COVID Updates; West Seattle Bridge Updates, April 12; Grants for Shuttered Venues; Food Resources; Apply to Serve on the Green New Deal Oversight Board

April 12th, 2021

Covid Updates: Hospitalizations Increasing, 16+ Can Pre-Register for City Vaccination, Covid Vaccine Is Free, Expanded Medical Care for Undocumented Residents

Hospitalizations Are Steeply Increasing: We are very close to putting the worst of this pandemic behind us, but we’re not in the clear yet. At the moment, the virus is spreading more quickly than we can vaccinate.

Most COVID-19 infections are happening in 18-24-year-olds, followed by 25-49-year-olds. With so many older adults protected through vaccination, the majority of recent hospitalizations have been among 40-69 year-olds, followed by 20-39 year-olds.  See data dashboards for King County here.

The threat is real and remains serious.  Although most people recover, COVID-19 infections can be severe in younger and middle-aged people. It’s important to prevent COVID-19 in all ages, not just among seniors.
We know how to battle coronavirus spread.  We’ve done it before:

  • Limit activities with unvaccinated people from outside your home
  • Avoid crowded indoor spaces
  • Pay attention to improving ventilation in workplaces, businesses and homes, including by opening doors and windows
  • Stay home from work and get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms or were exposed to someone who has tested positive  (free testing locations here)
  • Wear masks when we are in public or at work or school

Neighborhood House Vaccine Clinic:  Last weekend, I was glad to join staff and volunteers at Neighborhood House’s High Point vaccination clinic, and play a small part in vaccinating 800 neighbors.  Huge thanks to the Neighborhood House team for their hard work!

Photo courtesy of Neighborhood House

Pre-Register for City Vaccination:  If you are at least 16, live or work in King County, and would like to receive vaccine from one of the City’s four vaccination sites, you can join the City notification list now, even if you won’t be eligible for vaccine until April 15th.  Sign up here or call (206) 684-2489.
The City-run vaccination sites are:

  • West Seattle, 2801 S.W. Thistle Street, 98126
  • Lumen Field Event Center, 330 South Royal Brougham Way, 98134
  • North Seattle College, 9600 College Way North, 98103
  • Rainier Beach, 8702 Seward Park Avenue South, 98118

Everyone age 16 and older in Washington state will become vaccine-eligible starting on April 15th.  Learn more about current eligibility at Seattle.gov/Vaccine.
You can always find state-approved vaccine providers in District 1 here.



Vaccine Supply:  Last week, the City of Seattle and its partners received over 30,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, which is the largest allocation the City has received in a single week thus far.  At the West Seattle and Rainier Beach sites, Seattle Fire Department expected to administer 14,000 vaccine doses last week.  Public Health – Seattle & King County announced 1 million doses administered last week!

Vaccine supply continues to trail demand, but states are receiving increased vaccine shipments compared to a month ago.

Covid Vaccine Is Always Free:  Dr. Christopher Chen of the Health Care Authority explains in this interview with the Washington State Department of Health:
Q: Is the COVID-19 vaccine 100 percent free?
A: Yes, the vaccine is completely free. No one should have to pay for the vaccine, or any costs associated with it.
Q: Who pays for the vaccine then? Are there any hidden costs?
A: The federal government purchased the vaccine and is covering the costs. Because insurance companies don’t have to pay for the vaccine, there is no charge for patients.  You should not be charged out-of-pocket costs or receive a bill from your provider or from a vaccination clinic. There are very strict laws and expectations about no cost-sharing and no co-pays for COVID-19 vaccine administration.

Expanded Medical Coverage for Undocumented Residents:  Expanded COVID-19 medical coverage is available for WA state residents who are undocumented. Services covered include testing and treatment, medications and supplies, and follow up visits!




West Seattle Bridge Update April 12

Spokane Street (lower) Bridge Access Update

Late last week SDOT announced changes for the use of the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge.

First of all, on weekends the low bridge will remain open to everyone until 8 a.m.  This opens general access from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., three additional hours, on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Many of you have been asking for added hours on weekend mornings and your advocacy has helped to make this change.  Thank you!

Secondly, the number of additional daily trips permitted on the bridge beyond the currently allowed users will double from 450 to 900 trips. This will allow for additional use by retail businesses and restaurant, on-call medical providers and patients receiving life saving medical treatments.

SDOT notes in a blog post  that application forms will be available at the Spokane Street (low bridge) website  by the end of April  for on-call medical workers, retail businesses and restaurants, and rideshare to request access to the low bridge.

Application forms for people traveling to lifesaving medical treatments are available on the website now in several languages. Applications will be processed on a rolling basis.

SDOT lists a couple of key caveats for this additional access. First of all, the additional allowed use may be adjusted based on usage levels. Secondly, the access is for 2021; additional users will be allowed fewer or no trips in 2022, when Terminal 5 opens (the Northwest Seaport Alliance had previously planned to open it during Spring 2021). SDOT will be monitoring the data on usage to guide future adjustments.

These are the new groups eligible for pre-authorized low bridge access:

  • West Seattle residents traveling to and from lifesaving medical treatments (authorization from your medical provider is required; the form will be available soon on low bridge access web page)
  • On-call medical workers (traveling to and from an on-call work shift only)
  • All West Seattle restaurants and retail businesses (limited to urgent trips to pick-up equipment or supplies)
  • Rideshare vehicles (vans, shuttles or official carpools with a state-issued rideshare license plate; this does not include Uber/Lyft)

New users will need to apply, provide a license plate, meet eligibility requirements, and receive approval from SDOT before becoming eligible.

SDOT provided an update about this during the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting on Thursday; below are additional details about the lower bridge and other items.

SDOT notes that since the start of camera enforcement in January, traffic on the lower bridge is down 38%.

Here are the changes SDOT has announced, with a note that maritime/industrial business and Longshoreman access remains the same:

Before changing access, SDOT conducted community outreach, as noted in the slide below:

Here are the goals and objective SDOT has used for access to the lower bridge:

The first new user group includes on-call medical providers and patients receiving life saving medical treatment. For medical providers, applications will be available by the end of April. For patients, applications are now available at SDOT’s Spokane Street Swing Bridge (Low Bridge)  website. On-call medical providers can currently use the declaration of non-responsibility process noted here.

For business users, current access will remain unchanged through May 31.

Starting in June, up to 10 trips per month will be allowed for all West Seattle restaurant and retail businesses, with up to 3 registered license plates per business. The updated application will be available on the project website later in April; users must receive approval from SDOT before use begins in June.
Government use is limited to urgent/unplanned trips for 20+ government agencies. An example is for a downed power line or broken sewer, rather than a planned meeting regarding a permit:

Transit, school buses and freight will not need pre-authorization; employer shuttles and vanpools will need to apply for approval:

The total number of daily trips allowed by additional users will double from 450 to 900. West Seattle businesses, defined as restaurant and retail sectors, will have 225 allowed round trips, up from 35. Maritime businesses and Longshoreman will have the same number as now; medical providers and patients will have 225.

The slide below notes current lower bridge conditions on the left, with the purple section representing space available for additional users. The chart on the right shows potential 2022 conditions when Terminal 5 opens, with very little space available. That’s why SDOT is granting additional access on a temporary basis during 2021.

SDOT notes they will monitor and analyze data to inform the number of trips allowed:

West Seattle Bridge Update

Here’s a brief update about the West Seattle Bridge repair. The next update on schedule and cost estimates will be when SDOT completes 60% design this summer. The stabilization work done on the bridge is performing as expected.

SDOT amended the Request for Proposals to include a Community Workforce Agreement, which requires USDOT approval. A community workforce agreement consists of a project labor agreement that includes a targeted hire provision designed to get low-income workers, including BIPOC workers and women, into construction careers.

Below is information about the federal grant the City is pursuing for funding for the bridge repair. Here’s the link where you can write to US Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to support the funding grant. The deadline is April 15:

Reconnect West Seattle Update

SDOT is planning improvements to the Intersection of West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW to assist with traffic flow. The improvements will remain in place after West Seattle Bridge is repaired. Adding a CCTV camera and fiber option communications will allow for real-time monitoring and adjustments.

SDOT is working on paving projects on detour routes, identified in a December 2020 assessment; work on SW Alaska Street between 26th Ave SW and 38th Ave SW will take place during phases beginning later in April:

Here’s an update on Reconnect West Seattle Home Zone projects in Highland Park, South Park, and Georgetown:


Apply Now: First Come-First Served Grants for Shuttered Venues

Live music venues, museums, movie houses, talent agencies! The Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) will open April 8, and applications are first come-first served.  Questions about the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant? Learn more and apply here, and contact OED’s Nightlife Business Advocate Scott Plusquellec at (206) 256-5152 or Scott.Plusquellec@seattle.gov.

Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal Replacement Project Community Advisory Board

Washington State Ferries (WSF) is seeking members to serve on the Community Advisory Group for the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal Replacement Project.

Applications are open through 5 p.m. on April 23rd. You can apply here. For questions about the application process, please email FauntleroyTermProj@wsdot.wa.gov or call 206-818-3813.

Here’s the WSF announcement:

Today through April 23, we are accepting applications from community members interested in joining a Community Advisory Group (CAG) for the project. The CAG, along with an Executive Leadership Group and Technical Advisory Group, will play a critical role in helping WSF shape plans that address transportation needs while balancing the needs of multiple communities served by and adjacent to the terminal.

The CAG will advise WSF and work collaboratively to generate ideas and provide input on which issues should be addressed in this project. Members also will help identify and provide input about potential alternatives and share ongoing feedback on the broader community engagement process. The CAG will include membership from the three communities served by the “Triangle Route” (Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth) to encourage cross-community dialogue and collaborative solutions.

We are seeking people to apply who live near the ferry terminal, regularly ride the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth ferry route, or have an understanding of the area’s regional transportation, economic, community and environmental issues. We hope you will consider applying for the CAG – APPLY FOR THE COMMUNITY ADVISORY GROUP. Please also share with others who may be interested.

The CAG will meet regularly through the planning phase, expected to last through 2023. Meetings will last a few hours and take place during the day/evening and virtually or in person (once it is safe to do so).

The Executive Leadership Group will include elected officials; I’ve agreed to serve on it.

WSF has posted video of the two community meetings held last month:

They’ve also included a summary of comments from those meetings.

Food Resources: Free Produce for Seniors, Student Meal Changes, Fresh Bucks Retail Applications, and a South Park Success Story

Need help finding food resources for you or your family?  Try this interactive food resources map from the Human Services Department.  You can find the locations of Food Banks, Meals, and Student To-Go Meals, and phone numbers and websites to sign up.



Free Produce for Seniors: The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides $40 worth of vouchers to be used for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets.  You may be eligible to apply if you are:

  • Age 60+ (or age 55+ if you are American Indian/Alaska Native) by June 30
  • Low income.

Learn more and apply here.  If you need help completing your application, contact Community Living Connections at 206-962-8467 or (toll-free) 1-844-348-5464.



Changes to Seattle Public Schools meals starting April 5th:

  • School meal sites will be open earlier; sites will be open Monday-Friday, 10:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
  • Bus routes only will deliver meals on Wednesdays to the same number of routes, route times, and stops.

Student meals are available for all SPS students!  Learn more here, or call (206) 252-0675.

Apply to Accept Fresh Bucks: The Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE) is seeking applications from retailers interested in accepting Fresh Bucks.  In 2021, OSE will invite up to three supermarkets/large grocery stores and up to eight small food retailers to join the Fresh Bucks retailer network. The goal is to increase Fresh Bucks customer access to high-quality and culturally specific produce.  Learn more and apply here.

South Park Neighbors’ Mutual Aid Efforts Highlighted:  Congratulations to the South Park partners whose mutual aid efforts to feed neighbors were recently highlighted in “How a Seattle Neighborhood Confronted Food Insecurity in the Pandemic“ in Yes! Magazine.  This extraordinary organizing effort is keeping families fed and neighbors close during a difficult year.  Thank you to everyone involved.

Photo credit: Monica Perez in Yes! Magazine

Apply to serve on the Green New Deal Oversight Board

The Office of Sustainability & Environment is seeking members to serve on the Green New Deal Advisory Board. You can apply here through April 16th. For more information, questions, or assistance with the application process please contact equityenviro@seattle.gov or call (206) 487-0007.
The Council adopted the Green New Deal for Seattle, which established the Green New Deal Oversight Board.

The Oversight Board will work towards developing a workplan that includes:

  • A definition of what constitutes a policy, program or project that advances a Green New Deal for Seattle
  • Proposals for new policies and programs to advance the Green New Deal for Seattle;
  • Support in planning and implementation of City actions to make Seattle climate-pollution free by 2030;
  • City budget and legislative recommendations;
  • Engagement with departments and existing committees, boards, and commissions.

The Board includes 19 members appointed by the Mayor and Council:

  • Eight positions designated for community representatives directly impacted by racial, economic, and environmental injustices (including two tribal members and two individuals between the ages of 16 and 25 at the time of their appointment).
  • Four positions designated for representatives of labor unions.
  • Three positions designated for representatives of environmental justice organizations.
  • Three positions designated for representatives with experience in greenhouse gas reduction and climate resiliency strategies relevant to cities.
  • One position designated for an individual specializing in workforce training.

Council approved the first four members of the board late last month.

In the 2021 budget the Council funded positions to move forward work related to the Seattle Green New Deal. To facilitate this work, the Council added funding for a Green New Deal advisor position that will work with the Green New Deal  Oversight Committee. In a related action, the Council also added a climate policy advisor, to oversee implementation of the Climate Action Plan and measure progress toward its goals. I co-sponsored both actions.

LSAC Transparency Recommendations

Back in February 2019, I sponsored, and the Council unanimously supported the passage of Resolution 31863. The resolution, among other things, asked the Labor Standards Advisory Commission (LSAC) to develop a work program to assist the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) on the issue of independent contractor misclassification.

Misclassification refers to workers who are employees by law, but are being denied critical benefits, such as paid time off, sick leave, overtime compensation, and often even a minimum wage. This is of significant importance for several reasons including lost revenue to the government, but more importantly the protection of workers and our local labor laws which are only beneficial as long as they apply to workers. The gig economy is the fastest growing labor sector and nearly all of these workers are considered independent contractors which means that our local labor laws do not apply to them.

LSAC immediately got to work and formed a subcommittee which, after deliberation, proposed recommendations to LSAC as a whole. Those recommendations were then adopted and sent to Council in May 2020. These recommendations include requiring those who employ workers that they define as independent contractors (instead of employees) to provide these workers with information so they can understand the terms of their engagement and determine whether those terms have been satisfied. Before a contract is signed, that information, should include:

  • Name, physical address, phone number/email address of hiring entity
  • Rate or rates of pay for the contractor
  • Typical expenses incurred in the course of the work, if any, and which expenses will be paid or reimbursed by the hiring entity
  • Pay basis, and where payment is made on other than an hourly basis, disclosure of the method for determining pay and payment schedule
  • Tip and/or service charge policy

LSAC also recommended that there be certain information disclosed at the time of payment:

  • A description of the work for which payment is being made, whether by description of the project; tasks completed, or hours worked
  • All rate or rates of pay whether paid on hourly, salary, commission, piece rate, project, or combination thereof, or other basis
  • Tip or service charge compensation
  • Pay basis (e.g. hour, shift, day, week, commission) and what hours or work is compensated by which pay basis
  • Gross earnings
  • All deductions, fees, or other charges for that pay period

I want to thank LSAC for their hard work in bringing these recommendations to Council and for taking the time to come present to the Finance & Housing Committee last week.

During this committee meeting we also heard a significant amount of public testimony from independent contractors who are organizing with Working Washington in support of their campaign for a minimum pay standard while also protecting their flexibility as independent contractors and providing transparency with their apps. You may recall the City Council recently passed the Fair Share ordinance for drivers who work for Transportation Network Companies.  We can’t leave behind other workers doing important work and not even, in many cases, receiving a minimum wage.

Good Samaritan Law Expanded

On Wednesday House Bill 1209 , which expands Washington’s Good Samaritan Law, passed through the State Legislature. The bill expands protections so that an individual is “not liable for any act or omission while providing volunteer nonmedical care or assistance at the scene of an emergency or disaster, unless the act or omission rises to the level of gross negligence, or willful or wanton misconduct.”

I want to thank a key advocate and constituent, Cindi Barker, for her hard work in helping get this legislation passed. As reported in the West Seattle Blog, Cindi worked with our local State Representatives Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbons and in turn with the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dan Bronoske. Cindi told the blog: “Even most recently, during the COVID response, some people have held back from volunteering, worried about the liability. So we decided to fix that gap.”

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COVID Updates – New Eligibility, Vaccine Site Capacity, Testing in District 1; Working Washington Grants Applications Due April 9; Nantes Park Beautification & Nantes-Seattle Sister City Agreement; Help Build Community Safety in Seattle – Job Opening; Sound Transit Realignment Scenarios Update; Right to Counsel; SMC Partners with King County Municipal Courts to Resolve Outstanding Warrants

April 2nd, 2021

COVID Updates – New Eligibility, Vaccine Site Capacity, Testing in District 1

The big news this week is that many more people are now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID – and starting April 15, all adults will become eligible.

Vaccine supply is improving somewhat, but with so many more people now eligible and needing second doses, those searching for their first appointment will likely need some patience.

When you are eligible, where can you get vaccine?  Here are a few options:

Unused Vaccine Doses in West Seattle?  Several District 1 residents have wondered why the West Seattle vaccination site sometimes look empty during the day.  I asked the Mayor’s Office; here’s what we learned:

Q: Why would the site be open but unused on a weekday afternoon?

A: We understand that an observer could consider the site “unused” by a quick observation only, but that is not the case. Right now, due to supply, Rainier Beach and West Seattle administer around 196 first doses of the vaccine each day. The process of getting vaccinated at an SFD site is extremely quick: Check-in takes between three-five minutes, and the actual vaccination takes one minute. Then, the patient should wait in our observation area for 15 minutes, but they also have the option of waiting in their car. All that to say, because of vaccine supply, West Seattle is currently operating at around 13% capacity each day, and people move through the hub very quickly, which explains why it would look empty to an outside observer.

Q:  How many people is it possible to serve each week at the West Seattle site?

West Seattle has the capacity to administer 215 vaccinations per hour, or 1,500 vaccinations per day, amounting in 9,000 vaccinations per week.   Last week, we administered 2,520 doses at West Seattle.

Q: Is an apparently empty site an indication that vaccine doses are going unused?

A: No. We are using every single dose we receive. However, it does show that the City does not receive vaccine supply commensurate with our capacity. We continue to advocate for increased doses for the City, given the high capacity across all our sites, and the fact that we have nearly 50,000 active subscribers to our appointment notification list.

District 1 Covid Testing Locations:  Thanks to everyone who wrote to me with concerns about access to COVID testing sites in West Seattle.  Earlier this week, the City announced the testing site at 2801 SW Thistle would remain open at least through April 17 and possibly longer, as demand requires.

I am advocating with the Mayor’s Office to keep testing available at or near the SW Thistle location even beyond April 17th, since people are used to going there, and there are community connections with South Park.  The Mayor’s Office has promised to keep a testing kiosk in the area even after the SW Thistle location stops testing.

There are four free, public testing sites on the West Seattle peninsula.  Public Health – Seattle & King County hosts a webpage with lists of public testing locations.

Don Armeni Boat Ramp Curative KioskMake reservations online
 1222 Harbor Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116
Neighborcare Health at High Point – Call for appointment: (206) 461-6950
6020 35th Ave SE, Seattle, WA 98126
Sea Mar Community Health Centers at South Park – Call for appointment: (206) 762-3730
8720 14th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108
West Seattle Walk-up – Make reservations online or call (206) 684-2489.
2801 SW Thistle St., Seattle, WA 98126

Keep up precautions:  King County residents are doing a great job with masks – a recent UW study found that 89% of King County residents wore face coverings over the mouth and nose in public during the past four months.

If you’re planning on spending the April holidays with friends or family from another household, remember to keep practicing the 4 W’s. Whether you are fully vaccinated or not, these prevention measures will help to minimize risk. Learn more here.

Working Washington Grants Applications Due April 9

Working Washington Round 4 offers $240 million in grant relief funds to small for-profit businesses, especially those that were required to close due to public health and safety measures.  Learn more here and find translated information here.

Priorities for funding are:

  • Businesses required to close.
  • Businesses with lost revenue as a result of closure.
  • Businesses with added expenses to maintain safe operations.
  • Equitable distribution of grant funds across the state and to businesses owned and operated by historically disadvantaged individuals.

The technical support center can help navigate the application portal.

  • English: Call (855) 602-2722 or email commercegrants@submittable.com.
  • Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Russian, Amharic, Arabic and Tagalog: Call (206) 333-0720.

Nantes Park Beautification & Nantes-Seattle Sister City Agreement

I recently had the opportunity to record a greeting for Seattle’s French Fest participants in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Nantes-Seattle Sister City relationship.  Admiral’s Nantes Park will receive a facelift as part of the celebrations, including a paved loop walkway with embedded French art, temporary French art installations and student-submitted art tiles along the seat wall.   I’m excited to see the fun ideas that are under consideration for the renovation of Nantes Park this fall, which can be enjoyed by the entire District 1 community.

The project is led by the Seattle-Nantes Sister City Association(SNSCA) in partnership with the Admiral Neighborhood Association and funded by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, the City of Nantes, the West Seattle Garden Tour and volunteers.   More information can be found at www.seattle-nantes.org.

Help Build Community Safety in Seattle – Job Opening

The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is seeking a compassionate, innovative and experienced leader to serve as the first director of its new Safe and Thriving Communities Division.  The Division Director will be responsible for leading and resourcing the new division while working with stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan for community safety investments.

The Division Director will be responsible for continuously reimagining how the division operates to provide effective service in a changing environment while centering BIPOC communities. This position has a social justice component that requires critical thinking through the lens of racial equity. Knowing the core principles of antiracism and grounding those principles in everyday work are required job skills and core values.

Learn more here and apply here.

Sound Transit Realignment Scenarios Update

Last week the Sound Transit Board heard an update about what the agency is calling “program realignment” scenarios for the ST3 program approved by voters in 2016. The ST3 program involves projects throughout the tri-county region included in the ST3 ballot measure, including light rail from Downtown to West Seattle.

In January, Sound Transit’s Board heard a briefing about reduced revenues resulting from the COVID pandemic and increased cost estimates.

The most recent presentation includes a number of scenarios based on four tiers, with differing impacts in delays on light rail to West Seattle, as well as for Ballard, the Graham Street station in south Seattle, and other ST3 projects.

The presentation lists potential realignment categories: Tier 1: Develop, Tier 2, Plan and Prepare, Tier 3 Plan, and Tier 4, Keep ready, and Suspend. The presentation then shows the schedule delay impact by the four tiers, based on whether new funding is available.

Senator Patty Murray is currently pursing $1.9 billion for Sound Transit projects, and President Biden has proposed the American Jobs Plan to invest $2 trillion in infrastructure.

Scenarios include Connect Centers, First Segments, Delay Parking, Equity + Phasing, Equity + Early Investments, Hybrid – Integrated Network, and Hybrid – Centers emphasis.

For West Seattle, some scenarios involve building to Delridge and to the Alaska Junction in different phases; some call for building directly to the Alaska Junction as originally planned, and one scenario involves building to SODO first, then to the Junction in a subsequent phase. Scenarios for Ballard are similarly phased, or done as originally planned.

Below is just one of the examples. It rates Delridge in Tier 1 (and the first phase of the Ballard line), and Delridge to the Alaska Junction in Tier 2, along with the rest of the Ballard line, and the Graham Street Station.

The potential schedule delay is listed below.  This scenario would result in reaching Delridge 2 years late with no new revenue, and the Alaska Junction 6 years late with no new revenue, or 2 years late with $4 billion additional revenue (with similar delays for the phases of the Ballard line):

Sound Transit has indicated that due to COVID, projects are delayed one year.

Here’s a link to the presentation, which includes the other scenarios.

Here are next steps planned by Sound Transit:

Right to Counsel

On Monday the Council took up CB 120007 – Right to Counsel for tenants facing eviction in court – and passed the legislation unanimously.

The legislation does not require a defendant to accept legal counsel for eviction defense, but that the City will provide funding for free representation if the individual has insufficient funds to retain counsel.  The legislation allows the provider of the legal services to determine and verify a tenant’s eligibility, in order to insure that there are no unnecessary barriers to representation.

The Losing Home Report, commissioned by my office in 2019 with the Seattle Women’s Commission and the Housing Justice  Project of the King County Bar Association, found that:

  • Twice as many tenants with legal counsel remained housed, compared to those without counsel.
  • Most evicted respondents became homeless, with 37.5% completely unsheltered, 25.0% living in a shelter or transitional housing, and 25.0% staying with family or friends. Only 12.5% of evicted respondents found another apartment or home to move into.
  • 7% of tenants in eviction filings were people of color; 31.2% were Black tenants, experiencing eviction at a rate 4.5 times what would be expected based on their demographics in Seattle.
  • Women were more likely to be evicted over small amounts of money: of single-tenant household cases where a tenant owed $100.00 or less, 81.0% were women.
  • Of evicted respondents with school-age children, 85.7% said their children had to move schools after the eviction, and 87.5% reported their children’s school performance suffered “very much” because of the eviction.

This legislation is a critical step forward in protecting tenants especially in light of the pandemic and the number of tenants facing eviction when the moratorium ends. The Housing Justice Project estimates “on an average 1,200 eviction cases filed a year… it would cost $750,000 annually to provide legal counsel to any tenant facing eviction.”

I brought forward two amendments to this legislation, the first was to clarify that it is the Council’s intent that funding should be awarded to an organization that has specific experience in providing legal representation for renters, and second that any contracted organization shall report on the number of cases and estimated attorney hours spent on court proceedings beyond or in lieu of representation at a show cause hearing or first appearance. This will help the Council determine appropriate funding levels in the future.

SMC Partners with King County Municipal Courts to Resolve Outstanding Warrants

The Seattle Municipal Court (SMC) announced this week that they are partnering with King County Municipal Courts to resolve outstanding warrants. “Back on Track” is a regional program to help individuals have an opportunity to resolve their warrant, regardless of which court their cases are filed.

“Outstanding warrants make it harder to get a job, secure housing, and generally move forward in life,” stated Presiding Judge Willie Gregory. “Our court is committed to helping individuals resolve their case and hopefully, leave the court in a better position in life than they came in. We do not want people to sit in jail for a low-level misdemeanor warrant.”

SMC warrants under $10,000 may be able to have it resolved administratively or scheduled for a bench warrant add-on (BWADD) hearing to be addressed by a judge. You can review the court’s website for more information. If you do not have an attorney, you may submit a Motion To Quash Warrant/Set BWADD Hearing form.

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Covid Updates: Phase 3, Keep Up Precautions, West Seattle Vaccine Site, Walk Up Vaccine for 65+, Testing; West Seattle Bridge Closure, One Year Later – A Year in Review; SPD Budget Legislation Update; Municipal Archives: Police Accountability in Seattle, from 1955 to the present; Get Relief From Utility Bills; Stone Cottage Update; OEM 2020 Annual Report;

March 26th, 2021

Covid Updates:  Phase 3, Keep Up Precautions, West Seattle Vaccine Site, Walk Up Vaccine for 65+, Testing

Phase 3:  On Monday, Seattle and the entire state entered Phase 3 of reopening, according to Governor Inslee’s Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery.  Allowable activities in Phase 3 are below and here.  Public Health – Seattle & King County has a helpful webpage about reopening guidance here.

Keep Up Precautions:  New cases of COVID are down from the extremes we saw over the winter – but still above the earlier “bumps” last spring and summer, with new and more contagious variants circulating locally.  Cases are trending upward, with younger adults hit hardest (ages 20-40), and new cases up 31% in the last two weeks.

But here’s the good news: Masks work against the variants.  Physical distance works against the variants.  Good airflow and indoor ventilation are especially important, and handwashing and all the things that should be second nature to us by now still work against these variants.

“If we let down our guard, these variant strains will make us pay,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health – Seattle & King County. “The upside is that we can take steps to limit the damage. The same precautions that have helped us drive down case counts in the past can also protect us from the variants, as long as we are diligent.”

Getting Vaccinated in West Seattle & South Park:  If you are vaccine-eligible, there are several options for receiving your vaccination in District 1.  But bear in mind: supply remains significantly less than demand, and you are likely to have to join a wait list and be persistent in your vaccine search.  Supply is expected to pick up nationally in April.

Graphics from Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Here are some options to look for vaccine in District 1:

For those 65 years and older only: just show up between 9am-4pm Monday – Saturday at the West Seattle vaccination site at 2801 SW Thistle.  No appointment required.

  • A spokesperson from the Mayor’s Office provided this information: “SFD stopped turning away people 65 and over without an appointment because the number was small and they were typically the ones we were trying to help navigate our registration software anyways. We are prepared to adjust our approach if the number of 65+ walk-ups starts to increase, as that would require some operational changes.”

See if appointments are available at the City-run West Seattle vaccination site at 2801 SW Thistle.

Join the notification list for Seattle’s City-run community vaccination sites in West Seattle (2801 SW Thistle), Rainier Beach, or Lumen Field Event Center by clicking here or calling (206) 684-2489.

Check for availability at the other vaccine providers located in District 1 using this map:

Try this volunteer-built, searchable website that shows providers with available vaccine appointments.

Join the Seattle Fire Department’s standby list, if you’re able to travel quickly to receive leftover doses at the end of the day.

  • We asked the Mayor’s Office to confirm this SFD list is still being used and received this response: “Yes, but rarely. We still maintain the standby list to use across all sites in case of emergency (like in an instance when we have significantly more leftover vaccine than expected).”

Take a chance on leftover vaccine doses at 2801 SW Thistle by showing up at the vaccination site at the end of the day, around 4pm Monday – Saturday.  Be warned: Crowds of 50 to 100 people have been reported, and most go home without vaccination.

  • A spokesperson from the Mayor’s Office said this when asked about the practice by the West Seattle Blog: Generally, the Seattle Fire Department has around four-five doses left at the end of each day at our Rainier Beach and West Seattle vaccination hubs. We have found that residents in the area gravitate toward each site at the end of each day. If unused vaccine is available, SFD will vaccinate the oldest people in the line outside the site. SFD has found that this approach results in more older adults getting vaccinated through end-of-day doses than the standby list….”
  • Check out this Seattle Times article describing how this works.

COVID-19 Testing:  Early testing is important to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading to friends, family, and the community. If you have a sign/symptom of COVID-19 or were exposed to someone with COVID-19, please get tested.  Find COVID testing locations in King County and more information about testing here.

If you have difficulty registering, call the King County COVID-19 Call Center at 206-477-3977 (open 7 days a week, 8 a.m.-7p.m.) If you need an interpreter, say in English what language you need.

You may have heard that after March 30th, testing will no longer be offered at the City-run site at SW Athletic Complex.   I am inquiring with the Seattle Fire Department to understand how often the Curative testing kiosk at Don Armeni is used.  Given that COVID-19 cases are increasing at a worrying rate, I am concerned about ensuring District 1 residents have easy access to testing on demand.

Meanwhile, here are the District 1 locations offering testing to the public:

Don Armeni Boat Ramp Curative Walk-Up KioskMake reservations online
1222 Harbor Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116
Self-serve, walk-up, oral sample kiosks at various locations throughout Seattle
Available, Mon-Sat, 8:00am-3:00pm

Neighborcare Health at High Point – Call for appointment: (206) 461-6950
6020 35th Ave SE, Seattle, WA 98126
Languages: Amharic, Amharic, Arabic, Cambodian, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Ukrainian available onsite; interpretation available
Available: Monday-Friday, 2:30pm-4:00pm

Sea Mar Community Health Centers at South Park – Call for appointment: (206) 762-3730
8720 14th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108
Languages: Spanish, Interpretation available
Available: Wednesdays 1pm-5pm, Fridays 9am-1pm

West Seattle Walk-upMake reservations online
TESTING ONLY AVAILABLE UNTIL MARCH 30TH
2801 SW Thistle St., Seattle, WA 98126
Phone: (206) 684-248
Languages: Interpretation available including ASL and tactile interpretation
Available, Mon-Sat, 8:45am-5:30pm


West Seattle Bridge Closure, One Year Later – A Year in Review

Just over a year ago, in the early stages of the COVID pandemic, our lives were doubly upended when SDOT announced the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. March 23rd is a day those of us in West Seattle and nearby communities will never forget. The closure has resulted in suffering our in communities, for residents and businesses. It’s become more difficult to get to work, visit friends or relatives, and get to other parts of the city and region.

Let’s take a minute to review what’s happened since then, and consider what still lies ahead.

First of all, remember that it was not clear at the start whether the bridge could be stabilized, or would need to be demolished. SDOT declared a “Fall Zone” for potential evacuation for the areas near  the bridge. Any potential failure could have affected the lower bridge as well.

Without the bridge, traffic patterns shifted quickly, even with reduced traffic overall due to the pandemic. There previously had been 21 lanes off the peninsula and across the Duwamish; now, there were only 12 lanes, with SDOT limiting access to the Spokane Street (lower) bridge to transit, freight, and emergency vehicles.  Those on the north end of the peninsula lost their key access points; those to the south faced increased traffic.

To address the fact that significantly more traffic shifted to exit the peninsula via West Marginal Way SW and through the southern portions of the peninsula, SDOT moved quickly to install a temporary traffic signal at the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden Street.  This has helped to address the sudden increase in traffic and enhance road safety.

The Council moved quickly to adopt funding, approving first a $70 million interfund loan that I co-sponsored to fund immediate work, and later a $100 million bond sale. An additional $50 million is listed for 2022 in the SDOT’s six year capital budget adopted by the Council.

These funds have paid for:

  • Work on the West Seattle Bridge
  • Preventative work to ensure the lower bridge continues to function
  • The Reconnect West Seattle program, designed to address the impact of the closure. While nothing can replace the sudden reduction in traffic lanes off the peninsula, there are projects that can assist with safety on roads, with cut-through traffic increasing, and on streets with increased use.

As part of the Reconnect West Seattle program, detailed Home Zone safety projects are proceeding in Highland Park, South Park and Georgetown.

SDOT determined 450 additional daily trips could be accommodated in the lower bridge, and expanded access to school  buses, employer shuttles, and a limited number of additional users under a dynamic Low Bridge Access Policy including business use.

Later in the summer, informed by traffic monitoring and guidance from the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, access was permitted for all users between 9 PM and 5 AM.

After the West Seattle Bridge was successfully stabilized, the next question was whether to proceed with a repair or a full replacement. The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force examined this a number of times, and a Cost/Benefit analysis provided high-level cost estimates and timeline estimates for different options.

The Cost/Benefit analysis showed a repair could be completed by 2022, whereas a replacement would take until 2026. In addition, a repair had a significantly lower cost. The Technical Advisory Panel expressed confidence a repair would last 30-40 years, and the Council’s consultant agreed with proceeding with a repair.

In late October, I advocated for a repair, noting “As the City Councilmember for District 1, I hear nearly every day from residents and businesses that are hurting.  The sooner we restore bridge access, the better. That’s a premium value for me. Once social distancing ends or decreases, traffic and access issues will only increase.” In November, the Mayor chose to proceed with a repair.

During the summer, the Council placed Proposition 1 on the November ballot, to continue funding additional King County Metro bus service in Seattle. This will become more important as COVID vaccinations proceed, and traffic patterns get closer to pre-COIVD levels, as we pass through additional phases of Governor Inslee’s Roadmap to Recovery; the entire state entered Phase 3 on March 22nd.

I sponsored an increase in the ballot measure for funding allowed for “emerging needs” which specified responding to the West Seattle Bridge closure, and COVID, as well an equity amendment to allow routes in southern end of peninsula that cross city limits to receive greater consideration.  Voters approved Proposition 1.

King County Metro developed a West Seattle Bridge Closure Transit Action plan with options for a variety of scenarios. In West Seattle Metro is operating 85% of pre-COVID service levels, though with significantly reduced capacity per bus due to COVID safety protocols. This week Metro will add service to Routes 50, 60, and 128, in response to crowding above COVID limits; additional service restoration is planned for September 2021.  Metro is planning how best to do this, based on data and community input.

SDOT recently completed 30% design for the repair, setting a baseline cost of $58 million for repairing the bridge, with the timetable remaining mid-2022. 60% design is targeted for July, when there will be cost and schedule updates. Construction is targeted to begin in November. Federal approvals are needed prior to the commencement of construction.

Last week, the Council acted to accept grant funding to increase the total funds secured to $124 million. The Council and Mayor sent a joint letter seeking funding for a federal INFRA grant, and work to seek funding at the state legislature is ongoing.

For the lower bridge, I’ve advocated for other uses with SDOT, including for health care workers during the COVID-19 emergency; by time of day; for company shuttles; for school buses once the school year starts; for motorcycles; for patients in need of lifesaving medical treatment, for business access, and for general access in a phased manner for residents.

At the Community Task Force meeting  earlier this month I asked SDOT when they will make a decision about bridge access on weekend mornings, since there appears to be clear capacity. SDOT indicated they are likely to bring an update to the next Community Task Force meeting in April after additional outreach to underserved communities.

Additional background information, reports and documents relating to bridge inspections and grant applications are available at SDOT’s West Seattle Bridge website.

Included there is a link to the 2014 HDR Report, which lists several potential causes for cracks that appeared in the bridge in 2013; a December Seattle Times article also includes relevant information.

SPD Budget Legislation Update

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee met for a third time to continue legislation reducing the 2021 SPD budget. At the March 23rd meeting, I introduced a substitute version that the committee voted 3-2 to adopt as the base version; the legislation remains in the committee at this time.

It’s important to note that this bill is not about funding for police officer staffing. The 2021 SPD staffing and hiring plan been fully funded since November.  “Fully funded” means that the funds provided are sufficient to fund the hiring of all the officers SPD intends to hire in 2021.

This legislation was scheduled for consideration at the meeting of January 26, but was not heard due to time constraints. The legislation was then scheduled for a presentation on February 9, but was delayed until February 23rd at the request of the City Attorney’s Office, after the comments in early February of Judge Robart, who oversees the Consent Decree.

When introducing the bill, which would reduce the budget by $5.4 million due to funds overspent on overtime costs in 20120, I said when considering possible future modifications to the bill, that I would not be rigid and would consider additional potential spending needs.

The potential $5.4 million proposed reduction in the original bill is from funding available due to officers positions that are not expected to be filled under SPD’s 2021 staffing plan.  We refer to this as “salary savings;” or funds that cannot be spent in 2021 on salaries because the positions are vacant and exceed the number of positions able to be filled in 2021.  Council Central Staff estimates $7.7 million in 2021 “salary savings.”

Budgetary oversight and accountability are key elements of the Council’s work, across departments. There are often additional funding requests from SPD at the end of the year, which makes fulfilling the Council’s responsibility for setting budgets, and exercising fiscal oversight, considerably more difficult than with most other executive branch departments.

I invited SPD to present to the committee on March 9th regarding proposals they made in a January 25 memo, subsequent to the introduction of the legislation.  The SPD presentation included new proposals for potential use of some of the $5.4 million proposed to be cut; new proposals that were either not proposed in the proposed 2021 budget or new proposals that reversed decisions made int the 2021 adopted budget. For instance, SPD has newly proposed hiring 11 civilian positions, thus reversing the Mayor’s proposal for the 2021 budget, in that her proposed budget proposal cut funds in the SPD budget by limiting 2021 civilian hires.  SPD indicated these new investments could ameliorate the current staffing shortage in officers. I agree.

At the March 23rd committee meeting, I introduced for consideration a substitute version of the original bill.

The previous day, on March 22nd,  SPD received a letter from the Monitor overseeing the Consent Decree that states:

The Monitoring Team asks that these questions be answered as expeditiously as possible, and prior to further actions by the City on the budget of the Seattle Police Department. Upon receipt of the analysis, the Monitoring Team will confer with the Department of Justice and advise the Court.

The letter requests SPD reply to questions about budget as it relates to compliance with the Consent Decree. Given the Monitor’s interest in the legislation, I proposed amending the legislation in committee, but not moving it out of committee to the Full Council.

The substitute proposal includes funding the investment proposed by SPD proposed in committee on March 9, in addition to $2 million to participatory budgeting, and enhances funding for public disclosure, evidence storage, and mental health crisis responders.

The civilian positions funded include four Community Service Officers (CSO). I co-sponsored the re-creation of the CSO program in the 2017 budget. CSOs serve to bridge the service gap on non-criminal calls for service and perform a variety of public safety-related community service and outreach work that does not require the enforcement authority of a sworn police officer.

Also included are crime prevention coordinators, public disclosure responders, and technology investments.

I proposed additional staffing for public disclosure response positions, as recommended by the City Auditor in his 2015 report; Interim Chief Diaz has noted the challenges SPD faces in responding to the high volume of public disclosure requests SPD receives. One position would be in the Seattle IT Department; SPD is the only department that has to respond to e-mail searches for PDR responsive emails, rather than having IT do it.

Also included is funding for evidence storage facilities, as recommended by the Inspector General; the Inspector General has found that SPD’s evidence storage facility is inadequate leading to improper destruction of DNA evidence and purging of evidence from an unknown number of homicide investigations. This funding would be in Finance and Administrative Services.

The substitute also creates 5 new mental health crisis responder positions in the Human Services Department, to assist police officers in responding to situations where there is an armed person in crisis, and potential danger to the public and officers.

The proposal provides $2 million for the participatory budgeting program, increasing the total to $32 million. Funds will be guided by the work of the Black Brilliance Research Project, which has recommended priorities including crisis response alternatives, violence interruption, harm reduction proposals, and community-based emergency services.

I moved the substitute version in committee, to set it as the baseline legislation before the committee. It was approved by a 3-2 vote. Because of the Monitor’s letter, I didn’t move to vote the legislation out of committee to the Full Council, while we await any updates from the Monitor and Court, per the Consent Decree.

The legislation also notes the Council’s intent that salary savings be used for staffing special events, including mass vaccination sites with an event staffing deployment approach that ensures, excepting security within facilities, prioritizing use of non-sworn SPD staff, so that sworn officers can be prioritized for patrol staffing and 911 response. In 2017 the City Auditor found “at many special events, SPD sworn personnel perform work that is primarily traffic-directing” and recommendation to “evaluate the traffic-centric special events work SPD sworn officers perform and consider using non-sworn personnel for some of it.”

In practice this would mean prioritizing use of parking enforcement officers (PEOs) where possible. PEOs are currently in SPD; in the 2021 budget Council voted to shift them to a new department, Seattle Community Safety and Communications Center, later this year.

Municipal Archives: Police Accountability in Seattle, from 1955 to the present

Over the past year staff of the Municipal Archives have worked on a history of police accountability in Seattle. Research focused on protests, committee meetings, public hearings, and other venues where Seattle’s residents have interacted with their government to request mechanisms for accountability. The result is a website with a timeline, an illustrated exhibit, a detailed narrative, and a bibliography. The goal of the site is to provide a window into how decisions were made in the past and to encourage more research on this topic.

This Police Accountability in Seattle page includes information from the City Archives dating back to 1955, and a Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Police Practices that met in 1955 and 1956.

Here are links to timeline, exhibit, and a history of Police Accountability in Seattle, 1955-2020, which is also available as a PDF file with source citations.

This history shows that the issues we are facing now are not new.

Thank you to City Clerk Monica Simmons and City Archivist Anne Frantilla and the other members of the Seattle Municipal Archives for their work on this.

Get Relief from Utility Bills

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and Seattle City Light (SCL) will help keep services on and offer relief to utility customers during the COVID-19 Civil Emergency in Seattle. Residential and commercial customers financially impacted by COVID 19 are urged to set up payment plans with either Seattle City Light or Seattle Public Utilities.

The Utility Discount Program (UDP) lowers Seattle City Light bills by 60 percent and Seattle Public Utility bills by 50 percent. To learn more about enrollment in UDP, call 206-684-0268 or click here.

Professional translation for City utility services are available when you call 206-684-3000. *Información en español * Impormasyon sa Tagalog * 中文資訊* Thông tin bằng tiếng Việt * 한국어 정보 * Macluumaad Af-Soomaali ah


Stone Cottage Update

 

You may remember me writing about the Stone Cottage back on January 4, a community group had begun their fundraising to lift the cottage off the foundation and transport it to a temporary location as the property owner is beginning development.

On March 21 the group announced that they had raised enough funds to begin the moving process.  You can read more about here.

The group continues to fundraise in order to  executive the full plan to rescue, relocate, and restore the Stone Cottage, but the building will be moved this spring.

OEM 2020 Annual Report

In the Public Safety and Human Services Committee this week the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) presented their 2020 Annual Report.  The OEM mission is to “partner with the community to prepare for, respond to, mitigate the impacts of, and recover from disasters.” To that end the Office is responsible for managing and coordinating the City’s resources in dealing with all aspects of emergencies.

Last year was a difficult year and the OEM was activated to manage several different emergencies, including: Covid-19, the West Seattle Bridge, Protests, Wildfire Smoke, and Election Day. The report gives a high-level overview of each emergency and how OEM managed them.

Like all of us, OEM had to adapt and manage a new “normal” of working at home. OEM had to leverage new technologies and adapt under difficult circumstances. I want to thank them for their steadfast commitment to the City and our residents.

One of the items called out in the Report – the All-Hazard Mitigation Plan – began with a survey late last year. In that survey 65% of respondents where “very concerned” about an earthquake. This leads into my efforts to addressed Unreinforced Masonry (URMs) buildings – these are buildings that are susceptible to collapse during an earthquake and pose a significant risk to loss of life. I’m working with the Executive to pass a resolution outlining next steps so that we can address these buildings as quickly as possible. The All-Hazard Mitigation Plan will culminate in the delivery of the Plan to Council which we expect to receive sometime in the Spring.

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Lifting the Voices of Those Harmed by our History of Violence; Covid & Vaccine Updates; Expanded Homeless Outreach Coming to D1; West Seattle Bridge Update March 19; Support for Small Businesses and Nonprofits; Seeking Pedestrian Advisory Board Members; South Park Community Center; Eviction Moratorium Extended; Free Recycling Event; Office Hours

March 19th, 2021

Lifting the Voices of Those Harmed by our History of Violence

According to Stop AAPI Hate, from March 2020 to the end of February 2021, there have been at least 3,795 reported hate crimes targeting Asian Americans.  I am shocked, saddened, and angered by the murders in Atlanta but I am not surprised.  In Seattle, discriminatory legislation targeting Chinese residents in 1885 was followed by mob violence to expel Chinese residents from Seattle in 1886.

In this moment, we have been asked to lift to voices of AAPI women, so that they can tell their own stories.  For this reason, I am not going to focus on my reaction to this tragedy, but instead share the reactions of those whom we must listen to and hear their powerful words. #StopAAPIHate

Georgia State Representative Bee Nguyen said: the killings sit at the “intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny and xenophobia” in the United States.  “We have a history of violence against Asian Americans in this country — including an immigration exclusion act directed at an entire continent. The rise in AAPI hate crimes is a continuation of the brutality AAPIs have endured since the inception of this country…”

 Marylin Strickland, U.S. Representative for Washington’s 10th congressional district, said: “Racially motivated violence should be called out for exactly what it is. And we must stop making excuses or rebranding it as economic anxiety or sexual addiction.”

Sung Yeon Choimorrow, the Executive Director of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), said: the attacks are being felt by Asian-American women “at a personal level that we’ve never experienced before and it’s because we’ve all lived and experienced racialized sexual harassment and violence that is directed at us”. Race and gender identity played a role in the deadly violence, she adds, as did the fact that the women worked in the service industry. “They were completely invisibilised. Asian American women, our experiences, are very particular because of our race and gender. White women don’t understand why my experience of sexism and sexual harassment is different than their experience of sexual harassment.”

Melissa Borja, an assistant professor in the Asian/Pacific Islander American studies program at the University of Michigan, said: “Asian American women are objects of desire, and this idea is reproduced in so many different ways, in so many different movies and musicals. It’s deeply rooted.” Borja recounted a time when her son was approached by a white man “who asked for advice for finding an Asian woman for a mating relationship. It hinged on a view of Asian women as being less than human in ways that are really troubling to me…We know Asian American women are particularly affected by the past year and the anti-Asian racism that we see associated with the pandemic. The impact is really important, and it’s been really striking to me last night and today how sad they are, how angry they are. Earlier today I just got off the phone with my 71-year-old mother who didn’t want to go on her afternoon walk because she felt afraid. That impact matters perhaps more than the intent of the killer.”

Catherine Ceniza Choy, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said: “Saying that this violence is not racially motivated is part of a related history of the denial of racism in the Asian American experience. Racism and white supremacy have been and tragically continue to be part of the Asian American experience. Killing Asian American women to eliminate a man’s temptation speaks to the history of the objectification of Asian and Asian American women as variations of the Asian temptress, the dragon ladies and the lotus blossoms, whose value is only in relation to men’s fantasies and desires. This is horrifying. Stop fetishizing us.”

Hye-Kyung Kang, chair of the Social Work Department at Seattle University, said: “The dehumanizing narrative of Asian women is nothing new. The confluence of racism and misogyny sexualizes and objectifies Asian women as a victim and a temptress. The Page Act of 1875, which prohibited the immigration of unfree laborers and women brought for “immoral purposes,” specifically named Chinese women. In the 1900s, Chinese women were accused of being prostitutes…In popular culture, Asian women are portrayed as colonial sex objects who literally sacrifice their lives to serve white men who refuse to see them (“Miss Saigon,” “Madame Butterfly”). Until very recently, nearly all Hollywood films that had Asians almost always featured Asian women as wordless rape victims of a war. Asian women’s lives are rendered cheap like the low-wage jobs that we often occupy: domestic workers, nail-salon employees and cleaners. For the most part, we don’t even exist, on screen, in textbooks or in the national consciousness.

“These narratives matter. The most potent weapon of anti-Asian racism is erasure — of our voice, our presence, our humanity. It shouldn’t take a mass murder to take notice. But this is an opportunity to change the narrative. How to fight against anti-Asian violence? Hold our society accountable for the racism, colonialism and misogyny that render such violence possible. And put our lives at the center. Let us tell our own stories.”

Photo credit NBC NEWS

Covid Updates: More Groups Are Vaccine-Eligible, Where to Find Vaccine, Join the City’s Vaccine Notification List, South Park Popup Clinic

Starting 3/17, additional groups of people are now eligible to receive vaccination in Washington state.

Some of these new categories can be confusing.  If you’re not sure if you’re eligible….

Folks in Phase 1B Tier 2 join these groups of people who were already eligible:

  • Health care workers
  • High-risk first responders
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • All people over 65 years-old
  • All people over 50 years-old who live in a multigenerational household
  • Educators and staff for pre-K through 12th grade
  • Child care providers
  • Veterans enrolled in the VA may receive vaccination from the VA – read more here.

Governor Inslee announced yesterday that additional groups will become vaccine-eligible on March 31st:

  • Anyone with two or more comorbidities
  • Anyone between the ages of 60 and 64
  • Anyone living in congregate settings (correctional facilities, group homes for those with disabilities, those experiencing homelessness, etc.)
  • Additional workers in congregate settings (restaurants, manufacturing, construction)

And here’s a look forward at future eligibility tiers:

Finding a Vaccine Appointment:  The City of Seattle received 14,000 vaccine doses this week.  If you are vaccine-eligible, sign up for an appointment here:

Sign up for the City’s vaccine appointment notification list or call (206) 684-2489.  Once you confirm your eligibility and join the City’s notification list, you will receive an email notification when vaccination appointments become available at any of the City’s three fixed sites in Rainier Beach, West Seattle, and the Lumen Field Event Center.

I had the opportunity to visit the new Lumen Field mass vaccination site last weekend, and was filled with hope and optimism – as well as a gratitude to the many City employees and partners who made it possible.

My webpage is hosting an updated map of approved vaccine providers in District 1, since the state’s Vaccine Locator website is incomplete.  I am also advocating with the state Department of Health to update their website, and to provide vaccine doses to these local providers.  Please remember that vaccine supply is still a significant problem, and inclusion on the map is not a guarantee that they have vaccine available.

Vaccine supply is still insufficient to meet the demand statewide.

However, the state Department of Health is sharing some promising news about increases in April.

South Park Popup Vaccination Clinic:  The Seattle Fire Department Mobile Vaccination Teams (MVTs) are partnering with several community-based organizations that primarily serve Latinx communities to post a pop-up vaccination clinic at the South Park Community Center this week.   Special thanks to  Villa Communitaria for its work to help community members in South Park register for the South Park popup clinic.

In addition, the MVTs will administer the Moderna  vaccine to older adults living in affordable housing buildings throughout Seattle. Since launching its vaccination effort on January 14, the City of Seattle has administered 24,038 vaccinations to eligible vulnerable adults. These vaccinations have occurred at 86 Adult Family Homes, 58 affordable housing buildings with seniors, ten pop-ups, and the city’s three fixed vaccination sites. Roughly 65 percent of those vaccinated by the City identify as BIPOC communities.

Expanded Homeless Outreach Coming to District 1

Last fall, I sponsored successful legislation to add 3 homeless outreach workers to focus on West Seattle, Delridge, South Park, and Rainier Valley, as well as additional workers in other communities around the city.  The legislation also provides a pot of flexible funds the workers can use to provide flexible financial assistance to people living unsheltered.

This week, the City announced that three outreach organizations have been awarded contracts for this work.  District 1 neighborhoods will be served by two outreach workers hired by REACH, and one hired by Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.  Both REACH and Urban League are experienced at outreach work and connecting people living outdoors to services and shelter.

Following several months of negotiations last year among myself, Councilmembers Lewis and Morales; the Mayor’s Office; and homelessness outreach providers including REACH and LEAD; Council approved legislation to memorialize a new agreed-upon approach to managing encampments of people living unsheltered that focuses on problem-solving.  This shared framework, already in operation, will lead to:

  • more voluntary compliance and good neighbor activities to address hazards and concerns;
  • fewer encampment removals;
  • improved health and safety for people living in encampments, their housed neighbors, and people who work nearby.

West Seattle Bridge Update March 19

The City Council Transportation and Utilities Committee heard an update on the West Seattle Bridge and related work this week. It was similar to the presentation at the Community Task Force last week. Thanks to committee chair Councilmember Pedersen for holding this briefing. Here’s a link to the presentation.

Low Bridge Repair Work

The rehabilitation work on the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge will, like the West Seattle Bridge, include carbon fiber wrap:

Here’s the schedule for both bridges; at the 30% design threshold we can confirm, as in earlier estimates, that the target date for re-opening the West Seattle bridge is mid-2022. As noted below, the schedule and budget will be updated at intermediate design (60% design). This is anticipated for July.


Contracting

SDOT is seeking a community workforce agreement and priority hire for the repair of the bridges, ensuring hires form economically distressed ZIP codes. This requires approval from the USDOT.


Reconnect West Seattle

SDOT is seeking community suggestions for potential Reconnect West Seattle projects in 2022 to address the impacts of the closure of the West Seattle Bridge.   Please send any suggestions to SDOT by March 31, at westseattlebridge@seattle.gov.

Highland Park Home Zone

SDOT provided an update to the earlier draft of Highland Park Home Zone projects. The community selected a Home Zone as part of Reconnect West Seattle, to improve pedestrian and road safety, with the neighborhood experiencing increased cut-through traffic since the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. 550 community comments were submitted in the SDOT survey about this project.  Here’s a link to larger images of the slides below.

I’ve heard from community members about a number of the locations with safety improvement projects, where there is increased cut-through traffic. For example, speed humps and curb bulbs on Holden to the west of 16th Ave SW, and speed humps on 20th Ave SW just before the switchback to 21st Ave SW that some use to access Delridge Way:

The second slide includes for example a number of speed humps on SW Barton Street between 8th Ave SW and 21st Ave SW.

South Park and Georgetown both have Home Zones as part of Reconnect West Seattle.

INFRA Grant Application

Earlier this week the Council and Mayor co-signed a letter to USDOT Secretary Buttigieg in support of a USDOT INFRA (Infrastructure for Rebuilding America) grant, for around $20 million. Thanks to SDOT, the Mayor’s Office and Councilmember Pedersen for their work with my office on this as well.

The City is also seeking $25 million in funding from the state during the current sessions.

Earlier this week, the members of the City Council Transportation Committee voted to adopt legislation Councilmember Pedersen and I co-sponsored, to accept $12.4 million in grants from the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC).

Thank you to PSRC Executive Board members Council President González, Councilmembers Lewis and Strauss and Mayor Durkan for their work at the Executive Committee, and to PSRC Transportation Policy Advisory Board members, Council President González, and Councilmembers Juarez and Pedersen for their work on the PSRC Transportation Policy Advisory Board for making the recommendation to move this funding to the Executive Board for final action. I appreciate the support and commitment of the City’s elected officials to attaining funding for this critical work.

To date, $124 million has been secured for the overall project. In addition to the $100 million approved by the Council, the total of grants secured is $15.9 million, with $9 million from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District.

Support Available for Small Businesses and Nonprofits

Missed the Paycheck Protection Program 14-day priority application for small businesses and nonprofits with 20 employees or fewer?  No worries, you can still apply for PPP until March 31st.  Need help applying?  Learn more here, and contact OED at 206-684-8090 or oed@seattle.gov.

Round 4 of the state’s Working Washington Grants is coming soon.  Learn more and sign up to be notified when the application is available here.

Pedestrian Advisory Board Seeking Two New Members

The Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board is seeking two new members to serve two-year terms starting this spring through March 2023.  You can apply though March 23rd.

The Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board serves as the steward of Seattle’s Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP) vision. The Pedestrian Advisory Board advises the Mayor, City Council, and City Departments and Divisions on projects, policies, and programs that improve and/or affect walking and rolling conditions in Seattle.

The Pedestrian Advisory Board encourages Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, people with disabilities, bi-cultural or bi-lingual residents, youth (under 30), seniors (over 65), and/or LGBTQ candidates to apply.  If you have questions, or if you’d like reasonable accommodations for the application or interview, please reach out to Polly Membrino at polly.membrino@seattle.gov.

Community Quotes Needed for South Park Community Center Art Installation

Seattle Parks and Recreation is collecting inspiring quotations from South Park community members to be used as part of an onsite art installation at the South Park Community Center redevelopment. They’re looking for examples of quotations from artists, authors, local leaders – anyone whose voice reflects and celebrates South Park’s diverse, vibrant community.   Email your quotations to toby.ressler@seattle.gov.


Mayor Extends Eviction Moratorium and Other Relief Measures

On Monday, March 15, the Mayor extended the current Seattle eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021. This extension includes the moratorium on evictions for small businesses and non-profits, as well as an extension of the Utility Discount Program’s Self Certification pilot.

The eviction moratorium says that your landlord “shall not initiate an unlawful detainer action, issue a notice of termination, or otherwise act on any termination notice, including any action or notice related to a rental agreement that has expired or will expire during the effective date of this Emergency Order, unless the tenant’s actions constitute an imminent threat to the health or safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant’s or landlord’s household members.  Further, no late fees or other charges due to late payment of rent shall accrue during the moratorium.”

Community Reuse & Free Recycling Event

When: Saturday, March 20 between 9am – 12pm

Where: South Seattle Community College North Parking Lot (6000 16th Ave SW)

See here for more information about the event and for items not accepted.

Virtual Office Hours

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

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

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

  • Friday, April 30, 2021
  • Friday, May 28, 2021
  • Friday, June 25, 2021
  • Friday, July 30, 2021
  • Friday, August 20, 2021
  • Friday, September 24, 2021
  • Friday, October 29, 2021
  • Friday, December 17, 2021
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Covid Vaccine Updates // WSB: 30% Design Milestone Reached // Fauntleroy ferry dock replacement meetings // $10.4M for Community Safety Organizations

March 12th, 2021


Covid Updates: Vaccine Available Now, Notification List for City Vaccines, Mass Vaccine Site Opens at Lumen Field, Volunteering Info, District 1 Vaccination Sites, Phase 3 Coming Soon 

Vaccine appointments available now:  Hundreds of vaccine appointments are available in City–run vaccination sites in West Seattle (2801 SW Thistle) and Rainier Beach (8702 Seward Park Ave S) on March 12, 13, 15, and 16.   Open to anyone who is eligible to receive vaccine. 

  • Sign up for West Seattle here. 
  • Sign up for Rainier Beach here.   
  • For accommodations and assistance registering, please contact the Customer Service Bureau at 206-684-2489 from Monday through Saturday, between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. In-language assistance is available over the phone. 

City-run mass vaccination site opens: On Saturdaythe City will open a mass vaccination site at Lumen Field Event Center.   The site will initially vaccinate around 5,000 people each week, but could vaccinate 150,000 people each week – or 22,000 per day – at full capacity, if supply is available.  This Seattle Times article has more information.   

Lumen joins the City-run community vaccination and testing sites run by SFD that opened recently in West Seattle (at the SW Athletic Complex, 2801 SW Thistle) and Rainier Beach.  Some of you have written or called me to say that you drove by the SW Athletic Complex and that you saw no people getting vaccine.  Please keep in mind that currently, all three sites are offering vaccination only part-time and for only as long as they have vaccine supply for that week.    When supply picks up in the next weeks and months, all three will be open all week.   

Vaccine notification list available:  Vaccine-eligible Seattle residents can sign up to receive notifications when vaccine appointments become available at any of the City’s three fixed sites: in West Seattle (at the SW Athletic Complex, 2801 SW Thistle), Rainier Beach, and the Lumen Field Event Center.  Residents can also sign up for notifications by calling the Customer Service Bureau at 206-684-2489 from Monday through Saturday, between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. In-language assistance is available over the phone. 

In just over 24 hours, nearly 1,500 eligible people have signed up for the City’s notification list – and more than 500 of them have already registered for a vaccination appointment at the Lumen Field Event Center for this Saturday, March 13.  In addition, over 600 people were registered through partnerships with community-based and faith-based organizations serving Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities, older adults, and immigrants and refugees.  City services – including vaccinations – are available to residents regardless of citizenship or immigration status. 

Who is eligible for vaccine now?  The state Department of Health determines eligibility for vaccine.  Currently, individuals in these groups are eligible to receive vaccination: 

  • Health care workers 
  • High-risk first responders 
  • Residents of long-term care facilities 
  • All people over 65 years-old 
  • All people over 50 years-old who live in a multigenerational household 
  • Educators and staff for pre-K through 12th grade 
  • Child care providers 
  • Veterans enrolled with the VA (only through the VA, details below) 

On Thursday, the Governor announced that new groups will become eligible starting Wednesday, March 17.  Some of the categories can be confusing; you can find more detailed information about the categories here.  You can also check your eligibility using the State’s PhaseFinder tool.   

The Department of Health is still in the process of determining later tiers of eligibility, so it’s best to continue monitoring news sources as new information becomes available.   

VA-enrolled veterans: In addition, veterans of all ages, who are enrolled in the VA system, may schedule a vaccination through the VA.  The VA Puget Sound Health Care Systems website includes this guidance: 

All ages of Veterans are being actively scheduled now for the vaccine. No matter which VA care site you get your vaccine at, you must have an appointment.  It is important to understand that we need to vaccinate the most vulnerable Veterans first, which means even though we are now able to offer all eligible Veterans the vaccines, if you are healthy and younger, you may be scheduled further out. 

Eligible Veterans can call (206) 716-5716 to schedule, or contact your primary care team. 

Volunteering:  My office has heard from many District 1 residents eager to put their time and expertise to use volunteering at the City-run vaccination sites.  We’ve been asking the Mayor’s Office how volunteer power can be used, and recently received this response: 

Right now, volunteer opportunities aren’t open to the general public. If potential volunteer opportunities do open up to the general public, information will be posted to the City’s main vaccination website at: seattle.gov/vaccine. Please direct anyone who’s interested in a potential volunteer opportunity to check the City’s vaccine web page in the event volunteer opportunities become available and are posted to the site.  

Vaccine providers in District 1:  My office is keeping a list of approved vaccine providers in District 1, since the state’s Vaccine Locator website doesn’t consistently show them all.  Click on the map below to find providers and their websites.  Please note: lack of vaccine supply continues to be a problem.  Just because a provider is authorized, doesn’t mean they have received any vaccine in a given week.   

Vaccine supply update:  Washington state’s three week forecast from the federal government is gradually increasing but remains roughly 70,000 doses fewer than what providers are requesting. 

Week of…  1st doses  2nd doses  Total doses 
March 14  170,680  156,640  327,320 
March 21  170,680  163,660  334,340 
March 28  170,680  170,680  341,360 

Judging by the current forecast, Washington will not receive more one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine for at least three weeks. 

Reopening news:  Yesterday, Governor Inslee announced that the entire state would move into Phase 3 on March 22nd.   Social distancing and wearing masks will still be required.   

Under the updated plan, counties will be individually evaluated every three weeks; large and small counties will have different sets of criteria. If any county fails one or more of the metrics below, that county will move down one Phase in the Heathy Washington plan.  If at any point the statewide ICU capacity reaches greater than 90%, all counties will move down one Phase. 

 


West Seattle Bridge: 30% Design Milestone Reached, Bridge Repair RFQ Issued 

West Seattle Bridge 

SDOT has reached the 30% milestone for design of the repair for the West Seattle Bridge.  

SDOT considers 30% design the official “baseline” for cost estimates, schedule, and scope. The estimated cost to repair the West Seattle Bridge is $58 million, and $14 million for repairs to the lower bridge, with a total program cost of $175 million This also includes funding for Reconnect West Seattle traffic safety and congestion mitigation projects in communities most impacted by detour routes through their neighborhoods, and the cost for stabilizing the bridge.  

The design for repairing the West Seattle Bridge includes new carbon fiber wrap on both the central and end spans, additional post tensioning, and seismic ground stabilization on Pier 18. The Pier 18 work is not required prior to the bridge reopening 

The next design milestone will be 60%, which SDOT estimates for July. At that time there will be updated cost estimates and schedule.  

Request for Qualifications project approach 

On Wednesday morning, SDOT released the Request for Qualifications and Project Approach for the repair of the West Seattle Bridge.  The RFQ includes the Spokane Street (lower) bridge strengthening as well. Both bridges have similar work with carbon fiber wrap, so combining the projects is designed to realize efficiencies in both cost and timeline. The total estimated cost is $72 million ($58 million for the West Seattle Bridge, and $14 million for the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge) 

Responses from potential contractors are due on April 12, with a pre-proposal meeting scheduled for March 22.  

The target for awarding the contract is mid-late May, with a contractor on board in June. 

SDOT is using the General Contractor/Construction Manager (GCCM) construction approach, which is designed to save time. This means that the contractor will assist in designing the project, in order to reduce the likelihood of constructability and potential schedule issues coming up later.  This is considered an alternative project delivery method; the traditional approach is to complete design first, then bid for a contractor.  

In the Community Task Force meeting on Wednesday, SDOT noted that final design for repairs is targeted for August/September. When the final design is complete then SDOT will negotiate with the contractor for maximum allowable construction costs. In addition, external approvals are needed from WSDOT and the Federal Highway Administration.  These steps add time to the timeline and result in an estimate for bridge repair construction to begin in November, with completion in June 2022.   

Low Bridge Access Update 

On the lower bridge, SDOT has been tracking data on usage of the lower bridge. Prior to the advent of camera enforcement, SDOT noted that it could allow for additional usage, depending on travel patterns  Camera enforcement began in January, the data shows lower level bridge usage, yet no additional usage has been permitted yet, beyond allowing on-call medical workers to use a declaration of non-responsibility for tickets. 

Below  is average weekly traffic volumes from when camera enforcement began, compared to the baseline.  

The baseline bridge usage before enforcement began was 7,018 average weekday trips. Bridge usage was down 36-45% during February: 

Daily traffic volumes by hour for the week of February 22-28 are shown below, in both directions. I appreciate SDOT compiling this information, and making it available.  

At the Community Task Force meeting on Wednesday, I asked SDOT when they will make a decision about bridge access on weekend mornings, since there appears to be clear capacity, as shown in green above. SDOT indicated they are likely to bring an update to the next Community Task Force meeting in April after additional outreach to underserved communities.  When pressed on the question of to whom they are doing additional outreach, the answer became instead that they want to wait so that they can “bundle” changes in access to the lower bridge to minimize confusion.  I don’t believe adding a couple hours of access on the weekend mornings will be confusing to anyone. 

Here’s what SDOT noted about next steps:

Here’s a link to SDOT’s Spokane Street Swing Bridge website. 

Regarding the questions of general weekend access, SDOT notes the amount of traffic diverted on to West Marginal Way, for example, on weekends is more than what the lower bridge could handle, so they are not considering allowing all-day access on the lower bridge on weekends.  

West Marginal Way SW 

SDOT provided an update about West Marginal Way. Videos about proposed work there are available in multiple languages:  

In 2021 SDOT is proceeding with a crosswalk near the Duwamish Longhouse and an interim pedestrian signal (with a permanent one in 2022). In addition, SDOT will construct a sidewalk on the west side of the street to upgrade the dirt path near the longhouse.  

Work at the intersection of Highland Park Way was completed earlier.  

Of other potential projects, the proposed bike lane has received the greatest number of comments. SDOT notes the comments they have heard so far; I’ve heard both support and opposition to the project. I’ve heard as well from numerous constituents who think it could be a good project, but question the timing and whether the project should be constructed before the West Seattle Bridge re-opens.  

Here is the timeline SDOT has shared: 

 


Washington State Ferries Fauntleroy ferry dock replacement meetings March 17/18 

 

Washington State Ferries has re-started work on the Fauntleroy ferry terminal replacement project, which was delayed last year due to COVID-19.  

They will be holding virtual public outreach meetings on March 17 and 18 as the first part of public engagement for the project. You can register here to participate: 

Wednesday, Mar. 17   

Thursday, Mar. 18  

Below is information Washington State Ferries has provided about the project:  

This project was identified in the WSF 2040 Long Range Plan given the preservation need and long-established operational constraints and inefficiencies of the terminal (you can download the 2040 plan here). 

The first phase (2021 through early-2023) of the project is conducted as a Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration per federal requirements (23 U.S.C 168 and 23 U.S.C. 139).  The PEL study helps identify transportation issues, environmental concerns, community values and economic goals early in project planning. A detailed environmental review process follows a PEL study, as required by both the National Environmental Policy Act and the State Environmental Policy Act. Information gathered in the PEL study is carried forward into the environmental review process, saving time and money. 

The terminal currently faces several challenges, including: 

  • Parts of the terminal are aging, seismically vulnerable and overdue for replacement  
  • Rising sea levels could damage the superstructure from debris during high tides in the future 
  • Long-standing operational challenges, including:   
  • Challenges with vehicles queuing on Fauntleroy Way, with only one shoulder holding lane to serve two destinations. 
  • A small terminal, with only enough dock space for approximately 80 cars, that is served by three 124-car Issaquah class ferries using a single slip. 

Here’s the project timeline WSF has provided: 

  • Fall 2016-2019 – Near-term operational improvements at the dock   
  • 2017 – Improved vehicle processing at tollbooths 
  • 2018 – Implemented new operational plan for Fauntleroy terminal 
  • 2019 – Launched new sailing schedule for Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route 
  • 2020-2023 – Planning and environmental review for terminal preservation project   
  • 2021 – Launch community engagement for the project 
  • 2023-2025 – Design and construction planning 
  • 2025-2027 – Construction 

(Future dates tentative based on impacts from COVID-19). 

 


$10.4 Million Available for Community Safety Organizations 

Last month I wrote about a February report from the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice about increases in crime in 34 cities across the country. This report noted the strain individuals and organizations have experienced over the past year, and concluded that implementing proven anti-violence strategies will be necessary to combat increased violence and property offenses across the country, including in Seattle.  

This week, my Public Safety & Human Services committee unanimously approved a $10.4 million spending plan for community safety investments, a continuation of the Council’s fall budget process to reimagine public safety.  The legislation will make it possible for the Human Services Department to release the funding associated with the Community Safety Capacity Building Request For Proposals (RFP) issued last week.  They will invest $10,400,000 in one-time funds for the contract period of July 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022 and up to 40 proposals may be funded.  Applications are due Friday, April 9.  Learn more and apply.   

  • All organizations working to create conditions for safety, including ending violence and reducing crime, are encouraged to apply 
  • Priority will be given to Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Pacific Islander, and Immigrant and Refugee-led community groups, as they are most impacted by racism, systems of oppression, and harm from violence and the criminal legal system.   
  • All organizations that meet the minimum qualifications will be interviewed.   
  • Free technical assistance is available.   

Throughout 2020, the calls from community to invest in alternatives to policing were consistent, loud and clear.  Seattle City Council answered that call by appropriating $16 million to invest in community-led organizations that are creating community safety on the ground every day in Seattle.  Last year, the Human Services Department moved quickly to award $4 million to the Seattle Community Safety Initiative, which is building community safety hubs and wraparound services in three Seattle neighborhoods – including West Seattle – under the leadership of Community Passageways.   

This new investment will bring together a cohort of organizations dedicated to reimagining how community safety can be achieved in Seattle, and gives them the resources they need to lead the way in creating safety in our City. 

 


King Conservation District Election 

Voting is now open for the King Conservation District (KDC) Board of Supervisors Position #3The King Conservation Districtauthorized by Washington State and guided by the Washington State Conservation Commission, is a natural resources assistance agency. Their goal is to promote the sustainable use of natural resources through responsible stewardship. A five-member Board of Supervisors is responsible for overseeing all KCD programs and activities. 

Voting began on March 1, 2021, and runs through March 23, 2021. You can vote via mail or online, please see this link for additional information about how to vote. You can also see this link for more information about the candidates running.  

 


Seattle Districting Commission 

 

The City is seeking applicants to serve on the City Districting Commission. The Commission oversees the development of new City Council district lines in response to the completed 2020 Census.  

The Commission appoints a Districting Master to draw a districting plan for the City, develops a draft districts proposal based on that plan, facilitates a process of public comment on that proposal, and ultimately votes upon approval of that proposal for transmission to the State of Washington. Districting Commissioners will receive a per diem for their service and Commission’s termlast until their districting proposal is submitted to the State of Washington. 

The Commission will be comprised of five members: 

  • Two appointed by the City Council, confirmed via a two-thirds vote of the Council 
  • Two appointed by the Mayor 
  • One appointed by the initial four members of the Commission, approved via a majority vote of the Commissioners 

Please see the Council webpage here if you’re interested in learning more or applying to be a member. Applications are due by 11:59 P.M. on Monday, March 29, 2021. 

 


Virtual Office Hours 

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

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

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

  • Friday, April 30, 2021 
  • Friday, May 28, 2021 
  • Friday, June 25, 2021 
  • Friday, July 30, 2021 
  • Friday, August 20, 2021 
  • Friday, September 24, 2021 
  • Friday, October 29, 2021 
  • Friday, December 17, 2021 

 

 

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Covid Vaccine News and One Year of Covid; West Seattle Bridge, March 5th ; First Avenue South Bridge Closures; Sound Transit Realignment; 2021 Property taxes; Seattle Children’s Investigators Invite Public Participation; King County Metro Survey; South Park Library Launches Curbside Service; Working with Seniors at Alaska House

March 5th, 2021

Covid Vaccine News: Additional Vaccine Providers in West Seattle, Vaccines for Veterans; Mass Vaccine Site Opens in West Seattle; More Vaccine On the Way; School Staff, Teachers, and Childcare Workers Now Eligible; and One Year of Covid

There were a lot of announcements about Covid vaccination this week.  Here’s a rundown of the most important information for District 1 residents.  As a reminder:

  • WA COVID Vaccine Finder (covidwa.com) is a volunteer-run website that compilates vaccine providers and availability in one location. Multiple people have recommended this website as a good place to search for vaccine.
  • The City of Seattle has a vaccine webpage and weekly vaccine newsletter at seattle.gov/vaccine.

Additional Vaccine Providers on the West Seattle Peninsula:  This morning, I received a response to my inquiry to the state Department of Health as to why the state’s Vaccine Locator website shows only one approved vaccine provider on the West Seattle peninsula.  The surprising answer is that the state website is incorrect.  In fact, there are eleven approved vaccine providers on the peninsula – I’ve included the full list below.  Some of these providers are only vaccinating their own patients (such as Swedish), and some have yet to receive a single dose of vaccine (such as Bartell’s).  And lack of vaccine supply continues to the most important constraint on accessing vaccine.  However, I think it’s important that you have all the information available about vaccine providers.

In addition, Sea Mar clinics in South Park and White Center continue to be an option for District 1 residents.  Find more information here.

I will continue my advocacy with the state to correct their website and distribute additional vaccine to West Seattle.

All Veterans Eligible for Vaccine from VA:  Veterans of any age enrolled in the VA system can schedule a vaccine appointment through the VA.  Veterans are not bound by the tiered eligibility system established by the state Department of Health.  The VA Puget Sound Health Care Systems website includes this guidance:

All ages of Veterans are being actively scheduled now for the vaccine. No matter which VA care site you get your vaccine at, you must have an appointment.  It is important to understand that we need to vaccinate the most vulnerable Veterans first, which means even though we are now able to offer all eligible Veterans the vaccines, if you are healthy and younger, you may be scheduled further out.

Eligible Veterans can call (206) 716-5716 to schedule, or contact your primary care team.

Mass Vaccine Site Launches in West Seattle:  On Monday, the City announced the launch of two City-run mass vaccination sites, at SW Athletic Complex in West Seattle (2801 SW Thistle Street) and the Atlantic Boat Ramp in Rainier Beach.  These sites are already up and running, and will continue to offer City-run, free Covid testing as well as vaccination.  Between the two sites, the City initially expects to provide 2,000 doses per week, administered by Seattle Fire Department.

Initially, appointments for vaccine at these sites are only available through referral from community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and health care providers. They focus on vaccine-eligible people who are 65 and older who live in areas of West and South Seattle most impacted by COVID-19 cases. Due to limited supply, walk-ins cannot be accommodated.

The City currently receives about 2,500 vaccines per week.  That number is expected to increase steadily, but in the next weeks, most people still will not be able to receive vaccine from the City.  Eventually, when vaccine supply improves in the coming weeks and months, the City plans to administer 1,000 shots every day at the West Seattle site.  I will continue to update you about this site via this newsletter, including when appointments become available to the vaccine-eligible general public.  You can also subscribe to the City’s weekly vaccine newsletter here: www.seattle.gov/vaccine.

I appreciate that the chosen locations for these mass vaccine sites serve the goals of Council’s Resolution on Vaccine Equity.  West Seattle, South Park, and Rainier Valley have the 2nd highest rate of Covid deaths in the County.  Yet our seniors aged 75+ have fallen significantly behind those in other parts of the county in accessing vaccine.  Only 53% have received a first dose, compared to 68% county-wide.  This site should help District 1 residents catch up.

Mass Vaccine Site Announced for Lumen Field Event Center:  The City also announced that they will open a large mass vaccine site at Lumen Field in mid-March, in a partnership with Swedish Medical Center.  With current vaccine supply, the Lumen vaccine site will initially administer approximately 5,000 first doses over two days a week. At peak operations, and vaccine supply permitting, the mass vaccination site could administer 21,000 vaccinations each day or 150,000 vaccinations every week to the entire region.

Initially, appointments will be prioritized for community-based organizations serving BIPOC communities, older adults, and immigrants and refugees, but vaccine-eligible members of the public will be able to register for a vaccination at this site.  Registration methods and an opening date have not yet been announced. 

City of Seattle Mobile Vaccine Efforts:  The City of Seattle is also continuing to partner with both Swedish and UW Medicine Mobile Vaccination Teams, which have the capacity to vaccinate hundreds of the most vulnerable and high-risk residents daily.  The mobile teams are prioritizing elders in low-income housing across the City as well as community vaccination events in areas with low vaccination rates. The mobile teams meet communities where they’re at, lowering transportation and logistical barriers.  Since launching its vaccination effort on January 14, the City of Seattle has:

  • administered 10,054 vaccinations to eligible Seattleites
  • provided 8,665 vulnerable Seattleites the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Provided 1,389 Seattleites the second dose of the vaccine

City vaccinations have occurred at:

  • 86 Adult Family Homes
  • 42 affordable housing buildings with seniors
  • 8 pop-up clinics
  • 3 community clinic pilots.

Roughly 70 percent of those vaccinated by the City identify as from BIPOC communities.

Teachers, School Staff, and Childcare Workers Now Eligible for Vaccine:  You probably heard the Biden administration announce on Tuesday that teachers are now eligible to receive vaccine.  Here are President Biden’s remarks during the announcement:

Over 30 states have already taken step to prior- –prioritize educators for vaccination.  And today, I’m using the full authority of the federal government.  I’m directing every state to do the same.  My challenge to all states, territories, and the District of Columbia is this: We want every educator, school staff member, childcare worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March.

To help make this happen, starting next week and for a month — the month of March, we will be using our federal pharmacy program to prioritize the vaccination of pre-K through 12 educators and staff and child-care workers.  Throughout March, they will be able to prioritize the vaccination of pre-K-through-12 educators and staff and childcare workers.  Throughout March, they will be able to sign up for an appointment at a pharmacy near them.

The Washington State Department of Health, which is responsible for administering and directing the vaccination rollout here, released this statement in response:

DOH is working quickly to get clarity from the Biden Administration to ensure roll-out in our state will result in ample vaccine supply through various providers and equitable access for education and childcare workers. Vaccine supply will likely primarily be delivered through the federal pharmacy program, and the directive indicates all vaccine providers should prioritize these workers.

DOH remains committed to continued vaccination for older adults and others who are currently prioritized for vaccinations under the current plan. DOH also remains committed to vaccinating all Washingtonians as quickly and equitably as possible.

DOH acknowledges these announcements may cause a mix of excitement, concern, and confusion for different communities. The department will share more information in the days ahead as DOH learns more from our federal partners.

What does this mean for folks who are vaccine-eligible and still working on securing your first dose?  That’s the big question, and we’re still waiting for more clarity from both the federal and state governments.  The state Department of Health has shared some additional advice via social media:

You can find information about the federal pharmacy partnership here; in Washington, it includes Albertsons, Costco, Health Mart, Rite Aid, Kroger, and Walmart.  And of course, keep monitoring the news.

New Eligibility Timeline:  On Thursday afternoon, Governor Inslee announced new tiers of vaccine eligibility and a projected timeline.  Assuming that vaccine supply is sufficient, this short video shows the plan:

Vaccine Supply Gets a Significant Boost:  In that same statement, President Biden also announced a new vaccine production partnership that will result in sufficient vaccine supply to vaccinate every American adult by the end of May.

And today, we’re announcing a major step forward:…  Johnson & Johnson and Merck will work together to expand the production of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.  This is the type of collaboration between companies we saw in World War Two.

We also invoked the Defense Production Act to equip two Merck facilities to the standards necessary to safely manufacture the J&J vaccine.  And with the urging and assistance of my administration, Johnson & Johnson is also taking additional new actions to safely accelerate vaccine production.  Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine manufacturing facilities will now begin to operate 24/7. 

In addition, we’ll continue to use the Defense Production Act to expedite critical materials in vaccine production, such as equipment, machinery, and supplies.  I’ve also asked the Department of Defense to provide daily logistical support to strengthen Johnson & Johnson’s efforts… 

Here’s what all this means: We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May.

Again, details are still unclear about how quickly this increased supply will be felt locally, and how the federal government will distribute the extra vaccine doses.  And it will likely take some time for those final doses to leave the manufacturing line and find their way into the arms of recipients – so vaccinations will likely continue well beyond May.  However, this is an indication that increased vaccine supply is on its way, which will mean…

  • All vaccine-eligible Seattle residents will be able to get vaccinated.
  • The City will be able to open up mass vaccine site appointments to the vaccine-eligible general public.
  • The State will be able to open up vaccination to more tiers of eligibility.

One Year of Covid:  On Monday, Seattle City Council passed a proclamation honoring members of our community who have lost their lives to Covid.  The proclamation for COVID Memorial Day marked the 500,000-plus people nationwide lost to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and remembered the local community members who passed away from, or battled and suffered from, COVID-19.  Linda and Alexander Oliver, who lost their daughter, Marian Jude Oliver, to COVID-19 accepted the proclamation.  I issued this statement:

The battle against Covid in the United States started here in our region.  Though we have lost too many to this pandemic, the sustained and dedicated efforts to practice public health measures has resulted in our being hit less hard than other parts of the country.  We must remember the lives lost and recognize the friends and family members who mourn them.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 1,300 individuals in King County have lost their lives due to COVID-19. This week, Washington surpassed 5,000 COVID-19 deaths, a year after the first COVID-19 death was experienced in America, right here in the Puget Sound region.


West Seattle Bridge March 5th

SDOT reached a 30% design level for a bridge repair in February, as they committed to earlier. SDOT is planning to initiate the contracting process in March to bring a General Contractor/Construction Manager on board. In doing so, the team can work collaboratively with SDOT through the final design and construction phases to address potential constructability and schedule issues early; this approach can save time.

The preliminary design and contracting stages of the project are critical to managing schedule and cost risk. This relies on several  distinct review steps necessary to maintain eligibility for Federal and State funding.  The federal and state jurisdictions are involved in this review because, while  the bridge is an essential transportation connection for everyone in West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley, it is also a critical piece of regional infrastructure. The City has already successfully secured nearly $15M in Federal funds for the project, and in the last couple months SDOT has been working on this required review to ensure funding partner requirements are satisfied.

While SDOT and the Technical Advisory Panel convened last year agree that the engineering is straightforward, the details of how repairs are designed and constructed are critical to the success and longevity of repairs. This is why getting to the 30% design of the repair benchmark has taken the time that it has.  For example, the recent snowfall gave the project engineers an opportunity to see how the bridge responded to increased loads, and the stabilized bridge continues to perform as expected. SDOT is taking each of these data points into consideration as the design proceeds to make sure repairs are resilient.

My conversations with SDOT’s Director reinforce for me that everyone in the department is acting with urgency to restore the transportation connection.

You may recall that last year the Council voted to approve an interfund loan to pay for the repair and $70 million in bond financing to repay the loan.  This week, the City Council Finance and Housing Committee adopted an amendment to a bill that clarifies the use of tax-exempt bonds to repay the interfund loan for work on the West Seattle Bridge and related projects. This allows the City to use the lowest cost financing available for that project. The Department of Finance and Administrative Services estimates this will result in interest savings of approximately $5 million (between $200,000 and $300,000 annually for 20 years) compared to taxable bonds.

Thanks to Chair Mosqueda for bringing this forward.

Here are recent traffic data:

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force will be meeting on Wednesday March 10 at noon.  Some of you have mentioned that you would like more information about these meetings so that you can participate; here is the YouTube link where the meeting will be broadcast live: https://youtu.be/PXt27ebyJ20.

First Avenue South Bridge Southbound Closures/Lower Bridge Access During Closures

WSDOT’s work on the southbound lanes of First Avenue South Bridge to repair breading pads and streel beams will begin on Friday, March 5th.

SDOT has provided a travel advisory noting all southbound lanes will be closed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. on the nights of Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6.

Two of the four southbound lanes will be closed from noon on Wednesday, March 10 to noon on Monday, March 15.

All southbound lanes will be closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. on the nights of Sunday, March 14 to Monday, March 15.

During the overnight closures on the evenings of March 5, 6, 14 and 15, SDOT announced the Spokane Street (lower) bridge will be open to all vehicles from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., an extra hour in the morning beyond the usual 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. time.

Last month I asked SDOT to consider authorizing additional access to the lower bridge during this time, given the announcement of the delay in opening Terminal 5 could allow for additional users during the closure. I appreciate SDOT expanding general access for an hour during these closures.

SDOT continues to examine potential expansion of access the lower bridge, while ensuring emergency, transit and freight access. They have noted they are considering expanded access for businesses, new user groups such as patients seeking lifesaving treatments, and expanding outreach to better understand community needs (e.g. tribal members, rideshare, seniors).

SDOT is still considering adding capacity on weekend hours.  The have said:

“We have not made a final determination on expanding the weekend hours on the low bridge to the general public.  Since automated enforcement began on January 11, we have been collecting and analyzing the traffic data as well as compiling community input about needs for low bridge access. It’s important for us to lead with equity in making changes to the low bridge policy, while at the same time maintaining access for emergency vehicles, public transit, and freight.

Yes, the data shows that traffic volumes are lower in the early mornings on Saturday and Sunday, which could mean an expansion of weekend hours. We’re actively working through exactly what times we could expand weekend access. If we expand the hours, we will ensure that the bridge remains clear for our prioritized groups of emergency vehicles, public transit, and freight.

 When we do have that decision, we will make a recommendation to SDOT leadership and to the Community Task Force before implementing the changes.”

There will be no impacts from the 1st Avenue Bridge closure to the northbound lanes of the 1st Avenue South Bridge.

The original lane restrictions were projected to be longer; I appreciate WSDOT’s work to limit the duration of the work.

Sound Transit Realignment Discussion

Last week the Sound Transit Board heard an update about ongoing work regarding potential program realignment. The update includes potential federal, state and local funding sources to address the affordability gap.

The Board heard “illustrative scenarios” for addressing revenue shortfalls. Sound Transit Staff emphasized they are not proposing or endorsing any of the proposals, but that they are presenting scenarios to show tradeoffs, in the event no new revenue is attained, and if different amounts of funding are attained.

Scenarios included examining ridership, equity, completing the “spine,” and potential phasing.

One of the “illustrative scenarios” includes phasing projects, with the West Seattle line first being built only to Delridge (and to Smith Cove for the Ballard line) copied below.

Under this scenario, there would be a 2 year delay to the 2030 baseline, in getting to Delridge, and an additional 2 year delay getting to the Junction. The years could be different if additional federal funding is attained. This is just one of a number of examples.

An additional update on this work is expected in April.

2021 Property Taxes

The King County Assessor recently provided an update about property taxes in King County. The update includes a spreadsheet showing the changes by city.

For Seattle, it shows the property tax paid on the median home is down 1.45%, from $6,368.30 in 2020 to $6,275 in 2021.

From 2020 to 2021, the median assessed value of a home went down from $690,000 to $674,000.

Property taxes go to the state for education, the School District, King County, the City of Seattle, Sound Transit, the Port of Seattle, Emergency Medical Services, and other smaller government entities.

Property tax exemptions and deferrals are available for seniors and disabled persons with income less than 65% of the median household  which is $58,423 in King County. This King County Assessor’s page has more information about eligibility. The page also includes information about eligibility based on homeowners improvements, and storm and flood damage.

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

Here’s the Assessor’s webpage link about how to appeal the assessed value of a property. The page notes “2021 Official Property Value Notice Cards for all properties in King County will be mailed from the Department of Assessments between May 2021 and November 2021.  If you wish to file an appeal on the 2021 assessed value of your property, you must do so within 60 days of the mailing date printed on your Official Property Value Notice Card.”

Seattle Children’s Investigators Invite Public Participation

In the wake of Dr. Ben Danielson’s resignation as medical director of Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (reported here), Seattle Children’s is undergoing an assessment of policies and practices related to race, equity, diversity and inclusion that impact patients, families and members of its workforce. The outside firm leading this assessment, Covington & Burling, is inviting anyone with relevant experiences with Seattle Children’s to share that information.

The outside assessor will use what they learn to produce findings and recommendations and present them to the Board of Trustees, which will provide a report to the public at the end of the process.  Learn more here.

If you have information to share, here are ways to contact the outside firm leading the assessment:

Email: SCHAssessment@cov.com

Telephone voicemail: (202) 662-6947

Physical Mail: Seattle Children’s Assessment Committee, c/o Covington & Burling LLP, 1999 Avenue of the Stars, 35th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067

King County Metro Service Restoration Survey Open Through March 8

As we transition through COVID-19 recovery phases, King County Metro is making plans to gradually restore suspended service where it is most needed. They are seeking community feedback about this through a short survey.

Responses are due by the end of the day on March 8. Surveys are also available in additional languages:

South Park Library Launches Curbside Service

The South Park Library Branch at 8604 Eighth Ave. S. is opening for weekend curbside services starting Saturday, March 6. Hours are noon – 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. Learn about curbside services, hours and locations at spl.org/Curbside.


Working with Seniors at Alaska House

Alaska House is an apartment complex in the heart of the Junction that provides housing to low-income seniors and people with disabilities. The building is supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but it is privately owned and operated. Last fall residents and staff from the West Seattle Senior Center contacted me to tell me that the property owners were proposing disruptive, cosmetic renovations which would have displaced residents to a hotel for several weeks in January.

I reached out to the redevelopment contractor in December after receiving an email from a constituent residing there who was fearful of health and safety impacts possibly resulting from a non-emergency renovation being conducted at the height of the pandemic. While HUD-supported properties are subject to strict relocation guidelines – such as in cases where renovations require the tenants to move out, the property owners are obligated to pay a per diem that can be used to pay for lodging – there unfortunately are no regulations specifically limiting renovations proposed during a public health emergency.

In order to help make sure the tenants fully understood their rights and felt supported, I reached out to the Tenants Union and Be:Seattle to assist tenants in understanding their rights and to prevent displacement. They have been in contact and assisting the residents with communicating with the renovation team and building management.

I have supported the tenants’ request that the renovation be postponed until the end of the public health emergency.  While initially scheduled for January, the renovations have now been delayed to April.  I believe, given where we are in a public health emergency, and that so many seniors still haven’t been vaccinated, that an April renovation date is still much too soon.

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

February 26th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Seattle Fire Department Work Plan

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

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

Sylvan Way Lane Closures

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

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

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

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

SPD Budget Legislation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

February 22nd, 2021

COVID Vaccines – D1 Updates, Vaccine Equity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Seattle Bridge Updates February 19

First Avenue South Bridge Lane Closures

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

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

West Seattle Bridge

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

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

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

Lower Bridge

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

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

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

King County Metro and Reconnect West Seattle

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

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

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

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


SW Precinct Crime Rates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consent Decree Update/Less Lethal Weapons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Property Tax Relief for Elders

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

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

South Park Community Center Redevelopment Open House

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


Virtual Office Hours

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

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

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

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

February 12th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some vaccination resources:

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

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

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

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

 

Winter Weather Information

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

SDOT Snow Response Interactive Map of Arterials Prioritized for Clearing

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

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

SDOT’s cameras map shows live road conditions.

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

Stay safe out there!

Severe Weather Shelter

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

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

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

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

Garbage Collection in Inclement Weather

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

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

King County Metro Service

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

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


 

West Seattle Bridge Update February 12

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

West Seattle Bridge Repair Update

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

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

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

Lower Bridge Access Update

There are important updates about traffic on the lower bridge.

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

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

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

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

On-call Health Care Provider Access

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

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

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

Reconnect West Seattle 2022 projects

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

West Marginal Way SW

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

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

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

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

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

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

The SDOT Director has authority over use of city streets.

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

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

2021 Neighborhood Matching Fund Deadlines, Workshops

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

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

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

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

Workshop dates and times are as follows:

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

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

March 17, 2021, 6-7:30pm

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

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

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

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

Fire Code Update

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

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

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

 

Virtual Office Hours

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

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

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

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

February 8th, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccination Updates 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Health care working gives vaccine to woman wearing mask.

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

     
አማርኛ — Amharic  한국어 — Korean  Español — Spanish 
العربية — Arabic  Kajin M̧ajeļ — Marshallese  ትግርኛ — Tigrinya 
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Who can get the vaccine?  The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) determines who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Right now the following groups can get vaccinated: 

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

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

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

PSA saying COVID vaccine is provided at no cost

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

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

Preferential Access to Vaccine 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your leadership. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Child Care Assistance Available 

Graphic showing child care copay relief available

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

Don’t BFooled By a New Scam 

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

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

Hands counting money

Lower Bridge Use and Delay in Opening of T-5  

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

Director Zimbabwe,  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Best, 

Lisa Herbold 

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

West Marginal Way SW Virtual Open House February 18 

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

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

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

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

  Project map

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

Map showing Duwamish Trail connection

Here’s what option 2 would look like: 

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

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

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

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

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

A map showing three options for curb lane design 

 

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

Here’s the decision making timeline SDOT foresees: 

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

South Park Home Zone 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building Code Updates to Limit Natural Gas Use 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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