South Park Public Safety Meeting Aug 29; Lander Street Overpass Funding Update; Survey: OPA Director & Inspector General; Vacant Building Legislation

South Park Public Safety Community Meeting August 29

The Department of Neighborhoods will be organizing a community meeting in South Park on Tuesday, August 29th from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the South Park Neighborhood Center @ 8201 10th Avenue South.

In response to community requests, especially after a number of nights with vandalism against businesses, I sent a letter to the Chief of Police requesting the Seattle Police Department hold a community meeting. The Department of Neighborhoods stepped in to organize the meeting, and bring in other City departments to address other ongoing issues in South Park.

We’ll also hear an update about the work of a Task Force of South Park residents that have been meeting to formulate and report to the Executive and Council future recommendations regarding the public safety and vitality of South Park, including strategies for a new model of neighborhood policing and strategies for a culturally and linguistically responsive data-driven approach to improving the City’s relations to and effectiveness with the South Park neighborhood.

Childcare, light refreshments, and interpretation (in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Amharic) will be provided.

South Park Community Meeting

Tuesday August 29th

7-8:30p.m. (doors open 6:30pm)

South Park Neighborhood Center

8201 10th Ave S

For more information please contact Christa Dumpys:, 206-684-4812.


Lander Street Overpass Funding Update

The Lander Street Overpass project has received $10 million in funding from the Port of Seattle, as part of a Memorandum of Understanding with the City announced by Senator Cantwell, Mayor Murray, the Port, and SODO business leaders.

The schedule calls for beginning construction in 2018, and finishing in early 2020.

The cost estimate is $123 million, reduced from the $142 million figure listed in the SDOT 2017 capital budget, due to design revisions by SDOT.

The project would take Lander over the railroad tracks, which currently result in an average of 4.5 hours of road closures daily due to train traffic. In addition to hindering east-west traffic, it is important to maintaining access to Downtown from West Seattle and South Park; daily closures result in hindering access for vehicles, transit, cyclists, and pedestrians.


Survey for Hiring Seattle’s OPA Director and Inspector General

The City is conducting a survey to inform the search for an Inspector General and Director of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA). Filling these two positions will be a key element of moving forward with the police accountability legislation the Council passed in May.

The OPA is operationally independent of SPD, with authority to investigate allegations of police misconduct, and identify systematic problems in SPD and recommend changes.

The Inspector General is a new position created by Ordinance 125315, in May. The Inspector General will oversee the independent Office of the Inspector General and will review the quality of OPA investigations and audit the management, practices and policies of the Seattle Police Department and OPA to ensure the City maintains police reforms.

The survey asks about the top three qualifications you want for these two positions. You can take the survey here.

More about the selection process, and descriptions of the positions is available at the Civilian Oversight webpage.

The third key accountability body is the Community Police Commission.


Vacant Building Legislation

The Council Planning, Land Use, and Zoning committee, on Tuesday, passed legislation that will make it easier for the City to demolish vacant buildings.

The old standard required the City to conduct a valuation of structures in single family zones before ordering demolition to demonstrate that the repair value of the structure exceeds 50% of the value of the structure.  In my opinion, the existing valuation standard – could be, if coupled with a robust Vacant Building Monitoring Program – an important disincentive for the City to tear down housing that still has useful life.  I believe that the City has not been doing enough to make sure that abandoned buildings are maintained according to vacant building law.  See the picture below.  The condition of this property has degraded after only one year of being vacant.  If the City was doing a better job monitoring these properties, and fining neglectful owners, a vacant building would not get to this condition.

vacant buildings

The new standard will require the housing to be the subject of:

  1. an emergency order to close pursuant to Section 22.206.260
  2. two unauthorized entries in the preceding 12 months
  3. written notice from the Seattle Fire Department or the Seattle Police Department that the building presents a danger.

As part of yesterday’s vote, the committee also passed my amendment to require Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection to report back to Council with an enhanced Vacant Building Monitoring Program to ensure properties do not get to this condition:  Such a program should: (1) establish triggering events for enrollment; (2) strengthen minimum standards for vacant buildings; (3) include a penalty structure for failure to comply with standards; (4) minimize costs to owners when buildings are well maintained (5) allow owners of vacant buildings to have buildings occupied by caretakers.

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