Public Safety & Human Services Committee Update / Housing Levy Sent to Voters in November / Racing Zone Proposal / Office of Sustainability and Environment Proposal for Building Emissions Performance Standards / Mayor’s Workgroup to Address Public Consumption of Illegal Drugs / Morgan Junction Park Addition Planning and Design Restarted / Flood Control District Testimony & South Park Drainage Partnership

June 16th, 2023


Public Safety & Human Services Committee Update

Wage Equity for Human Services Workers:  Members of the Public Safety & Human Services (PSHS) committee approved a Resolution acknowledging Council’s responsibility to make a meaningful contribution to address the 37% pay penalty for nonprofit human services workers.  The Resolution recognizes recommendations by University of Washington researchers to do so, and says Council intends to consider a 7% wage increase by 2025 to the extent revenue is available.  The full Council will vote on this Resolution next week.

The final Resolution incorporates edits and feedback from Councilmembers Pedersen and Mosqueda, and from Deputy Mayor Tiffany Washington and Budget Director Julie Dingley.  Their suggestions made this Resolution stronger and clearer, and I thank them.

Our mission-critical nonprofit partners have been sounding the alarm about desperately low wages and unsustainable turnover for years.  We’ve heard troubling public testimony about classrooms, programs, and shelters unable to open because staff can’t be hired at such low wages; and workers testifying they can’t afford to live in the community they serve.

Community Police Commission (CPC) Proposed Amendments to Accountability Ordinance: Also, heard in this week’s PSHS committee, was the Community Police Commission (CPC) proposal for amendments to the 2017 police accountability ordinance 125315. The amendments concern the operations of the CPC. A draft, unintroduced bill was included on the agenda.

The CPC will discuss the draft bill in a forthcoming meeting on June 21. After that, the legislation will be formally introduced at the Council. It is planned for the next committee discussion in July, at which time there could be a vote. Here’s a summary document of the proposed changes; the presentation at committee; and the Draft Council Bill.

Heat and Smoke Preparedness Plan:  The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) presented to PSHS committee the draft of a new section to the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, outlining the city’s extreme heat and smoke preparedness plan. The Extreme Heat and Wildfire Smoke Incident Operations Plan describes OEM’s citywide response to these emergencies as they grow more common due to climate change.

In 2021 when OEM presented the 2021 Seattle All-Hazards Mitigation Plan update to the Public Safety Human Services Committee, I worked to successfully amend the plan by requiring that OEM:  “coordinate a citywide effort to identify approaches and projects which can mitigate the impacts of excessive heat on vulnerable populations in Seattle. The Office of Emergency Management should engage multiple City departments, community-based organizations, private sector partners, and other subject matter experts including Public Health Seattle & King County and the Office of Sustainability and Environment to scope realistic and implementable strategies and approaches and identify needed public and private funding for those strategies.”

This plan is vital as extreme heat and wildfire smoke negatively impact the health of Seattle residents and visitors.  Extreme heat also can damage critical infrastructure. Heat waves can cause road closures, power outages, and damage to natural resources and wildlife.

More than half of homes in Seattle do not have or cannot afford temperature control like air conditioning, and half of the homes in Seattle do not have air purification technology to remove pollutants like smoke.

In the event of extreme heat or wildfire smoke, OEM convenes departments across the City as well as our partners at King County and Seattle Schools to implement an emergency response. This includes converting spaces such as community centers, libraries, senior centers, and the Seattle Center Armory into cooling centers and clean air refuges, providing people with necessary respite from harsh weather conditions. The list of these spaces and their hours can change depending on the event, so please sign up for AlertSeattle to receive text messages with updates from OEM in the case of heat, smoke, and other emergencies in the city.

You can visit OEM’s website on heat safety for more information about what to do during a heat wave.

Housing Levy Sent to Voters in November

On Tuesday, I joined my colleagues to approve sending the amended housing levy to the November ballot. I appreciated the chance to work collaboratively with Chair Mosqueda to incorporate these additions:

  • Targeting homeownership investments toward folks at the highest risk of displacement and those impacted by the City’s previous discriminatory practices
  • Helping residents stay in their communities by bringing affordable homes to more neighborhoods
  • Co-locating affordable commercial space with affordable homes
  • Reporting on the impacts of funding resident services
  • Establishing a formal program to preserve affordability of homes on the Office of Housing’s existing portfolio wherever possible
  • Setting a goal for the number of affordable homes to acquire from the speculative housing market.

Voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on the housing levy in November.

Racing Zone Proposal

For several years, as District 1 Councilmember, I have heard from West Seattle residents about dangerous car drag racing along Alki Avenue SW, Harbor Avenue SW, and West Marginal Way SW. The sounds of cars drag racing is regularly audible during evenings in Delridge, far up the hill from West Marginal Way.  See this YouTube video as an example:  Kent street races west marginal way seattle – YouTube

I’ve discussed drag racing regularly over the years with our SW Precinct Captains.  Drag racers move from place to place in the region, and don’t stay long, making it difficult for officers to safely enforce speeding laws.  Police high-speed chases of racing vehicles are regulated by SPD policy.

A 2022 change to state law allows for local government to designate an area as a “racing zone” for purposes of automated camera enforcement. I am sponsoring CB 120600, which designates Alki, Harbor Avenue, and West Marginal as racing zones eligible for automated camera enforcement to detect speeding violations.

The bill provides SDOT with the authority to install speed cameras.  The bill does not enact that authority and includes several important limitations to the future enactment of that authority.

There are equity concerns about traffic enforcement and the use of cameras; it’s important to address them, so the bill requires an equity analysis.

You may recall last fall that the Council authorized additional school zone cameras and requested a response for how SDOT would expand the school zone camera program, including a schedule of school zone camera deployment by location; documentation of the race and social justice analysis used to inform the new school zone camera deployments.  The budget action required SDOT to report how they might use the new state authority, as well as the costs/benefits and a proposed schedule for deployment.

To be consistent with the prior Council budget action, this bill states an equity analysis must be completed before installing cameras, as well as a response to this budget request by August 1. The legislation includes an expectation that these concerns will be addressed by SDOT in their work with the Transportation Equity Workgroup:

the Council anticipates that SPD and SDOT will work with the Office of Civil Rights and SDOT’s Transportation Equity Workgroup in the development of camera enforcement implementation plans to address issues such as mitigating the disproportionate impacts of fines and focus on highest-risk behavior; creating an equitable citywide distribution of cameras; developing a policy to prioritize physical street safety improvements before implementing automated ticketing; and addressing privacy concerns by documenting, publicization and strengthening protections around the use of images and data collected by automated enforcement cameras.”

The bill also reiterates the Council’s budget action:

SLI-SDOT-304-A-001-2023 specifically requests: (1) a detailed implementation plan for the doubling of the School Zone Camera that includes a schedule of school zone camera deployment by location, documentation of the race and social justice analysis used to inform the new school zone camera deployments, the anticipated budget adjustments to program administration and school safety programs based on the deployment schedule, and any anticipated legislation necessary to implement the camera deployment; and (2), an evaluation of the costs and benefits for expanding other automated traffic safety camera programs, including red light cameras, block-the-box/transit-lane enforcement cameras, speed zone cameras, and other traffic camera authority provided under state law, including a recommendation and proposed schedule for deployment of additional automated traffic safety cameras and programs;

There will be a first presentation at the June 20 Transportation and SPU Committee.

Here are the specific areas proposed to be designated as racing zones:

  1. Alki Avenue SW between 63rd Ave SW and Harbor Avenue SW.
  2. Harbor Avenue SW between Alki Avenue SW and SW Spokane St.
  3. West Marginal Way SW between SW Spokane St and 2nd Ave SW.

It also includes areas in north Seattle. Councilmember Pedersen is a co-sponsor. A second briefing could take place in mid-July.

Office of Sustainability and Environment Proposal for Building Emissions Performance Standards

On June 8th Mayor Harrell and OSE Director Farrell announced a long-awaited proposed bill to implement a new Building Emissions Performance Standard (BEPS) proposal for existing buildings over 20,000 square feet.  I wrote about this developing proposal in April.

The proposed legislation would require nonresidential and multifamily buildings greater than 20,000 SF to meet greenhouse gas intensity targets starting in 2031 and to meet net-zero emissions (or alternative compliance) by 2041-2050 depending on building size and type.

For more information about the proposed BEPS policy, see the Office of Sustainability’s 4-page guide to the proposed policy and the full BEPS legislation on OSE’s Building Emissions Performance Standards page.

Additional background is available on OSE’s Building Emissions Performance Standards Policy Development page. OSE has held numerous meetings about this and has posted the presentations shared during the development of the policy in 2022 and 2023.

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) has issued a Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) under the State Environmental Policy Act (no Environmental Impact Statement required) for the proposed BEPS legislation. If there is no SEPA challenge, OSE anticipates the legislation being before Council in August – September.

According to the 2020 Seattle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, 37% of emissions are from buildings.

According to OSE, “Seattle’s BEPS policy is projected to reduce building emissions 27% by 2050, making it the most impactful climate action Seattle can take now.”

I met with a group from the 34th District Democrats recently, while this policy was being developed.  They noted they are part of a coalition advocating for:

  • More ambitious timelines in order to meet the goals established in the 2019 Seattle Green New Deal resolution, which calls for a complete transition off fossil fuels by 2030. This would put Seattle in line with the 2030 deadline that global scientists agree is our best chance to keep global warming from exceeding 1.5°C. There are millions of dollars of “early adopter” federal subsidies from the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act on the table that may be lost if compliance deadlines are pushed out.
  • Penalties for non-complying buildings that are large enough and frequent enough to deter continued pollution (at least $10 per square feet per year, matching Washington D.C.) and increasing each subsequent year. Climate justice demands that loopholes and alternative payments for big commercial buildings must be eliminated.
  • The allocation of revenue from fines, penalties, and alternative compliance payments to the Clean Buildings Opportunity Account to support affordable, equitable decarbonization for highly impacted communities, affordable housing, and low- and moderate-income (LMI) tenants.

Mayor’s Workgroup to Address Public Consumption of Illegal Drugs

Since last week, following the Council’s opposition to CB 120586, there has been a key update on Senate Bill 5536, which made possession and public use of illegal drugs a gross misdemeanor.

On Monday, Mayor Harrell followed up on one of the elements of his April Executive Order 2023-04: Addressing the Opioid and Synthetic Drug Crisis in Seattle by announcing the convening of a workgroup including the Mayor’s Office, Councilmembers, Municipal Court, the City Attorney, and leaders in law enforcement, diversion programs, and service provision “to advance effective and sustainable solutions addressing illegal drug use in public spaces.” I’ll be serving as one member of the workgroup; the release and list of members are here.

As I stated in the release, I do very sincerely appreciate the Mayor including my participation in the workgroup announced in Executive Order: Addressing the Opioid and Synthetic Drug Crisis in Seattle.  I hope that, like this letter from more than a hundred doctors calls for, we can focus our efforts on ‘smart, data-proven policy that will achieve our intended goals, not naive, reactive, and harmful policy that repeats the mistakes of the past’.

Some of Senate Bill 5536 goes into effect on July 1; some portions go into effect on August 15. That bill repealed RCW 10.31.115, which requires two referrals to treatment for possession prior to referral for prosecution. The repeal of that element of SB 5536 doesn’t go into effect until August 15th.

I hope to be able to also soon report the status of other elements of Mayor Harrell’s Executive Order, in particular:

  • The Seattle Fire Department expansion, working with Local 27, of its Health One program to include an overdose response unit.
  • Expanded access to naloxone, buprenorphine, and methadone in high-overdose areas.
  • A new non-clinic-based contingency management pilot program has been launched to reduce participants’ consumption of synthetic opioids, stimulants, and alcohol.

Morgan Junction Park Addition Planning and Design Restarted

Join us at Morgan Junction Festival!
Sunday, June 18 from 1 – 4 p.m.
At Morgan Junction Park, 6413 California Ave SW, 98136

The project team has been coordinating with the community to do an outreach event at the park during the Morgan Junction Festival on June 18th. More info here.

Flood Control District Testimony/South Park Drainage Partnership

I testified before the King County Flood Control District Board, which consists of King County Councilmembers, in support of a proposal to provide funds to address short-term and longer-term flood preparedness in South Park. The proposal is sponsored by King County Councilmember McDermott; it’s possible the Board could act as soon as next month.

My comments are below:

“Chair Dunn and Board of Supervisors, thank you for your time today.

I know the Board is considering its mid-year budget vision and amendments today.

Councilmember McDermott will be proposing amendments to a major Duwamish River flooding event last year.

On December 27, 2022, Seattle and King County’s South Park community were hit with a devasting flood when the Duwamish overtopped its banks, flooding 50 homes and businesses, 25 with significant damage. Approximately 30 people were displaced without food or shelter, and without the means to provide it for themselves and their families.

Some are still in temporary housing.

The clean-up cost alone is over $2 million, including for 80,000 lbs of debris. This has had a traumatic impact on people and businesses, in a low-income community with high environmental justice impacts, as well as to businesses with important industrial jobs.

The amendments include interim flood protection measures and seed money for the long-term infrastructure planning, as we seek more permanent solution, which will take years to plan and build. The interim protection includes funding for a 12-city block temporary barrier from river flooding of a sandbag or other physical barrier and pumping, community capacity, and focused outreach. The District has been funding a similar near-term and long-term strategy on the White River in the town of Pacific.

The total request is about $2 million.

I am asking you to support all these amendments to help fund protection of this community. We cannot let them flood like this again.

The Flood Control District was created with a broad purpose to protect communities county-wide from flooding. The Flood District recognizes the challenges of low-income communities with health and environmental disparities. It is imperative that all communities be supported through Flood District funding.

Seattle appreciates past District support for our stormwater control work in South Park. We now need your commitment to support river over-topping that will only become worse and more frequent with climate change and sea-level rise.”

On a related note, at the most recent Move Levy Oversight Committee meeting, SDOT presented their work of the South Park Drainage Partnership, a collaboration between SPU, SDOT, and King County to address longstanding flooding issues not related to river-topping.

SDOT’s presentation shows the road improvements. Seattle Public Utilities is addressing the drainage elements of the project. Below are a couple of examples of the difference in road conditions:


Update on Myers Way / District 1 Parks Updates / Elder Abuse Awareness Day Proclamation / Council Vote on Bill to Incorporate State Law on Drug Possession & Public Use into Municipal Code

June 9th, 2023


Update on Myers Way

I wrote last week about hearing from many of you concerned about the encampment at Myers Way.  On May 31st, I requested that the King County Regional Homelessness Authority consider this location for its State-funded work removing encampments in State Right of Way.  The funding supports shelter and services to people living at a site.  I’ve also learned that last week the Executive also reached out to WSDOT (which owns most of the land under the encampment), also recommending the site for joint resolution. I was told that the decision was made recently to move forward with that joint resolution at Myers Way, which I fully support.

Because this work is supported with blended funding, both from the State Right of Way program, King County Funding, and City of Seattle funding, the LEAD Policy Coordinating Group, of which I am a member, also has to agree that LEAD should take on the project.  The City contract for LEAD services requires resources focused on geographic areas.  So, we have LEAD resources specifically focused on South Delridge and Highland Park, you may remember the work they did at the Rosella Building in December and the Roxbury/Delridge Triangle before that.  The Myers Way/Arrowhead Gardens area is not currently included as a focus area, but that will hopefully change.  On Friday, I requested that LEAD refocus its District 1 specific work to Myers Way.  I hope to have an outcome of that request to report out next week.

The City’s Unified Care Team, which responds to encampments, reports it’s been a complex site for the City to work in for several reasons: because the majority of the site is not City property, and

the site has challenging topography and requires an in-depth safety plan that take into consideration EPA regulations in run-off areas, soil saturation levels that affect use of heavy machinery used in site resolutions, and land inclines and soil shifting.

Nonetheless, the UCT has been on site providing trash mitigation and geo cleans for RVs; along with 3-4 visits per week from outreach workers who also mitigate fire hazards and conduct needs assessments for residents.

District 1 Parks Updates

I’m happy to pass along some local updates from our Department of Parks & Recreation.

Space is still available in High Point Community Center Summer Day Camp!  School age childcare camps offer all-day care with robust programming, activities, field trips and more! Camps run July 3-August 30, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Financial aid is available for reduced/subsidized cost at Scholarships & Financial Aid. Details and registration information here:

Delridge Playfield Turf Replacement: A low bidder was identified and the project is planned for construction to begin in July. This project will replace the aging synthetic turf at Delridge Playfields; address any structural repairs to curbing, sub-subsurface and drainage; and install a new state of the art synthetic turf system. The project will also address some accessibility issues at the field to access exterior restrooms at Delridge Community Center.

Construction Contract Executed for Hiawatha Synthetic Turf Replacement: Construction begins Monday, June 12th for the Hiawatha Playfield turf replacement project with estimated completion in September 2023. SPR awarded the construction contract to FieldTurf USA Inc.   This project will replace the aging synthetic turf and provide markings for baseball, soccer, football and softball. Seattle Public Schools will provide safety fencing for the outfield when baseball and softball are in play. This project will include replacing the batting cage and resurfacing the rubberized three-lane running track. View the Layout Plan here.

Morgan Junction Park Addition Planning and Design Restarted: The project team has been coordinating with the community to do an outreach event at the park during the Morgan Junction Festival on June 18th. More info here

South Park Playfield Renovation & Community Center Stabilization Permitting: The permitting process for this project progressed in May. The final building approval is now waiting on the Land Use permit approval from City Council. The project is anticipated to bid in 3rd quarter of 2023 and for construction to begin in 4th quarter 2023.  The community center will stay open through August 31st.   More info here

Seattle Parks and Recreation Summer Hiring: More than 200 positions are available for recreation, aquatics, and summer camp roles. More info here

Summer Hours at Alki Beach: Seattle Parks and Recreation will enact a second phase pilot shortening the hours at Golden Gardens and Alki Beach during the 2023 summer months from 4 A.M.-10:30 P.M. from May 26-September 4. And a return to 4 A.M. – 11:30 P.M after September 4.  More info here

Elder Abuse Awareness Day Proclamation

This week, I brought forward a proclamation recognizing June 15th to be Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Seattle. This proclamation was authored by the Human Services Department and Mayor Harrell added his signature. This proclamation highlights Seattle’s participation in a multi-jurisdictional Elder Abuse Multidisciplinary Team that works to addresses cases involving elder abuse or neglect. It calls upon the people of Seattle to increase awareness of elder abuse issues and support community connections for older people that reduce the likelihood of abuse.

This proclamation also encourages resident to learn the signs that abuse may be occurring and know that confidential and professional resources for abused elders are available in our community.

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

Council Vote on Bill to Incorporate State Law on Drug Possession & Public Use into Municipal Code

You may recall that in April, City Attorney Davidson and Councilmembers Nelson and Pedersen proposed a bill to make public consumption of illegal drugs a simple misdemeanor last month. At the time, I issued a statement that I wanted to wait for the outcome of the Governor Inslee’s special session of the state legislature before the City Council considered a bill specific to Seattle, to avoid a patchwork of different regulations across the state and to ensure that the legislation was considered with full knowledge of the new state law.

During a Special Session called by Governor Inslee, in May, the state legislature adopted Senate Bill 5536, which makes possession and public use of illegal drugs a gross misdemeanor.

As a result of Governor Inslee’s special session, the legislature approved a bill that adopts a statewide standard of gross misdemeanor for both possession and public consumption of drugs.  Had Council acted on the April bill, the City bill would have been in conflict with State Law.  By waiting, and not rushing, there is now a clear, statewide standard, and there is not a patchwork of differing regulations across the state.

Under the state law, the Seattle Police Department officers have the authority to make arrests.

Because the bill originally proposed by the City Attorney and Councilmembers Nelson and Pedersen was now in conflict with the new State Law enacted in the special session, they subsequently proposed a new bill that instead proposed to incorporate the changes in state law into the City’s code.

The Council had 2 options.

Option 1:  Vote against the bill.  Under these circumstances, and under RCW 3.66.060 the King County Prosecutor has authority to prosecute the cases associated with arrests in Seattle.  The March 2023 filing standards for the King County Prosecutor’s Office state that they will file certain behavior related to drugs as misdemeanors.  Consistent with RCW 39.34.180, the County could, but doesn’t have to, require that the City enter an interlocal agreement that the City compensate the County for the costs associated with prosecutions.

Option 2:  Vote in favor of the bill.  If the Council adopted the state law to the Seattle Municipal Code the authority for and costs associated with the prosecution of these cases would shift from the King County Prosecutor to the Seattle City Attorney, thereby transferring prosecutorial authority over some elements of the drug law to the City Attorney, for the first time.

The measure failed, by a 5-4 vote; I voted no. This letter from more than a hundred doctors opposing the ordinance calls for “smart, data-proven policy that will achieve our intended goals, not naive, reactive, and harmful policy that repeats the mistakes of the past.”

A lot of inaccurate information has circulated about this, so here’s a brief explainer:  Setting the record straight on Seattle City Council’s decision not to give City Attorney unprecedented powers.

Below is additional background and detail.

Possession of illegal drugs was a felony in Washington State until February 2021, when the Washington State Supreme Court declared the state law unconstitutional (the “Blake” decision). In April 2021 the state legislature consequently adopted Senate Bill 5476 to make simple possession of drugs a misdemeanor, with mandatory diversion for the first two arrests. The bill did not include public consumption and is in effect through the end of June.

There was never any proposal to incorporate Senate Bill 5476 into the Seattle Municipal Code during the entire two years it has been in effect.  During all that time, possession has been a misdemeanor, with authority given to the King County Prosecutor to prosecute.

Seattle Municipal Court faces a heavy backlog. Even with the fact that 70% of Seattle Municipal Court cases assigned to the Department of Public Defense are dismissed by the Seattle City Attorney, the Seattle Municipal Court currently has a three-month delay on hearings due to a massive backlog.  That backlog is likely to grow with the recent decision of the Seattle City Attorney to terminate Community Court, effective June 12.

My consideration of the bill included the impact of drug possession and public use on our community and downtown revitalization efforts, on the Court as described above, as well as how incarceration destabilizes individuals with substance use disorder who exit the criminal legal system lacking housing, behavioral health supports, and especially susceptible to overdose, a leading cause of death among people who have recently been incarcerated.  Thomas Fitzpatrick, an infectious disease physician with the University of Washington and an expert in harm reduction and public health approaches to drug use reminds us that research has shown in the first two weeks after people are released from incarceration, they have nearly 10 times the risk of overdosing than the general population or people who are otherwise exposed to opioids.

The Seattle Fire Department and Seattle Police Department have responded to overdoses and saved lives. Breaking down all the data is challenging. In 2023, Fire personnel have responded to approximately 10 incidents each and every day to help a patient “with suspected drug use” in a public place. Since spring 2021, they have responded to public locations more frequently than residential locations (in line with fentanyl arrival). SPD had used Naxolone 43 times so far in 2023 as of a few weeks ago. Criminalization would put into the shadows, with deadly results, the life-saving work of our first responders.

In addition, the impact of this bill on the enforcement priorities of SPD as declared by Chief Diaz during a recent press conference, as well as Mayor Harrell’s recent Executive Order must be considered.   These are enforcement priorities that I support.

From Mayor Harrell’s Executive Order:

Recognizing the harm caused by illegal opioids and synthetic drugs, the Seattle Police Department will prioritize enforcing sales and distribution related crimes to the fullest extent permissible.”

The Council Central Staff memo notes “SPD has indicated that it believes arresting individuals on these charges provides a meaningful opportunity to divert rather than default to jail.”

With the passage of Senate Bill 5536, which makes possession and public use of illegal drugs a gross misdemeanor, SPD can arrest persons under State law. Similarly, the King County Metro Transit Police Department has authority to arrest on buses, and Sound Transit Police has authority to arrest on light rail.

Unlike the City Attorney’s Office, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has operated a Therapeutic Alternative to Drugs/Therapeutic Alternative Diversion (TAD) program, which is a partnership between the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) and the Office of Public Health to target those individuals charged with possession of less than 3 grams of a controlled substance or charged with a property offense which does not include restitution.  The TAD program is only offered on expedited felonies, which are felony cases that the KCPAO charges in King County District Court with an immediate offer to plead guilty to a gross misdemeanor.  TAD aims to provide a connection to treatment services in the community at the earliest possible opportunity in order to help individuals address their needs for substance abuse treatment or behavioral health services and avoid further involvement in the criminal justice system.  While the TAD program now focuses on property cases post-Blake, its historical focus on drug cases and ability to partner with public health is clear.

Most current funding for evidence-based treatment lives at the County level which is why it is so important to leave prosecution of drug possession and use there, where they have the infrastructure and funding streams to address it as effectively as possible. If the City Attorney were to be granted this authority, supporting more, and scaling up, what SPD refers to as “meaningful opportunities to divert rather than default to jail,” must first be developed.

Over our northern border, after engaging First Nations communities and broad stakeholders, and effective January of this year, and as a public health response to substance use disorder, adults in the province of British Columbia are no longer subject to criminal charges for the personal possession of small amounts of certain illegal drugs.  In support of that, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police stated,

“We the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police agree that evidence suggests, and numerous Canadian health leaders support, decriminalization for simple possession as an effective way to reduce the public health and public safety harms associated with substance use”

Their statement also endorses alternatives to criminal sanctions for simple possession, access to diversion measures, increasing community capacity, and similar to our own Mayor and Chief, “agree that police services remain committed to combatting organized crime and disrupting the supply of harmful substances coming into our communities by targeting drug trafficking and illegal production and importation”.

What are we doing to address the tragic increase in overdose deaths?

Led by Mayor Harrell’s Executive Order, the City is working on several fronts, here are some of the strategies:

  • The Seattle Fire Department, working with Local 27, has expanded its Health One program to include an overdose response unit.
  • The City is expanding access to naloxone, buprenorphine, and methadone in high-overdose areas.
  • A new non-clinic-based contingency management pilot program has been launched to reduce participants’ consumption of synthetic opioids, stimulants, and alcohol.
  • The City is convening a workgroup to address gaps in the existing systems available to treat and respond to the opioid and synthetic drug crisis and make recommendations on how to better coordinate a treatment-first approach to reducing substance abuse disorders and overdose rates and using Opioid Settlement funds.
  • Finally, the CIty is convening a task force, inviting the City Attorney’s Office, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and federal, and state partners, including the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security, to collaborate on and develop innovative approaches to target dealers and traffickers of illegal drugs.

The success rate of mandatory treatment is not better than voluntary treatment.  Many of us know of someone who got sober after jail.  These are anecdotes that are representative of the experience of some individuals, but the data shows that mandatory treatment is not effective.  Up to 95% of opioid users who chose voluntarily to go into treatment relapse. To the myth that jail is an effective pipeline to treatment, I want to quote a constituent who wrote to tell me that her father was sent to Vietnam and came back a broken and abusive alcoholic. Though her mother had sole custody of her, the sister grew up in the same house as her father. She asked, where is our societal responsibility for addressing the downstream effects of failing to provide the services their father needed and deserved and that her sister needed and deserved for being on the receiving end of his not receiving those services?  About her experiences helping her sister, she wrote:

“I have spent the last 8 months helping my half-sister survive jail, then transition into addiction treatment and now begin addressing the underlying challenges that contributed to both of those. Not only is jail not treatment, it is actively harmful and counterproductive to recovery in a number of ways. Jail caused my sister to lose most of her possessions and almost caused her to lose her home after her mother passed away. From our journey, I can tell you that the threat of jail is not what keeps her sober. What keeps her sober is a combination of having access to services and then also having strong relationships with family and friends — which jail actively undermines, especially for families without both the money and the schedule flexibility to make use of the jail’s phone system.”


Happy June Pride / KCRHA 5 Year Plan Approved / Outreach to District 1 Encampments / Consent Decree Status Conference / Sound Transit Timelines for West Seattle and Ballard Lines / Parks Workshop in Delridge / SW Precinct Community Dialogue / Refuse to Abuse

June 2nd, 2023


Happy June Pride

I was so energized to participate in the City Hall Pride flag raising this week with Mayor Harrell, Councilmember Tammy Morales, LGBTQ+ Commission members and many others. The annual Pride flag raising is an event that I look forward to every year and will look forward to returning to in future years, even if not in my official capacity as Councilmember. It is joyous, with love and hope as its foundation, but also never forgetting the need to act, not just speak.

Though celebrating Pride is this month’s theme, I want to also address the fact that after last week’s newsletter where I promoted community efforts to organize neighborhood Pride events to emphasize love and support, I received a small flurry of bizarre responses, that can either be characterized as ignorant or lacking compassion for the conditions that led to the establishment of Pride June, the 1969 Stonewall police riots and the conditions that continue to exist today.

In eight years of promoting Pride in my newsletter I’ve never seen people be vocal with their disparagement, like I have this year. Here is a sample:

 “Let us celebrate everyone.  When will Seattle City Council celebrate male German-Americans?”  “Finally, keep your drag queens away from our kids

 “Do you plan on having a Patriotic Pride night?”

 “I was wondering if you would back a proposal to close neighborhood streets for Heterosexual Pride Night Out events?”

How is it possible that people today respond with such ignorance and lack of caring to the oppression and harm that our LGBTQ+ community faces for merely existing and loving? People who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or gender non-conforming are nearly four times more likely to be victims of violent crime, including rape and sexual assault.    Why does this loud minority of people think that our intentionally rejecting hate and violence warrants attention to them? What does it mean that people are so emboldened to share with their Councilmember these kind of responses to a decades-old celebration of love and identity? Companies like Target are facing a backlash for simply showing support for our diverse communities. Why is this happening? Has something changed?

Whenever there is progress, with more of our community acting in accordance with values that are welcoming, believing that everyone should lead the life they love, there is a backlash from a small group of increasingly vocal people being courted by politicians with a hateful agenda that they use to fundraise and promote their own careers. But let’s remember that

  • 96% of non-LGBTQ+ Americans agree that school should be a safe & accepting place for all young learners,
  • 91% of non-LGBTQ+ Americans agree that LGBTQ+ people should not be discriminated against
  • 84% of non-LGBTQ+ Americans support equal rights for our LGBTQ+ friends, loved ones, family members, neighbors, and co-workers.

Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell said in her flag-raising remarks that “Allies don’t get cookies without action.”

Over the last several months:

How do *you,* dear reader, fight hate and intolerance? This month, and every month, let your LGBTQ+ friends, loved ones, family members, neighbors, and co-workers know that you see them, you hear them, you need them, you support them, you love them. Also, actively address the ignorance of and uncaring about the historic harm and trauma done and being done, still, to those who make our communities stronger, more enriched, and ultimately more loving. Do so even when ignorance and uncaring comes from our neighbors, like those I quoted above.

I was moved by many of the remarks at the City Hall Pride flag raising. I want to share these with you from Steven Sawyer, Executive Director of POCAAN:

The Pride movement has been a longstanding fight for equity and justice for the LGBTQAI2+ community.

In the streets of New York on a late summer night in 1969, the first brick was thrown to launch the Stonewall Uprising. The uprising marked a new turning point for LGBTQ+ activism and liberation in the United States.

Despite the advancements we’ve seen in cultural norms, the fight continues today… from the Black Lives Matter movement to the fight against hundreds of hate bills that create dangerous environments for our community.

We see how strides toward equity have not been shared by all members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Today, there’s a rise in the anti-LGBTQ bills, from binary bathroom laws to anti-drag bills.

Racial disparities persist, with black and brown LGBTQ+ individuals too often facing additional layers of discrimination and marginalization.

As such, the new fight for Equity in the LGBTQ+ movement must center on a comprehensive understanding of intersectionality. This means recognizing how different aspects of identity overlap and impact individuals’ experiences of oppression. It also means acknowledging the ways in which white supremacy, anti-blackness, and patriarchy have perpetuated discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, particularly those who are black, brown and/or trans.

Pride must be a “celebration AND a demonstration”

…[W]e must continue demonstrations that unveil the need for greater equity in areas such as employment, housing, healthcare, and education. Until we’re all safe, no one’s safe. Until we’re all free to be our true selves, no one’s free.

Check out White Center Pride on Saturday:

  • Saturday 11AM-midnight
  • 100+ local & LGBTQ-friendly vendors
  • Live music, local DJ’s, drag performances
  • Beer gardens and food trucks
  • Kids area including a bounce house and slide, Drag Story Time with Seattle’s favorite local drag queen Aleksa Manila (+ ASL interpretation)

KCRHA 5 Year Plan Approved

I joined fellow members of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) Governing Committee on Thursday to approve the Authority’s new 5 Year Plan.  The 5 Year Plan was a requirement of the Interlocal Agreement between King County and the City of Seattle which established the KCRHA, and its approval is a milestone for the work.

I requested a number of additions to the plan, and I appreciate that these were incorporated:

  • Stating plainly that our region cannot afford to lose any existing capacity in temporary housing of any sort.
  • A consideration of Recovery Housing as a potentially needed tool in our continuum
  • Additional clarity in activities slated for Years 1 and 2, including priorities for additional funding, should it become available.
  • Addressing the assumptions about rates of self-resolution of homelessness within the plan
  • Recognizing the recommendations of the University of Washington wage equity study, which found that human services nonprofit workers experience a 37% pay penalty for their chosen careers
  • Acknowledging the current lack of resources situated in West Seattle and South Park for services, temporary housing, and severe weather response
  • A plain language characterization of performance metrics

Call to Focus on Contracting Fundamentals:  This 5 Year Plan discusses the importance of establishing an equitable procurement process to build a proactive homelessness response system that is community- and data-driven.  While I know that the KCRHA has been gearing up to a system-wide rebid process later this year, I urged caution and a focus on fundamentals first.

Homelessness providers report delays in getting their contracts with the KCRHA executed, and in accessing funding they’ve been awarded.   A system-wide rebid would – by design – introduce significant uncertainty for providers, at a time when we should be making it quicker and easier for them to provide essential services to the KCRHA.

My read of the 5 Year Plan, Interlocal Agreement, and contract with the City suggests it is possible to delay that rebid until the fundamentals are strengthened. I hope the KCRHA will take advantage of that to focus on contracting improvements first.

Accompanying Resolutions:  I was disappointed that too many members of the Governing Committee were unwilling to consider Resolutions put forward by Councilmember Andrew Lewis.  I had worked with CM Lewis closely on both and believe they would have significantly strengthened our work.

  • Resolution 2023-04 Operational Workplan required the KCRHA to create a 2-year operational workplan with much more specificity about KCRHA’s work and priorities in the near future, as well as written reporting back to improve transparency and oversight.
  • Resolution 2023-05 Housing Barriers directed KCRHA to develop an agenda of policy suggestions that would help local jurisdictions, including Seattle, consider policy changes that would speed the production of temporary and permanent housing.

The members unwilling to consider these resolutions called for an additional special meeting over the summer to consider possible additions or changes.

Outreach to District 1 Encampments

When constituents write to me with concerns about neighbors living unsheltered in tents or RVs, my office provides comprehensive information about how the City responds to such encampments, and how to make reports.  I wrote about that process at length in a recent blog post; you can find it here.

My staff also have developed relationships with the outreach workers, employed by REACH, who serve West Seattle and South Park.  They regularly share information back and forth about the locations that constituents report.  When a large number of you write about the same location, we can even request an update on their progress, and then provide that on-the-ground report back to you.

Myers Way:  For instance, I’ve heard from many of you concerned about the large encampment on Myers Way near Arrowhead Gardens; and about the troubling discovery of a recent homicide there.  My staff discussed this location in a video meeting with the team of outreach workers and their supervisors, and shared introductions to local business improvement areas and community networks.  We learned that outreach workers have been visiting encampment residents at Myers Way 3 – 4 times a week.  Their outreach includes addressing potential fire hazards, getting trash pick-up and sanitation, and needs assessment of residents as well to assist in facilitating appropriate service referrals.  King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA), which is a separate organization from the City, is funded by State government to help people at encampments located on WDOT owned right of way encampment locations to move out of homeless and into safe lodging,   I asked KCRHA to consider using those resources at this location.

Additional Outreach:  3 homeless outreach workers focus on West Seattle, Delridge, South Park, and Rainier Valley, because of legislation I sponsored in 2021.   The King County Regional Homelessness Authority, which took over responsibility for most homelessness investments in 2022, is poised to announce the recipients of $3.9 million for geographic-based outreach services in the next several weeks.

The City financially supports approximately 3,000 beds in temporary shelters, all of which operate at or near capacity, with very few spaces open on any given day.  In the long term, outreach workers work on building relationships with people living unsheltered, in the hopes that referrals to help them stay safe and healthy may become available and be accepted in the future.  Outreach workers will attempt to visit multiple times, offering support that will start the process.

Consent Decree Status Conference

On Tuesday US District Court Judge Robart, who oversees the Consent Decree, held a status conference on the joint motion of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Seattle to approve an Agreement on Sustained Compliance for the 2012 Consent Decree. My staff attended the hearing at the US District Courthouse, which overlapped with a City Council meeting.

Both the City and the DOJ presented their case for entering into the Agreement on Sustained Compliance, which would release the City from several elements of the Consent Decree, while requiring additional work on accountability, and to develop crowd control policies, including recent recommendations from the Inspector General’s Sentinel Event Review, recent changes in State law, and the changes deriving from Ordinance 126422. In the joint proposal, the work is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2023.

The Judge lauded the reduced incidence of use of force by SPD, improvements in training, and significantly enhanced collection of data. He asked several questions of the presenters. He asked about continued racial disparities in use of force and stops and detentions. He also mentioned labor bargaining, and the challenge of determining compliance without a labor contract with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild that includes the reforms contained in the 2017 Accountability Ordinance.  He asked direct questions about the status of the implementation of the 2017 accountability ordinance. He also asked about the number of persons killed by officers, and training for persons with knives. He closed by mentioning the lower number of officers and that other cities such as San Franciso and Los Angeles face a similar challenge, and again noted the importance of collective bargaining.

Judge Robart could issue a ruling in coming weeks.  If he approves the joint motion, that would also begin the 60-day timeline for the “Use of Force: Crowd Management Practices” section, which states “Consistent with City law, within 60 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the city will provide the draft crowd management policy….to the DOJ and Monitor.” This includes policies to implement the Less Lethal Weapons law, Ordinance 1264222, passed in 2021 and still not implemented nearly two years later.

Judge Robart expressed skepticism about completing the work by the end of 2023. Mike Carter’s article in the Seattle Times quoted the representative from the DOJ’s Civil Rights division stating, that “the Justice Department is watching the union negotiations with interest and believes the ‘city cannot negotiate away something that is otherwise agreed to in the consent decree’…We are very interested to make sure collective bargaining continues and to make sure that it does continue to reinforce the requirements and reforms that we all worked for over the last 10 years.”

The City’s representative highlighted the option of leaving the bargaining table and instead going to interest arbitration to deliver the reforms included in the 2017 accountability ordinance. Arbitration is only possible for items included in bargaining parameters at the start of negotiation. When the 2017 ordinance was adopted, parameters had already been established, and were thus not a subject eligible for interest arbitration.

When the Council adopted the most recent agreement with the police guild in 2018, the Council adopted a companion resolution highlighting items of importance: 1) standard of review and burden of proof in labor arbitration, 2) the calculation, extension and/or re-calculation of the 180 timeline for Office of Police Accountability (OPA) to investigate complaints of misconduct, and 3) subpoena power for the OPA and Inspector General.

Judge Robart asked whether subpoena authority was included in parameters, and the City’s representative noted that under City law, parameters were confidential.

Sound Transit Timelines for West Seattle and Ballard Lines

Sound Transit announced this week that the West Seattle Link Extension (WSLE) and the Ballard Link Extension (BLE) will have different timetables for completing environmental review; the two extensions originally had the same timeline. In March the Sound Transit Board added alternatives for the Ballard line; consequently, that line will have an additional Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will require additional time.

The West Seattle line is proceeding based on the preferred alternative identified in July 2022, and does not require an additional Draft EIS. The Final EIS is planned for completion in 2024. After that, the Board will select a project to build for the West Seattle Link Extension. The Board will not need to wait until the Ballard Final EIS is completed; previously, it was anticipated the decisions for the two lines would be concurrent.

Sound Transit indicated they are working on the details of the environmental review for the Ballard line and will share an update when they know more.

The latest on the West Seattle Line, including project timeline, is available at Sound Transit’s updated West Seattle Link Extension (WSLE) online open house.

6/6 Parks Workshop in Delridge

Seattle Parks and Recreation invites the community to participate in the development of the 2024 Parks and Open Space Plan. Please join us in person at a workshop being held Tuesday, June 6 at Delridge Community Center, 4501 Delridge Way SW.

Translated press releases are linked here ( Amharic, Chinese, Korean, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese).  To request interpretation services please email

For more information, please visit or contact Oliver Bazinet at

SW Precinct Community Dialogue

The Seattle Police Department, in partnership with Seattle University’s Crime and Justice Research Center, will be hosting their next series of community dialogues as part of the Seattle Police Micro-Community Policing Plans (MCPP). Southwest Precinct’s virtual conversation will be held Monday, June 5th from 5:30 to 7:30 PM via Zoom.

This will be an opportunity for people who live or work in West Seattle to discuss the 2022 Seattle Public Safety Survey, share public safety concerns, and meet with SPD personnel, including recruits, officers, Crime Prevention Coordinators, Community Service Officers, and more.

The MCPP is a collaborative strategy facilitated by SPD and the Seattle University MCPP research team. Recognizing that no two neighborhoods in Seattle are the same, the MCPP addresses this by developing plans built on community engagement and crime data to direct police services.

You can sign up to participate in this virtual session at the Seattle U Public Safety Survey Website.

Refuse to Abuse This Weekend

The Refuse to Abuse 5K benefits the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and their work to promote respectful, joyful relationships. We all have a role to play in preventing domestic and sexual violence.

I’m on the Seattle Human Services Department team on Sunday morning. I’m inviting you to support this effort! If you can help, go to this link and donate and please do so by selecting team member Lisa Herbold. Thank you!!

Refuse To Abuse® 5K 2023 – We RUN with Seattle HSD (


Committee Update / Seattle Pride Night Out on June 22nd / Office of Police Accountability Annual Report / Senator Patty Murray Helping South Park / EPA East Waterway Public Comment / SDOT Advisory Committees / Gun Violence Prevention / Call or Text 988 / HVAC Upgrades Coming at SW Library / Urgent: Confirm Your Eligibility for Apple Health by May 31 / Housing Levy Hearing

May 26th, 2023


Public Safety & Human Services Committee

  1. Overdose Trends and Community Based Overdose Prevention Program Briefing

At Tuesday’s committee meeting, we heard a briefing from experts at Public Health – Seattle & King County about the crisis in overdose deaths and I facilitated a panel of folks on the front lines of saving lives.  You can view briefing materials and watch the presentation and discussion.

I’ve shared this information before, but our overdose crisis, driven by increasingly lethal fentanyl, is on track to exceed last year’s record number of deaths.

If we want to stop the deaths, then in addition to treatment, we must provide services that help people using drugs protect themselves.  These services, known as “harm reduction,” include distributing naloxone, testing strips, and safe supplies; providing medical and wound care and access to other services; bringing mobile services to people living unsheltered; and connecting folks with Medication Assisted Treatment such as methadone and buprenorphine.  Fox13 News covered the presentation: Seattle to use nationwide opioid settlement funds to fight the fentanyl crisis (

Seattle City Council first appropriated funding to save lives from overdosing back in 2018, and we protected those dollars for several years as they went unspent.  Last year, I worked closely with Public Health to see these funds offered to reduce the harms associated with drug use and overdose.  The three organizations that won awards all spoke about their lifesaving work.

It’s easy to forget, amid concern about rising drug overdose, that behind the numbers are people who are suffering.  I asked each panelist to share a story of someone they’d helped with these grants.  I hope you’ll consider viewing those stories here.


While these programs are showing strong results, more resources are needed to meet the moment.  Harm reduction working alongside treatment needs to be scaled up to adequately address our overdose crisis.  The City of Seattle and King County have an opportunity to do that with new funding coming from Washington State’s settlement with opioid distributors last year, expected to be about $14M over 18 years.  Because the funds are spread across such a long period of time, it’s imperative that we invest them to the areas of greatest impact. Core Strategies to be prioritized for funded, according to the lawsuit settlement include, among others:

  • Naloxone
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment, including residential treatment that allows medication
  • Pregnant & Post-Partum Women – Screening/Brief Intervention/Referral to Treatment (SBIRT); MAT and other evidence-based treatment; wraparound services
  • Syringe Services expansion

I’ll be working closely with Public Health and the Board of Health to steward these resources to save lives.

  1. Seattle Police Department Quarterly Staffing, Performance Metrics and Finances Report

The PSHS committee also heard a quarterly report on the Seattle Police Department’s staffing and performance metrics required by the Council as part of a 2023 Council Budget Action.

You may recall that in March of this year, the Mayor’s Office presented to PSHS committee members a plan for SPD’s recruitment and retention efforts.  Unfortunately, we learned this week in the PSHS committee briefing that there has been a significant delay in spending on the recruitment plan.  The Mayor’s office reports that the delay in implementation will allow them to take advantage of new staff and advertising analytics to attract new recruits effectively and cost-efficiently. This updated marketing plan allows the City to test, iterate, and improve initial messaging and tactics over the first half of the year, and then be more confident that increased spending in the second half of the year will drive results. The Mayor’s office reports that these are best practices necessary to be a responsible steward of public dollars and make evidence-based marketing decisions. While this approach will take longer to ramp up, the Mayor’s Office believes it will ultimately lead to better results per marketing dollar compared to an initially proposed plan.  Of the $1.8 million in funds approved for 2022, authorized in May with CB 120320 and in August of last year by Council Bill 120389 for this purpose, only about $327,000 were used.  As of the first quarter this year, just six percent of 2023 funding for recruitment has been used.

The 2023 hiring plan actuals for the 1st Quarter are the closest they’ve been to projections in the last three years, but they are still falling short.  SPD’s 2023 Staffing Plan assumes 120 hires and 105 separations.  The department’s separation rate has slowed, but SPD still has had fewer hires than it expected, leaving at least 21 unfilled, funded positions in 2023 and approximately $3.0 million in salary savings.

Council Central Staff anticipates that overtime spending for patrol augmentation, emphasis patrols, and special event coverage will exceed SPD’s 2023 overtime budget of $31.3 million.

SPD’s Response time goal for Priority 1 calls is a 7-minute median time.  The Southwest and West precincts saw decreases in their response times for all priority call types in the first quarter of 2023 as compared to the same period last year. The South and East precincts experienced small decreases only for priority 1 calls and the North precinct saw increases across all priority levels and had the highest response times out of the five precincts.

  1. Council Bill 120580 regarding App-Based Workers Deactivations Rights

Another PSHS agenda topic included a discussion of the bill, newly introduced Tuesday, to ensure that companies provide protections against unwarranted deactivations of app-based workers from their platforms. These protections include establishing a reasonable basis for deactivations, as well as providing notice, human review, and records substantiating the reason for deactivations to the app-based worker.

Since our last committee briefing on May 9, we’ve continued engagement with platforms, workers, advocates, the Mayor’s Office, and the Office of Labor Standards (OLS). We’ve incorporated feedback, but we still have work to do.

The committee discussion included not only an overview of the bill but included the deliberative process stage that Council refers to as “issue identification.”  Issue identification is the highlighting of a policy area where Councilmembers might want to consider amendments.   Here are the issues identified where Councilmembers might propose changes:

  1. Network Company Coverage (which companies are regulated?)
  2. App-Based Worker Coverage (which workers are protected?)
  3. Are temporary deactivations allowed?
  4. What reasons for deactivation are prohibited?
  5. Should the Egregious Misconduct definition be changed?
  6. If customer complaints lead to deactivations, how do we ensure those complaints protect customer privacy?
  7. What are the options for OLS to enforce the ordinance and fund that work?

We will bring amendments to the committee on June 27 and potentially vote on an amended bill then.

Seattle Pride Night Out on June 22nd

Here’s news of an event next month that sponsors asked me to share with you:

“There’s a new way to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride with your family and neighbors that is taking shape across Seattle and surrounding cities including Shoreline, Bellevue, Kirkland and even other states like Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia. Introducing “Pride Night Out,” a collection of block parties celebrating love, acceptance, community and inclusivity.  The idea originated from residents in Morgan Junction, and now more than 20 neighborhoods are participating to close their local streets and celebrate Pride with their neighbors. The event organizer is encouraging everyone to create their own Pride Night Out block party, in conjunction with the other participating neighborhoods, on June 22nd from 5 to 9 p.m. to celebrate the kick-off to Seattle’s Pride Weekend and amidst the nation’s Pride Month. The long-term hope is that this continues to inspire a national movement in a hyper-local way.  

If you’re interested in holding your own Pride Night Out block party, please visit: Seattle Pride Night Out on Facebook.”

Office of Police Accountability 2022 Annual Report

The Office of Police Accountability has released its 2022 Annual Report.

Here’s a chart with a high-level summary:

The number of contacts OPA received went down from 2,866 in 2021 to 2,252 in 2022, and 454 cases were opened, down from 558 cases in the prior year. 60% of investigations resulted from external complaints; 40% of investigations resulted from complaints from within SPD.

The total number of allegations declined for the second consecutive year, from the high in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and is now closer to the number of complaints in 2019, and slightly lower. The number of use-of-force allegations declined from 140 during 2021 to 90 during 2022:

While the total number of complaints and use of force complaints has decreased, I continue to be concerned with the continued increase in racial disproportionality. 34% of complainants that disclosed their race were from Black/African American persons, up from previous years. Only 7% of Seattle’s population is made up of Black/African American residents.

OPA regularly makes recommendations for policy changes or updates that result from their investigations into complaints. They are referred to as Management Action Recommendations (MAR); OPA made 17 during 2022. They are listed beginning on page 31 and include SPD’s response.

The status is listed as completed, active, fully implemented, in progress, partially implemented, or declined action. SPD has completed nine 2022 MARs, with 6 fully or partially implemented.

OPA’s Policy Recommendations page includes MARs dating to 2018.

One example in the report is a recommendation regarding Subjects with Knives. Derek Hayden, Charlena Lyles, and Terry Caver have all been shot and killed by officers in recent years.  That they were each armed with a knife was a common factor in each of these tragic deaths.  OPA recommended revamping training for responding to persons with knives, partnering with OIG to survey other agencies’ tactics; and potentially supplementing SPD’s existing equipment with other less lethal tools. SPD implemented e-learning training for all sworn employees, and when a site was secured, mandatory training began in early 2022. Here’s the MAR, and SPD’s response, and my update last week about the Bola Wrap press conference.

The report notes, “In 2022, OPA issued findings for 857 allegations in 290 investigations. Thirteen percent of completed investigations contained one or more sustained findings, down from 26% in 2021.

In 2022, none of the OPA director’s recommended findings were overturned by the chief of police. Since 2015, the chief has overturned less than 2% of OPA findings.”

Here’s a chart showing discipline imposed for the 91 sustained allegations:  

Senator Patty Murray Helping South Park

This week I had the privilege to join Senator Patty Murray in her announcement of support for funding the second phase of our South Park roadway and drainage improvements a basic infrastructure collaboration between Seattle Public Utilities and SDOT, to allow streets to drain effectively into the new stormwater pipes.  Conveying rainfall to the existing drainage system will lessen overall flooding and direct rainfall and flood water to a soon-to-be-completed flood control pump station. Stormwater will be pumped to the Lower Duwamish Waterway and the water quality facility is yet to be constructed.

The City is just wrapping up Phase I of this program.

Senator Murray’s office has also been working for several years to help move forward work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to plan and build a long-term solution to keeping the Duwamish River within its banks as the sea level rises.

I was joined by South Park Community leaders Paulina Lopez and Robin Schwartz as well as SPU CEO and Director Andrew Lee and Jen Hennessey of Washington State Department of Ecology.  Here are my remarks:

“Thank you very much, Senator Murray, I appreciate you coming to South Park today.

Before even taking office as the City Councilmember representing South Park, I’d heard about residents and businesses about flooding, in their businesses and homes, and on neighborhood streets.

The importance of infrastructure for adequate drainage, which most Seattle neighborhoods already have, cannot be underestimated; and likewise, the importance of partnerships among governments to help make these investments happen

SDOT and Seattle Public Utilities are working in partnership to address these issues, with SDOT working to add road paving and curb gutters, and SPU installing drainage systems along roads, in partnership with King County

The flooding we saw in late December highlighted the danger of increasing sea levels and the impact on the Duwamish River

But there’s also been a longer-term effort to ameliorate flooding resulting from the lack of adequate drainage. Not having drainage results in water not having anywhere to go.

Flooding impacts not just the quality of life for residents, but also the ability of businesses to function

Why has this been happening? No one can deny the historic lack of investment in this community, a failure that we have been working, pushed by community’s effective advocacy, to correct

I thank Senator Murray for championing federal funding for drainage infrastructure to help us as well as her ongoing work with the City regarding the issue of sea level rising.”

EPA East Waterway: Public Comment Extended, In-Person Meeting with Interpretation

The U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has extended the public comment period for the East Waterway Proposed Plan through August 11.

In addition, the EPA will be hosting an in-person public meeting on Saturday, June 3rd from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the South Seattle College Georgetown Campus (6737 Corson Avenue South, Building C). You can drop in any time from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Interpretation will be available in Spanish, Khmer and Vietnamese).

EPA is also planning on having at least four sessions on the East Waterway Proposed Plan to answer questions. Only written public comments will be accepted. The upcoming availability sessions are listed below, and anyone is welcome to attend:

  • An availability booth on Tuesday, June 6 from 3-7pm at El Mercadito (1253 S Cloverdale St., Seattle WA 98108)
  • Attending the South Park Neighborhood Association on Tuesday, June 13 starting at 6pm at the Duwamish River Community Hub (8600 14th Ave S, Seattle WA 98108)
  • Attending the Georgetown Community Council on Monday, June 26 starting at 7pm (Location pending)
  • A booth on Saturday, August 5 at the Duwamish River Festival from 12-5pm at the Duwamish River People’s Park and Shoreline Habitat (8700 Dallas Ave S, Seattle WA 98108)

The EPA prepared a short fact sheet that summarizes this Proposed Plan.

Here’s the proposed superfund site plan, including information on how to comment, or receive the plan in Spanish, Khmer, or Vietnamese. Background information on the site is available from the EPA Harbor Island Website.

SDOT Seeking Applications for Advisory Committees

SDOT is seeking applications for several advisory committees and boards. Information about each is linked below:

Applications are being accepted through Sunday, June 4 at the City Clerk’s website. You can apply to multiple boards at the same time.

A virtual drop-in session is available to learn more about the SBAB and TAB, and serving on a board in general, on Friday, June 2 at 12-1 pm via Microsoft Teams link (call-in option 206-686-8357, conference ID 994027284#).

Gun Violence Prevention

This week, I cosponsored a Gun Violence Awareness Day proclamation with Councilmember Strauss.  We’ve seen too much tragedy from gun violence in District 1 recently, including lost lives near Whale Tail Park, Highland Park, and the Chief Sealth High School campus.  This is a scene that plays out in too many communities around our city, and unfortunately, in too many homes as well.

Together We Can End Gun Violence Conference:  Yesterday I attended a regional gun violence prevention in my role as a member of the King County Regional Gun Violence Prevention Leadership Group.  This two-day conference features local and national experts on the epidemic of gun violence.  Community members, community-based organizations, cross-systems partners, health professionals, educators, youth changemakers, advocates, lawmakers, and technical leaders are convening to deepen understanding, practice, and collaboration in Community Violence Intervention (CVI) ecosystems.

The conference is highlighting the experiences of survivors as well as the efforts of community leaders, health professionals, young leaders, local officials, and national experts leading the way in ending the gun violence epidemic.

Lock It Up:  Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.  Everytown For Gun Safety’s research shows that firearm suicide among young people increased by 146% in the past decade; and Centers for Disease Control data shows that 82% of youth who died by firearm suicide used a gun owned by a family member.  You can find resources to safely store firearms and talk to firearm owners about safe storage at KingCounty.Gov/LockItUp.

Next week there will be King County Gun Awareness Day – Gun Lock Box Giveaway and Community Awareness events (Wear Orange Day) Friday (6/2) and Saturday (6/3) across King County in the Central District, Skyway, Kent, White Center, and Rainier Beach to distribute gun safety equipment including lockbox/trigger locks to the first 100 residents at each location.

This will be a chance to highlight the work done by Regional Peacekeepers Collective and Seattle Community Safety Initiative Partners and our amazing partners in the Service Provider Network in Seattle & King County including Community Passageways and Rainier Beach Action Coalition as well as Alive & Free YMCA, Choose 180, Cultured, Freedom Project, F.A.M (Fatherhood Accountability Movement), F.A.S.T. (Fathers and Sons Together), Harborview Hospital, Progress Pushers, Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club- Safe Passage, Urban Family Center.

Board of Health Prevention Work:  At last week’s Board of Health meeting, I asked for an update on the Community Safety & Wellbeing recommendations that regional partners developed last year to respond to gun violence.  I also urged consideration of a social media presence that can educate community members about gun violence and identify online slights and arguments that may escalate in real life, in order to intervene.

Help is Available – Call or Text 988

To wind up Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to remind everyone of an important new resource, here in our community and across the country.  988 offers 24/7 call, text and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal, substance use, and/or mental health crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

I’m grateful that Washington is among the four states to rapidly enact a 988 infrastructure bill with funding included for implementation back in 2021. I testified to the State Legislature earlier this year in support of HB 1134 – which thankfully passed – to build out a strong crisis response system for behavioral health.  Learn more about 988, including answers to Frequently Asked Questions, at 988 Frequently Asked Questions | SAMHSA.

HVAC Upgrades Coming at SW Library

Last week, we received this update from Seattle Public Library about long-awaited improvements at the Southwest and Northeast branches:

After some delays, all contracts have been signed and Notice To Proceed is being issued imminently… Both projects are expected to be completed by the middle of November with the hope that they will finish ahead of schedule thanks to a lot of coordinated efforts and easing of supply chain delays to HVAC systems.

Urgent: Confirm Your Eligibility for Apple Health by 5/31

Beginning June 1st, many King County residents enrolled in Apple Health will be at risk of losing their health insurance For the first time in three years, people must confirm eligibility for Apple Health, or enroll in alternative coverage to maintain access to medical and behavioral healthcare.

Get help:

  1. Contact a King County health insurance Navigator at 1-800-756-5437 or
  2. Make an in-person appointment with a Navigator at Gov/Outreach

Housing Levy Hearing May 31st

Council continues its deliberations on the proposed housing levy.  I am sponsoring amendments to the Mayor’s proposal that will:

  • Encourage affordable housing in underserved areas like District 1
  • Preserve existing City-funded affordable homes, and develop goals to acquire affordable homes from the speculative housing market
  • Direct City departments to collaborate on affordable housing that includes affordable commercial space and community services
  • Focus affordable homeownership investments on folks at highest risk of displacement, and those most impacted by the City’s past discriminatory policies
  • Inform policymakers about the impact of providing resident services in more affordable housing buildings.

You have an opportunity to weigh in on Wednesday, May 31st at 4:30pm.  You can sign up to participate starting at 2:30pm on May 31st here: Public Comment – Council |


Bola Wrap Press Conference / Responding to Gun Violence / Mental Health Resources for Students / Parks and Warm Weather / South Park Flooding / West Seattle High School Landmark Legislation

May 19th, 2023


Bola Wrap Press Conference

This week, I joined SPD in their announcement that they were beginning their pilot use of the BolaWrap. Two years ago in April of 2021, I participated with Community Police Commission members, the Office of Police Accountability Director, and the Inspector General, in a demonstration of the BolaWrap.  The BolaWrap differs from the TASER, baton, and pepper spray, in that it does not rely on pain-causing mechanisms for compliance. Instead, it uses a Kevlar rope aimed at the legs or arms of an individual to detain them. This tool is often referred to as “mobile handcuffs.”

As much of Seattle knows, our community safety network is growing, expanding, and changing as we build new investment strategies to provide services and care to prevent crime, new response systems to answer 911 calls with a behavioral health nexus and new tools and tactics for police to maintain public safety.

Even as we build out an innovative public safety system across city departments, it is a reality that there are certain situations when police must take someone into custody or take immediate action to stop someone who poses a threat to the safety of themselves, officers, or others around them. Less-lethal tools are used to interrupt a person’s threatening behavior so officers may take control of the situation with less risk of injury to the subject, bystanders, and police. Currently, three of the most common less-lethal weapons used by SPD are the TASER, the baton, and pepper spray.

In 2012, the City entered into a Consent Decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, in part, to reduce “the use of force against individuals in behavioral or mental health crisis.” At that time, 70% of all use-of-force encounters between citizens and SPD officers involved people in a behavioral crisis. SPD has reduced that percentage to 23%. Of the 10,000 contacts that SPD officers now have each year with people in a behavioral crisis, only a fraction involve any physical contact at all.

Nevertheless, the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Community Police Commission have all raised concerns that with the deaths of people like Derek Hayden, Charlena Lyles, and Terry Caver at the hands of police we still have challenges with how to address people who are in a mental health crisis and are armed with an edged weapon. An OPA recommendation made originally in August of 2021 and reiterated in 2022, recommended that SPD “research and test other less-lethal tools (e.g., Bola Wrap, net gun) to supplement SPD’s existing equipment, which may reduce the use of deadly force.”

The department has de-escalation policies that emphasize that, when “safe and feasible,” officers should make an effort to buy time in tense situations by placing space and barriers between themselves and a person in crisis, and that officers should enter potentially volatile situations with some de-escalation plan in mind.

Less-lethal tools are only allowed to be used in scenarios they are determined to be reasonable, necessary, and proportional in response to a public safety risk in order to protect people from imminent physical injury. New technologies like the BolaWrap device will serve as meaningful de-escalation tools to help prevent tragic outcomes.

I appreciate SPD engaging with our accountability partners in this work, and the CPC and OIG for not only identifying a problem but also working to find an approach that can reduce the use of force and fulfill the spirit of the Consent Decree while maintaining public safety.

Responding to Gun Violence

I know the crisis in gun violence has been on the minds of many in District 1 this week.

A week before last there was a tragic shooting death in Highland Park.  Southwest Precinct Captain Rivera let us know this week that they have focused patrol actions near the location of the vacant house said to be associated with the shooting. The vacant house has also been reported for the purpose of enforcement in accordance with the Vacant Building Code regulations. SPD is working with SDCI to get the building closed.  Captain Rivera also further reports that he has requested that the Community Response Group assess the illegal activity and the Unified Care Team (UCT) assess the need for an RV remediation.  The UCT has prioritized this site.

Last weekend, a man was tragically shot and killed near Whale Tail Park. The evening was chaotic and disturbing for many as medics and police officers worked along Alki to secure the scene for several hours on Saturday. Captain Rivera has informed me that detectives are continuing a diligent investigation of the incident and officers will continue monitoring this and other hotspot areas in the neighborhood.  Captain Rivera has directed emphasis patrols to occur both at Alki on Fridays through Sundays as well as, when staffing allows it, at the Boat Launch.  In addition, as discussed more below, the Seattle Community Safety Initiative (SCSI), which operates Safety Hubs in West Seattle, Southeast Seattle, and the Central District is doing hotspot work at Alki.

As I’ve discussed in this newsletter before, the great resignation that our police department and most other large cities’ police departments are experiencing across the country has created a challenging environment for proactive patrol work. Captain Rivera has explained to me that while many of our officers are often going from one 911 call directly to the next, there is limited ability for a preventative and proactive patrol presence along our city’s most beloved coastline to address not only terrible acts of gun violence but street racing and other public safety risks as well.

For the rest of our summer season, Alki Beach as well as Golden Gardens will close at 10:30 PM in a pilot of shortened hours to assist in addressing dangerous behavior which typically rises seasonally in the summer evenings. See the Parks and Warm Weather section of this newsletter for more info.

At this week’s Board of Health meeting, we received an update on the regional gun violence prevention work led by Public Health-Seattle & King County.  I’ve championed significant resources to drive this work, including:

  • $4 million annually since 2021 for the Seattle Community Safety Initiative (SCSI), which operates Safety Hubs in West Seattle, Southeast Seattle, and the Central District.  The SCSI receives Critical Incident Response Notifications from law enforcement partners which activates a Critical Incident Response, they deploy “credible messengers” as Violence Interrupters to de-escalate tension and connect to youth in need of services.  SCSI also includes Street Outreach Workers who provide school safe passage and conduct hotspot remediation activities and events to increase community safety as well as Client Services for 12 to 24-year-olds impacted by gun violence.  SCSI hotspot work is currently happening in District 1 both at Westwood Village and Alki.
  • $300,000 this year to expand the Harborview-based gun violence prevention program, in order to serve adults ages 25-40 who data suggest are driving the increase in gun violence. The status of the program expansion is that the Human Services Department is negotiating performance metrics for this work  Harborview has hired for this expansion in early May; and that the remaining funds are being negotiated in a direct contract with a community provider who will work with victims after discharge.

The Washington State Legislature took decisive action this year to stem the flood of guns that is behind the increase in gun violence.

One of the most important things we can each do is ensure that guns are securely stored in homes.  Here are some resources:

We know that gun violence doesn’t honor city boundaries, and that regional collaboration is crucial.  Regional Peacekeepers Collective was the only regional approach among the 16 jurisdictions selected to participate in the White House’s Community Violence Intervention Collaborative.  This strategy implements preventative measures that are proven to reduce violent crime and attacks the root causes – including by addressing the flow of firearms used to commit crimes.

Find briefing materials and learn more about our regional approach here.

Click on the images below to enlarge them:

Mental Health Resources for Students

Thanks to Seattle Public Schools for sharing resources for students struggling with mental health concerns during this Mental Health Awareness Month.  From their website:

If you are struggling with your mental health, know you are not alone. Here are a few steps to continuing your wellness and where to go for support:

  • Focus on your strengths and take steps to improve your wellness (a small walk, drink water, limit electronics/social media)
  • Talk about how you are feeling to someone you trust (a family member, friend, clergy, outside supports)
  • Get additional help if needed: It’s okay to not be okay. If you are needing additional support and ideas for what to do
    • Connect with a medical provider
    • Reach out to 2-1-1 to see additional resources (medical, food support, financial, housing, transportation) in King County. Take a look below to support services within King County
    • Take a look at HowRightNow for additional tips, resources, and supports
    • Practice small moments of mindfulness to calm your body. Learn and practice mindfulness techniques organized by Seattle Public Schools alumni Kaia Armas.

You can find additional resources, including 24-hour hotlines and substance use supports, here: Mental Health Program – Seattle Public Schools (

In 2022, I championed $500,000 in Mental Health Funding for Seattle Public Schools, after both Governor Inslee and the nation’s Surgeon General declared states of emergency due to the mental and behavioral health of young people.  These funds have been disbursed between Denny Middle School, Sealth High School, Ingraham High School, Rainier Beach High School, Aki Kurose Middle School, and Ingram High School.  In District 1, they’re being used for student-led programming, staff training by mental health providers on trauma-informed instructional practices, clinicians leading 1:1 and drop-in group counseling, and workshops on healing and resiliency.  The Seattle Times reported on these investments this week, you can read more here.

The City’s Department of Education and Early Learning is now considering how to implement an additional $4 million in funding to address the mental health needs of our youth, which Council added last year.  They’ve informed my office that what they learn from the initial pilot program will help them decide how best to invest these resources.  Learn more here: Youth Join Partnership for $4.5 Million Investment in Mental Health Pilot – What’s the DEEL? (

Parks and Warm Weather

With temperatures soaring, we’re hearing from more of you about enjoying our beloved neighborhood parks.  Here are some Seattle Parks & Recreation (Parks) updates for you.

  • There is a national lifeguard shortage, and Parks is working hard to recruit, train, and hire more lifeguards and wading pool attendants so we can return to full operational hours. Please share SPR’s lifeguard job opportunities with your networks.
  • Alki Beach will close an hour earlier, at 10:30pm, from May 26th – September 4th. The shortened hours will address dangerous or illegal behavior typical of summer evenings, in response to public input and nearby community complaints. Learn more and provide input here.
  • Parks just announced its 2023 Summer Pool, Spraypark, and Beach Schedules. D1 schedules are below, and you can find the entire City schedule here.

Swimming Pools

  • Colman Pool, at 8603 Fauntleroy Way SW, 206-684-7494, will operate daily from Saturday, June 24 through Monday, September 4. The full schedule will be posted here. The pool will be closed July 6 through 8 and July 14 and 15 for swim meets.
  • Southwest Pool, 2801 SW Thistle St. (limited summer operations)

Spray Parks* are open May 27th through September 4th.  The Highland Park spray park will be open from 11am to 8pm daily.

Wading Pools* are open on sunny days when the temperature is forecast to be at least 70 degrees.

*Spraypark and wading pool schedules are subject to change (due to weather or damage to the facilities). Check back here for details or follow the SPR Wading Pool Facebook page.

Wading Pool Address Dates Days Hours
Delridge Community Center 4501 Delridge Way SW June 28 – Aug 18 Wed/Thurs/Fri Noon – 5:30pm
E.C. Hughes Playground 2805 SW Holden Street June 26 – Aug 20 Mon/Tues/Sun Noon – 7pm
Hiawatha Community Center 2700 California Avenue SW June 29 – Aug 19 Thurs/Fri/Sat Noon – 6:30pm
Lincoln Park 8600 Fauntleroy Way SW June 24 – Sept 4 Daily Noon – 7pm
South Park Community Center 8319 8th Avenue South June 26 – Aug 16 Mon/Tues/Wed Noon – 7pm

Flood Control District Testimony to Address South Park Flooding

I testified at the May 17 meeting of the Executive Committee of the King County Flood Control District, in support of funding to address flooding in South Park.

Here is my testimony:

“Chair Dunn and Board of Supervisors, thank you very much for your time today.

I know you are considering your mid-year budget vision today and will be considering amendments to this budget at your June 13 Board meeting.

As you know, Seattle and King County’s South Park community experienced a devasting flood on December 27 when the Duwamish River spilled its banks. 50 homes and businesses were flooded, 25 with significant damage. Roughly 30 people were displaced without food or shelter, and without the means to provide it for themselves and their families. Approximately 20 families are still in temporary housing.

The clean-up cost alone is over $2 million, including for 80,000 pounds of debris. This has been a traumatic impact to people and businesses, in a low-income community with high environmental justice impacts, as well as to business with important industrial jobs.

At your June meeting, there will be an amendment proposal for interim flood protection measures and seed money for the long-term infrastructure planning, as a more permanent solution is needed and will take years to get into place. The total request is about $2.3 million.

This includes funding for a temporary 12 city block temporary barrier from river flooding of a sandbag or other physical barrier and pumping. You have a letter from Mayor Harrell, me, and Councilmember Pedersen about this request.

I am asking you to support this amendment to fund protection of this community. We cannot let them flood like this again. 

The Flood Control District was created with broad purpose to protect communities county-wide from flooding. The Flood District recognizes the particular challenges of low-income communities with health and environmental disparities.  It is absolutely imperative that all communities be supported through Flood District funding.

Seattle appreciates past District support for our stormwater control work in South Park. We now need your commitment to support river over-topping that will only become worse and more frequent with climate change.

Thank you very much.”

West Seattle High School Landmark and Controls and Incentives Legislation

Next week, the City Council will consider Council Bill 120566, which adopts controls on West Seattle High School, a landmark designated by the Landmarks Board.

This bill was voted out of the Neighborhoods, Education, Civil Rights, and Culture Committee, and will be before the Full Council on Tuesday, May 23rd.

The Landmarks Preservation Board designated this portion of West Seattle High School as a Landmark in 1981. This was the second step in the Landmarks process, after the original nomination.

The third step is an agreement with the owner, in this case, the School District, on controls and incentives, and the final step is a Council designating ordinance. Sometimes controls and incentives are agreed upon relatively quickly, other times it can take longer.

The designation applies to the northern portion of the site, between SW Stevens Street and SW Winthrop Street (a short dead-end street off Walnut Avenue SW):

Here’s a map that shows the broader area:


First Responders Protections / May is Mental Health Awareness Month / SR99 Northbound Ramp Opened Tuesday Morning / Learning More about LEAD and Co-LEAD / Draft App-Based Workers Deactivations Rights Ordinance / Justice40 Initiative Event / City Light TempWise Pilot / Washington State Ferries Public Meetings / Harm Reduction in Action

May 12th, 2023


First Responders Protections

This week, Council voted to pass a bill amending the criminal code to include firefighters and fire department personnel in the definition of a public officer for the crime of Obstructing a Public Officer. This legislation closes a gap in our municipal code to ensure that firefighters enjoy the same protections from obstruction as the city employees that were already covered in the bill, including the fire marshal, building inspectors, and police officers.

Seattle law already protected many other city employees from being obstructed in their job duties, and it’s necessary to extend these protections to Seattle Fire Department employees. When firefighters are carrying heavy and difficult to manage equipment to put out fires or kneeling over to resuscitate a patient, they are particularly vulnerable. Unfortunately, that vulnerability leads not only to risks to themselves, but delays that have a disparate impact on the vulnerable communities they serve.

In July of last year, we started to receive correspondence from Seattle Fire Fighters Union IAFF Local 27 writing about the increasing dangerous interactions fire fighters have had in the field.  Here is some of what they reported:

  • One fire fighter was hit with a large rock thrown by an assailant while extinguishing a fire at an encampment.
  • In another incident, fire fighters were threatened by two individuals with weapons, one made of steel rebar, and were forced to retreat to a distant location to wait for SPD backup before extinguishing the fire. Once on scene, they were able to find a person yelling for help who was transported to Harborview to be treated for sexual assault.
  • One young fire fighter had been assaulted twice in her first 16 months in the department, being kicked in the genitals on an Aid response and slapped in the face on a separate occasion.

No employee should have to worry about their safety while doing their job, especially as they deliver life-saving services in response to a 911 call.  These incidents have risen so sharply and been so alarming, that the union developed a tracking tool for assaults and threatening behavior targeting fire fighters. In January, they shared data that showed that 37% of the reports included physical contact. 11% included weapons brandished. There were 12 times in that report when weapons were used.

Some constituents wrote to me with concerns about unintended consequences that this bill could have.  I do not take this issue lightly, but I am most urgently concerned about the disparate impacts associated with inaction.  We know that people who rely on emergency services typically have less access to preventative health resources. We know that this disparity – in access to healthcare – falls along lines of class and race. We know that these kinds of reported threats delay and prevent SFD personnel from being able to respond to a call for service delays life-saving care has a disparate impact on the most vulnerable people in our city during their most vulnerable moments.

I am thankful to Councilmember Lewis for cosponsoring this bill and to Councilmember Mosqueda, who authored three amendments that I offered on her behalf at Full Council to help prevent and mitigate any unintended consequences such as a racially disparate use of arrests for this charge.  The amendments were as follows:

  1. To ensure that individuals cannot be charged for obstructing their own medical care. This amendment codifies the intended practice and is in line with best practices to protect the dignity and agency of individuals who may be the subject of a 911 medic aid call.
  2. Requesting that SPD and SFD revisit policies to reinforce expectations that SPD consults with SFD before coming onsite or engaging with people at a fire or emergency response scene.
  3. Requesting SPD and SFD to complete a Racial Equity Toolkit analysis of the impacts of implementing this bill and to provide the Council with regular updates on the progress of this work. It would also request these departments to report on their current and potential future ability to determine whether those who are arrested for obstruction of SFD personnel are or may be experiencing mental or behavioral health crisis.”

In addition, this week I sent a letter to Chief Scoggins requesting that he, during the 30 days preceding the effective date of the ordinance, lead meaningful engagement to build the internal policies and procedures surrounding this ordinance.  I also requested that this engagement include inviting input on how the current CAD Caution/Hazards policy impacts the workplace safety of human services providers and vulnerable people and include in these engagements the participation of Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness, the ACLU of Washington, the King County Department of Public Defense, and Purpose. Dignity. Action.

I will close out with a quote from Chief Scoggins in a press release earlier this week:

“This is very important legislation that will assist in improving safety to our firefighters as we respond 24/7 to fires, medical emergencies and many other types of incidents. Over the past several years our firefighters have been physically assaulted or verbally threatened while trying to serve those in need – who are often the most vulnerable in our community. When we have to delay our response because of threats, it can cause fires to increase in size or medical conditions to deteriorate. I want to thank the Mayor’s Office, the City Council and the community for their ongoing support of the Seattle Fire Department.”

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

On Tuesday, I presented a proclamation declaring May to be Mental Health Awareness Month to Matthew Kanter, Director of Programs, Education, and Outreach at the National Alliance for Mental Illness of Washington.

The White House proclamation on Mental Health Awareness Month notes that:

Communities of color, frontline workers, health care workers, and individuals with eating disorders have been disproportionately impacted, and the rate of depression across the country has more than tripled compared to rates in 2019.

Emergency department visits for attempted suicide among girls in 2021 increased by more than 50 percent compared to 2020.  American Indians, Alaska Natives, Black youth, and LGBTQI+ youth also face a disproportionate risk of suicide.

We are feeling the crisis in every community, in every home where someone is struggling.  The Council has stepped up to provide City resources to meet the growing need over the past several years.  That includes…

  • Significantly expanding funding for mental health support for Seattle students and residents, by at least $5M over 3 years
  • Continued expansion of the Mobile Crisis Team.
  • Funding to create a dual dispatch team of civilian staff to respond to 911 calls with a mental or behavioral health nexus
  • Adding behavioral health outreach in specific neighborhoods
  • A dedicated phone line for first responders to consult a behavioral health expert prior to or when arriving at the scene of a police, fire, or emergency medical event

This year, NAMI is celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month with the More Than Enough campaign!  It’s an opportunity for all of us to come together and remember the inherent value we each hold — no matter our diagnosis, appearance, socioeconomic status, background or ability.

We want every person out there to know that if all you did was wake up today, that’s more than enough. No matter what, you are inherently worthy of more than enough life, love and healing.  Showing up, just as you are, for yourself and the people around you is more than enough.

SR99 Northbound Ramp Opened Tuesday Morning

At 2 a.m. on Tuesday, May 9th WSDOT re-opened the SR northbound ramp from the West Seattle Bridge.

On Saturday, May 6th WSDOT shared that they had poured concrete, and it would take a few days to cure properly:

On May 8th WSDOT shared that they expected to work through the weekend and that the benefit of warmer temperatures would allow for the mix to cure more quickly. On the afternoon of May 8th WSDOT announced an update that they were aiming to open the ramp by 5 a.m. Tuesday the 9th. On May 9th SDOT announced that work was completed, and the ramp opened at 2 a.m.

Learning More about LEAD and Co-LEAD

At Tuesday’s meeting of my Public Safety & Human Services committee, representatives of the Human Services Department (HSD) and PDA (Purpose Dignity Action; formerly Public Defenders Association) joined us to discuss the new contract for LEAD and Co-LEAD services, which contains robust performance metrics that will allow us to learn more about LEAD’s impact over time.  You can watch the presentation here, or review the slide deck here.

PDA serves as the project manager for LEAD, which is a voluntary collaboration among multiple jurisdictions that signed onto a Memorandum of Understanding back in 2010; and agencies who provide services under subcontracts to PDA.

Policy guidance and oversight for LEAD are provided by the Policy Coordinating Group, of which I am a member, along with representatives from the King County Executive, King County Council, Mayor’s Office, Seattle City Attorney’s Office, King County Prosecutor’s Office, SPD, and King County Sherriff’s Office, among others.

In 2019 Council adopted Resolution 31916, which declared our “commitment to ensuring that law enforcement pre-arrest diversion programs, such as LEAD, receive public funding sufficient to accept all priority qualifying referrals citywide.”  While we have not yet reached that commitment, Council has consistently acted to support and expand LEAD, even in difficult budget environments.

I am particularly interested in learning more about LEAD’s impact in our community from the new performance metrics embedded in the contract, which will allow us to better understand how to scale up LEAD, and what impacts we might expect from additional investment.

I have invited HSD and PDA to return to committee in August and December, in order to share the results of the initial few quarters of data collection.

Draft App-Based Workers Deactivations Rights Ordinance

Also at the Public Safety and Human Services Committee this week, we continued our path forward on PayUp – legislation to protect the rights of app-based workers. Last year, we passed the first ordinance, which guarantees minimum compensation, provided transparency, and ensured flexibility for app-based workers. Shortly after that, we went right to work on our next piece and convened a discussion on the need for deactivation protections.

In stakeholder engagement since then, we’ve heard stories of workers getting deactivated with no advanced notice at all. Many times, the workers don’t even receive notice of why they were deactivated. And they report that when reaching out to the app-based platforms, they receive no clarification and sometimes no reply at all.

At committee, Council Central Staff presented the most recent draft of this Deactivation Rights Ordinance. You can watch the entire committee meeting online at the Seattle Channel website.

This ordinance would guarantee app-based workers receive fair notice of the reasons they are getting deactivated and holds the platform companies accountable to building accessible appeals processes with human intervention. There are still technical updates and policy decisions to be made in the bill, but I requested a pre-introductory draft presentation because I feel it is in the best interest of transparency and good governance to show our work along the way.

This draft will undergo more changes and stakeholder engagement before being officially introduced at our next committee meeting.  I am grateful for the advocacy of the app-based workers who have called, emailed, and met with my office, and I am grateful to Councilmember Lewis for continuing as my cosponsor in this work protecting workers in the fastest-growing sector of our economy.

Justice40 Initiative Event

Photo: Justice40rward twitter feed

Last Saturday I presented on a panel at the Justice40rward Tour in South Park, re: the City’s Equity and Environment Agenda.

Justice40 is an effort made possible by the billions allocated to the EPA and an executive order by President Biden requiring, for the first time, that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is among the appropriations that can deliver on this commitment.

City Light TempWise Pilot

City Light has launched the TempWise Pilot. TempWise is a new program that rewards City Light customers for participating in energy-saving events with a smart thermostat. This program was started to help City Light continue to deliver affordable and reliable power to the community during demand spikes. These spikes usually happen during very hot days in summer or very cold days in winter, or when the grid is constrained.

The way the program works is that at times when energy usage is exceptionally high, City Light will make small temperature adjustments to the smart thermostat to reduce the energy use of your central air conditioner, electric furnace, or heat pump. These changes are no more than 3 degrees and last no more than 3 hours. There will be no more than 15 events per season (in winter or summer), and events will only occur during times of peak demand on non-holiday weekdays. You can opt out of an event at any time, for any reason.

Eligible participants will receive a one-time $50 check after successfully enrolling. As a thank-you for continued participation, participants can earn up to $40 annually by taking part in additional summer and winter events ($20 per season).

You can see if you qualify, apply, and find additional information at the TempWise Pilot webpage. Spots in the pilot project are limited.  Here’s a link to Frequently Asked Questions.

Washington State Ferries Public Meetings

Washington State Ferries will be hosting Spring 2023 virtual public meetings in late May and early June dedicated to route-specific issues and projects ahead of peak summer service.

The meeting for the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth “triangle” route will be on Wednesday, June 7 at 6 p.m. That meeting will also include the Point Defiance/Tahlequah route. You can register for the meeting here. Once you register, you will receive an e-mail on how to access the meeting by phone, computer or mobile device.

After each meeting, a recording will be available online.

Here’s the complete schedule and registration link:

Harm Reduction in Action

This week I visited the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance (PHRA), a community-based nonprofit and drug user empowerment organization that provides harm reduction and other health services to people who use drugs.  With City funds I sponsored, PHRA and two other organizations have been providing services for the past year that are literally saving lives in the midst of our overdose crisis.

We learned how City funds are providing naloxone and training in the community; distributing test strips and smoking kits to keep users safe and healthy; providing much-needed healthcare and advocacy for pregnant people who use substances; and taking services directly to people living unsheltered in encampments or vehicles.

We’ll have an update on these grants from Public Health in my May 23rd Public Safety & Human Services committee meeting.  Sign up to receive the agenda by email at Agenda Sign Up – Council |

Learning about statewide naloxone kit distribution

Meeting with representatives of People’s Harm Reduction Alliance and Public Health

Drop-in services include internet access


West Seattle Bridge Update/SR 99 Ramp Update / Pay Equity in the News / Family Support Funding Available / Free eBooks for Teens & Young Adults / 2024 City Council Boundary Maps / Public Safety Jobs / SFD Fallen Firefighters Memorial / App-Based Workers PSST Effective May 1st

May 5th, 2023


West Seattle Bridge Update/SR 99 Ramp Update

Below are a few updates about the West Seattle Bridge and related facilities. First, I’ll start with the good news: the repair of the West Seattle Bridge is functioning as expected.

Last week my office asked SDOT for an update about the condition of the West Seattle Bridge, and ongoing monitoring, including the electronic monitoring system provides ongoing real-time updates.

Here’s what SDOT shared:

“In conjunction with monitoring the data from the structural health instrumentation, we have been conducting quarterly onsite inspections since the bridge has been reopened.  The observations from the onsite inspection and review of the data from the monitoring system notes shows no anomalies regarding the expected structural behavior of the bridge. Because of the positive news, we are adjusting our onsite inspections to every six months for the upcoming year.  We will continue to evaluate the frequency of the onsite inspection with the goal that the frequency of the inspection will be re-aligned to be consistent with Federal guidelines if the findings from the inspection and data continue to show a normal structural behavior.”

Secondly, my office also requested an update about the implementation schedule for remaining Reconnect West Seattle projects. Here’s the estimated schedule for the seven projects:

  1. S Elmgrove St conveyance swale – South Park – should be in construction soon (Q2)
  2. 14th Ave SW conveyance swale – Highland Park – should be in construction soon (Q2)
  3. Dallas Ave S corridor project – South Park – at 30% design; construction in 2024 most likely
  4. 4th Ave SW/SW Roxbury St/Olsen Way SW intersection improvements – Highland Park – Notice to proceed in May (construction starting in May)
  5. SW Holden St / Highland Park Way SW intersection improvements – Highland Park – Intent to award the project in May; anticipate construction to start a few months after
  6. Dallas Ave S / 14th Ave S intersection improvements – South Park – advertise before June 1; anticipate construction starting in Q3/Q4 2023
  7. Duwamish Longhouse signal crossing improvements – W Marginal Way SW – working with BNSF on acquiring comments and permits; intend to complete project in 2023 (construction start unknown)

Finally, as many of you are aware, on Tuesday evening WSDOT closed the ramp from the West Seattle Bridge to SR 99 northbound, due to a hole in the road deck. I appreciate SDOT’s rapid response team being the first to arrive on the scene. SDOT staff inspected the hole and alerted WSDOT, which is managing the repair, as the ramp is a state roadway. Here’s an image WSDOT shared Wednesday morning showing the hole, and exposed rebar:

On Wednesday, WSDOT said they were removing concrete around the hole and girders, and once that was done, would begin inserting new rebar, pouring new concrete waiting for it to cure. They also said they expected repairs to take 10 days. Here’s an image shared Thursday:

The ramp was closed for two weeks during April 2022 to repair a similar hole. This ramp remained open during the closure of the West Seattle Bridge and could be accessed from Spokane Street on the east side of the Duwamish.

On Wednesday, WSDOT said they were removing concrete around the hole and girders, and once that was done, would begin inserting new re-bar, pouring new concrete waiting for it to cure. They also said they expected repairs to take 10 days. Here’s an image shared Thursday:

Thursday evening WSDOT posted a thread with answers to the three most asked questions they’d received:

  1. When was this built? Is the ramp safe? When was it last inspected?

It was built in 1959 and last inspected on Aug 9, 2022. It passed that inspection. This damage developed quickly and wasn’t present then. All bridges are inspected at least every two years.

  1. How long has this hole been there? Why did it get so bad?

This damage developed quickly. We prioritize repair work that could be a hazard to travelers, so that’s why this damage is being addressed as quickly as possible.

  1. Why 10 days?

Crews are working quickly and safely to make a lasting repair. They’ve cleaned the hole’s edges to form a good bond. Now they’ll repair damaged rebar and pour concrete. Part of the timing is to be sure the concrete is cured to a strength to safely reopen.

On Friday morning WSDOT’s shared this update:

DAY 3 (May 5): Crews continue repair work on SR 99 NB onramp from the West Seattle Bridge. If you look closely, you can see the concrete form and panels in this photo.

Today crews will prep for the next phase of repair & concrete scheduled for delivery tomorrow.

They also shared updated photos from the surface and bottom of the ramp roadway:

SDOT indicated the report they received from WSDOT was that engineers from their Bridge Preservation Office evaluated the site on Wednesday morning to evaluate the damage and assess the best course of repair.

Pay Equity in the News

Last week I was glad to sit down with a reporter from King 5 News to discuss my efforts to increase wages for nonprofit human services workers.  The report also includes an interview with researchers at the University of Washington School of Social Work, which found these workers experience a 37% pay penalty compared to jobs with similar requirements in a different sector.

The predictable result is that human services jobs go unfilled – or experience extreme turnover – and desperately needed services are not available.  This includes services to care for our elders, provide food to hungry families, interrupt gun violence, and bring safety to survivors of gender-based violence.  It also means that childcare classrooms and hotels for people experiencing homelessness sit empty – despite the critical need – because staff cannot be found to take on difficult work at such low wages.

I look forward to bringing a pay equity resolution to my Public Safety & Human Services committee for discussion and a possible vote on June 13th.  Sign up to receive notifications of that meeting here: Agenda Sign Up – Council |

Family Support Funding Available

The City of Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is seeking applications from organizations interested in providing services for low-income families that are focused on learning, healing, connecting, and celebrating unique aspects of their culture.

Approximately $3,827,366 is available through this Family Support RFP. Organizations may apply for up to $300,000. Initial awards will be made for the contract period of January 1, to December 31, 2024. For more information and RFP materials, please click hereCompleted applications are due by 12:00 p.m. PDT, on Thursday, May 25, 2023.

For questions or assistance, reach out to Ann-Margaret Webb, Funding Process Coordinator, at

Free eBooks for Teens & Young Adults

Seatle Public Library is joining Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned Initiative to fight censorship with free e-cards for young people.  Anyone ages 13 to 26 who lives in the United States can now sign up for a free e-card from SPL that allows them full access to SPL’s collection of e-books and e-audiobooks.

Learn more and apply here: Books Unbanned | The Seattle Public Library (  Since launching last week, SPL reports they “had over 1000 card sign-ups in four days and more than 500 had already logged on and accessed their account.”  Join them!

Books Unbanned counters efforts to remove books from public and school libraries across the nation. In March, The American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom reported that 2022 saw a record number of demands to censor library books and resources. More than 2,500 unique titles were targeted for censorship, a 38% increase over 2021.  Of the reported book challenges, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color.

2024 City Council Boundary Maps

The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) has published updated maps for the boundaries of Seattle’s seven City Council districts; the new boundaries will take effect at the start of 2024. The redistricting process is required every 10 years after the release of US Census data, to balance the population in each district and ensure equal representation. The new boundaries were approved by the Redistricting Commission created by Seattle voters in the ballot measure that adopted seven district council positions.

Through the end of 2023, District 1 will remain in West Seattle and South Park (including Harbor Island). In 2024, areas to the east of the Duwamish will be added: Georgetown, the SODO industrial area, and Pioneer Square. Additional neighborhoods were added to District 1 because the population increase was slower than the overall city average.

Maps for each of the 2024 Council Districts are located here. Here’s a map with the current boundaries.

DON’s update includes additional background information. Below is the 2024 map for the entire city:

Public Safety Jobs

Every day, thousands of City of Seattle employees clock in for a variety of functions across multiple departments – all to serve the residents of this city. Today, I wanted to highlight the opportunities to join careers in the three public safety departments in the city.

Police officers, firefighters, and 9-1-1 dispatchers collaborate with other departments and community partnerships to build equitable and expedient emergency responses across the city. We rely on these city employees to keep us safe and healthy while also building upon innovation as we reimagine how a city approaches community safety for all.

Careers in our public safety departments provide meaningful work, competitive pay, and opportunities for career development. Aside from the three positions I’m highlighting today, these departments also hire civilians for administrative, community engagement, and other kinds of work throughout the year. You can find job postings from all departments at the City’s job opportunities page.

All of our City departments are equal-opportunity employers that value diversity in the City workforce. Candidates from underrepresented communities in public safety industries are highly encouraged to apply.

Police Officers

Like most major cities across the country, Seattle’s police hiring has slowed and retirements have increased. In departments with more than 500 officers from 2019 – 2021 resignations increased by 43%. In departments with more than 500 officers from 2019 – 2021 retirements increased by 24%. In departments with more than 500 officers from 2019 – 2021 hiring decreased by 5%. A new study shows that hiring “seems to be picking back up, as responding agencies reported hiring more sworn officers in 2022 than in 2021, 2020, or even 2019—the last pre-pandemic year. However, agencies are losing officers faster than they can hire new ones, so total sworn staffing has continued to decline. Resignations are still increasing; responding agencies reported nearly 50 percent more resignations in 2022 than in 2019.”  To work towards remedying this, Council has supported Chief Diaz in reaching for ambitious hiring goals every year by fully funding the SPD hiring plan and passing a series of budget allocations for additional incentives like recruitment bonuses and allowing the department to support out-of-state hires with relocation costs.

Applicants must be 20.5 years of age or older with a high school diploma or certified GED. Entry-level candidates will register and complete a series of exams including the Frontline National Exam, Public Safety Self-Assessment, and the Washington Physical Agility Test. Preference points are added to passing exam scores for military experience, fluency in multiple languages, and community service experience.

After all of the above tests are completed, candidates will participate in an oral board interview and those selected to move on to the next steps will go through the backgrounding process and complete a medical evaluation, psychological exam, and polygraph exam before hopefully receiving an offer of employment. From there, recruits attend the police academy and internal training before becoming sworn officers.

You can apply online and learn more about the application online on SPD’s website. If you have questions, you can learn more about a career with SPD on their jobs page or email


Seattle Fire Department does more than put out fires across our city. In fact, SFD’s Medic One Program has been a national leader in providing pre-hospital emergency medical services for the last 50 years. Firefighters/paramedics respond to things like house fires, traffic collisions, and medical emergencies in Seattle.

Applicants must be 18 years old to take the FireTEAM Test and Public Safety Self-Assessment video exams, with preference points applied to passing test scores for veterans. The top 25% of candidates who successfully pass all portions of the testing process will be added to a certified hiring list forwarded to SFD for further screening.

Eligible candidates will receive an employment packet to complete and schedule a suitability assessment before taking the Candidate Physical Ability Test. Successful candidates will participate in a formal business interview before receiving an offer of employment dependent on passing a medical, psychological, and background check.

SFD has just closed a hiring process in April of 2022, but you can sign up for updates about the next hiring process at this website. To learn more about a career with Seattle Fire, you can visit their jobs page or check out their hiring webinars on YouTube. Seattle Fire also participates in recruitment events throughout the year, including one this weekend: KCFCA Diversity & Recruitment Workshop | KC Fire Chiefs (

If you have further questions, you can send an email to

9-1-1 Dispatchers

The Community Safety and Communications Center is one of Seattle’s newer departments, originally a division of the Seattle Police Department. The CSCC is the Public Safety Answering Point for 911 emergency calls placed in Seattle – the 911 dispatch center, where they currently process 911 calls and dispatch police or send calls to the Fire Alarm Center. Their responsibilities will soon be expanding with the development of our dual dispatch program.

To become a 9-1-1 Emergency Police Dispatcher, applicants will need to pass a keyboarding test at 40 words per minute, a multi-media performance test, and a hearing and vision screening as well as a psychological evaluation.

Upon hiring, CSCC dispatchers begin their intensive and extensive training to become the first point of contact for Seattle residents and visitors reaching out for emergency services.

You can apply to become a 9-1-1 Emergency Police Dispatcher on Seattle’s job postings website. This link shows a current posting that closes at the end of the month but check back regularly for openings in the CSCC and other departments in Seattle.

SFD Fallen Firefighters Memorial

This Friday, I was honored to participate in the Seattle Fire Department Annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial Day event. This remembrance is a salute to firefighters all over the country that sacrificed their lives while protecting their neighbors.

This event took place in Occidental Park, by Seattle’s own Fallen Firefighters Memorial – a special site dedicated to the memory of all Seattle firefighters who have gone before us in service to the City of Seattle. I encourage you to visit this touching tribute sculpture, which contains the names of firefighters who have given their lives to protect our community since 1889.

This year, Seattle added two more names to the memorial. In doing so, we give gratitude to Seattle Firefighters Matt Runte and Michele Williams, and sympathy to their families. To lose a loved one under any circumstances is always difficult. I hope they take some solace in knowing that the City of Seattle will always hold their memories through events like this one and through the etchings on the memorial structure.

It is indeed easy to get caught up in our daily routines and the new challenges that come across our desks every day, but it’s important for us to take the time to honor the memory of the people who have worked so hard to keep our city safe.

Thank you to all of our firefighters, past and present.

App-Based Workers PSST Effective May 1st

In March, Seattle became the first city in the country to make permanent Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) requirements for app-based food delivery workers. A temporary ordinance was passed during the City’s state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but as an emergency ordinance, it expired shortly after we ended the state of the emergency declaration.

City Council heard feedback from app-based workers that this was a necessary basic labor right, one offered to more traditional employees for over a decade in Seattle now. So, on March 28, City Council voted to pass a permanent version of this ordinance.

“Under the temporary pandemic ordinance, OLS resolved $5,800,000 in settlements that impacted nearly 21,000 gig workers. The permanent protections under the new App-Based Workers PSST Ordinance will reinforce our ability to provide outreach, education, and enforcement for an even larger group of workers,” said OLS Director Steven Marchese.

Currently, the law applies to food delivery network company workers who work for a network company that hires more than 250 workers. These workers who have worked in Seattle at least once in the past 90 calendar days will accrue one day of Paid Sick and Safe Time for every 30 days with at least one work-related stop in Seattle and may use PSST in 24-hour increments for health and safety-related reasons.

In January of 2024, the law will expand to cover all app-based workers who work at network companies that hire more than 250 workers, in order to align with other app-based workers protections sponsored by Councilmember Lewis and myself: PayUp Legislation – Council |

These permanent PSST protections went into effect, appropriately, on May 1st, International Workers’ Day.


Fire Department Obstructions and Pay Equity at Committee / Fair Chance Housing Still in Effect / Denim Day / Seattle/King County Clinic This Weekend / State Action on Gun Control, Behavioral Health, Abortion Access / EPA Releases East Waterway Cleanup Plan / Georgetown to Downtown Safety Project Helps South Park Access helps South Park Access / Free Produce Benefits for Seniors / Natural Gas Signs on Trucks

April 28th, 2023


Fire Department Obstructions and Pay Equity at Committee

At Tuesday’s Public Safety and Human Services (PSHS) Committee meeting, I introduced a bill sponsored by Councilmember Andrew Lewis and myself to add firefighters to the definition of “public officer” in the crime of obstructing a public officer. The current law only covers police officers, building code inspectors, and the Fire Marshall, but does not offer protections to fire fighters and emergency medical technicians in the line of duty.

At the committee, SFD Assistant Chief Lombard and Kenny Stuart (president of the local fire fighter union) spoke to the need for such an amendment to the Seattle Municipal Code. They shared how firefighters experienced threats, physical interference, and even assaults while attempting to provide life-saving aid.

Our firefighters rush into danger to protect our health and safety, whether from a fire, a car accident, or an overdose. The nature of their service response and their need to focus on a person receiving aid or a fire, makes it difficult to have defensive awareness of possible threats.  Any interference can delay their service by a matter of life-or-death seconds.

I am grateful that Councilmember Lewis, Chief Scoggins, and the City Attorney’s Office have worked with me to develop this legislation, which is a common-sense fix to current laws that allow firefighters to focus on their work to make us all safer.  The bill was unanimously supported by committee members with an amendment from Councilmember Mosqueda that would require the quarterly reporting of demographic information collected for individuals who receive citations for obstructing fire department employees.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in Full Council on May 9.

Wage Equity:  At Tuesday’s committee meeting, we also discussed a draft resolution on wage equity for nonprofit human services workers. This follows a 3/14 presentation by UW-led researchers on their report, Wage Equity for Non-Profit Human Services Workers: A study of work and pay in Seattle and King County, which uncovered the 37% pay penalty for working in this field.

I believe the City of Seattle must do its fair share to increase wages for these mission-critical workers, or else we will continue to see empty classrooms and housing units, and people unserved, because workers cannot be found to take difficult jobs for such little pay.  Central Staff analysis estimates a cost of just over $7M in 2024 to take the first step.

Many jurisdictions and levy proposals have already taken steps toward doing so for their workers:

The Mayor’s housing levy proposal includes significant funding to address workforce stabilization – including increased wages – for workers in permanent supportive housing.

All these efforts are needed, and each boosts wages for specific workers.  None of them will increase wages for employees of the hundreds of nonprofit organizations who contract with the Human Services Department to provide a range of services, including support for survivors of gender-based violence, gun violence interruption, aging and caregiver support, food access, mentoring and educational support, and mental and behavioral health for families and kids.

That’s where the draft pay equity resolution comes in.  It states Council’s intent to consider increasing wages for HSD-contracted workers and calls for recommendations from a workgroup comprised of public funders and private philanthropy toward addressing the pay penalty.   It does not commit any funding; that will come during the Council’s budget deliberations in the fall.

I expect to formally introduce a resolution in early June, for a discussion and possible vote at the June 13th PSHS committee meeting.

Fair Chance Housing Still in Effect

A couple months ago, a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance (FCHO).  The Court decided that the portion of the Ordinance banning landlords from asking tenants and applicants about criminal history is unconstitutional. However, the Court upheld the portion that bans landlords from taking adverse actions, such as denying housing based on criminal history.

The Seattle City Attorney’s office has asked the full court to rehear this decision. The timeline for the Court’s decision is unknown.

Until the appeal process concludes, the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance remains valid, and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights will continue to enforce the law.

If you have questions about Fair Chance Housing, either as a landlord or a hopeful tenant, you can email or go to Fair Chance Housing – CivilRights |

Fair Chance Housing creates…

I would expect anyone in favor of a safer Seattle to support this law.  You can learn more:

Denim Day

This week, the Legislative Department donned denim to call attention to sexual assault.  On April 26, millions of people across the world wear denim jeans with a purpose, to support survivors, and educate themselves and others about all forms of sexual violence.

The campaign began after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court was overturned because the Justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped the person who raped her remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim.  Learn more at Why Denim? — Denim Day.

There is STILL no excuse and never an invitation to rape.  If you have experienced a sexual assault yourself, or want to know more about how to help your child, a friend, or someone else, contact King County’s 24/7 Resource Line.

Seattle/King County Clinic This Weekend

Do you or anyone you know struggle to access and/or afford healthcare? This weekend, free health, dental, and vision care are available at Seattle Center.

Need a ride?

State Legislative Session Adopts Priority Bills on Gun Control, Behavioral Health, Abortion Access

The State Legislature completed the 2023 regular session on April 23 and took action to adopt several bills included as priorities in the City’s State Legislative Agenda. Key bills include:

Gun control: A requirement for a 10-day waiting period and background check for gun purchases, a bill for which I gave testimony to support, and a ban on the manufacture, distribution, or sale of assault weapons. These bills build on last year’s successful action to ban high-capacity magazines and ghost guns.

Behavioral Health:  House Bill 1134 will strengthen 988 and build a stronger response for folks experiencing a behavioral health crisis.  I testified in support of HB 1134, which will decrease response times and ensure a highly-trained workforce is ready to take on crisis response jobs.

Abortion Access & Gender-Affirming Care: A suite of five bills will protect access to medical abortion; enhance data privacy for people who share their health information on apps; protect Washington patients and providers who may face legal threats from other states; protect providers’ licenses; and eliminate out-of-pocket costs to make abortion access more equitable.  Unfortunately, the Keep Our Care Act, which would prevent hospital consolidation that restricts access to abortion, gender-affirming care, and end-of-life care, again failed.

EPA Releases East Waterway Cleanup Plan: 60-day Public Comment Period Begins April 28

The US Environmental Protection Agency released a proposed cleanup plan for the East Waterway. A 60-day public comment period begins on April 28. The cleanup area stretches one mile and covers 157 acres. It is located immediately downstream and north of the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site, along the east side of Harbor Island, as shown below:

The East Waterway is part of the larger Harbor Island Superfund Site and is one of several “operable units” placed on the EPA’s National Priorities List in 1983 due to high levels of PCBs, furans, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that accumulated over 150 years of urbanization and industrial development. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing the cleanup of the East Waterway to remove and remediate historical contaminants that threaten human and environmental health.

Here’s the proposed superfund site plan, including information on how to comment, or receive the plan in Spanish, Khmer, or Vietnamese.

Background information on the site is available from the EPA Harbor Island Website.

The East Waterway Group (the City, Port and County) maintains a website with additional information at . The site notes the East Waterway:

  • Is one of the most active commercial waterways in the Pacific Northwest, supporting shipping and water-based industries; most vessel traffic consists of shipping container vessels and tugboats.
  • Serves ecological functions as a deep-water estuary at the mouth of the Duwamish River.
  • Is part of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe’s and Suquamish Tribe’s usual and accustomed fishing area, with treaty-protected uses including a commercial fishery for salmon as well as ceremonial and subsistence uses.
  • Provides public fishing access to the waterway from the Spokane Street Bridge. Learn more about safe seafood consumption In the East Waterway.

Georgetown to Downtown Safety Project Helps South Park Access

SDOT has reached 30% design to the Georgetown to Downtown Safety Project, and announced the update on SDOT’s blog.  I was a sponsor of funding $5.2 million for the Georgetown to South Park Trail.  Councilmember Morales was the prime sponsor.


There is a gap between the two projects in downtown Georgetown. My office checked in with SDOT and they noted that 2014 Bicycle Master Plan Network Map shows a potential segment that would potentially connect the two, though it is not funded in the current levy cycle.

The forthcoming Seattle Transportation Plan will incorporate the modal plans (e.g. pedestrian, bicycle, transit, and freight); a draft should be available in the coming months. Project prioritization could come at a later phase. The current Move Levy cycle runs through the end of next year.

Seniors – Apply for Free Produce Benefits

The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) provides an $80 benefit card for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets and roadside stands.  Learn more and apply here by May 19th.

Natural Gas Signs on Trucks to be Updated

Earlier this month, I joined environmental groups including 350 Seattle, the Sierra Club, Gas Leaks, and Breach Collective in calling for the removal of signs on Waste Management trucks to remove “powered by renewable natural gas” ads from their garbage trucks.

In February, those groups wrote to the City of Seattle and Attorney General Bob Ferguson requesting they address the misleading information, as the methane gas used comes directly from pipelines, most of which is fracked, although a small portion comes from landfills. Also known as biogas, “renewable natural gas” is methane captured from landfills, sewage treatment plants, and large dairies.

Later in April, Waste Management reached out to my office to say that they intend to work on language modification for the trucks.

Climate change efforts must be driven by science and misleading information has absolutely no place in the public sphere. I applaud the efforts to uncover how much Waste Management trucks are relying on fracked gas.

The joint statement from Seattle Public Utilities (which manages garbage contracts) and Waste Management, confirming the decision to remove the truck ads is copied below:


“Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and Waste Management (WM) are committed to public health and a cleaner environment. In our work together for the collection of garbage, recycling and yard and food waste, we continuously look for ways to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2019, SPU entered into two new Solid Waste collection contracts, one of which was with WM. The contract prioritizes cleaner solid waste collection fleet vehicles and specifies the following:

  • WM’s primary collection fleet of vehicles consists of all new trucks with 2018 or newer near-zero emissions compressed natural gas (CNG) engines.
  • WM’s initial electric fleet includes two EV Class 6 street crew trucks and eight EV support vehicles.
  • WM uses the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard Program to allocate renewable natural gas (RNG) to their waste collection trucks.

WM is in compliance with the terms of this contract and fully satisfies the standards of EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard Program. To avoid any confusion, SPU and WM have agreed to update the decals on WM collection vehicles in Seattle to better reflect our shared commitment to a cleaner environment.

WM is working as quickly as possible to update the trucks with its decal that will read, “Working together for a sustainable tomorrow”.

Each WM collection vehicle will need to be temporarily removed from service to remove the current decal and apply the new decal. SPU is committed to ensuring there is no impact to customers while the decal work is performed. The current timeline for completion is early fall.”


How the City Prioritizes Encampments for Services / Return Your Ballot / Brain Health in District 1 / Medical Abortion is Legal and Available Here / Roxhill Park Bog Preservation Efforts / SER Report Wave 4 Report / Rental Late Fee Cap / Firefighters’ Obstruction Bill

April 21st, 2023


How the City Prioritizes Encampments for Services

Since early 2022, I have been publicly asking the Mayor’s Office for a clear policy that explains how encampments, which are reported to the City by residents, are assessed and prioritized for services and removals.  My longstanding request was finally answered at Wednesday’s Public Assets and Homelessness Committee meeting.  You can review the illuminating presentation here.   Watch the conversation about prioritization here.

Here is what we learned about how the City prioritizes encampments:

Deputy Mayor Tiffany Washington also helpfully included several examples of how actual encampment sites were assessed and prioritized.  Here’s one:

I believe that the City should communicate transparently and honestly with residents about what happens to their reports about encampments.  I hope that by shining light on the prioritization process, Seattle residents will understand why reporting an encampment doesn’t always immediately result in folks living there moving into temporary or permanent housing.

Time to Return Your Ballot

Election Day is this Tuesday, April 25th, so it’s time to find your ballot and vote!  Here’s how…

Ballot drop boxes: Return your ballot to a ballot drop box, no stamp required. Your ballot must be returned to a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Plan ahead to avoid lines.

By mail: No stamp is needed to return your ballot!   King County Elections recommends dropping your ballot in the mail by the Friday before Election Day – that’s today – to make sure it gets postmarked in time to be counted. Your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day.

Vote Centers: King County vote centers are available to voters who need assistance completing their ballot. Trained staff and specialized equipment are available to help voters with disabilities cast a private, independent ballot.

Register to Vote:  You can register in person through April 25, Election Day, at a vote center. For more information on locations and hours of vote centers, visit

Talking Brain Health in District 1

I was thrilled to join community members and newly-confirmed Human Services Director Tanya Kim at West Seattle Senior Center on Tuesday to discuss the importance of exercise, community building, and some ways the City of Seattle promotes good brain health.  I learned so much from my fellow panelists Karen Thompson of Alzheimer’s Association, Washington State Chapter, and Sandy Sabersky of Elderwise.  The discussion was translated into Spanish so more could participate.

Seattle’s Human Services Department organizes monthly Civic Coffee events in partnership with The Seattle Public Library. These are opportunities for older adults to gather, meet local government and community leaders, learn about key issues, ask questions, and provide feedback.

Visit Age Friendly Seattle’s Virtual Events access page to find information about the next upcoming Civic Coffee event, including locations to join in person and links to join online.

Medical Abortion is Legal and Available Here

Mifepristone is a safe, effective drug that’s been used in medication abortions for 23 years. It’s been in the news lately because of a lawsuit in TX, but access to mifepristone remains protected in WA.  Learn more.

Find out how and where to access medical or surgical abortion in King County at Abortion services – King County.


Roxhill Park Bog Preservation Efforts

Last week, I visited Roxhill Bog, located within Roxhill Park between SW Barton Street and SW Roxbury Street. Roxhill Bog is the headwaters of Longfellow Creek, one of the most diverse, urbanized sub-basins of the Green-Duwamish River and a critical educational and recreational amenity for the community in Seattle’s 1st District.   I have written about the Roxhill Bog in the past here.

With Earth Day on April 22nd, it’s a timely reminder of how local activism can make a difference.

Educator workshop at Roxhill Bog (photo: Sharon Leishman)

A decade ago, two neighbors, Scott Blackstock and Rory Denovan, became concerned about Roxhill Park Bog’s ecological changes from the loss of water in the wetland.

The community was losing this 10,000 year old bog, its unique wetland plants, and its ecosystem which was enjoyed by the community and provided our local schools with an important outdoor classroom.  They asked these simple questions: where is the water, and why has it changed? What can we do to save our wetland?  As they started researching the Bog’s water levels, they became alarmed at how the peat soil was degrading so began to reach out for others to join their community-driven effort in saving this valuable wetland, not only environmentally but for the community.  Early partners included Delridge Neighborhood Development Association (DNDA), Duwamish Alive Coalition (DAC), American Rivers and Natural Systems Design, with funding from the Rose Foundation, King County Water Works, and Boeing.

Since taking office in 2016 I have worked with the community on this issue including encouraging Seattle Public Utilities and the Department of Parks and Recreation to attend a meeting at the Fen with the community. I’ve provided letters of support to both the American Rivers Association and King County to assist with grant applications. With King County Councilmember Joe McDermott’s support, the community received a 2020 WaterWorks grant from King Council to allow the community to proceed with their own hydrological study.

In partnership with King County, the Boeing company, and many others, the first phase of restoration will pilot a new approach to hold more water in the southern portions of the wetland by constructing a subsurface groundwater block with minimal impact to existing vegetation and parks facilities. This approach will provide valuable information for future restoration of the entire wetland and form the foundation for new green stormwater infrastructure to reduce combined sewer overflows in the Delridge Neighborhood.

Along with the plan designed by Natural Systems Design with the help of American Rivers, of returning water back to the Bog, the Delridge Neighborhood Development Association, Duwamish Alive along with Parks have been offering community programs in the park including arts for seniors, birding and Bog tours, nature-themed activities for neighborhood youth and an environmental program for teens to once again welcome the community back to this special place.  They are looking forward to again offering these programs this year for the community and sharing the Bog’s story.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about this project, the history, and ecology of Roxhill Bog, contact DNDA to arrange a presentation either in person or on Zoom.  Email  or

Summer Youth Environmental Justice program (photo: Caroline Borsenik)


SER Report Wave 4 Report

The Office of the Inspector General released the Wave 4 Sentinel Event (SER) Report.

This is the 4th and final sentinel event report about the Seattle Police Department’s response to the 2020 protests following the murder of George Floyd. As noted on the OIG website, “A sentinel event is a significant negative outcome, such as a death or serious injury, that acts as a signal that problems within a system exist and may lead to similar bad results if the system is not examined to find root causes and proper remedies. Industries like airlines and health care providers have developed and used “sentinel event review” processes to thoroughly examine these types of incidents, identify what caused them, and use those lessons to prevent them in the future.”

What are the steps of SER?

This SER had three stages:  Stage 1 – Gathering community input and perspectives, Stage 2 – SER panel analysis and findings, Stage 3 – Audit and further systems review of issues identified by SER.

The four SER reports covered protests during 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, and SPD response. The final report covers the time period of July 2 through October 7, 2020. Three protests were selected for review, as described in the report:

  1. A march in Capitol Hill on July 25th, where more than 5,000 people protested the deployment of federal law enforcement personnel to Seattle and Portland, Oregon.
  2. A protest on September 7th, outside the headquarters of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) to demand increased transparency in future collective bargaining agreements.
  3. A march in Capitol Hill on September 23rd, to protest a Kentucky grand jury’s decision to indict one of the officers involved in the March 2020 murder of Breonna Taylor on charges of ‘wanton endangerment,’ with no officers facing charges directly related to Taylor’s murder.

The Wave 4 report lists 49 factors, including:

  • Ineffective communication by SPD with protestors, media, and legal observers;
  • SPD crowd management tactics, including the decision to issue dispersal orders and the tools used to facilitate dispersal;
  • The assumption by SPD of protestor coordination and planned violence, and its resulting posture of defensiveness; and
  • The impact of officer exhaustion on perceptions of and interactions with protestors.

The SER panel, which included community members and officers, identified 20 recommendations in the Wave 4 report designed to improve SPD’s response to protests in the future. They fall into five main areas, as noted by the Office of the Inspector General:

  • Community Legitimacy – Addressing the gap between structural and perceived legitimacy and acknowledging the need for SPD to take accountability for its actions and the actions of individual officers when public trust is damaged.
  • Situational Awareness – Acknowledging the need for SPD to change its mindset when responding to protests, particularly where police themselves are the focus, by minimizing the prevalent belief within SPD that protesters work as a unified, oppositional group, rather than a diverse population of individuals with a diverse set of reasons for attending the protest.
  • Communication – Improving the ability of SPD to communicate with protestors, media, and legal observers to safely facilitate crowd events.
  • Tactics – Improving SPD crowd management tactics to limit force and ensure safety for protestors, officers, and others in the area.
  • Officer Wellness – Supporting officer physical and emotional wellness during periods of extended deployment by reducing shift lengths and offering sufficient opportunities for breaks, food, and water, as well as through the provision of mental health services. Section IV provides a complete list of recommendations.

The report says about all four reports, “In total, the SER Panel identified 229 distinct contributing factors leading to undesired incidents and issued 136 recommendations to SPD and the City of Seattle intended to prevent such events from happening again.”

Under the proposed Consent Decree Agreement on Sustained Compliance filed by the US DOJ and the City of Seattle, the Seattle Police Department will consider and respond to the recommendations in the four reports and provide a status update to the Court by July 31. If a specific SER recommendation does not result in a policy change, the reason will be explained in the report.

Some of the SPD responses to the recommendations in previous SER reports are published on the Inspector General’s Sentinel Event review website (several of the recommendations have been implemented).

One of the challenges the report noted for SPD for the September 7, 2020 protest at SPOG headquarters was that “SPD leadership…had asked for the building to be unoccupied during the protest to minimize the potential for conflict and potentially ensure the safety of people inside.” Yet, “SPOG and SPD are separate entities and do not work in coordination; SPOG members making decisions at SPOG headquarters were not on duty nor tied to the SPD crowd management operations.”

In other words, SPOG members did not leave the building as requested by SPD leadership.  The report indicates that this “resulted in a 90-minute interaction resulting in 56 reported uses of force by SPD.”  Further, the report indicates that “Bicycle officers rode into the crowd from behind the SPOG headquarters as the song, ‘Save a Horse; Ride a Cowboy’ played from the building’s external speakers” and “Officers yelled at protestors to ‘run’ and ‘move faster,’ even as they complied with dispersal orders; protestors at the front of the crowd were unable to move back at pace expected by SPD.”

The report states that “Community panelists pointed to the music blaring from the SPOG building as one example of officers’ confrontational approach. SPD panelists agreed the music was inappropriate and could be viewed as antagonistic.”

Recommendations include “SPD professionalism policies and training should emphasize avoiding actions that are or could be perceived as retaliatory or punitive, especially in defense of their facilities.”


Rental Late Fee Cap

On Tuesday, the Council voted to pass legislation limiting how much can be charged in late fees each month when rent is late.  I’m including it in my newsletter this week because, though this bill was discussed and recommended for passage by a committee on which I do not serve, the Sustainability and Renters’ Rights Committee, it is a very important piece of public policy.

Before beginning my career in City Hall, I worked as an organizer with the Tenants Union. Renters’ rights have been a core issue of mine. As a Councilmember, when I served as the chair of the Council’s committee with oversight on the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, I successfully sponsored legislation such as Fair Chance Housing, Source of Income Discrimination and First-in-Time Protections, Losing Home Report Recommendations (5 separate bills).  Here’s a piece I wrote just last week about Fair Chance Housing and the importance of local legislation protecting tenants:  More Than a Contract – SMERCONISH

I wholeheartedly agree that high late fees are exploitative to renters.  I further question whether they even serve as an effective incentive that results in more timely payment of rent. In fact, the Seattle Public Library has recently shared that getting rid of library late fees had no effect on book return rates. Certainly, it can be argued that people have much greater motivation to keep a roof overhead than to keep their book borrowing privileges. Renters do not pay timely rent in order to avoid late fees, renters pay timely rent to avoid evictions. That is incentive enough for most people.

I appreciate that there was thorough discussion and consideration in committee about the upper limit of the cap.  Councilmembers Mosqueda and Morales who were not part of the earlier committee discussion brought forward an amendment, that Councilmember Sawant also sponsored, giving the Full Council an opportunity to weigh in on the cap.

As I said in chambers, the testimonies shared during public hearing and the emails that have poured into our inbox established good reason for reconsideration of the Committee recommendation. In the bill as amended in committee, someone paying an average rent of about $2,000 for a 1 bedroom in Seattle could pay as much as $30 per late fee. For a family who has struggled to pay their rent, a late fee that is $30 instead of $10 could mean the difference between commuting by bus or having to walk to work, even with ORCA Lift. That $20 difference could mean falling behind on other bills and racking up additional late fees on credit card payments or internet service. It could be the deciding factor in your child’s ability to go on educational field trips with their classmates, or whether you can get a prescription filled.

I voted in favor of the amendment at Council to restore the rent cap to $10, and proudly voted yes on the bill as amended. I appreciate the leadership of Councilmember Sawant in this legislation that brings us in line with neighboring cities and progressive municipalities across the country.

Firefighters’ Obstruction Bill

This Tuesday, the Council’s Introduction and Referral Calendar included a bill referred to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee that would amend the Seattle Municipal Code to include firefighters and fire department personnel in the definition of “public officer” for the crime of obstructing a public officer.

It is well known that the challenges faced by all our public safety employees at the City of Seattle have increased with the rise of the opioid epidemic, economic uncertainty, and multiple public health crises – COVID, mental health, and substance use.

This bill will give our fire department employees in the line of duty an additional tool for their personal safety and the ability to secure the scene of a medical health response or fire response, particularly in the case of bystander intervention while firefighters and paramedics are providing aid. In my regular meetings and correspondence with Chief Scoggins, he’s shared stories that include an aggressive bystander throwing rocks at SFD and AMR personnel while they transported a patient in a gurney.

No public servant should have to fear for their safety while performing lifesaving aid. While this code change may not eliminate the assaults and obstructions experienced by SFD personnel, it will help them safely secure their response scenes and potentially reduce the likelihood of threats to their work as integral members of our public safety network.


Committee Update / Food Assistance / Career Pathways for Gun Violence-Affected Youth / Last Chance for Free Covid Tests / April Pools Day / EV Charging Stations / Get Engaged program / Fair Chance Housing / Free Kia and Hyundai Anti-Theft Devices

April 14th, 2023


Update from the 4/11 Public Safety & Human Services Committee

Human Services Department Director:  Committee members unanimously voted to recommend the appointment of Tanya Kim, current Acting Director of the Human Services Department, to the permanent position.  I have found Acting Director Kim to be a thoughtful and responsive partner, and I was pleased that she was willing to step up her commitment when asked to serve in the permanent role.  You can read more about Acting Director Kim here and here.

This is an important appointment.  The Human Services Department, which has been without a permanent director since before the pandemic, is one of the largest contributors to Seattle’s safety net, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to more than 200 community-based organizations and programs that support strong and healthy communities.  HSD has about 400 employees in four divisions designed to deliver outcomes that work for the community, promote innovation, and advance racial equity: Aging and Disability Services (ADS), Leadership and Administrative Division (LAD), Safe and Thriving Communities (STC), and Youth and Family Empowerment (YFE).

Next, Acting Director Kim’s appointment will be considered by the full Council for a final vote on Tuesday, April 17th.  Council’s consideration of department heads is guided by Resolution 31868.

Ongoing Assessments in Proposed Consent Decree Agreement on Sustained Compliance: Inspector General Judge provided a briefing on the upcoming work of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

This work falls into three main areas: 1) projects and reports identified in the Consent Decree Agreement on Sustained Compliance; 2) developing new review processes to transition oversight from the Court Monitor to OIG for Consent Decree topics, and 3) creating new review processes to provide ongoing feedback to SPD, including the development of processes to provide transparent oversight of SPD systems not yet subject to consent decree oversight.

In short, review work will be continuing, and will be transitioning to a City-run system, which can allow for additional areas of focus and priorities set by the City.

Here’s the OIG presentation.

Until now, the Court-appointed Monitor has been overseeing SPD in areas defined by the Consent Decree such as use of force and constitutional policing. In the long run, this transition will allow greater scope for continuing overnight and enhanced real-time review.

The Consent Decree includes requirements regarding the collection of data about the use of Terry stops (also referred to as ‘investigative’ stops based on an officer’s reasonable suspicion of criminal activity). The City’s 2017 bias-free policing ordinance is more expansive and requires the collection of data not only for Terry stops, but also for regular traffic stops that can result in tickets, and incorporates that requirement into the Municipal Code.

SPD has collected data on Terry stops, and the demographic data has been included in a variety of reports, such as the Monitor’s 2022 Comprehensive Assessment, the CPE Science of Justice report, and SPD’s Disparity Review. Here is SPD’s Terry stop dashboard and dataset.

The transition to City management can now include oversight on regular traffic stops as well, the data for which has only become available in mid-2022, despite the bias-free policing ordinance requiring its availability being passed in 2017.


For work beyond the Consent Decree, the OIG has identified items including a review of investigative policy and practices, ongoing work on traffic stops and use of deception, SPD’s collision review process, as well as a sentinel event review process for officer-involved shootings.

The OIG will be adding three new positions; this is a fraction of the average annual staffing costs for the Monitor’s office of $800,000.

URM Quarterly Update: Lastly, the committee received a quarterly program update and briefing from SDCI and ASAP! (the Alliance for Safety, Affordability, and Preservation) on the work developed around Unreinforced Masonry buildings (URMs) as directed by Resolution 32033, which I sponsored in 2021. This URM Retrofit Program resolution charges City departments with identifying seismic retrofit standards to make older buildings safer during large earthquakes. It also tasks the City with finding funding sources to reduce the financial burden on the owners of these older buildings. SDCI last presented their progress in this area in December.

As we heard in committee, the URM Retrofit Program is made of two parallel tracks – one to develop the technical standard for retrofits, and one to develop policies needed to support this work.

On technical standards, I was pleased to hear that a draft of baseline standards is already being reviewed by earthquake engineers, who will give feedback for further development. These baseline standards will identify models for retrofits that range in cost and construction needs without sacrificing the safety of the occupants and neighbors of the buildings adopting them. These baseline standards will be published this year in the form of a Director’s Rule, while further work continues.

In the area of policy development, we heard a compelling proposal for a retrofit credit program. This program would grant owners of each URM property required to retrofit their buildings to the URM standard, additional development capacity, or “upzone credits.”  It would also allow developers, in selected areas across the city, to purchase “upzone credits” from owners of URM properties for a fee that would then help these owners of URM building pay for the estimated $1.2 billion in costs to retrofit URMs across Seattle. This would allow developers to build denser buildings while supporting the protection and safety of older, historically significant buildings. This proposal is in relatively early development stages with a set of challenging questions ahead of it but is an exciting opportunity to explore a significant funding source for this life safety matter. I look forward to the recommendations of this workgroup.  To begin to move this policy development forward ASAP and SDCI are working on Comprehensive Plan amendments for both the One Seattle Plan Comprehensive Plan Update (2022), which Council won’t vote on until 2024, as well as Mayor Harrell’s proposed new legislation to update the City’s industrial lands policy, which Council will be considering later this year.

Admittedly, the work of the URM Retrofit Program workgroups can be highly technical, but it is incredibly important.  I applaud our presenters for parsing through these standards and policies in laypeople’s terms. SDCI will return in June for its next quarterly report, but in the meantime, you can watch the full presentation from this week’s committee below.

Food Assistance: How to Find – or Give – Help

The number of people seeking food assistance increased over the last year, according to a report by Public Health. This increase is happening while food costs are higher than ever before, food donations and volunteers are down, and federal pandemic-era food programs are ending.

Give Help: Food assistance providers need additional food, volunteers, and equipment.  You can help by volunteering, donating nutritious foods, and giving money.  Find your local food bank or meal program on this list and map of food resources, updated quarterly by the City of Seattle.

Get Help: If you don’t have money to purchase enough food, the following resources can help:

  • Basic Food/SNAP: King County’s Access and Outreach Team can help you apply and answer questions about Washington State’s Basic Food program. Call the Community Health Access Program (CHAP): at 1-800-756-5437.
  • SNAP Market Match and SNAP Produce Match: You can stretch Basic Food benefits by purchasing fresh vegetables and fruit at participating farmers’ markets. Visit SNAP Market Match, email, or call 360- 236-3148. Also available is SNAP Produce Match, a program where shoppers who use Basic Food benefits can stretch their food budget to buy more fruits and vegetables at participating grocery stores and online. Visit the website at SNAP Produce Match, email, or call 360-236-3148.
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Program: The WIC program provides families with healthy food, nutrition counseling, and breastfeeding support. You may be eligible for WIC if you are pregnant or postpartum, have an infant, or child under age 5. To learn more, see Public Health WIC Services, or call 206-263-9300.
  • Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program: You can find nutrition resources for older adults, including senior congregate meal locations and information about applying for an $80 e-benefit card to purchase fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets here, or call Community Living Connections at 206-962-8467 or (toll-free) 1-844-348-5464.
  • School Meals and Summer EBT: Families can apply for free or reduced-price school meals for their children at any time during the school year by applying directly through their school or school district. School children who receive free or reduced-price school meals qualify for up to a $120 e-benefit card to purchase food during the summer months.
  • Seattle Fresh Bucks: Eligible Seattle residents with household income below 80% area median income can enroll in the Fresh Bucks program to receive $40 in vouchers a month by mail. The vouchers, allow participants to buy any qualifying fruit and vegetable at any participating retailer including farmers’ markets, Seattle Safeways, and participating Seattle neighborhood grocers and farm stands. See Seattle Fresh Bucks or call 206-684-2489 for more information.
  • Food Banks and Meal Programs: Many food banks now offer home delivery services and other conveniences like online ordering and curbside pick-up. Before going to your local food bank or meal program, call ahead to confirm their hours and to make an appointment, if necessary. Find your closest food bank or meal program by visiting this list and map of food resources.

Apply By 4/21 for Career Pathways for Gun Violence-Affected Youth Grant

King County intends to award $1M to data-informed, community-focused violence deterrence/intervention programs for youth ages 12-28 who have been directly or indirectly affected by gun violence.  Services for young people should include building relationships, providing intentional guidance, and connecting to resources.  Examples include paid trainings, certification, and job shadowing; paid internships; civic and business leadership development; career and ownership/stewardship mentoring; culturally reflective mental health and well-being supports; teaching life adaptive skills to thrive, and so on.

Learn more and apply here: Career Pathways for Youth Affected by Gun Violence – King County.

Last Chance to Order Free Covid Tests from State

There is one month left to get free tests from Say Yes COVID Test. While this program comes to an end on May 11, many communities in Washington are still eligible to receive five at-home COVID-19 test kits for free. Visit to see if your household is eligible.

April Pools Day this Saturday at Southwest Pool

Head to Southwest Pool this Saturday, April 15th from 12:15 to 1:15 pm for April Pools Day!  Make this summer a safe one. Learn important water safety skills, enjoy free swims, play games, and win prizes!

This is a great opportunity to teach your family about water safety while having fun. April Pools Day water safety topics will include:

  • Preventing open-water drowning
  • Lifejacket use and promotion
  • Cold water awareness
  • Basic water rescue for children

EV Charging Stations Coming Online in Coming Months

Last month City Light announced 31 locations for Seattle City Light’s Curbside Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging pilot, including the following additional locations in District 1:

  • 4800 block California Ave SW
  • 2100 block California Ave SW
  • 6000 block 16th Ave SW
  • 4800 block Fauntleroy Way SW
  • 7000 block 17th Ave SW

A map of the sites is available and locations are noted by a blue icon. Locations with charging stations running already are indicated in orange.

SDOT anticipates 50% of the new locations will be installed by the end of May, with the remainder completed by the end of summer. Sites will be energized as construction is completed.

The Level 2 EV chargers installed under this program will provide up to 9.6 kilowatts (kW).

Additional information including is available at City Light’s announcement, and their Curbside Level 2 EV Charging webpage. The current cost for a Level 2 charger is $0.21 per kilowatt-hour.

YMCA Seeking Applications in District 1 for 2023-2024 Get Engaged Program

The YMCA Social Impact Center is seeking 2023-2024 applications for the Get Engaged! Program run in collaboration with the City of Seattle.

The Get Engaged program places people aged 18-29 onto City of Seattle boards and commissions. They reached out to seek additional applications from District 1, so please share this with anyone who might be interested.

Get Engaged board members serve a one-year term as fully vested and voting members starting in September. Boards and commissions advise the Mayor and City Council, help shape policy decisions, make recommendations, and provide citizen participation in city government. Started in 2001, Get Engaged is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of leaders and advocating for the influence of young voices in city affairs.

Applications for the 2023-2024 year will be accepted until Friday, May 12th at 11:59 pm.

To apply: Complete the application at and send a resume, cover letter, and 2 references to

Participating boards and commissions include: the Arts Commission, Bicycle Advisory Board, Design Commission, Human Rights Commission, Immigrant and Refugee Commission, LGBT Commission, Board of Parks Commissioners, Pedestrian Advisory Board, Disability Commission, Planning Commission, Renters’ Commission, Transit Advisory Board, Urban Forestry Commission, Women’s Commission, and others.

You can view participating boards and commissions, and meeting times, here:

For more information: Contact Imani Bender,

More on Fair Chance Housing

Last month, I wrote about the importance of the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance.  Fair Chance Housing creates…

I recently had the opportunity to make the case for Fair Chance Housing to a national audience in an interview on CNN’s Smerconish Show and later with a written article: More Than a Contract – SMERCONISH.  From that article:

There is no research that demonstrates that someone with a criminal history is less likely to be a good tenantOne in three of us has criminal system involvement. And again, people with criminal legal system involvement are less likely to commit another crime if they have housing.  I’d expect anyone supporting safer communities to oppose discrimination against people with prior criminal legal system involvement.

As I await the next steps in the Ninth Circuit ruling that threatens a part of Fair Chance Housing, I will be looking for ways to ensure that criminal background information that landlords see is not information that is used to deprive people of housing.

Free Kia and Hyundai Anti-Theft Devices

As I’ve written about before, thefts of Hyundai and Kias thefts have risen by as much as 620% between 2021 and 2022. In January, Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison filed a lawsuit against Kia and Hyundai for their failure to release and install anti-theft technology. To further combat this, Seattle Police Department’s Crime Prevention Coordinators will be distributing steering wheel locks at all five precincts through the end of the month.

These devices are being made available for anyone who lives or works in Seattle with a focus on Hyundai and Kia drivers.

West Seattle residents and workers can pick up a free steering wheel club tomorrow, Saturday, April 15th from 1 PM to 3 PM at the Southwest Precinct (2300 SW Webster St). They will also be available Thursday, April 20th from 2 PM to 4 PM.

To learn about pickup times at other precincts, or if you have any questions, please see the SPD Blotter post or reach out to Jennifer Danner, Southwest Precinct’s Crime Prevention Coordinator at


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