Renewing the Housing Levy // April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month // Westside Healthy Empowered Youth (HEY) Town Hall // Library Hours Expanding at Local Branches // Help Lay the Groundwork for Aging and Disability Services // Building Emissions Performance Standards // West Seattle Water Taxi Summer Schedule Begins April 17


Renewing the Housing Levy

This week, Council launched its consideration of renewing the 7-year housing levy with a deep dive into our city’s affordable housing needs, and a review of the accomplishments of the current levy, now in its final year.  By the end of June, Council’s Select Committee on 2023 Housing Levy, which I Vice Chair, will consider the Executive’s proposal for a ballot measure to fund the renewal of the Housing Levy. As part of this work, the Select Committee will:

  1. review current and future housing needs;
  2. consider the Executive’s proposal, including the size and scope of the Levy; and
  3. deliberate and make a final decision on whether to send a Levy proposal to the ballot for consideration by Seattle voters.

You can sign up to receive updates on the Select Committee’s work here: Agenda Sign Up – Council |

Affordable Housing Needs:  No surprise here: we learned that, over the past decade, Seattle’s production of housing has not kept pace with the need.  The slide below shows that for every 2.6 jobs created, only one housing unit was built.  But what about the affordability of that housing unit?   This 2017 Seattle Times story, reported [emphasis added] “about 92 percent of the 31,000 new market-rate apartments that have opened in Seattle this decade have been luxury units.”  So not only is it true that not enough units are being built, but of those built by the private market, almost none of them are affordable.

Since the housing levy primarily (but not solely) supports affordable rental homes, I requested data on income distribution among Seattle’s renters.  As you can see, incomes for renter households are skewed much lower than homeowners and almost half of all renters need affordable housing.

We can also see that the burden of soaring housing costs is not shared equally.  Black Indigenous People of Color, Native American, Pacific Islander, and multi-race households are more likely to spend 30%, 50%, or more of their income on housing.

Of the nearly 71,00 new affordable homes that our region is projected to need by 2044, 62% of them must be affordable to families struggling to survive on less than 30% of Area Median Income – that’s just $39,000 for a family of four.

My Priorities:  Given that the cost of constructing new buildings has risen dramatically, I am asking my colleagues to consider embracing the strategy of purchasing affordable homes and buildings from the private housing market.  While the current housing levy allows this activity, it does not include any specific goals for the strategy.  I’d like to see the levy include a specific goal for the number of affordable housing units to be created or saved by purchasing them from private owners.

I will also be advocating for:

  • New affordable housing in neighborhoods outside the central city – including District 1 – to help residents stay in their communities as costs rise
  • Co-locating affordable homes with affordable commercial spaces
  • Affordable homeownership to help close the racial gap in generational wealth
  • Addressing the pay penalty for affordable housing workers
  • Deep affordability, so families with the smallest incomes can find homes

Next Steps:  Select upcoming dates for the levy renewal:

  • April 19 at 9:30am: Select Committee will receive a briefing on the Mayor’s proposed housing levy renewal package
  • April 19 at 4:30pm: Public Hearing
  • May 31 at 4:00pm: Public Hearing
  • June 21 at 9:30am: Likely Select Committee vote on housing levy legislation

Again, you can sign up to receive updates on the Select Committee’s work here: Agenda Sign Up – Council |

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

On Tuesday, I presented a proclamation declaring April to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month in collaboration with the Seattle Women’s Commission, Seattle Disability Commission, and Human Services Department.  I’d like to lift up the call to action issued by King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC):

This year, KCSARC is calling on our community to be up-standers — people who actively take steps to prevent sexual violence.   Fortunately, you don’t need a superhero cape to stand up to sexual violence!

An upstander is an ally to someone experiencing bullying or harassment. An upstander is someone who helps another person who is too incapacitated to find a safe way home after a party.

And if someone tells you they’ve been a victim of sexual assault, you can be an upstander just by listening without judgment, being supportive, and sharing the 24-hour Resource Line for free and confidential help and information at at 888.998.6423, or 425.282.0324 — Ayuda en Español. 

My sincere thanks especially to Human Services Department Director Tanya Kim and Kristina Sawyckyi of Seattle Disability Commission for sharing heartfelt remarks – click below to listen.

Westside Healthy Empowered Youth (HEY) Town Hall

On Wednesday evening I attended a Town Hall hosted by the Westside HEY Coalition at Denny Middle School to address youth substance use prevention.   The HEY coalition works to “promote a healthy and safe community through collaboration, education, and empowerment so that Westside youth can thrive.”  The Town Hall was an opportunity to learn about many of the programs of the HEY coalition including, but not limited to, Parent Education Nights and Drug Take Back Days.

A teen dies of overdose about every 2 weeks in King County.  Most of these deaths involve fentanyl. Seattle King County Public Health recommends that no matter how open you are with your teen, some topics can be daunting and preparing what you want to say ahead of time can help. They advise to withhold judgement, remember to be patient, keep an open mind, and hear your teen out.  Important topics to cover:

  • Even if your teen is aware of the fentanyl problem in King County, they may not realize how they can help. Make sure they’re prepared to respond to an overdose by discussing when to call for help and how to use naloxone.
  • The drug supply in King County is more dangerous than ever. You can’t tell if there’s fentanyl in pills by looking at them. While a single pill might get a person high without killing them, another pill could be fatal. The majority of counterfeit pills seized in recent years were laced with fentanyl.
  • There are overdose signs you can see, hear, and feel. Someone overdosing might just look asleep or passed out, may be snoring weird, and their skin can get cold, discolored, and clammy. Encourage your teen to keep an eye on the folks around them, and make sure they know the signs of overdose and how to respond.
  • Calling 911 is always the right thing to do. First responders are trained to handle medical emergencies. The Good Samaritan Law means that, if you seek medical assistance in a drug-related overdose, you and the victim cannot be prosecuted for drug possession.

There are many issues underlying substance use.  I had the opportunity to speak about $500,000 in Mental Health Funding for Seattle Public Schools that I championed in last year’s budget.  In 2020, Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency due to the mental and behavioral health of Washington’s kids.  In 2021, the nation’s Surgeon General followed suit. These funds have been disbursed between Denny Middle School, Sealth High School, Ingraham High School, Rainier Beach High School, and Aki Kurose Middle School.  Some of the ways that they’re being used:


  • Mental Health Days
  • Student-led programming to meet in-the-moment mental health needs.
  • Staff-training by local mental health providers on trauma informed instructional practices through the Why Try Curriculum and training to facilitate community circle meetings
  • Two clinicians to work full time at Denny and offer both 1:1 and drop-in group counseling.
  • Students and their families may receive up to 6 hours of therapy onsite with local private practitioners and therapists from SW Youth & Family Services


  • Workshop series for students focused on intergenerational, interpersonal trauma, healing, and resiliency, applicable to all areas of students’ lives.
  • 16-week after school program and 1-week Spring Break camp during which students will participate in collective healing that include psychoeducation, coping strategies, and considerations for mental health care.
  • CHOOSE 180 will bring professional community members to the campus to work directly with students to move the essential work of restorative practices forward, with roots in community building and establishing trusting, positive relationships.
  • 3 different levels of support services to the students and families of East African communities. 1) Parent Connection to our School and how to navigate Seatt Public School systems. 2) Boys in Motion group: Focused on students’ mental health and navigating negative outside influences. 3) Girls Guide group

In the 2024-2023 biennium the Council added an additional $4 million in funding to address the mental health needs of our youth.  The implementation of the additional $4 million is currently being developed and the current plan is to use the $4 million to expand the number of schools receiving mental health resources based on what we learn from this pilot.

We also heard from Principals and Vice Principals from Denny Middle School, Sealth High School, Madison Middle School, and West Seattle High School.  Principal Ray Morales is in the photo below.

Here is the HEY Coalition’s extensive Youth Guide. It is designed to “make sure local teens, and those who care for them, are aware of the many youth-friendly resources that exist to serve their unique needs.”

Library Hours Expanding at Local Branches

The Seattle Public Library is adding open hours to local branches thanks to funding from the seven-year, $219 million 2019 Library Levy, which supplements City funding.  With this expansion, Library locations will be open a total of 223 more hours per week than current schedules and 133 more hours per week than 2019 schedules, when the Levy was overwhelmingly passed by voters.

New hours for local branches, starting this week:

Delridge Branch, 5423 Delridge Way S.W.

  • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  • Noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday 

High Point Branch, 3411 S.W. Raymond St.

  • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  • 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

South Park Branch, 8604 Eighth Ave. S.

  • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  • 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

Southwest Branch, 9010 35th Ave. S.W.

  • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  • Noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday

West Seattle Branch, 2306 42nd Ave. S.W.

  • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  • Noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday

Help Lay the Groundwork for Aging and Disability Services

Share your priorities for the next four years of services for older people, adults with disabilities, and caregivers by taking the 2023 Area Plan Engagement Survey.

Every four years, the City of Seattle’s Aging and Disability Services division develops an Area Plan that focuses on the needs of older people, adults with disabilities, and caregivers. The plan considers data, best practices in the field of aging and disability services and for healthy aging, and input from the public. It lays the groundwork for the state and federal funding our agency receives and the services and supports our agency provides to the people of King County.  Learn more here.

I encourage you to help with this work. Please complete the 2023 Area Plan Engagement Survey (on or before April 15). It should take you about 10 minutes. The information collected will help inform priorities for the next four years.

Building Emissions Performance Standards

One issue I’ve been hearing about from District 1 constituents and several advocacy groups alike is the planned legislation on Building Performance Standards for existing buildings over 20,000 square feet. This week I met with a group from the 34th District Democrats about this policy.  The group I met with this week is part of a coalition advocating for:

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

Here’s the Office of Sustainabilty & Environment’s (OSE) webpage about their ongoing work since early 2022 to develop this policy.  Numerous informational links are included. OSE’s webpage shows the January 2023 drafts at the top of the page.

The timeline for sending a bill to the City Council was originally targeted for March, but is now listed for July, with policy recommendations to the Mayor in June.  OSE worked “closely with a diverse Technical Advisory Group and participated in the Housing Development Consortium’s affordable housing task force to shape the policy; continues to brief key organizations and associations; and meet one-on-one with stakeholders representing environment, labor, housing, business, facilities management, community, and more – adding up to more than 100 meetings in 2022 alone!”

Unfortunately, despite all of these meetings and the good work of OSE, the delay is to address the concerns of certain Seattle building owners that the timeframe for needing to make improvements, starting in 2027, is too soon. At the same time, OSE wants to ensure Seattle’s standard and compliance deadline is as seamless as possible with the state requirements.  The state requires buildings to meet energy performance targets, beginning in 2026 with the largest buildings. The Seattle performance standard would add a greenhouse gas intensity target, beginning in 2027.   Both standards phase in compliance by building size and type, and then become more stringent every five years, with the timing for Seattle’s proposed standard aligned with the State’s existing schedule.

According to the 2020 Seattle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, 37% of emissions are from buildings. In 2021 the Council adopted legislation limiting use of natural gas in new commercial and apartment buildings.

The 2023 Council Work Plan assigns this legislation, once referred, to Councilmember Sawant’s Sustainability and Renters’ Rights committee.   Though, as described above, the public is lobbying the City Councilmembers for changes to the proposed policy, it is important to remember that since this legislation requires SEPA review, if significantly changed with Council amendments, depending on the nature of the amendments, it would typically have to go back through SEPA review again, potentially creating still more delay for implementation.

West Seattle Water Taxi Summer Schedule Begins April 17

The summer schedule for the West Seattle Water Taxi begins on April 17th, and will run through October 13th. This includes return of late-night sailings through 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturday evenings.

Service will be suspended the weekend of April 15-16 to conduct training and maintenance.

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