the West Seattle community.  In light of the current public health emergency, our top priority is emergency access to hospitals and protecting the supply chain, so we are reserving access to emergency vehicles, freight, and transit, and working with our partners at SPD, SFD, the Port, and Metro to determine the extent of the access limitations.  Detour signs are posted and SPD officers are stationed at either end of the Low Bridge to direct GP traffic away from the bridge.  We are monitoring traffic on the Low Bridge 24-hours a day from our Transportation Operations Center.  As new traffic patterns develop, we may be able to adjust access.

I have heard from several COVID-19 first responders (firefighter, ER nurse) who must leave the peninsula for work, and from an immunology researcher at UW working on COVID-19. Could the lower bridge be opened for them?

We acknowledge it is critical for doctors, nurses, researchers and first responders to get to their jobs.  At the same time, we must reserve access to the Low Bridge to emergency vehicle transporting critically ill patients.  Many people who live and work in West Seattle serve many kinds of essential functions – we need to maintain equity for all of them. The Low Bridge is currently open to essential workers who get to work by taking transit, walking, and biking. It’s also open to essential workers who need access to Harbor Island and T-5 and people using emergency vehicles and transporting freight as part of their jobs. For essential workers who are driving private vehicles, they are directed to the 1st Ave S Bridge.

Please explain SDOT’s procedures for providing information the Council regarding ongoing inspections for potential significant problems that could lead to closure of major roadways or structures.

SDOT regularly conducts inspections of bridges in keeping with Federal requirements. These inspections are programmatic in nature, and generally identify preventative maintenance and repair actions, while also tracking the evolution of the bridge structure over time. The load rating project for the West Seattle High-Pass Bridge started in 2019 indicated that the cracking problem was more serious than originally reported in the consultant study we commissioned in 2014 after cracking at post-tensioning anchorage points was first discovered in 2013. We performed an in-depth analysis through the consultant doing the load rating work. As part of this analysis we needed more accurate mapping of the cracked bridge sections near the anchorage points so we inspected the bridge via Under Bridge Inspection Truck (UBIT), interior inspections of the box girders at the anchorage points and additional exterior inspections in October and December of 2019 and again in March of 2020.  As the analysis was coming to a conclusion in March 2020 it indicated that there was a serious load carrying capacity issue with the bridge, we simultaneously noticed that the rate of cracking was increasing at a concerning rate just within the month of March 2020.  This rate of increase was unexpected compared to previous months and gave us reason to close the bridge for safety.

The closure of the bridge, while abrupt, followed SDOT’s commitment to transparency and timely communication with the Mayor, City Council and the public on all issues that will or are quite likely to negatively impact their constituents. What led to the short window of time between alerting the Council and the public and the closure of the bridge on March 23 was the rapid acceleration of cracking within an extremely short period of time.  

Please provide a timeline of SDOT’s inspections of the West Seattle Bridge that lead to this decision.

We regularly inspect our bridges. The events of the past few days is a notable example of why those efforts are critical and why we take this responsibility so seriously. During a 2013 routine inspection of the West Seattle Bridge, our bridge inspectors discovered four sets of cracks in the bridge support structure. We’ve inspected the bridge every year since then; twice as frequently as required by federal guidelines. Since then, we’ve closely monitored and managed the cracks. In 2014, we installed real-time data collection equipment to aid in these efforts, which allowed us to remotely monitor the width of existing cracks on the bridge. At this time, we also began conducting more frequent inspections and implementing best-practice maintenance and repairs. Those annual inspections did not indicate a need for repairs that would significantly disrupt standard use of the bridge. During a 2019 assessment of the bridge’s ability to carry heavy loads, our structural engineering consultant mapped the cracks in the bridge and discovered that they had grown since the previous year’s inspection. We and our engineering consultant continued to closely monitor these cracks and carry out critical maintenance by injecting epoxy into them to protect the steel reinforcements. In late February 2020, our engineering consultant recommended that the rate of deterioration made it necessary to consider traffic restrictions to ensure public safety. As we came to the same conclusion late last week, while we were drafting a lane-reduction plan and preparing to initiate conversations with City leaders and the community, our structural engineering consultant notified us that they had conducted new analysis raising larger concerns. We conducted several observations over the next few days and on Monday, March 23, we found significant new cracking. This confirmed that cracking had rapidly accelerated to the point where there was no other option but to immediately close the bridge.

(in response to a question about 2013, 2016 and 2019 changes to federal bridge load rating standards):

Federal guidelines require that bridges in the National Highway System be inspected every two years (see National Bridge Inspection Standards in 23 CFR 650C). During a 2013 routine inspection of the West Seattle Bridge, our structural engineers discovered four sets of cracks in the bridge support structure. We have been closely monitoring these cracks since then, installing real-time data collection equipment in 2014 allowing us to remotely monitor the bridge condition, and began conducting more frequent follow up inspections in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

In an unrelated process, the FHWA issued new requirements in 2013 that DOTs reevaluate all bridge load ratings by 2022 due to the growing use of heavier trucks for specific kinds of emergency response and construction vehicles. This required SDOT to re-evaluate the maximum vehicle weight that 69 bridges could safely support. We began these load rating revaluations in 2015 and started the West Seattle Bridge reevaluation in mid-2019, according to our planned schedule.

Please provide the most recent list of SDOT’s assessment of Seattle’s bridges (including ratings).

Each year Roadway Structures updates their Project Rating Criteria List based on the previous years’ bridge condition data and rating factors that prioritize local concerns including equity and transportation system impact. The 2019 Project Rating Criteria for SDOT’s bridge inventory is being updated and will be ready the week of 3/30.

Can traffic signals at the 5-way intersection at West Marginal Way, Spokane Street, Delridge Way be adjusted to better serve new traffic patterns? One constituent said they had to wait through 5 light cycles to get to Spokane Street from West Marginal during the afternoon with relatively light traffic.

We know the 5-way intersection has been a challenge even prior to the High Bridge closure. The current intersection design is intended to maintain all potential movements and separates each leg to remove potential conflicts. With increased demand on the intersection as a result of the High Bridge closure, SDOT will re-evaluate the intersection to see whether any design or operational changes can help address congestion while maintaining safe operations.

This signal is on our high priority emergency list to be upgraded so that the signal system is interconnected to our central system. This will allow for us to adjust signal timing actively based on new traffic patterns.  These upgrades also include improved detection to better facilitate new priority movements. This work will be prioritized after our work on Highland Park Way & Holden and our target is to complete it within the next 2-3 weeks.

What was the original design vehicle and what would we use today?

The bridge was originally designed for a design live load commercial vehicle designated as HS-20 (like a large commercial tractor-trailer truck but slightly less axel load than an articulated bus). Since the bridge was brought online in 1984, the size and loading of commercial vehicles have continued to increase as indicated by the much larger HL-93 design loading that is used to design new bridges today. Note that HL-93 loading is not a specific commercial vehicle type, but rather a requirement to choose the worst load combination presented by combining either an HS-20 or Heavy Tandem Trailer with a distributed lane load. The ‘93’ refers to the year that this loading type was adopted as the governing load combination for bridge load rating calculations. This load combination captures the loading of the larger articulated buses that are in use today.

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West Seattle Bridge Update; Seattle Clerk Archives re: 1918-19 Influenza Epidemic

March 27th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update

Here are a few updates on the West Seattle Bridge, which SDOT closed on the evening of Monday, March 23rd.

Council Briefings update:

SDOT’s briefing to the at the City Council’s Monday morning Council Briefing meeting is confirmed. The agenda is linked here. You can access the meeting on the Seattle Channel live feed or later at the Seattle Channel archive. You can listen by telephone at 206-684-8566.

Council meetings are being held by telephone due to the COVID-19 virus; in-person attendance is currently prohibited by Governor Inslee’s proclamation.

SDOT website:

SDOT has created a “West Seattle High-Rise Bridge Safety Project” website.

SDOT also posted a blog post about their bridge inspections that led to the closure, including photos and a timeline.

Highland Park Way SW/SW Holden Street intersection:

The blog post also notes SDOT will install a temporary traffic signal at the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden Street. Funding for permanent improvements was included in the 2020 budget.

SDOT phone number for information/reporting issues related to the closure:

SDOT’s Customer Care Team is taking calls on the West Seattle Bridge at 206-684-ROAD for information about the closure, and to report issues related to the closure, which are shared with the team working on this.

Constituent Questions:

I’ve forwarded numerous constituent suggestions to SDOT about addressing traffic during the closure. Suggestions include:

  • Spokane Street (lower) bridge use during lower-traffic hours, e.g. overnight and earlier morning, especially for first responders and health care workers;
  • Adjusting signal timing for intersections, including the 5-point intersection below the West Seattle Bridge at Spokane; West Marginal and Delridge; at Highland Park Way at West Marginal; Andover and Delridge; and along the Michigan Street route to I-5 in Georgetown;
  • Limiting openings on the 1st Avenue South bridge (this would involve the Coast Guard as they have jurisdiction over marine waterways);
  • Addressing increased cut-through neighborhood traffic on SW Holden in Highland Park;
  • T-5 traffic, and whether it can be staggered;
  • Could the water taxi access shuttles run further south, to e.g. Roxbury?
  • Water taxi: Could a water taxi be added in another part of West Seattle?
  • Ferry service: can ferry traffic to the Fauntleroy Ferry dock be redirected to Colman Dock Downtown, or can the amount of vehicle traffic be limited? This would involve Washington State Ferries.

Seattle Clerk Archives re: 1918-19 Influenza Epidemic

During 1918-1919, the world faced an influenza epidemic. The City Clerk’s Municipal Archives has shared the following historical items from that period in Seattle:

An October, 2018 letter by Mayor Ole Hanson to the City Council on the City’s response, and requesting an appropriation.

The Department of Health and Sanitation annual reports from 1918-1919 that detailed how the epidemic affected Seattle.

In 2008 Public Health of Seattle and King County produced a history of the influenza epidemic in comic book form.

Here’s a link to the Municipal Archives Spring 2020 Archives Gazette with this and additional items.

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West Seattle Bridge Closure; Governor Inslee’s Stay at Home Order

March 25th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Closure

SDOT announced the abrupt closure of the West Seattle Bridge on Monday, March 23rd at 7 p.m., after a bridge inspection showed expanding cracks. SDOT’s notice says “complete closure is required to maintain safety as our top priority.” I received notice of this when the Mayor called me to let me know, three hours before the public announcement.

SDOT’s announcement, linked here, says “Buses, freight and emergency vehicles will be moved to the Spokane Street Bridge, which is also called the “low bridge.” Motorists should use the First Avenue or South Park bridges.” SDOT has since suggested alternate routes for drivers (my office asked SDOT to correct an error in the original version, and they did; thank you to the person contacting my office about this).  Pedestrians and bicyclists can use the low bridge.

The impact on West Seattle cannot be understated. This will impact all West Seattle residents.

I’ve heard from many residents how much of an impact the West Seattle Bridge closure will have, in particular for those living in the northern portion of the peninsula, who lose their key access point, and will need to drive several miles south to the 1st Avenue Bridge to leave or enter West Seattle.

I’ve also heard from residents further south; the closure will also impact their neighborhoods, which will now have significantly more traffic, especially at Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden Street, where there are already significant safety problems at this well-traveled intersection.

My priorities are to do whatever I can to collaborate with SDOT to get the bridge up and running as soon as possible, and to minimize the impact of the closure.

We are also in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic, and Governor Inslee’s shelter in place order. Our first responders, including nurses, firefighters, and police officers are our most important workers. Many live in West Seattle.

I have heard from numerous COVID-19 first responders who live in West Seattle, who must leave the peninsula for work, as well as from an immunology researcher at UW working on COVID-19. Many of them are working overtime in the fight against COVID-19. I have asked SDOT to consider allowing them to use the lower bridge, to minimize the burden of commuting and working long hours to save lives.

I’ve also heard from night shift workers who begin work at, for example, 3 a.m., and asked SDOT whether the lower bridge can be opened to general traffic overnight.

I raised these issues of access for first responders and night shift workers with the Mayor, as well as the possibility, if feasible, of future staged access by other residents.

I’ve asked SDOT about their decision-making process for the lower bridge, and what criteria they will be using for future decisions on the use of the bridge.

I’ve asked what steps SDOT will take for safety at the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden, that already have safety problems, and to consider re-timing the signals at the 5-way intersection under the bridge at West Marginal, Spokane and Delridge.

My office has requested that SDOT appeal to the Coast Guard to make fewer bridge openings of the lower level bridge to allow for more buses and cars to cross, as they did in early 2019 when the Alaskan Way Viaduct closed and the SR99 tunnel was not yet open. It’s critically important that bridge openings not restrict emergency and fire vehicles.

I have reached out to Seattle Fire Department (SFD) Chief Scoggins requesting information about SFD’s plans to maintain the level of service provided to West Seattle prior to the bridge closing and how they plan to address possible lack of timely backup resources.

SDOT has been invited to present at the City Council Briefing meeting this coming Monday, March 30th at 9:30 a.m.

I thank King County for increasing water taxi service and quickly planning for alternate transit routes.

My office submitted a preliminary list of questions to SDOT, and continues to develop questions including those sent by District 1 residents.

I’ll have more updates when more information is available.

My questions so far are below; please send me any questions you’d like SDOT to answer.

  • Please explain the decision to not allow cars on the lower bridge.
  • Please describe what analysis SDOT will be conducting to decide when to re-open the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge, and what criteria you will be using.
  • Has SDOT received work from the Coast Guard about flexibility re: times the bridge can remain open w/o or with limited closures?
  • Can SDOT allow vehicle traffic on the lower bridge overnight? I have heard from more than one person whose work shift begins at 3 p.m., when traffic is lighter.
  • I have heard from several COVID-19 first responders (firefighter, ER nurse) who must leave the peninsula for work, and from an immunology researcher at UW working on COVID-19. Could the lower bridge be opened for them?
  • Please provide a timeline of SDOT’s inspections of the West Seattle Bridge that lead to this decision.
  • Please explain SDOT’s procedures for providing information to the Council regarding ongoing inspections for potential significant problems that could lead to closure of major roadways or structures.
  • Southern access points to the peninsula will see significantly increased traffic. What steps will SDOT take for safety at the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden, that already have safety problems?
  • Can traffic signals at the 5-way intersection at West Marginal Way and Spokane Street by the Chelan Café be adjusted to better serve new traffic patterns? One constituent said they had to wait through 5 light cycles to get to Spokane Street from West Marginal during the afternoon with relatively light traffic.
  • Can SDOT work to encourage cars traveling east on Roxbury down the hill to South park to turn left onto the onramp to Highway 99 between 7th and 8th Avenue South if they are traveling north, instead of proceeding into South Park?
  • Please describe what actions you are taking to restrict access to the West Seattle Bridge, specifically by people trying to access the closed bridge by foot.

Below are additional questions that get into the weeds of the budget and SDOT notification to the Council of the impacts of changes from the Federal government related to load ratings that led to higher scrutiny, and now closure, of the bridge:

When SDOT completed its November, 2018 Move Levy Workplan, (or levy “reset”), the work plan included 16 bridges for seismic work (section 12 of the report), including several in District 1: Delridge Way SW Bike/Ped Bridge, the north and south Admiral Way bridges, and the Andover Way SW ped bridge (and ironically the 1st Avenue South Bridge that SDOT is directing West Seattle commuters to). It did not include the West Seattle Bridge.

The 2020 SDOT Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget referenced work on the 16 projects in its listing for Bridge Seismic work. The SDOT CIP noted it was analyzing bridge loads of 69 separate bridges due to 2013 and 2016 federal requirements from the Federal Highway Administration. The March 23 press SDOT release on the bridge closure referred to new 2019 requirements.

  • The 2020-2025 CIP (page 188) references federal changes in 2013 and 2016 to load requirements; today’s press release says, “In 2019, however, the Federal load rating for this type of bridge changed.” When did this change take place?
  • The November 2018 Move Levy Workplan (i.e. levy “re-set”) noted 16 bridges scheduled for seismic improvements from 2019 to 2024; the 2020-2025 SDOT CIP “Bridge Seismic – Phase III) item noted the 16 bridges. Why was the West Seattle Bridge not included in the 16 bridges?
  • How many other, of the 69 bridges subject to the new FHA load requirements, have been triggered for enhanced inspections by bridge integrity specialists to ensure the safety of our city’s bridges?
  • Please provide the most recent list of SDOT’s assessment of Seattle’s bridges (including ratings).

Finally, a word about capital project oversight; the West Seattle Bridge has not been identified as a potential issue in recent reports the Executive has sent to the Council.

In 2018 I sponsored capital project oversight legislation the Council adopted to require enhanced, quarterly reporting from city departments on city capital projects, to ensure the Council received timely updates.

The legislation notes “CIP oversight is a critical function of the Seattle City Council”, and “the Council’s ability to perform effective capital oversight is dependent on access to thorough information and the opportunity to review and process this information in a timely manner.”

The most recent quarterly reports received by the Council, on March 13th, for the 4th quarter of 2019, do not mention the West Seattle Bridge as one of the city’s 200+ capital projects; the bridge is not mentioned in sections on Bridge Seismic work and Bridge Load Rating work, included in the ongoing programs report.

In mid-January city departments sent the Council their proposed list of capital projects for the 2020 “Watch List” for enhanced oversight; the list did not include the West Seattle Bridge.

I have repeatedly requested that the City Budget Office include ongoing programs (e.g. the bridge programs and road paving) in future Watch Lists.

While the City Budget Office has indicated they are theoretically open to doing so, no such programmatic projects have been added in the final list of 2020 Watch List projects. Nonetheless, they do report on the programmatic projects in the ongoing projects list – but just at a summary level, as noted above.

The Council’s resolution requested the Executive work with Council Central Staff to “to develop a method for enhanced reporting for selected ongoing programs, or components of ongoing programs, for potential inclusion in the Watch List.” It’s clear that’s needed.


Governor Inslee’s Stay at Home Order

Gov. Inslee’s Stay at Home order allows you to get outside and take walks, or enjoy your local neighborhood park, as long as you’re practicing proper social distancing.  That means staying at least 6 feet away from others at all times, and avoiding groups.

In order to avoid crowds like we’ve seen recently at Alki and other popular destinations, here are some additional actions taken by the City and State:

  • Play areas, picnic areas and sports courts are closed
  • Beaches and parks are closed for gatherings.  (It’s still OK to walk or use these areas for general exercise – as long as you’re not in a group.)
  • Parking lots are closed at Alki and Lincoln Parks, as well as other particularly popular parks around Seattle, including Green Lake, Golden Gardens, Seward, Magnuson, Gas Works, and Discovery.
  • Parks & Recreation and Police Department staff will be deployed to encourage social distancing at highly frequented parks.
  • All parks programming, rentals, and permitted events are cancelled.

Learn more about these restrictions.

Consider visiting one of your local neighborhood parks instead.  It’s OK to use Seattle’s parks – as long as you stay at least 6 feet away from everyone else, and do not gather in groups.

Your efforts will help us flatten the curve and save lives.  Thank you!

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COVID-19 Updates; Supporting Local Businesses; Seattle Parks and Social Distancing; Supporting Artists and the Arts; Weekly COVID-19 Community Webinars; Canceling District Office Hours

March 20th, 2020

COVID-19 Updates

Two More Emergency Proclamations: Eviction protection for residents, nonprofits, small businesses

Since my last update, the Mayor has issued two more emergency proclamations, both regarding eviction moratoriums. The first halts residential evictions, the Council took this up at our Monday Full Council meeting and the Council amended the proclamation to last for 60 days instead of 30 understanding that this crisis may continue longer than 30 days. The second emergency proclamation was issued on Thursday and addressed concerns that Council raised on Monday about small businesses and non-profits.  I appreciate the collaboration with the Mayor’s office for accepting my input to expand the eviction moratorium from 30 to 60 day and to include non-profits, regardless of number of employees.

US Small Business Administration Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that King County small businesses and nonprofits are now eligible for low-interest Small Business Administration disaster loans of up to $2 million. Visit disasterloan.sba.gov/ela to apply and receive additional disaster assistance info and download applications. You can also call the Small Business Administration disaster assistance customer service center for more information at 800-659-2955 or email.

Council Passes Legislation Providing Emergency Funding for Small Businesses and Utility Relief

The Council passed a bill, Council Bill 119757, sponsored by Councilmember Tammy J. Morales, on Thursday to transfer $1.5 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to the Small Business Stabilization Fund, to support small businesses facing financial challenges in Seattle resulting from  COVID-19.  Federal CDBG criteria require this Fund to be exclusively for businesses with 5 or fewer employees and business owners must have a household income at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income. For information on eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit OED’s website. Applications are expected to close on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

A separate bill, Council Bill 119758, sponsored by Councilmember Alex Pedersen, passed by the Council waives interest charges on past due utility bills during this crisis for residential, small business, and nonprofit customers.  Flexible payment plans are available and a no shut-off policy is in place as well.  To access deferred payment plans through Seattle City Light or Seattle Public Utilities, customers can call 206-684-3000 or send an email here. Professional translations for City utility services are available when you call 206-684-3000.

Links to COVID-19 Resources

Here are links to COVID-19 resources for public health updates, emergency orders, business support, worker support,

  • Please check my weekly blog for updates here.
  • The Seattle City Council has a webpage with extensive links on resources here (with a newly added table of contents for easy navigating).
  • Mayor Durkan’s page has daily updates here.
  • King County Public Health has a daily update here.
  • Updates from Governor Inslee, including emergency orders, are here.

Supporting Local Businesses: Restaurants Open for Take-Out/Delivery

I want to stress how important it is to continue practicing social distancing, but we can still support our local businesses. While restaurants, bars and coffee shops are closed for dine-in service through March 31 by order of Governor Inslee, they can remain open for carryout and delivery service, while adhering to COVID-19 Public Health Guidelines.

The West Seattle Blog has a fantastic article up about local businesses that are still operating, for takeout and to-go, and how you can support them. Please check it out here. The West Seattle Junction Association has a Junction Delivery Pickup and online services website with information about establishments in the West Seattle Junction.

The Seattle Department of Transportation is installing temporary load zones near restaurants to facilitate pick up service. SDOT noted “The first locations to receive temporary loading zones will be in areas with high concentrations of restaurants on blocks that do not otherwise have enough loading options.”

Restaurants can request a loading zone near their establishment by emailing 684-Road@seattle.gov or calling (206) 684-ROAD – be sure to provide business address and contact information.

Request a Loading Zone Near Your Restaurant

The West Seattle Blog also has a list of our grocery stores and their updated hours which you can see here. Please note that our Safeway stores are reserving the 7am – 9am hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays for seniors and high-risk individuals, so if you do not fall into those categories please do not shop during those hours.


Seattle Parks Update on Parks, Trails and Open Spaces and Social Distancing

I’ve received reports of people gathering and not practicing social distancing in parks and trail areas.  These reports are coming to me from constituents who are elderly or have medical conditions, and are at greater risk if infected by the COVID-19 virus, as well as from concerned members of the public.

The Seattle Department of Parks and Recreations notes: Our parks, trails, and open spaces are currently open. If you decide to visit a park, please follow public health guidelines and please practice social distancing. See some additional suggestions from @NRPA_news below.


Supporting Artists and the Arts

This week, the City announced $1.1 million in relief for artists, and arts and cultural organizations. Learn more here.

The Seattle Office of Arts and Culture has set up a $1 million Arts Stabilization Fund, focusing on arts and cultural organizations that have been impacted by the moratorium on events and public gatherings. These organizations rely on ticket sales, attendance and fundraising efforts. The grant program will be administered through the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture.   Additionally, the City invested $100,000 in two community-based relief funds, Seattle Artist Relief Fund, and COVID-19 Artist Trust’s Relief Fund.

Many artists support themselves through gig work and may not be eligible for protections offered to employees. The performance aspect of their art requires public gatherings, which have been prohibited, and artists are organizing to support themselves. I’m proud that the City is stepping up to provide relief for artists and cultural organizations, as we cannot lose our important art institutions during this crisis and must retain those cultural spaces for the future.

 

Weekly COVID-19 Community Webinars

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods will be hosting weekly webinars every Friday from 2:30-4:00pm that connect community to information regarding COVID-19. Each week will cover different topics.

You are invited to participate in this City of Seattle webinar series aimed at providing consistent and updated information about COVID-19 and its impact on your communities. Please feel free to share this invitation with your staff, trusted advocates, and community partners.

COVID-19 Community Webinar

March 20 | 2:30 – 4:00pm

What you need to know about housing, groceries, and public utilities.

Join via Skype: http://bit.ly/DONwebinar  

Join via Phone: 206-386-1200 ext 720627#

This webinar is intended for agencies and community members working and living in the greater Seattle area.

  • Get accurate and updated information about COVID-19
  • Hear from Seattle Office of Housing, Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment, Seattle Public Utilities, and Seattle City Light
  • Participate in a live Q&A session

Limited capacity of 250 people. This webinar will be recorded.

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods will be hosting weekly webinars every Friday from 2:30-4:00pm that connect community to information regarding COVID-19. Each week will cover different topics.

The City of Seattle encourages all residents to stay informed. Get up to date information from kingcounty.gov/covid.

 

Canceling District Office Hours

Unfortunately, due to social distancing requirements of the current COVID-19 pandemic I am canceling my in-district office hours scheduled March 27th.

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

  • Friday, April 24, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, May 29, 2020
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, June 26, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, July 31, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, August 21, 2020
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, September 25, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, October 30, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, December 18, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
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COVID-19 Update and Information; Paid Sick and Safe Leave Expansion for Public Health Emergency; Your Voice Your Choice Idea Collection Open through March 18

March 13th, 2020

COVID-19 Update and Information

The coronavirus is scary, but it’s important to remember that each of us, individually, can do so much to stop its spread.  These simple actions are the most impactful.  (And thanks to Councilmember Morales’ office for sharing their great graphic!)

I want to preface all this information by noting that things are rapidly evolving and this information is up-to-date as March 13. Things may continue to change and people should continue to check the King County Public Page here for the most up-to-date information.

  • The Governor has also announced that all events with more than 250 people are prohibitedKing County has taken further steps and is prohibiting events with fewer than 250 attendeesunless event organizers take steps to minimize risk including:
    • Older and vulnerable individuals have been encouraged not to attend
    • Recommendations for social distancing and limiting close contact are met
    • Employees or volunteers leading an event are screened for symptoms each day
    • Proper hand washing, sanitation, and cleaning is readily available
    • Environmental cleaning guidelines are followed (e.g., clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily or more frequently)
  • The City is closing all Public Libraries and Community Centers until at least April 13. However, the shower program for those in need at Delridge, Green Lake, Meadowbrook, Miller and Rainier community centers, and all Parks bathrooms and handwashing stations will remain open.
  • The Port of Seattle implemented new protocols for safe air travel.
    • “Tourism is one of Washington’s leading economic sectors, supporting tens of thousands of jobs statewide and providing millions in revenue to the region. Between February 2 and March 7 more than 80 flights have been suspended to mainland China while airlines have recently announced reductions and cancellations to Seoul, South Korea, and Hong Kong.”
    • The Port also announcedthat it was canceling the first two cruise ship sailings scheduled for April 1 and April 5.
  • The Washington State Insurance Commissioner has a Q&A page herefor healthcare and insurance related questions.
  • The Washington State Health Benefit Exchange has opened a special enrollment period through April 8 to qualified individuals who are uninsured. You can learn more here.
  • West Seattle Blog continues to keep a great list of local cancelations, postponements, and changes, you can see that here.
  • No utility shut offs. The Mayor announced this week that both Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities will work with residential and business customers affected by the outbreak to setup payment plans and the utilities will not be shut off. Further customers can fill out a self-certification Utility Discount Program applicationfor more long lasting relief. UDP income thresholds have not changed.
  • $1.5 million for small businesses.Qualifying small businesses should apply online here.
  • The City’s Office of Economic Development is holding a weekly phone call for small businesses impacted by COVID-19, every Wednesday from 1-2pm. Register for upcoming small business phone calls here.
  • Wondering about whether Seattle’s Paid Sick & Safe Time ordinance can help you out if you or someone you love falls sick? Check out this fact sheet.
  • The Council has created a resource page as well which will be kept up-to-date.
  • This website explains some of the resources available to employers and workers impacted by COVID-19.
  • The Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center has a blog post explaining the importance of social distancing, and what it means.
  • United Way of King County has a webpage with resources and information for people who are unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 virus.
  • Also check out this graphic from Washington State Employment Security Department:


City Council Meeting – COVID-19 Update and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Expansion for Public Health Emergency

City Council meetings take place on Monday are at 2 p.m. and are being conducted by telephone. You can view meetings live on the Seattle Channel at http://www.seattlechannel.org/watch-live, or in the meeting archive at http://www.seattlechannel.org/FullCouncil.  Meeting agendas are linked here.   This Monday we will receive a COVID-19 briefing from the Executive.  We will also be voting on legislation to expand Paid Sick and Safe Leave. The legislation would:

“declare an emergency in response to the high number of confirmed cases and deaths in King County and around the world from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and would establish an immediate effective date for an expansion of paid sick and safe time. The expansion would permit use of paid sick and safe time when the employee’s family member’s school or place of care is closed.”

Additionally, I’ll be bringing an amendment that would allow employees of large businesses (those with 250 or more employees) to access their current Paid Sick and Safe Time when their employer has reduced operations or closed for any health or safety related reason. This is a measured amendment that allows employees of large companies to access benefits that they already have under the threat of COVID-19. Senator Patty Murray introduced a further reaching measure earlier this month that would:

  • Require all employers to allow their workers to gradually earn seven days of paid sick leave.
  • Require all employers to immediately provide an additional 14 days of paid sick leave at the beginning of a public health emergency, including the current COVID-19 crisis.
  • Ensure the leave covers days when a child’s school is close, when an employer is closed, or if a family member is quarantined or isolated due to a public health emergency.

Unfortunately, the measure failed to pass in the senate. Another example is Arizona’s statewide paid sick leave law, which passed in in 2017, specifically cites public health emergency as declared by the Governor.

Your Voice Your Choice Idea Collection Open through March 18

The 2020 Your Voice, Your Choice program is open for idea collection through March 18.

This Department of Neighborhoods program allows community members to democratically decide how to spend $2 million of the City’s budget on these improvements.

Through March 18, community members age 11 and up (13 and up to participate online) who live, work, go to school,  receive services, or participate in activities in Seattle can submit their ideas online. Projects could include park benches, trail improvements, marked crosswalks, and sidewalk repair, to name a few. The only criteria are the project ideas focus on physical improvements to Seattle’s parks or streets, benefit the public, and cost $150,000 or less.

Once ideas are submitted, volunteers are recruited to turn the ideas into 8 – 10 proposals per council district. Then this summer, everyone will have the opportunity to vote for the top projects within their district. Of the $2 million budget, approximately $185,00 is allocated to each council district. The remaining funds are allocated to projects in underrepresented communities or Equity and Environment Initiative (EEI) Focus Areas.  Additional information is at the project webpage.

Projects selected for construction in 2019 are listed here,  and shown on this map. District 1 projects are copied below:

DISTRICT 1

  • Admiral: Crossing Improvements on intersection of SW Admiral Way and 44th Ave SW (Cost: $120,000; Votes received 554)
  • Alki: Calming Improvements on 61st Avenue SW between SW Admiral Way and Beach Drive SW (Cost: $30,000; Votes received: 428
  • Highland Park: Crossing Improvements on 16th Ave SW & SW Holden St (Cost: $30,000, Votes received: 293)*
  • South Delridge: Sidewalk/Trail Improvements on SW Barton St between 21st Ave SW and SW Barton Pl (Cost: $112,700; Votes received: 261)*
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COVID-19 Update; East Marginal Project Letter of Support for Grant Funding; Duwamish Longhouse Bus Access Walk; February Constituent Email Report

March 6th, 2020

COVID-19 Update

As of this morning, Public Health – Seattle & King County confirmed 58 cases of novel coronavirus in King County residents, including 10 deaths.  231 residents in the State are under public health supervision for being at risk of exposure.  As more laboratory capacity for testing comes online, more tests and results will be reported.  The  Department of Health website for coronavirus is an excellent resource for anyone with questions about coronavirus and how to keep yourself safe.

Take Action To Stop The Spread

There is a LOT we can do as individuals to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep ourselves and loved ones safe.  Simple steps are extremely powerful.

  • Don’t touch your face (especially around your eyes, nose and mouth)
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If soap and water are not available, use at least a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash your hands
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with an elbow sleeve or tissue
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • If you are in King County and believe you were exposed: stay home, and contact your doctor or the coronavirus hotline: 206-477-3977 between 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM PT.
  • For general concerns and questions,call the Washington State Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 800-525-0127.

To slow the spread/transmission, King County Public Health has made recommendations in consultation with the federal Centers for Disease Control, based on the best information we have currently to protect the public’s health.  These recommendations include:

  • Not holding gatherings of more than 10 people
  • Staying at home if you are over 60 or have underlying medical conditions
  • Working from home if you are able

Seattle’s State of Emergency Proclamation & Resolution

This is a critical moment in the outbreak in our region.  On Thursday the Council called a special Full Council meeting where we heard an update from the Executive on the City and County response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). I encourage you to watch the briefing here at this link.  In attendance were:

  • Deputy Mayors Mike Fong and CaseySixkiller
  • Chief Harold Scoggins, Seattle Fire Department
  • Dennis Worsham, Seattle-King County Public Health
  • Acting Director Laurel Nelson, Office of Emergency Management
  • Director Cuc Vu, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
  • Director Andres Mantilla, Department of Neighborhoods
  • Director Bobby Lee, Office of Economic Development
  • Interim Director Jason Johnson, Human Services Department
  • Director Ben Noble, City Budget Office
  • Superintendent Jesús Aguirre, Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Retired Director Barb Graff, Office of Emergency Management

The primary issues of concern that I raised at this meeting included:

  1. I asked how many tests had been done in King County, recognizing that a. as of Wednesday night only 600 tests had been done across the entire county and b. approval locally for the first lab to analyze test results had only occurred the previous Friday. I did not receive a response to the question of how many tests have been done in King County. However, MSNBC has reported that 100 people have been tested in our region.
  2. I asked if testing protocols permitted first responders to be prioritized for testing. Chief Scoggins indicated that they did.
  3. I asked why all City Departments, as of Wednesday, were still expressing concern for lack of necessary supplies and lack of consistent cleaning protocols. The response was that this was a mission-critical priority for the Executive and that our approval of the Mayor’s Proclamation of Emergency would allow the Executive to expedite procurement of necessary supplies. As of 5:30pm today, city-wide cleaning protocols were released by FAS.
  4. I shared that I had been contacted by a West Seattle business that was reporting 20-30% negative year over year comparative sales for several businesses, where they were 5-10% positive over last year before the health crisis. The response to this was that OED is working to access federal funding to help local businesses.
  5. When told that the Human Services Department (HSD) was working with our human services providers on readiness, I asked how we were helping in those instances that they needed supplies. In response, I was told that HSD was facilitating a bulk purchase for our human services providers.
  6. When told that hygiene kits were being distributed by the Navigation Team to individuals living unsheltered, I ask how many had been distributed and over what time period. The answer to this question was unavailable.
  7. Understanding that the CDC guidance for testing requires a health provider’s recommendation for testing, I asked whether public health professionals working with people living outside are empowered to recommend a person for testing in those instances that a person living unsheltered has no primary care physician or is unlikely to go to a health clinic. The answer to this question was unavailable.

At this meeting the council also affirmed the Mayor’s proclamation of emergency as amended and passed a resolution.

Under the Mayor’s proclamation of emergency, she can forgo legal requirements for making temporary hires, contracting, spending, and assuming debt. The Mayor can also now open new necessary facilities to address the emergency without the permits and notice usually required.

Changes made by the Council to the Mayor’s proclamation of emergency included the following:

  • Verification and submittal of emergency purchases and contracts to the City Council
  • A requirement to list and describe all actions taken that would otherwise have been subject to the notice requirements of SMC Chapter 25.05 (for regulatory permits)
  • A requirement for a future order by the Mayor or the Board of Public Health – Seattle / King County before any actions by the Fire Chief or Police Chief are taken to enforce anything other than existing laws and regulations

The resolution states that the Council will reevaluate the civil emergency by April 5 and includes these specific requests for expenditures:

  • Hand washing stations
  • Hygiene services such as mobile pit stops, as approved in the 2020 adopted budget
  • Investments that increase access for lower income persons to COVID-19 testing
  • Investments in culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach materials for limited English proficiency communities

Further, the resolution asks the executive to review:

  • Options for City staff and contractors to take paid days off, if their leave runs out, especially in the case of hourly, new and temporary workers
  • An analysis of the Race and Social Justice implication of exercising emergency powers
  • Consideration of how emergency powers could impact homeless communities
  • Issuance of an order related to economic controls and price stabilization on products that may be used by the public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as disinfectants and hand sanitizer, and price controls on essentials for survival such as housing and shelter
  • Identification of actions the City can take:
  • To encourage service sector employers, gig economy employers, and employers whose activities require close proximity to large segments of the public to provide sanitary and safe working conditions and to allow their employees to use paid sick time for time away from work for public health purposes, other than sick leave; and
  • To discourage and prevent punitive actions against employees who miss work because of illness or public health reasons.

The resolution also requests the Executive provide a weekly report to Council including:

  • Emergency expenditures by departments
  • New contracts entered into or amendments to existing contracts, including information on contract amount and contracted-for service
  • New permanent and term-limited positions added or empty positions filled to address the civil emergency, as well as temporary staffing re-assignments
  • A list detailing whether and how enforcement of current criminal and civil laws and regulations are being prioritized to address the public health, safety, and welfare, and
  • For each action taken pursuant to civil emergency, any limitation identified by Seattle Municipal Code Section, adopted financial policy, or other governing internal or external regulation or statute to the action being taken without emergency authority.

The Council also identified in the resolution that city staff and contractors should work from home as much as practical.

The City Council President, Lorena González, and Council President Pro Tem Teresa Mosqueda issued a directive for the entire Legislative Department, through March 31 (or until they are lifted by the Council President/President Pro Tem), to:

  1. Direct all Department employees to work remotely to the greatest extent possible.
  2. Advise City Council committee chairs to cancel committee meetings until further notice.
  3. Endeavor to conduct all official Full Council and special meetings remotely, utilizing appropriate technology, in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act.

As new information is available from public health officials, this directive will be continuously evaluated.

Viruses Don’t Discriminate

I want to be clear that Coronavirus doesn’t recognize race, nationality or ethnicity. Having Chinese ancestry – or any other ancestry – does not make a person more vulnerable to this illness.  Misinformation about coronavirus can create fear and hostility that hurts people, and makes it harder to keep everyone healthy.

Staying Healthy

Many of us work in places with easy access to handwashing stations, and can use sick & safe leave, or access health care via insurance provided by our employers. Or if we’re sick, we can stay home, care for a family member or get in to see a doctor on the same day we have symptoms that concern us.  However, that’s not the case for everyone:

  • Our first responders — fire, police, nurses, doctors, care givers, public health scientists don’t get to call in sick.
  • Or the teachers, staff and custodians who are asked to stay behind and “sanitize” the school while their students and many of their parents stay home during the exercise.
  • Or the folks who provide us services that we rely on, perhaps even more at times like these: those who sell us the hand sanitizer, who deliver our grocery or online orders, who drive the buses, who carry our mail, who prepare our food.

It’s their job and they do it because no one else can or will.  They risk their health and safety to keep US safe.  I want to recognize and thank them for that.

Steps Taken Already

We must take this health crisis seriously, and we do.  Here are some important steps that have been taken already:

  • The City has activated its Emergency Operations Center, which coordinates the activities of executive departments to ensure the strongest, quickest possible response
  • King County Executive Dow Constantine issued a State of Emergency,enabling “extraordinary measures” to fight the outbreak, including waiving some procurement protocols, and authorizing overtime for King County employees, among other powers
  • In addition to City and County government encouraging work from home arrangements, many of our largest employers are doing the same
  • The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs is translating coronavirus information into multiple languages. The public can find that information on seattle.gov. 
  • The County has started to set up isolation/quarantine sites in multiple areas throughout the County, using portable trailers. The Executive has also indicated King County is in the process of purchasing a hotel to use as a quarantine site
  • The City is increasing shelter resources during this public health emergency, which will take 2-3 weeks to make operational and will add capacity for up to 100 individuals. The locations are: Lake Union Tiny House Village: Expansion of the current tiny home village by up to 20 units, New Cherry Hill Church Tiny House Village: The City expects capacity to be 30 units, Former Treatment Facility: Former Evergreen Treatment Facility in the Bitter Lake neighborhood with capacity for up to 50 people
  • The City’s Navigation Team is distributing hygiene kits and sharing information about COVID-19 with people who are living unsheltered
  • The Seattle Times has lowered/deactivated their “pay wall” to ensure that all of our neighbors have access to the latest information and updates
  • Washington state’s insurance commissioner issued an emergency order directing all health insurance carriers, through May 4, to provide health care provider visits and novel coronavirus testing without co-payments and deductible payments to enrollees who meet criteria for testing
  • UW announced they now have permission and ability to test for coronavirus, and the region could potentially test up to 1,000 samples each day, a significant expansion in our testing capacity
  • Public health officials through Public Health Seattle & King County have been consistent on keeping the public up to date and sharing information on how we can remain healthy, and are giving daily media updates to the public (see their website for a helpful fact sheet and answers to frequently asked questions).

East Marginal Project Letter of Support for Grant Funding

Last year the Council voted to approve funding to begin work on the East Marginal Way project.

The project is a high priority for bike connections between West Seattle and Downtown, to fully separate bicycles from motor vehicle traffic in the SODO industrial area.

East Marginal Way is a major freight corridor that provides access to the Port of Seattle terminals, rail yards, industrial businesses and the regional highway system, and between local Manufacturing and Industrial Councils (MIC’s). It is also a designated Heavy Haul Route, critical last-mile connector and vital route for over-sized trucks or those carrying flammable cargo.

SDOT has applied for a $13 million federal grant to help fully fund this project. The Council signed a letter in support of the grant.

The project website shows 60% design; you can also take a survey or sign up for the project e-mail list at the website.

Duwamish Longhouse Bus Access Walk

My staff participated in a walk to the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center from a bus stop at Delridge Way SW and SW Andover Street. This bus stop is over a mile away from the Longhouse, and it’s the walk the receptionist at the longhouse on West Marginal Way has to take each day, with the absence of bus service on West Marginal.

The walk was organized by the Duwamish tribe to raise awareness; other participants included the D1 network, SDOT, and transportation and community advocates.

The walk includes areas without lighting or sidewalks, and high vehicle speeds, which makes access difficult, and raises concerns for safety. Below are images from the walk.

February 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 February, what I refer to above as “case management services.” The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in February related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.

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