Reminder: April 2 Deadline for Sound Transit 3 Scoping Comments; Ballard Locks Update; Alki Beach Comfort Station Open House – Tomorrow; Fairmount Ravine Cleanup – April 6

March 29th, 2019


Reminder: April 2 Deadline for Sound Transit 3 Scoping Comments

The deadline for providing comments on options for Sound Transit’s West Seattle/Ballard light rail line is on Tuesday, April 2nd. You can comment at the online open house or by e-mail at wsbscopingcomments@soundtransit.org. This is part of the formal comment period for developing which options will be studied in detail in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Draft EIS is scheduled for 2020, with the Final EIS due in 2022.

I’ve heard strong community support for tunnel options both for the West Seattle Junction as well as Delridge. I support options that minimize the impact and maximize the benefits of light rail in West Seattle.

Here’s the schedule for selecting the options in the EIS:

  • On April 17, the Stakeholder Advisory Group will make recommendations
  • On April 26, the Elected Leadership Group will make recommendations
  • On May 23rd, the Sound Transit Board will select the alternatives

Today’s Sound Transit Elected Leadership Group meeting focused on the Chinatown/ID and Delridge station areas.  I raised questions about residential and business impacts in Delridge; the impact during construction of a crossing to the south of the West Seattle Bridge (an issue raised by the West Seattle Chamber), and noted the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel “purple” option best addresses the concerns we’ve heard. I also noted the $1.2 billion extra cost includes the $700 million for a tunnel in the Junction; the estimate for a tunnel through Pigeon Ridge is $500 million. I supported this option in the previous round in October.


Ballard Locks Update

Over the last two years, a broad coalition including the City and Port of Seattle, other cities and towns around Puget Sound, the maritime industry, and environmental groups, have joined forces to advocate on behalf of the Ballard Locks. The Locks are the busiest in the U.S in vessel transits and the 12th busiest in the nation for commercial transits.  They generate $1.2 billion of economic activity, including 3,000 jobs and payroll for those jobs of $129 million a year.  They are also 100 years old and in need of $30-60 million in major maintenance.

Last year, my Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts committee we received a presentation from this coalition.  We were joined by Eugene Wasserman, President, North Seattle Industrial Association; Charles Costanzo, Vice President, Pacific Region American Waterways Operators; Lindsay Wolpa, Regional Government Affairs Manager, Port of Seattle and Northwest Seaport Alliance; Roque Deherrera, Office of Economic Development; and Peter Schrappen, Washington Maritime Federation Board Chair.

Soon after the presentation, the Seattle Times reported on the efforts of this coalition to get funding for major maintenance as well as the fact that the “machines used to raise and lower the water levels inside the Locks, for instance, have had to last since the Army Corps of Engineers installed them in 1917.”

The news is that because of all of this coordinated effort, in September, a contract to fund replacement of the original large lock chamber’s 100-year-old filling culvert gates at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard was awarded by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

This year, the Army Corps of Engineers will begin replacing the filling culvert valves – the mechanism that fills and empties the Locks. The new filling culvert valves will improve the reliability of the facility and will also allow for easier fish passage and greatly improve survival rates of juvenile salmon that need to pass through the Locks. This work is scheduled to begin in October and will be followed by additional critical repair work. The Ballard Locks and the local maritime industry are important drivers of economic development and economic diversity in Seattle. I will continue to promote these efforts at the Locks to restore critical infrastructure, improve conditions for Puget Sound salmon, and support an important economic driver for our region.


Alki Beach Comfort Station Open House – Tomorrow

The Department of Parks and Recreation is installing a new restroom at the Alki Beach Comfort Station on 57th Ave SW and Alki Ave SW.

The proposed structure includes three all gender facilities with individual access and will meet ADA standards.

  • When: Saturday, March 30 between 10am and 12pm.
  • Where: 2501 Alki Ave SW at the intersection of 57th Ave SW and Alki Ave SW


Fairmount Ravine Cleanup – April 6

The Fairmount Ravine Preservation Group will sponsor the 27th Annual Spring Cleanup and Reforestation of Fairmount Ravine, Saturday April 6th at 8:30 am.  Meet at top of ravine (Forest St. and Fairmount Ave).  As in past years, this year’s cleanup will focus on removing garbage and debris from homeless encampment under the bridge, removing ivy from trees in the ravine and cleaning sidewalks on the Admiral Bridge.

What to wear: boots and gloves.

Things to bring (if you can): a pruning saw and/or large loppers (to help remove ivy from trees), a flat shovel and push broom to help clean the sidewalks on the bridge.

Refreshments will be provided. All the organizers ask is that you donate a couple of hours of your time to keep this greenbelt clean, healthy and natural. I hope to see you there!

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Highland Park Roundabout Update; False SCS Fliers & SLI History Re: Mobile CHEL Unit; Passage of MHA and What’s Next; High Point Play Area Celebration; Civic Poet applications open through April 24; In-District Office Hours

March 22nd, 2019


Highland Park Roundabout Update

During last year’s budget, I was able to get the Highland Park Way SW/SW Holden Street Roundabout project added to the SDOT Capital Improvement Program, the long-term capital planning budget.

Unfortunately, we learned in January the grant application SDOT submitted to WSDOT was unsuccessful. Since then I’ve worked with state legislators to seek funding through the state legislative process.

Senator Joe Nguyen and Representative Joe Fitzgibbon have submitted this as a potential project in the state transportation budget. Funds are limited in the state transportation budget, but I want to give a big thank you to both Senator Nguyen and Representative Fitzgibbon for putting forward applications to their respective Transportation Chairs!

The Chairs of the Senate Transportation Committee and the House Transportation Committee will release their proposed budgets in the next few weeks.

 


False SCS Fliers & SLI History Re: Mobile CHEL Unit

Opioid addiction is a behavioral health disorder that affects our entire country, and over 700 individuals die each year from opioid overdose in our state. This is a severe public health crisis and requires a humane response. I was disappointed this week to find fliers spreading false information about the siting of a safe-injection site in Pigeon Point. I assume that the intent of these bogus fliers was to foment fear, anxiety, and resentment in our communities; people experiencing homelessness and people of color generally become the targets of fearmongering like this. This is not the way to engage in civil conversation and problem-solving about an issue of great importance to our community; we must find data-driven, performance-based solutions.

Addiction can touch anyone, personally or through family and friends, and creates extraordinary hardship. When you love someone who has an addiction, you go back and forth between the decision to cut the person off or support them. Neither choice feels right and often it seems that neither choice makes any difference.  Ultimately, I believe that recovery is impossible without love, support, and a safe place for someone to meet their basic needs, and people with addictions must find own their path to recovery with the support of their loved ones.

Advocates and public health professionals use a harm reduction-based approach for people struggling with addiction. This approach prevents overdosing and other negative health conditions by creating a safe environment for people alongside recovery resources. The UW research team that provided proof of concept behind the successful Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program has recently published positive findings from a Randomized Control Trial that shows a harm reduction-based approach is effective in reducing alcohol use in a homeless population. This is gold standard research that further validates strategies of sustained engagement with substance users without an abstinence framework are effective in reducing use, particularly in highly marginalized groups.

One of the key strategies in the harm reduction-approach is known as safe-consumption, which makes resources available for people to get support and use in a medically supervised, no-strings-attached environment. There are about 100 safe-consumption sites (SCS) in other parts of the world, and there have been no deaths at any of these sites over the 30-year history of these sites operating.

Public support for SCS in Seattle is strong.  A recent poll by FM3 Research asked King County voters whether they favored a ballot initiative that would ban SCS programs. The results showed that within the city of Seattle, 70% of voters opposed banning SCS and only 27% supported a ban. The poll also showed that Seattle voters favor SCS because they would prevent people from dying from overdoses, use proven harm reduction strategies to get people into treatment, and would get drug use off our streets and into medically staffed facilities. Similarly, a different 2016 poll by EMC Research found that 78% of Seattle voters support “creating safe drug injection sites so people who use drugs can do so safely and we can reduce overdoses, cut the number of needles in the streets, and make treatment options available to them.”

In 2018, City Council passed a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) that requested the Human Services Department (HSD) conduct a feasibility study to scope the benefits and risks of piloting tools in the “Treatment-on-Demand” framework, bundling on-demand services and treatment with safe-consumption. As a separate action, City Council approved $1.3 million in the case that the feasibility study showed a positive, clear path forward. These dollars were not spent in 2018 and have carried over into this year.

The recommendations provided by HSD in this feasibility study provided that thoughtful consideration be made toward the costs of services like health screenings and assessments, education, syringe exchange program, and social services vital to adequately realize the “Treatment-on-Demand” model.

HSD’s feasibility study also considered legal risks of opening a SCS to implement in Seattle. Efforts in San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, Denver, and Boston were reviewed, and the strong recommendation was to wait based on a civil lawsuit filed against a nonprofit planning to open a safe-consumption site. The City of Seattle will monitor the progress of this lawsuit as it continues to explore the best way forward.

This conversation and process is involved, and it demonstrates the City of Seattle’s genuine commitment to implement best practices in interrupting the opioid crisis and saving lives. I take this work very seriously and will stand by the City Council in continuing to scope the appropriate role in city government to make harm-reduction strategies available.

 


Passage of MHA and What’s Next

On Monday the Full Council took its final vote on the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation. As I’ve written about before, the trade off of additional development capacity for contributions to affordable house is a step toward funding more housing, but this step is not enough.

The City plans to develop 6,000 affordable units with the implementation of the MHA program. However, I also believe that we will lose many currently affordable units due to demolition and redevelopment of existing housing.  The estimated gain of 6,000 new units built through the MHA program may be offset by these losses.

Though our city is full of the stories of people whose rental housing was torn down and replaced with a building that they would not be able to afford to rent, the city relies on data.  The data we have about demolished rental units is scarce, so we have to draw some conclusions about what data we do have.

From 2016-2018, 2699 units were lost to demolition. (see link) One survey reports that about 70 percent, or 1889 of those units, were affordable to low income households with incomes at or below 50 percent of median or 1889 units.

During same period the city spent $175 million to create 2,565 subsidized units but according to OH Annual Production Reports, only 1434 of those reached down and rented for those with incomes below 50 percent of median.

In effect, over this period, demolitions alone accounted for and led to a net loss of over 400 very low income units serving renters earning less than 50% of the median income in Seattle. Applications are pending right now for removal of another 910 units.

Due to this concern, I have brought forth another bill to address the displacement of our most vulnerable communities.  I initially wrote about this bill at the end of February, and was first heard in Councilmember Johnson’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee on March 6. You can watch that discussion here. Housing built through the MHA program will help build affordable housing, but in order to address the affordable housing crisis we will need many tools, and specifically tools to address the loss of affordable housing and displacement we are seeing in our vulnerable communities.

A review of permitting data reveals only about 1 in 10 new projects required removal of existing housing, conforming to city figures showing that during the 2016-2018 period the total units demolished (2699 units) amounted to about one-tenth the amount of new units added (28,244 new units). While the new units were expensive and smaller, most lost were low income and larger with many larger ones (single family rentals) serving families or up to 8 unrelated individuals.

In other words, if my legislation, as some people fear, created a disincentive to build on sites with existing housing, this would not significantly affect rates of new construction. Further, my bill is limited only to five areas of the city where the risk of displacement is high and access to opportunity low, further limiting the percentage of new construction that would be affected.

I want to thank Puget Sound Sage, Rainier Beach Action Coalition, Black Community Impact Alliance, Catholic Community Services, Housing Development Consortium, HomeSight, and WashingtonCAN for coming to present, and those of you that attended the Lunch and Learn this week hosted by Councilmember Mosqueda where we continued the conversation about displacement and the need to address it.

 


High Point Play Area Celebration

Since last August the High Point Play Area has been closed due to construction – this Saturday it is reopening! Come join in the fun this Saturday between 2pm and 4pm. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony, music, face painting, and food. Best of all it’s free and fun for all ages.

 


Civic Poet Applications Open through April 24

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture is seeking applications for Seattle’s Civic Poet.

Anastacia-Renee Tolbert is the current Civic Poet; the previous Civic Poet, Claudia Castro Luna, is the current Washington State Poet Laureate

The deadline to apply is April 24th; more information, and how to apply, is available here. Background on the Civic Poet program, started by former Councilmember Nick Licata is available here.

 


In-District Office Hours

On March 29, I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) from 2:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.  The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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

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

  • Friday, April 26, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, May 31, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, June 28, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, July 26, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, August 16, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, September 27, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, October 25, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, November 29, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, December 20, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
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Closed Captioning on Seattle Channel and in Public Accommodations; Anti-Displacement Lunch and Learn; Nowruz

March 15th, 2019


Closed Captioning on Seattle Channel and in Public Accommodations

As Chair of the City Council committee overseeing the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR), I am regularly in contact with the four commissions within SOCR. The Commission for People with Disabilities is one of those commissions.

The commission was created in 2010. Under Seattle Municipal Code section 3.14.933, its duties include  raising issues with elected officials and city departments concerning issues of importance to people with disabilities, assist city departments to fairly address the concerns of people with disabilities individually and as a protected class, and as appropriate, recommend policies and practices to city government.

One issue they’ve been raising is increasing access to public meetings, and public accommodations.

Access to Council meetings has increased significantly over the last few years, beginning with the installation of “hearing loops” in City Council Chambers, for those hard of hearing. The City Clerk, Monica Martinez Simmons, and former Councilmember Rasmussen helped make this happen.

More recently, I’ve worked with the commission and the Seattle Channel and City Clerk on adding captioning to broadcasts of Council meetings. This was added late last year for the web archive of Council meetings, but was available live only on the television broadcasts of Council meetings. This week it was added for the Seattle Channel’s live web broadcasts (if you load Monday’s Full Council meeting you’ll see a “CC” image you can click on to turn this feature on to see what it looks like).

The commission has also asked that the Council address the use of closed captioning in public accommodations. Commission vice-chair Eric Scheir presented in committee in early January describing his experience, and what other cities have done. Earlier this week draft legislation was presented to require use of closed captioning on TV receivers in public areas during regular hours.

We’ve heard support from Let’s Loop Seattle, the Hearing Loss Association of Washington, and the Hearing Loss Association of America.

I’ve shared this with the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council and the Seattle Restaurant Association to seek their input and I offered to meet with them.

As noted in the recitals in the draft legislation, Congress required broadcasters to add closed captioning in 1996 legislation, and in 2002 the FCC adopted closed captioning requirements for digital television receivers. In 2010, a similar requirement was added for Spanish-language programming. In 2010 Congress required the use of closed captioning on devices that can play back video, and in 2012 this requirement was extended to online programming.


Anti-Displacement Lunch and Learn

Please join me at Councilmember Mosqueda ‘s Lunch and Learn next Thursday, March 21, between 12pm and 1pm in the Council Chambers. As I’ve written about before, the City needs another tool to address displacement that occurs when new for-profit developers build. That is why I have brought forward a bill that would require additional mitigation.

California has a State Senate bill that will provide greater density, but also works to prevent displacement and address gentrification concerns. This article provides some background on how California got to where they are and how different community stakeholders have been able to come together to find a solution that will allow greater density while addressing the concerns about displacement.  This bill only allows the use of this new authority in locations that does not include housing occupied by tenants within the last seven years. It is not exclusive to housing occupied by low income tenants. That’s a really strong demolition control.

Community organizations such as Puget Sound Sage will join us at the table for the Lunch and Learn to discuss displacement and strategies to address it. You can RSVP for the Lunch and Learn here.



Nowruz

Nowruz – the Persian New Year – means New Day and marks the vernal equinox. For the third year in a row I am honored to help host and participate in the Nowruz Day event at City Hall. This Sunday hundreds will come to celebrate the Persian New Year – please join me and other elected officials. There will be music, dancing, art exhibits, booths, and speakers.

  • When: Sunday, March 17 between 1pm and 5pm
  • Where: Seattle City Hall

The event is free, and you can RSVP here.

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Bonuses for Hiring Police Officers; Bus Routes 120 and 50 getting additional service + other changes coming March 23rd; Sound Transit meeting in Delridge March 12th /Comment Period Extension; February Constituent Email Report

March 8th, 2019


Bonuses for Hiring Police Officers

The City Council passed legislation to create an incentive program for hiring police officers. I voted in support.

This legislation allows the Seattle Police Department to provide bonuses of up to $15,000 for officers who transfer from other departments, and up to $7,500 for new hires.

The legislation received from the Mayor allowed for bonuses up to $15,000 for lateral hires only. Amendments introduced by Councilmember González changed the legislation to also allow for bonuses for new officer of up to $7,500.

I support these changes, which align with SPD’s hiring plan. Over the next two years SPD is targeting hiring over four times as many new officers as lateral hires, so including new hires in the bonus program will make the overall program more effective.

Lateral hires have lower training costs, so a higher bonus makes sense.

Local cities offering incentives for “lateral” (i.e. transfer) hires include Bellevue ($16,000), Everett ($15,000), Renton ($10,000) and Tukwila ($5,000).

After record hiring of new officers in 2016 and 2017, hiring was down sharply in 2018. In a presentation SPD noted factors affecting the hiring pace include a shortage of new officers in numerous big city departments (SPD noted that 80% of large jurisdictions in this country have a significant number of vacancies currently); hiring incentives by other local jurisdiction, housing costs, historically low unemployment (amazon for example has lately had between 9,000 and 10,000 openings in Seattle) and flat wages.

The hiring bonus and increasing wages last year to be the highest in the state address two of those; after the Council’s vote last November to approve a new contract for officers, the starting base salary (not including overtime) for new officers is $81,000, rising to $106,000 after 54 months. Lateral hires start at a range of $91,000 to $99,600. Seattle officers now have the highest salaries in the state.

The presentation noted the Mayor’s office is convening a hiring and recruitment study group. I’ve requested they involve the Community Police Commission in that effort and use their July 2017 report, Recommendations of Community Police Commission for Recruitment, Hiring and Training. The study includes numerous recommendations that can inform this work and serve as a starting point, including comparisons to polices and studies in other cities.

 


Bus Routes 120 and 50 Getting Additional Service + Other Changes Coming March 23rd

As part of King County Metro’s biannual service updates, Bus Routes 120 and 50 will be getting additional service starting March 23rd.  Funding is provided by the Seattle Transportation Benefit District approved by Seattle voters; it runs through end of 2020.

Route 120 will now have 10- to 12-minute service all day and improved Sunday service to 15 minutes, including 28 new weekday trips and 43 more trips on Sundays. Here’s the timetable for service beginning March 23rd.  This is part of a ramp-up to converting the 120 to the Rapid Ride H Line. King County Metro and SDOT are collaborating on this project. The Seattle portion includes the Delridge Multimodal Corridor project, presented at the Sustainabilty & Transportation Committee earlier this week.  At the Full Council meeting on Monday I’ll be proposing an amendment to the Delridge Multimodal Corridor funding bill to ensure that SDOT continues to incorporate community recommendations.

The City Council voted last year to change SDOT funding criteria to allow for expanding service to Route 120, which is one of the 10 busiest routes in the Metro system.

Route 50 will have additional midday trips; here’s the timetable for service beginning March 23rd. My office analyzed SDOT and City plans last year and found that the Admiral Urban Village didn’t meet the standards for Urban Villages, and that it was an area listed as a priority for an upgrade in the City’s Frequent Transit Network.

A few months ago, I requested that SDOT consider a bus lane on 1st Avenue, where buses that used to use the Alaskan Way Viaduct now travel coming into Downtown. SDOT studied this but found that the curb-side lanes were not strong enough to handle buses or large trucks (buses have 2,500 to 8,000 times the impact on pavement of a car). So, buses are using the inside lanes.

I’ve asked SDOT about considering adding a stop in Pioneer Square for these buses, rather than a first stop Downtown at 3rd and Seneca. They are studying this, along with Metro; the issue is the strength of streets on 1st Avenue adjacent to curbs. They hope to have an answer by March 23rd.

Other changes are coming on March 23rd. The last 7 bus routes that use the Downtown Transit Tunnel will leave the tunnel, and run on 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th. The buses leaving the tunnel are the 41, 74, 101, 102, 150, 255 and ST 550; you can see which Downtown streets they will be using here.

This is to prepare the tunnel for light rail expansion to Northgate in 2021 (and Bellevue in 2023, and Lynnwood, Federal Way and Redmond in 2024).

Other changes starting March 23rd to adapt to the buses leaving the tunnel include all-door boarding and off-board fare payment at all bus stops Downtown on 3rd Avenue (as for the C Line currently); new transit corridors will be on 5th and 6th, and signal improvements on 2nd and 4th.

For the last few years, SDOT, KC Metro, Sound Transit and the Downtown Seattle association have collaborated on the One Center City program goal of moving people safely and efficiently through Center City, and Seattle, KC and ST have invested $30 million to help make this happen.

Metro’s Service Change website has additional information on service changes.

During the Convention Center debate, I voted in support of an amendment to delay buses coming out of the tunnel onto city streets until September, but it failed by a 5-4 vote. During the council discussions, SDOT estimated they would be able to minimize delays through the changes noted above.

Council required quarterly reporting from SDOT on a downtown-related projects; here’s a link to King County Metro’s announcement.

 


Sound Transit Meeting in Delridge March 12th /Comment Period Extension

On March 12, Sound Transit will hold a Delridge Station Community Workshop, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.

Here’s a link to Sound Transit’s event page, and the event flyer. This meeting is specific to the Delridge area.

Also, Sound Transit announced they are extending the deadline for comments in the formal scoping period by 15 days, until April 2nd. You can comment at the online open house or by e-mail at wsbscopingcomments@soundtransit.org.

 


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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Capital Projects Oversight Watch List Resolution; Seattle Office for Civil Rights seeks Women’s Commission Members; Improving Curbside Recycling; It’s All Happening at the Zoo

March 1st, 2019


Capital Projects Oversight Watch List Resolution

As we’ve all seen, sometimes large capital projects run well over budget. Recent examples of City projects include the Seawall, the utility billing system, and now the potential Center City Streetcar.

To address this, last year I introduced legislation to establish enhanced quarterly reporting requirements for the City’s Capital Improvement Program projects, and to use a “stage-gate” appropriation process for selected projects.

The reporting requirements establish risk level based on scope, schedule, budget, coordination, community impact, and political risk.

On Wednesday the Finance & Neighborhoods Committee voted to approve a resolution to establish the 2019 “Watch List” of large, complex capital projects that will require enhanced quarterly monitoring reports for 2019.

After the committee discussion, I’ll be proposing an amendment on Monday to note the Council expects the Finance & Neighborhoods Committee (or its successor), which focuses on budget issues, as the body that reviews these reports.

Currently, the only time departments are required to provide cost estimates to the Council for major projects is when the annual budget is proposed in late September. This requirement for quarterly reports will ensure greater transparency and more timely information for Council oversight.

Thanks to Councilmember Bagshaw for her willingness to establish the Finance & Neighborhoods Committee as the committee that receives these reports.

Additional background information is available here.

Last year’s legislation established the reporting schedule for departments at eight weeks after the end of the quarter, so the first quarter report is expected in late May.

An update on a trial project list from 2018 is expected later this month.

The 2019 Watch List included in the resolution is listed below; the CIP Project ID is the number used in the Capital Improvement Program. You can look up projects using either the project name or the ID number.


Seattle Office for Civil Rights Seeks Women’s Commission Members

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is currently recruiting to fill four vacancies on the Seattle Women’s Commission. The Seattle Women’s Commission advises the Mayor, City Council, and city departments on matters that relate to women’s issues.

The Commission seeks candidates with diverse backgrounds in women’s rights, community engagement, law, public policy, advocacy, social services, education, and business and who are committed to racial equity. Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor, City Council, and the Commission.

Participation on the Commission requires a minimum time commitment of 10-15 hours per month. This includes attendance at monthly meetings, participation in committee work, meetings with City officials, communicating with state legislators, and addressing women’s issues.

Commissioners are appointed for two years and all appointments are subject to confirmation by the City Council and serve without compensation.  Those interested in being considered should email a letter of interest, resume, and a completed Seattle Women’s Commission application to Marta Idowu by Tuesday, March 19 by 5 p.m.

The Commission encourages individuals who are interested in applying to attend a monthly Commission meeting.  Meetings are held in City Hall, in Room L280 on the third Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m.  Commission meetings are open to the public.

 


Improving Curbside Recycling

Seattle has always been a leader in recycling efforts.

In 2018, China’s new recycling policy had the unintended result of causing a global glut of recycled materials, as well as raising the costs of sorting and processing, in order to meet these new standards. (If you are interested, you may want to read this article about China’s new policy, called the “National Sword,” later renamed Blue Sky 2018.)

King County Solid Waste Division, Seattle Public Utilities, and other city governments and solid waste contractors, formed the “Responsible Recycling Task Force,” in order to take a new look at recycling practices. They engaged in a 10-month study to review issues such as contamination, local infrastructure, markets for recycled materials and new international quality control rules (such as China’s), as well as trying to create a regional approach to waste management.

Plastic bags cause machinery to clog and contaminate other materials. Though no changes are being made to what can be placed in comingled curbside recycling carts, here are some new recommendations by the task force:

  • Expanding the Wrap Recycling Action Program and removing plastic bags and film from curbside recycling programs
  • Pursuing different options for shredded paper – another item that clogs machinery

Bills being proposed in the Washington State legislature this session are supported by the Task Force:

  • Banning the use of single carry-out bags statewide
  • Creating a plastics stewardship program statewide, which would facilitate the processing of plastics.
  • Establishing a Washington recycling development center to support the creation of new markets for recycled materials.

If you are interested in more information, please see Recycle Right.

 


It’s All Happening at the Zoo

The Zoo is inviting you for a day-long event called “Zoo for All: Celebrating Our Cultures.”

In partnership with organizations like El Centro de la Raza, Chief Seattle Club, and REWA, the zoo is creating a festive day that includes a resource fair and performances by community members to commemorate their art and culture. The Zoo welcomes all organizations to participate. The event runs from 9:00am to 6:00pm that day.

In addition to this event, they are planning two more Zoo for All dates in the coming months. Please reach out to the Zoo and let them know if you would like to participate in the resource fair or other programming. They need partners like to help make these days extra special.

  1. Zoo for All: Celebrating All Abilities, Tuesday, July 2, 2019
  2. Zoo for All: Honoring Those Who Serve, Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Zoo also recently briefed me about some of their community access programs, and District 1 specific information. For example, as of May 2018 there were 1,478 zoo member households in D1, and 1,768 students were reached through educational programming between 2015 and 2017. The Zoo also offers a Community Access Program to make the Zoo accessible for underserved families; they partner with over 600 government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations to distribute more than 100,000 free admissions annually. If you’re an organization that’s interested in partnering with the Zoo for their Community Access program, please visit their site here. And finally, if you’re a low-income individual, senior, or interested in other discounted ticket options, visit their site here.

 

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Reminder: Sound Transit Open House next Wednesday + Visualizations/Displacement details; Neighborhood Street Fund Rankings—South Park Meeting, Deadline Extended; Seattle Office for Civil Rights Seeks Human Rights Commission members; Orca Emergency Recovery Letter; Anti-Displacement Ordinance

February 22nd, 2019


Reminder: Sound Transit Open House next Wednesday + Visualizations/Displacement Details

Sound Transit will host a public open house about the ST3 light rail line in West Seattle on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 6 – 8:30 p.m. at Alki Masonic Center.

The open house is being held as part of the Environmental Impact Scoping (EIS) process. Public comment is open through March 18th. Comments can be given about the range of alternatives that should be studied in the EIS, and other topics and impacts that you’d like to see addressed. It will inform the Sound Transit Board decision on alternatives, as well as impacts, to study.

Two end-to-end lines are currently proposed. In the West Seattle segments, they include a “blue” line with an elevated alignment through Delridge and tunnel stations at Avalon and the Alaska Junction. The “yellow” line is all elevated, as is the Sound Transit “red” representative alignment included in the ballot measure.

Sound Transit has also released new visualizations along the alignments from West Seattle to Ballard. I have requested additional visualizations for the Avalon station area.

At the February 1 meeting of the Sound Transit Elected Leadership Group, I requested additional details regarding potential impacts of the different alignments in specific West Seattle neighborhoods; the draft evaluation matrices included information about potential displacement for the entire end-to-end line, and noted generally where it could occur, but didn’t include estimates for each West Seattle neighborhood; that is now available.  The information comes with a caveat that it is based on limited engineering and doesn’t include construction staging or underground station entrances.  The EIS process will allow for significantly greater detail.  Here is a quick summary:

RESIDENTIAL DISPLACEMENT

  • Estimated residential impacts of each of the alternatives are similar in Delridge.
  • In the Avalon/Junction area, the yellow elevated option has significantly higher residential impacts than a tunnel (blue).
  • In the Avalon/Junction area, the residential impacts of the representative (red) option are lower than that in the yellow elevated option but greater than the tunnel (blue) option.

BUSINESS DISPLACEMENT

  • In Delridge, the blue option is estimated to have higher business impacts.
  • The yellow elevated option has greater business impacts than the blue tunnel option in Avalon/Junction.
  • The red representative option has the highest business impacts.

Sound Transit is also holding a community workshop in Delridge on March 12th, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. This workshop will be focused exclusively on the Delridge area.

Additional information is available at Sound Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions website. You can compare alternatives by neighborhood or end-to-end at the Alternatives page. Some of the key documents available at the website include the detailed Alternatives Development Report and the Scoping Report. Additional background documents are linked here.

You can comment online here.

 


Neighborhood Street Fund Rankings—South Park Meeting, Deadline Extended

The Neighborhood Street Fund community prioritization phase has been extended to March 1, due to Seattle’s recent snowstorm, and the cancellation of community meetings. A new meeting has been scheduled for Monday, February 25th at the South Park Hall, at 1253 South Cloverdale.

You can also vote online. Here are all the project applications in District 1; you can link to information about each project. You can vote online here, selecting whether a project is high priority, lower priority, or in between.

The 2015 Move Seattle Levy included $24 million for the Neighborhood Street Fund. Projects are submitted by residents over three three-year cycles. We’re now in the second cycle, for 2019-2021.

 


Seattle Office for Civil Rights Seeks Human Rights Commission Members

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is currently recruiting to fill five vacancies on the Seattle Human Rights Commission. The Commission advises the Mayor, City Council and city departments on human rights and social justice issues.

The Commission seeks candidates with diverse backgrounds in human rights, law, public policy, advocacy, social services, education, and business. Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor, City Council, and the Commission.

Participation on the Commission requires a minimum time commitment of 10-15 hours per month. This includes attendance at monthly meetings, participation in committee work, meetings with City officials, communicating with state legislators, and addressing human rights concerns. The Commission also hears appeals of discrimination cases from the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.

Commissioners are appointed for two years and all appointments are subject to confirmation by the City Council and serve without compensation.  Those interested in being considered should email a letter of interest, resume, and a completed Seattle Human Rights Commission application to Marta Idowu (marta.idowu@seattle.gov) by Tuesday, March 19 by 5 p.m.

The Commission encourages individuals who are interested in applying to attend a monthly Commission meeting.  Meetings are held in City Hall, in Room L280 on the first Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m.  Commission meetings are open to the public.

Additional information on the Work of the Human Rights Commission is available here.

 


Orca Emergency Recovery Letter

This summer the Southern Resident orca population lost three members, and we witnessed the heart-wrenching spectacle of a mother refusing to part from her dead calf for seventeen days.

The Southern Resident Orca population now stands at 74, the fewest in 30 years, and the fewest since they were classified as endangered in 2004 in the United States, and in Canada in 2003.

In March of 2018, Governor Inslee established Southern Orca Task Force, which issued their Report and recommendations in November. The three major threats they face are lack of food, disturbance from noise and pollution, and the threat of oil spills.

This week I co-signed a letter in support of legislation to address these issues. Bills at the state legislature include bills concerning Orca Emergency Response and Oil Spill Prevention:

  • HB 1194 and SB 5153, Pollution Prevention for Our Future Act
  • HB 1579, Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing chinook abundance; SB 5580, Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing habitat and forage fish abundance.
  • HB 1580 and SB 5577, Concerning the protection of southern resident orca whales from vessels
  • HB 1578 and SB 5578, Reducing threats to southern resident killer whales by improving the safety of oil transportation

Please consider contacting your representatives to support these bills as well.

 


Anti-Displacement Ordinance

This week the Mayor signed an Executive Order which proposes changes to the Housing Levy policies, in support of Community Preference policies, in response to Council Resolution 31754, passed in 2017. Done well, these policies can be an additional tool towards ensuring that the people who make our city work and keep it strong and diverse are able to live in our city. As described in the March 2018 status report to the Council, a community preferences policy will be useful for our non-profit developers.  I look forward to working with Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda when she brings this forward for a vote this Spring.

However, we also desperately need a tool to address the displacement that occurs when for-profit developers build.  Displacement is a challenging issue and we need many tools to address it. For this reason, I introduced this week a separate bill to address those instances when existing affordable units in areas having a high risk of displacement and low access to opportunity in the Growth and Equity: Analyzing Impacts on Displacement and Opportunity Related to Seattle’s Growth Strategy, in the Comprehensive Plan Seattle 2035.

This ordinance would use authority granted under the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) to create a requirement for developers to mitigate the impacts resulting from the loss of affordable housing in those areas of the city that, if we didn’t do so, the result would be a failure to fulfill our obligation to “affirmatively promote fair housing” — in other words, in areas where disproportionate displacement of communities of color and other protected classes is likely to occur. See upper left of this image:

MHA Framework legislation, passed in 2016, Section 2.A.2.a, stated: “The Council intends to consider whether to include higher performance and payment amounts, subject to statutory limits, for those areas where the increase in development capacity would be likely to increase displacement risk.  Resolution 31733, passed in 2017, stated: The Council intends to consider a range of strategies to increase affordable units sufficient to offset the affordable units at risk of demolition due to new development.” 

I’m proud that the Council has a long legislative record of its commitment to address displacement.  Now it’s time to act again.

I have, over the years, expressed my great concern that the City describes MHA as “housing displacement mitigation tool,” but has badly analyzed how development removes more affordable housing than the resources from MHA are sufficient to replace.

For example, in the case of the University District MHA upzone in 2017, the City estimated that only 40-275 units of existing affordable units of housing would be demolished over 20 years.   The EIS estimated likely demolition by identifying specific redevelopable parcels and quantifying their existing housing (zero, for parking lots and commercial buildings).  The “full buildout” scenario wherein construction occurs on all redevelopable parcels to the full capacity of the proposed rezone was estimated to result in the demolition of 275 homes over 20 years.  In less than 2 years, based upon a Council Central Staff analysis of new development projects that are currently in some stage of having their Master Use Permit issued or Early Design Guidance reviewed and that are subject to the new zoning put in place in 2017, 96 units of affordable units are already planned for demolition.

Using the same approach used in the University District in 2017, the City estimates that over 20 years 574 units of housing will be demolished in MHA rezone areas.  My concerns about displacement today are heightened, especially considering how far afield the University District estimate has proven to be.

Finally, here is a link to the companion resolution which became available on Thursday and is a working draft. Please let me know ASAP is you have questions, comments, or concerns about it.

There is still time to contact Councilmembers and share your thoughts about MHA, and my Anti-Displacement ordinance. The Selected Committee on Citywide MHA intends on voting on amendments as well as the overall package on Monday, February 25. It will then be held for a Full Council vote on March 18.

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Thank you to SDOT, City and KC Metro staff; MHA Public Hearing; Sound Transit Scoping Period Open, February 27 Open House in West Seattle; SPU Sewer/Flooding Survey; South Park Safe Streets Projects open house February 19; Your Voice Your Choice + Neighborhood Street Fund online voting deadline February 22

February 15th, 2019


Thank You to SDOT, City and KC Metro Staff 

Many thanks to everyone who helped out in some way during the snowstorm. Times like this are a real reminder of the importance of public service.

SDOT workers worked long shifts to clear the roads, after being very busy during the three week closure of SR99. Thank you for your hard work.

Thanks to emergency workers, to Police Officers, and Firefighters who kept on working to uphold public safety during difficult conditions. Thanks to the Navigation Team members for saving lives, and shelter providers for staying open, and City workers who staffed emergency shelters at community centers.  400 people living unsheltered came inside during the storms.  Now the City’s next challenge is to help those people access permanent housing and shelter options before those shelters close on February 18.  The Human Services Department is hosting a resource fair at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall for those people staying in severe weather shelters this weekend.

Thanks to our utility workers in Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light, who helped keep things running in difficult conditions.

And thanks to King County Metro bus drivers; they too had a lot to do during the closure of SR99.

King County Metro, for the first time since it was created in 2008 in response to a severe storm, activated their Emergency Snow Network (ESN). Of course, with only 60 routes ESN (of 237 total regular King County routes), it was inevitable that some areas of Seattle were removed from an active ESN route.  For instance my neighborhood, Highland Park, lost it’s 131 service and had to walk down to 16th Avenue to catch a 128.  Similarly areas of Alki, Admiral, and Arbor Heights were isolated from service.

Nevertheless, the situation in South Park was unique.  Under the ESN they had no service in South Park, and are isolated from the rest of the City by the South Park bridge.  For that reason, I asked King County and SDOT if some service could be added, especially given South Park’s relatively flat topography.  Though South Park was without any service whatsoever for 4 days, they were able to add a South Park Shuttle. I am very appreciative of their doing so.  I will be asking that the ESN be permanently amended to include this service for South Park should (when) the ESN be activated again.

KC Metro General Manager Rob Gannon has posted an informative description of KC Metro’s efforts during the storm. He notes KC Metro is doing a comprehensive review of how the ESN can best serve residents, and invites comments.

 


MHA Public Hearing

The Public Hearing on the  Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program will be on Thursday, February 21, at 5:30pm in the Council Chambers. This is your opportunity, and I encourage you, to come share your thoughts about this proposal with the Council and to comment on amendments you are interested in. The committee intends on voting on the legislation on February 25 after Full Council.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit the committee webpage here, you can also sign up to receive committee agendas while you’re there.  And finally, you can also see the committee schedule which will be updated if there are changes.

For a quick primer: MHA requires developers to contribute to affordable housing either by paying a fee based upon the square footage of the building that they are building or by “performing,” which means devoting a percentage of housing units to be offered at lower rents.  In exchange for that contribution, the city must grant a small bit of additional development capacity.  I believe that, with the proposed zoning changes that are intrinsic to MHA, we are granting additional development capacity to developers, consequently, we should be getting the value of that additional development capacity as contributions to affordable housing. Some believe the current MHA program does require developers to contribute sufficiently to affordable housing. Others do not. Although I support the program, I am in the latter camp of those that say that the affordable housing contribution should be greater.

The city plans to develop 6,000 affordable units with the implementation of the MHA program.

The broad principles of the MHA program were approved by the City Council in the Fall of 2016 MHA framework legislation. This framework legislation laid out how all developers would newly be required to contribute to affordable housing in all developments in exchange for additional zoning capacity.  MHA requirements apply to development after a rezone is approved that increases the maximum height or floor area ratio (FAR) for the area. Most areas where MHA applies will have an (M), (M1), or (M2) suffix added to the zone name identifying the affordable housing requirements for that zone. Requirements vary based on housing costs in each area of the city and the scale of the zoning change.

I have been working with community members in each of the Urban Villages in District 1, specifically South Park, Admiral, West Seattle Junction, Westwood-Highland Park, and the Morgan Junction.  They have helped me to develop a number of amendments that will, if passed, make changes to the current proposal to reflect the goals held by the community organizations representing those communities, while still implementing MHA in all areas proposed from MHA implementation.

Specifically, I am proposing five amendments with the Junction urban village that would upzone those five areas currently zoned as Single Family to Residential Small Lot (RSL), as opposed to the Executive’s proposal for Low Rise 1, 2, and 3 zoning. The reasoning for this is that the Junction has been identified as the location of a future light rail station; however, the specific alignment and location of the station have not yet been determined. Once that is determined, it will become more clear which properties Sound Transit will need to acquire. This is important because increasing development capacity in these locations may increase the value of the land, and Sound Transit is required to pay for the highest and best use of the land. Sound Transit is already needing third party funding for the development of these lines, and I do not want to see that problem exacerbated. The Community has expressed a desire for additional zoning capacity, but in accordance with the light rail station. To that end, the Office of Planning and Community has committed to beginning a neighborhood planning process in 2019 and 2020.

Additionally, three other amendments I have proposed, one in the Morgan Junction and two in the Westwood-Highland Park urban village, would provide better stair-stepping and avoid harsh transitions from one zone to the next.

At the last meeting of the Council’s Select Committee on Mandatory Housing Affordability, I presented these amendments and some of my colleagues expressed concern.  I am proud of District 1, for the most part, embracing the conversion of Single Family Zoning in Urban Villages to RSL.  This is significant progress from a year ago when there was fierce opposition in some corners to any changes to Single Family Zoning in Urban Villages.  I believe it’s my responsibility, in governing to collaborate with my constituents, and in that spirit, I will continue to champion these amendments.  I encourage you to come to the public hearing on Thursday the 21, to share your thoughts about these amendments, because I could use your help.

In addition, and critically important, I have a separate bill to address those instances when existing affordable units in areas identified as having a higher risk of displacement and low access to opportunity by the MHA Final Environmental Impact Statement are proposed to be demolished as part of new residential development.  This ordinance would use authority granted under the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) to create a requirement to mitigate the impacts resulting from the loss of affordable housing in those areas of the city that, if we didn’t do so, the result would be a failure to fulfill our obligation to “affirmatively promote fair housing” — in other words, in areas where disproportionate displacement of communities of color and other protected classes is likely to occur.   See upper left-hand corner below.

The MHA Framework legislation, passed in 2016, stated:   “The Council intends to consider whether to include higher performance and payment amounts, subject to statutory limits, for those areas where the increase in development capacity would be likely to increase displacement risk…the Council will consider whether to implement additional or alternate MHA program measures to increase affordable units sufficient to offset the affordable units at risk of demolition as a result of the increase in development capacity due to MHA.” – MHA-R Framework Ordinance (Ordinance 125108, Section 2.A.2.a).  I have, over the years, expressed my great concern that the City describes MHA as “housing displacement mitigation tool,” but has badly analyzed how development removes more affordable housing than the resources from MHA are sufficient to replace.

For example, in the case of the University District MHA upzone in 2017, the City estimated that only 40-275 units of existing affordable units of housing would be demolished over 20 years.   The EIS estimated likely demolition by identifying specific redevelopable parcels and quantifying their existing housing (zero, for parking lots and commercial buildings).  The “full buildout” scenario wherein construction occurs on all redevelopable parcels to the full capacity of the proposed rezone was estimated to result in the demolition of 275 homes over 20 years.  In just 2 years, based upon a Council Central Staff analysis of new development projects that are currently in some stage of having their Master Use Permit issued or Early Design Guidance reviewed and that are subject to the new zoning put in place in 2017, 96 units of affordable units are already planned for demolition.  An analysis by an advocacy organization, the Displacement Coalition, places the estimate at 168 units planned for demolition. Contrast either of these numbers to the 2017 estimate. that 40-275 units of existing affordable units of housing would be demolished over 20 years.

Using the same approach used in the University District in 2017, the City estimates that over 20 years only 574 units of housing will be demolished in the MHA rezone areas.  Considering how far afield the University District estimate was, you may understand my concerns about displacement today.

Finally, there is also a companion resolution that will identify many of the future planning priorities for each of the Districts.  I will share that when it’s available.

After Thursday’s public hearing, the Select Committee on Citywide MHA will meet in February 25 after Full Council to vote on the package. It will then be held until the March 18 Full Council meeting for consideration.

 


Sound Transit Scoping Period Open, February 27 Open House in West Seattle

Today Sound Transit began the Environmental Impact Statement process for ST3 light rail from West Seattle to Ballard. The first step is the formal public comment “scoping” period, that runs through March 18th.  It will inform what Sound Transit studies during the EIS process.

Sound Transit will host a public open house in West Seattle on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 6 – 8:30 p.m. at Alki Masonic Center. As a partial response to a request made by myself and King County Councilmember (and Sound Transit Board Member) Joe McDermott, on behalf of Delridge residents, Sound Transit is also holding a community workshop in Delridge on March 12th, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

After the EIS Scoping period closes, the Stakeholder Advisory Committee will make recommendations of what to study in the EIS; the Elected Leadership Group will make recommendations in April. The Sound Transit Board is scheduled to decide on May 23rd.

Information about the light rail alternatives is available at Sound Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions website. You can compare alternatives by neighborhood or end-to-end at the Alternatives page. Some of the key documents available at the website include the detailed Alternatives Development Report and the Scoping Report. Additional background documents are linked here.

You can submit your comments at the public meetings, or comment online here; by e-mail at wsbscopingcomments@soundtransit.org; by voicemail at 833-972-2666, or by postal mail at West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions, c/o Lauren Swift, Sound Transit, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle, WA 98104.

Translation options are available on the upper right corner of the website.

The draft EIS will be published in late 2020. After a public comment period, Sound Transit will publish a Final EIS in 2022. The Sound Transit Board will then adopt an alignment; the environmental process will conclude when the FTA issues a Record of Decision.

The EIS is required as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for projects applying for federal funding. The Federal Transit Administration published Sound Transit’s Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail earlier this week.

Here’s a complete list of the other public meetings:

 


SPU Sewer/Flooding Survey

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is studying their drainage and wastewater system, and they are asking you to participate in this survey so that they can learn more about flooding problems you’ve had at your home, workplace, or anywhere in your neighborhood.

You can also use this site to drop a pin on a map for any flooding locations.  You can add comments and photos as well. Helping identify locations of flooding and standing water will help SPU better plan for future solutions.

 


South Park Safe Streets Projects Open House February 19

On February 19 Duwamish Valley Safe Streets, Seattle Neighborhood Group, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON) will host an open-house about pedestrian and bike safety projects being planned in South Park. It’s at the South Park Community Center, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

SDOT representatives and community members will talk about their work at:

  • 5th and Cloverdale
  • SR-99 underpass
  • 8th and Cloverdale crosswalk improvements
  • 8th Ave sidewalk improvements
  • Potential solutions to dangerous freight traffic through the neighborhood.

You can ask questions and share your ideas with SDOT.

City staff will have 3 minutes each to give an overview of their projects. After that, each project will have a display table with more detailed information for people to take a deeper dive into issues they care most about. The Department of Neighborhoods will provide interpreters and food.

Seattle Neighborhood Group’s event page is here. Here’s an update on these and other projects in December.

 


Your Voice Your Choice + Neighborhood Street Fund Online Voting Deadline February 22

The Your Voice Your Choice and the Neighborhood Street Fund grant programs have upcoming deadline for Friday, February 22nd.

The Your Voice Your Choice Parks & Streets program is collecting proposals from community members through the 22nd.
You can send in a proposal here by clicking on the “Submit your ideas button. You can also submit ideas in-person at Seattle Public Library branches. Projects much benefit the public, and cost $90,000 or less. Here are examples of eligible projects. All you need to do is list the project idea, location, why it’s needed, and who the project benefits. You can list contact information, but it’s not required. The website has more information about timeline and next steps.

The Neighborhood Street Fund is collecting comment on projects proposed by the community. You can comment on the importance of proposed Neighborhood Street Fund projects here. You can click on individual projects on the map for a project summary (District 1 is toward the middle of the page); the full project proposals are available here; District 1 projects are listed at the start of the page.

Neighborhood Street Fund awards are given by district. The next step will be additional review by SDOT, and a public vote on the top projects.

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SDOT Snow Response interactive map and arterials prioritized for clearing; Garbage Collection in Inclement Weather; The Future of Camp Second Chance; West Seattle Junction RPZ proposal up for public comment through March 15; February 28 meeting; January Constituent Email Report; In-District Office Hours

February 8th, 2019


SDOT Snow Response Interactive Map and Arterials Prioritized for Clearing

Winter weather has arrived, so here’s information about SDOT’s snow response resources:  SDOT’s interactive map showing which roads have been treated or cleared in the last hour, three hours, and twelve hours. You can view it by neighborhood.

Here’s SDOT’s Winter Weather Response webpage, and SDOT’s Snow/Ice Service Level map of the arterial streets they prioritize for keeping open in snow and ice. They seek to achieve bare and wet pavement on specified streets within 12 hours after a significant lull in a storm.

SDOT’s winter weather response brochure is available here, and also available in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Somali, Tagalog, Korean, Oromo, Tigrinya, and Amharic.

Stay safe out there!


Garbage Collection in Inclement Weather

If your garbage is normally collected on Monday, you are aware that collections did not occur. Collections also did not occur on Tuesday, but was pushed back by one day, and customers from Tuesday onward should have had their garbage collected already. If you are a Monday customer, your collection was delayed a full week, and you are asked to put out all your garbage on 2/11 and you will not be charged an additional amount.

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


The Future of Camp Second Chance

Many people have been contacting me about the future of Camp Second Chance at Myers Way.

As you may recall, in December of 2016, the Mayor announced that Camp Second Chance would be one of the city’s six sanctioned encampments. The encampment occupants have worked to make the Myers Way location safe and ensure that it is a good neighbor to the surrounding community. Camp Second Chance has grown to become a place for security and community – moving many people on to get permanent housing.

The Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) Section 23.42.056, Subsection E.1 states that: “A permit for a transitional encampment interim use under this Section 23.42.056 may be authorized for up to one year from the date of permit issuance. A permit for a transitional encampment may be renewed one time for up to one year.” (emphasis added). Nevertheless, there are other sanctioned encampments in the city that have operated for more than 2 years. The city has used its authority under the Temporary Use Permit process (a different SMC) to permit sanctioned encampments to maintain their location beyond two years.

Camp Second Chance has been located on Myers’ Way under this authority for nearly two years.  The Mayor’s office, the Interim Director of Human Services Jason Johnson, and his staff have been leading the decision-making over the future of Camp Second Chance. You can get in contact with HSD here and the Mayor’s office here.

Here are the criteria that the Executive will use the decision-making process:

  • First, the Homeless Strategy and Investment Division of HSD, in partnership with Department of Neighborhoods and FAS staff conduct a 30-day community notification and open comment period process regarding the renewal of operating permits. Comments are received via email, voicemail, and recorded at community meetings.
  • Secondly, they will evaluate whether the program is meeting performance standards. In this case, that is the number of unduplicated individuals and families that have had their emergency needs met and the percentage of households who exit to permanent housing.
  • They will also review the property to determine if physical deterioration poses a serious threat to residents and the surrounding community long term.
  • And lastly, they will explore and weigh significant unforeseen impacts on the community that are attributable to the ongoing operation of the village.

I attended a meeting at Fauntleroy Church and another at Highland Park Action Council (HPAC) to hear from our neighbors. As you may know, HPAC is conducting a survey to provide guidance on its decision whether to support the permit extension. I encourage you to take the short survey here.

I have renewed my request to the Executive to work on the priorities, from HPAC, heard last year when the Executive was considering the one year extension permitted under SMC 23.42.056E1. I support HPAC in its efforts to convince the Human Services Department, the Seattle Police Department, the Department of Neighborhoods, and the Seattle Parks Department to work with the community in its reasonable goals to ensure that the City:

  1. Develop written neighborhood protocols for sanctioned encampments for the public
  2. Facilitate a MOA between SPD and KC Sheriff to address cross-jurisdictional public safety challenges
  3. Develop a plan for the eventual transfer of the Myers Way Property from the Fleets and Administrative Services department to the Seattle Parks Department


West Seattle Junction RPZ Proposal up for Public Comment through March 15; February 28 Meeting

SDOT has released proposed parking changes for the West Seattle Junction. The proposed changes would establish new time limits on parking in some areas, and establish a residential parking zone. You can see a map of the proposal at SDOT’s West Seattle Junction Area website.

This proposal is very similar to the draft SDOT released in July. I requested information about what had changed; here’s a link to a document showing the initial proposal, and the changes in the final proposal compared to the initial proposal.

SDOT is required to hold a public hearing and a public comment period before making a decision about whether to adopt these changes. The public hearing will be on Thursday, February 28 at the Senior Center of West Seattle @ California Way SW and SW Oregon Street, from 6:30 to 8:30. SDOT will provide a 15-minute presentation at 6:30 p.m., and public comment will begin at 6:45.

You can also comment through the public comment website through March 15.

Here’s the FAQ about the proposal, and the results of SDOT’s summer 2018 survey.

The process began in 2017 with a “West Seattle Area Access Study,” that was released in February, 2018.  A residential parking study was released in April, 2018 that was requested by the Junction Neighborhood Organization (JuNO).

SDOT last studied parking in the West Seattle Junction in 2009 and didn’t recommend any paid parking; an earlier citywide parking study in 2002 also mentioned the West Seattle Junction.

SDOT policy is designed to ensure availability of 1-2 open spaces per blockface (i.e. one side of a block).  This can involve setting time limits for parking, or adding paid parking.  SDOT is conducting parking studies in several other neighborhoods in Seattle.

Of Seattle’s 7 Council Districts, District 1 and District 5 (North Seattle) are the only districts in Seattle without any on-street paid parking zones.


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


In-District Office Hours

On February 22, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.  The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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

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

  • Friday, March 29, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, April 26, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, May 31, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, June 28, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, July 26, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, August 16, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, September 27, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, October 25, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, November 29, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, December 20, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
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Sound Transit Level 3 Analysis Released/Delridge Letter; 48th and Charlestown Park Development; Your Voice Your Choice website open for proposals

February 1st, 2019


Sound Transit Level 3 Analysis Released/Delridge Letter

Sound Transit has released its “Level 3” analysis for three end-to-end alternatives for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail line; here’s a link to the presentation from today’s meeting of the Sound Transit Elected Leadership Group (ELG).

At today’s meeting I requested Sound Transit provide visualizations of what the options will look like, and greater detail on potential residential and business impacts in West Seattle by neighborhood.

In April the ELG is scheduled to make recommendations to the Sound Transit Board about which alternatives to study in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); the Board is expected to make a decision on May 23rd.

The timeline for developing alternatives, along with the formal public comment period, has been delayed due to the shutdown of the federal government.  Any project seeking federal funding must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Under NEPA, the Federal Transit Administration needs to process and publish a formal Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS in the Federal Register before the EIS process can begin. This wasn’t possible during the shutdown; since the shutdown ended, the FTA faces a backlog.

The formal public comment period (called “Scoping”) will begin once the Federal Register publishes Sound Transit’s notice. At that time Sound Transit will announce the public meetings, and release visualizations.

Today’s presentation notes that one option is to present two recommendations: one requiring additional funding, and another that does not require additional funding. As currently conceived, both the “blue” option that includes a tunnel from the Avalon station to the Alaska Junction and the “yellow” elevated option, would require additional funding. At this point, only the red, “representative” alignment would require no additional funding.  The yellow line is estimated at $400-500 million more for the entire West Seattle to Ballard alignment, and the blue option is $1.9 – 2.1 billion more.  Sound Transit was asked today to determine whether, by “mixing and matching” segments from other alignments the cost of the “yellow” elevated option could be reduced.  Additional funding would likely need to be identified by 2022 for any option that exceeds the cost of the representative alignment.

Earlier this week King County Councilmember McDermott and I sent a letter to Sound Transit CEO Rogoff requesting that the Elected Leadership Group have an opportunity to further discuss the Delridge neighborhood prior to making recommendations in April.

 


48th and Charlestown Park Development

The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department is seeking public comment on a landbanked site at 48th Ave SW and SW Charlestown St.

Parks will be working on the planning and design of the park through Fall 2019 and hope to begin construction in the Spring of 2020.

To share your thoughts about what kind of park you would like at this location take the survey online here, or you can attend a community meeting on Sunday, February 10 from 10am – 2pm at the West Seattle Farms Market (on California Ave between Alaska and Oregon).

 


Your Voice Your Choice Website Open for Proposals

The Your Voice Your Choice Parks & Streets program is collecting proposals through February 22nd.

You can send in a proposal here by clicking on the “Submit your ideas” button. You can also submit ideas in-person at Seattle Public Library branches.

Projects much benefit the public, and cost $90,000 or less. Here are examples of eligible projects.

All you need to do is list the project idea, location, why it’s needed, and who the project benefits. You can list contact information, but it’s not required.

After the “Idea Collection” phase ends on February 22nd, volunteers will be recruited to narrow down the ideas into 8-10 proposals per Council District. You’ll have a chance to vote on the final list of projects in July.

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Center City Streetcar Could Impact Other Needed Transit Investments, Such as a Sound Transit 3 Tunnel for West Seattle; Seattle Public Utilities Seismic Report; Language Preference Points Bring Help for SPD Recruitment; South Park King Tide Event; Neighborhood Street Fund Meetings & Online Voting

January 28th, 2019


Center City Streetcar Could Impact Other Needed Transit Investments, Such as a Sound Transit 3 Tunnel for West Seattle

Last week Mayor Durkan announced updated construction and operations cost estimates for the proposed Center City Streetcar on 1st Avenue.

The construction cost estimate has increased to $286 million, and operations costs have increased to $28 million annually.  Both represent significant increases over previous estimates, with large funding gaps. A potential opening would now be in 2025 rather than late 2018 as previously estimated in a 2015 grant application to the Federal Transit Administration.

I appreciate the Mayor’s commitment to providing realistic cost estimates; this stands in stark contrast to the previous administration and previous SDOT leadership. However, I remain very skeptical that building a center city streetcar would be the best use of very limited transportation funds.  I have also long questioned whether the streetcar is truly a transportation project or whether it serves primarily economic development interests as Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat did as well in his column last week.

The Council adopted a measure in the 2019 budget requiring Council approval of any construction spending.

Construction cost estimates

The updated construction cost estimate is $286 million; exactly double – a 100% increase from the 2015 estimate.  The August independent report ordered by the Mayor estimated $252 million, up from $198 million in 2017. The latest increases are in part related to serious mistakes made with the streetcar vehicle design; here’s a link to a memo and report about that.

The funding gap construction is reported to be $65 million. However, this figure contains three assumptions: first, that the City will receive a $75 million FTA grant; secondly, it includes $45 million in bond funding which is a discretionary Council decision; and third, as noted in the presentation, there may be additional costs associated with extending or cancelling the current vehicle procurement contract.

While there would likely be costs to stopping the project, even with those costs, doing so would make significant additional funds available for other transportation purposes.

Operations cost estimates

The updated operations cost estimate is $28 million, a 75%  increase from the $16 million in SDOT’s 2017 report required by the Council, per an amendment I sponsored. While the $16 million estimate is for 2020, and the $28 million is for 2025, it highlights the gap in the quality of information the Council received.

The annual estimated funding gap (i.e. city subsidy) appears to be $18 million for 2025.

The latest increases come in part from operating deficits of the current streetcars, which shows a $4 million annual operations funding gap, and which the Mayor included in the proposed 2019 budget. Sound Transit’s annual $5 million operations subsidy for the First Hill Line ends in 2023. Adding a center city streetcar would increase the gap from the current lines, and cost millions more each year.

Is a Center City Streetcar the best use of transportation funds?

There are other transportation priorities with either funding shortfalls, or unfunded needs. For example, multi-modal corridors and bike/pedestrian work have shortfalls compared to projections for move levy spending.

In addition, cost estimates for ST3 light rail for the West Seattle/Ballard line include tunnel options that could significantly increase the costs. It appears likely we will need to find additional funding, what Sound Transit refers to as “third party funding.”  Costs could be higher in not just West Seattle, but also Ballard and Chinatown/ID. After the ST Board approves alternatives to study in a few months, we’ll have until 2022 to find additional funding.

The bottom line is that any funds we commit to a center city streetcar will not be available for better light rail options.

The original purpose behind the SLU and First Hill lines was to connect those neighborhoods to light rail; they serve that purpose. A Center City Streetcar, while it would connect the two other lines, would travel where light rail stations already exist, at Pioneer Square, University, and Westlake. In addition, the voter-approved ST3 line will add a second subway tunnel through Downtown and South Lake Union in 2035.

Buses productively serve the Downtown/SLU corridor; the C Line and the 40 are two of the busiest lines in the entire bus system. C Line ridership increased by more than 20% when the line was extended to South Lake Union.

I serve on the Regional Transit Committee. Last week we were briefed on the King County Metro 2018 system evaluation. The report shows, in District 1 alone, that the C Line, 120, 50, 37, 56, 21, 131, 132, 125, and 60 all needing additional service to meet KC Metro’s service guidelines for crowding, reliability, and service growth. The City uses the same criteria for funding the additional bus service approved by Seattle’s voters in 2014. Building a center city streetcar is unlikely to help us to meet those targets.

Seattle Public Utilities Seismic Report

Last week in my committee, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) briefed us on the seismic report that they released late last year. Coverage by the Seattle Times reporter Daniel Beekman in December reported on the report vulnerability findings and recommendations.  The last seismic report was commissioned by the utility in 1990.  Since 1990 scientific knowledge and understanding about earthquakes has changed significantly. In 2016 SPU began conducting another study.

In the new report they considered Seattle Fault Zone and Cascadia Subduction Zone type earthquakes, up to magnitude 7.0 and 9.0 respectively. The goal of the study is to incorporate the current understanding of risks into long-term planning for capital improvements to SPU’s water distribution system.

Based on recommendations from the 1990 study SPU has invested $100 million over the last nearly 30 years on discrete seismic updates. However, the new report suggests spending an additional $40 – $50 million in short-term measures in the next 15 to 20 years; and $800 million over the next 50 years for long-term infrastructure improvements, totaling $850 million to improve seismic resiliency.

According to the report, there’s a 15 to 20 percent chance of a catastrophic earthquake – in the next 50 years – similar to the 2011 quakes in Christchurch, New Zealand (6.2 magnitude), and Tohoku, Japan (9.0 magnitude). In both of those instances it took over 45 days to restore water service to the affected areas. The report also stated that there’s an 85% chance of at least one earthquake – in the next 50 years – like the 2001 Nisqually quake that many of us remember.

Another big take-away is that, while previously SPU had begun decommissioning two reservoirs, the report indicated that the reservoirs are needed to provide emergency water. These are the Roosevelt and Volunteer reservoirs. However, even with these two reservoirs Seattle will still be below comparable cities for water access in an emergency. During the committee discussion I asked whether SPU should consider additional ways to increase our water capacity in the event of a catastrophic event so that it more closely aligns with other similar jurisdictions.

The cost, need, and type of upgrades will continue to be a focus of mine, especially when we update the Strategic Business Plan which sets a predictable rate path for six years, and is updated every three years – most recently in 2017. Affordability for ratepayers is top of mind for me even when confronting such necessary infrastructure upgrades.

Language Preference Points Bring Help for SPD Recruitment

Last week the Public Safety Civil Service Commission (PSCSC) adopted a rule Councilmember González and I sponsored to implement a language “preference points” program for the hiring of police officers. This allows people who fluently speak a language other than English to receive higher scoring in their examination. The rule incorporates suggestions from the Community Police Commission to help with the timetable.

Thanks to the PSCSC for taking this action, and to the Department of Human Resources (SDHR) to for their willingness to do the administrative work to target implementation in time for the summer testing period.  Thank you as well to former Office of Police Accountability Auditor, Anne Levinson for making this recommendation in 2013.

Currently, veterans under state and federal are eligible for 10 preference points.

SPD is hiring all candidates who are eligible. Nevertheless, preference points serve two purposes that benefit recruitment and hiring goals. First, preference points show people with language skills—often immigrants and children of immigrants—that their skills are valued, and desired. 18% of Seattle residents were born outside of the United States, and 21% speak a language other than English at home. It’s important to appeal to all Seattle communities in seeking officers. Secondly, in demonstrating in a concrete way that we value these language skills, it may help actually expand the number of people who apply to become police officers.

I began work on this policy change during budget deliberations in 2016, to help recruitment and meet our hiring goals.  The City has missed four recruitment classes since that time; adopting this earlier could have helped to expand the pool of potential applicants for uniformed officer positions. The change in administration has helped in getting this done, especially with cooperation from new leadership at SDHR.

This action helps implement a section of the May 2017 police accountability legislation adopted by the Council, which said,

“Consistent with Chapter 4.08, SPD shall use preference points in hiring sworn employees who are multi-lingual and/or have work experience or educational background providing important skills needed in modern policing, such as experience working with diverse communities, and social work, mental health or domestic violence counseling, or other similar work or community service backgrounds.”

This is similar to the preference points used by the King County Sheriff’s office since 2013.

The rule adopted by the PSCSC says, for the initial hiring of officers, says:

“The Director with the assistance of the Seattle Department of Human Resources shall, upon developing a verification process, implement a language preference points program, which is authorized by Ordinance 125315, for the certification of eligibility registers for initial hiring of Public Safety Civil Service positions in the Seattle Police Department.

Multilingual candidates who successfully complete the language verification process shall receive ten percent added to the passing mark, grade or rating only, based upon a possible rating of one hundred points as a perfect percentage. However, an applicant may only receive a total of 10 percent in preference points, regardless of what kind of preference points are applied.”

After the Council’s vote to approve a new contract with the Police Officer’s Guild, the starting salary for an officer is $81,000, increasing to $87,000 after 6 months, and $94,800 after 30 months.

Future work will focus on developing preference points’ criteria for the remaining community service elements.

South Park King Tide Event

Last week I attended a King Tide event in South Park led by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU). King Tides are the highest tides of the year, occurring naturally and predictably 2-4 times per year. By 2100, these types of events are expected to occur as frequently as monthly or daily due to climate change. South Park, along the Duwamish River, already experiences impacts during extreme weather events. South Park is among the most vulnerable areas in the city for sea level rise.

During King Tides, portions of the mostly industrial area in South Park experience street flooding when the SPU drainage system can’t work fast enough. SPU is building new drainage infrastructure in South Park. A stormwater collection and conveyance project, a pump station, and a water quality project are necessary and critical investments for South Park.  Recent funding from the Flood Control Board (which I wrote about here) will support these efforts.

The tour included Duwamish Valley Action Plan & South Park Public Safety Plan project visits too.

Community partnerships are leveraging resources from SPU, Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, Seattle Police Department, Seattle City Light, Department of Neighborhoods, Office of Economic Development, Office of Arts and Culture, and Office of Sustainability and Environment in order to develop climate resilience, affordable housing, safety, and open space in South Park’s residential and industrial areas.

Neighborhood Street Fund Prioritization Meetings: February 2 and 4; Online Voting Open

The 2015 Move Seattle Levy included $24 million for the Neighborhood Street Fund. Projects are submitted by residents over three three-year cycles. We’re now in the second cycle, for 2019-2021.

The next phase is for community members to rank the projects proposed in each district and narrow down the number of projects; top-ranked projects will proceed to the voting phase in spring 2019.

You can click here to see a map of projects nominated during Phase 1; projects are arranged by Seattle’s 7 Council districts.

There’s two ways to vote.

First of all, you can attend a Community Prioritization Meeting. The meetings in District 1 will be at:

  • Saturday, February 2: Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • Monday, February 4: South Park Hall, 1253 South Cloverdale Street, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Secondly, you can vote online. Here are all the project applications in District 1; you can link to information about each project. You can vote online here, selecting whether a project is high priority, lower priority, or in between.

You can sign up here to receive updates.

The meetings will begin with a presentation of each project proposed in the hosting district. The Department of Neighborhoods advises attendees to:

  • Plan ahead: if you will be joining a community meeting, plan accordingly to arrive no later than the meeting start time.
  • Do your research: in-depth project proposals will be available on our website January 28. Get to know the projects proposed in your district prior to attending a meeting or ranking online.
  • Share: invite friends, family, and neighbors to participate, even if they reside in a different district.

Projects approved in the 2016-2018 phase include Chief Sealth High School Walkway Improvements, and Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St Intersection Improvements.

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