SPD 911 Follow Up Messages / Working Families Tax Credit Available Starting February 1st / Sound Transit Light Rail Study Updates + Survey / Update on West Marginal Way SW / Seattle Transportation Plan Comment Through February 21st / SPD Traffic Collision Investigation Update / HSD Seeking Victim Support Team Seeking Community Volunteers


SPD 911 Follow-Up Messages

Starting January 26th, Seattle callers to 911 have begun receiving follow-up messages from the Seattle Police Department. These text messages and e-mails are not spam or phishing attempts and they do not ask for any personal information. The completely automated system reaches out at two potential touch points: once after the call to 911 is made, and again after the emergency has passed.

The first message sent after calling 911 will provide general guidance and information based on the type of incident you are reporting.  A great many of SPD’s complaint calls pertain to either delayed responses or members of the public calling 911 not knowing the status of their 911 calls.  This should address most of these concerns.

Below are examples of the automated messages one might receive after calling 911:

The second message will be sent after the emergency has passed and requests a response to a survey, seeking feedback on your experience with our 911 services. In the interest of improving future 911 service and public trust in first responders, SPD and the Community Safety and Communications Center are hoping that answers to these surveys will help guide improvements to the City’s emergency response.

Working Families Tax Credit Available Starting February 1st

The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) approved by the State legislature in 2021 went into effect on February 1st.

Governor Inslee’s statement notes that “For qualified families, this credit will provide for up to a $1,200 cash refund.”

Applications opened on February 1. The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) is a new annual tax credit of as much as $1,200 for low to moderate income people in Washington. Undocumented immigrants and mixed status families are eligible for the Working Families Tax Credit. Free assistance with the WFTC application is available through United Way of King County’s Free Tax Prep program, which offers assistance at 16 sites across King County, including at El Centro de la Raza.  A full list of organizations offering assistance with the application can be found here.

You can check your eligibility and apply through the Washington Department of Revenue. Applications for the 2022 tax year will be accepted through December 31, 2023.

Here’s the State Department of Revenues FAQ about the program.

I appreciate the Governor noting that “In 2021, an analysis found that low-income Washingtonians pay 17% of their income in taxes while middle-class people pay 11% and the wealthiest pay just 3%. Programs like the WFTC are righting this upside-down tax structure by making Washington’s tax system less regressive.”


Sound Transit Light Rail Study Updates + Survey

When the Sound Transit Board adopted the preferred alternative for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions last year, they requested additional study of options identified for potential cost savings, or other modifications. Sound Transit released these “further study” updates in late January. Here is the link to the West Seattle further study.

Sound Transit will brief Sound Transit Board members and the public at the upcoming  System Expansion Committee meeting on February 9. An online survey is open through February 17. You can also provide in-person feedback at Union Station on February 8 from 3 to 7 p.m.

You can view the additional studies for other segments of the line on the further studies page.

Three areas are analyzed in West Seattle.

First, a potential design refinement to the Alaska Junction station—to study shifting the station entrance toward 42nd Avenue SW:

This would allow for 90 additional equitable transit-oriented development housing units; eliminate the need for pedestrian crossing of 41st Ave SW; have 39 fewer residential and 32 additional business displacements; and cost $80 million extra beyond the financial plan.

The second study examines access modifications at the Delridge Station with a ped-x bridge over Andover, and shifting the alignment south towards SW Yancy Street:

This would result in 14 fewer residential and 3 additional business displacements, including reducing the impact on Transitional Resources; eliminate potential passenger and freight conflicts; and result in permanent closure of 32nd Ave. It is estimated to cost $50 million more.

The third study is to eliminate the Avalon station.

It would result in 48 fewer residential displacements and 3 fewer business displacements; longer travel times for passengers closer to Avalon Station included in the Draft EIS; have no expected decrease in project ridership and reduce temporary and permanent roadway closures. It is estimated to reduce costs by $80 million.

Update on West Marginal Way SW

Photo: SDOT, from the West Seattle Bridge

SDOT has released a new review  of traffic data collected on West Marginal Way during the time period of October 23 through November 6, 2022.

West Marginal saw significantly increased traffic after the closure of the bridge and the limitations placed on the use of the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge.

Vehicle traffic dropped around 60% after the West Seattle Bridge reopened, to approximately 15,000 vehicles per day.

As noted in the update, in July 2021 SDOT announced the construction of a new bike lane when the West Seattle Bridge reopened.

The two-week trial tested how a single southbound lane on West Marginal would operate. The two key conclusions noted by SDOT are:

  • “Verified negligible impacts to overall operations of West Marginal Way SW. The two-week trial closure and our traffic models indicate modifications will increase travel time by 2 seconds per trip.
  • Indicated a speed reduction after the project is completed. Speeds decreased by 12% during the lane closure (from 43 to 37 mph on average). The posted speed limit is 30 mph, and with the permanent installation of this project, we anticipate speeds to move closer to the speed limit.”

The post further notes:

“Closing one lane can reduce vehicle speeds and help eliminate high-speed passing. Speeds decreased by 12% in the lane closure area, and by 2% in other locations in the project area. Our experience shows a 10% decrease in speed can reduce all crashes by 20%.”

The update also notes SDOT is planning to install signs, new median islands, and pavements markings on the Duwamish River Trail along West Marginal.

The temporary bike lane added during the closure of the Spokane Street Bridge (low) remains in place; it served as a bike detour route during that closure. SDOT notes there will be additional planned closures of the low bridge, and that “Community conversations continue on enhancing safety along West Marginal Way SW and we will continue to provide updates.”

Here’s a link to the update.


Seattle Transportation Plan Comment Through February 21st

SDOT has continued work on the Seattle Transportation Plan (STP). They have a new interactive mapping tool where you can help to develop transportation networks that will shape Seattle in the years to come.

You can leave comments on the map by placing a “pin” on the map at https://seattletransportationplan.infocommunity.org/#map.

Five draft networks (pedestrian, people streets and public spaces, bicycle, transit, and freight) are listed on the map by color, based on community input. The icon at the top right of the map allows you to select which maps you’d like to view.

SDOT’s current engagement opportunities will run through February 21, 2023; there will be a future opportunity for map input when the draft plan is out for comment.


SPD Traffic Collision Investigation Update

My colleagues and I spoke earlier this week, in our Council Briefings meeting, about our sorrow that Jaahnavi Kandula died as a result of being fatally hit by a Seattle police car on Monday, January 23, 2023.  The SPD officer driving the car was reportedly on the way to respond to what has been described as a nearby priority one call.  I join the call for transparency and for their report and other publicly releasable information to be made available to the public and in consultation with the family of the victim.

The SPD Traffic Collision Investigation Squad is investigating; the fatality was determined to be outside the realm of a particular kind of investigation referred to as a “use of force” investigation. Under current police policy, use of force is defined to encompass the actions an officer takes to enforce the law against a person suspected of violating the law.  See here:  8.050 – Use of Force Definitions – Seattle Police Department (WA) – PowerDMS  Consequently, the specific type of investigation referred to as a “use of force investigation” would not encompass actions that caused harm to someone who is not the subject of a law enforcement action.

But again, this tragedy is being investigated, not only by the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad as mentioned above, but I confirmed this week that the Office of Police Accountability has also received a complaint from a member of the public.  Still further, the Office of Inspector General has begun the process to work with SPD to create “a formal process for notifying OPA and OIG, and ensuring appropriate oversight of any ensuing investigation of a death where SPD actions were a factor. Since SPD determined this incident was outside the realm of force investigation, none of the ordinary notifications and opportunities to engage were afforded to oversight partners.”  I agree with OIG that “a formal process for oversight of incidents like this that generate significant community concern is an important step in building and maintaining legitimacy and confidence in our public safety system.”

I hope that the conclusions of these investigations and dialogues support the policies, procedures, and officer trainings to ensure this does not happen ever again and results in discipline as determined by the investigations to be appropriate.


HSD Seeking Victim Support Team Seeking Community Volunteers

The Human Services Department (HSD)’s Safe and Thriving Communities Division Victim Support Team (VST) is now recruiting community volunteers.

The Victim Support Team (VST) provides short term advocacy and resources to victims of violent crimes. The primary goal is to listen to survivors, help them identify what next step they want to take, address immediate safety concerns, and offer connections to resources in the community and within the Criminal Justice System.

VST volunteers offer support to survivors in a unique time of need, and their commitment and impact make this program a vital part of the City’s response to violence. The VST provides short term advocacy, safety planning, and referrals to culturally specific resources. VST volunteers provide an in-person response on the weekends and remote phone advocacy during the week.

Please visit VST Volunteer Opportunities – HumanServices | seattle.gov  for more information and to apply online.

Applications are open now; the deadline to apply is March 1st, 2023

You must be 21+ and pass an SPD background check.

The VST contact is Kaylee DiMaggio, Victim Support Team Supervisor, Kaylee.DiMaggio@seattle.gov.


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