Spokane Street Lower Bridge Maintenance Short-term Closures December 19, January; Enjoy West Seattle’s Food Scene; Council Oversight for New Woodland Park Zoo Agreement; State Legislative Agenda; Winter Weather Information; Updating Council Rules to Prepare for Return to City Hall; Legislation on City Attorney’s Office Reporting

Spokane Street Lower Bridge Maintenance Short-term Closures December 19, January

SDOT announced they will have some closures of up to 30 minutes on the Spokane Street (lower) bridge on Sunday, December 19 and on Sundays in January on the 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th.

The closures are for rehabilitation upgrades to ensure the bridge remains in safe and usable condition.

Three closures, for up to 30 minutes each, are planned each day. The closures will be around 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m.

These closures are scheduled for off-peak periods, when there are lulls in traffic, in order to minimize impact on the community.

Enjoy West Seattle’s Food Scene

If you have some time off at year end, why not celebrate West Seattle’s many wonderful neighborhood restaurants?  The Seattle Times recently featured some favorites: Even if West Seattle feels like a world away, these delectable eats are worth the trip | The Seattle Times

Council Oversight for New Woodland Park Zoo Agreement

On Monday, I joined my colleagues in approving a new 20-year agreement between the City of Seattle and the Woodland Park Zoo.  I heard from many of you, and from advocates across the city, who felt a keen interest in this legislation, in protecting the animals in the Zoo’s care, and in ensuring Zoo neighbors and stakeholders are well represented in Zoo governance and decision-making.  Thank you to everyone who reached out.  Your advocacy made it possible to strengthen the new 20-year agreement.

Council Oversight:  I sponsored a successful amendment to require Council oversight and approval of the Zoo’s Long-Range Plan.  This Plan will cover the Zoo’s plans for capital improvements in Seattle, changes to animal habitats, and use of the City-owned property in Enumclaw which the Zoo is considering using for animal breeding and holding – all of which are the appropriate object of considerable public interest.  By requiring Council approval, we are building in a touch point, where the public will have an opportunity to raise any concerns, and Council will have an opportunity to exercise reasonable oversight of changes to the Zoo that may impact its operations, animals, or financial health over the course of the 20-year agreement.

Animal Care:  Many of you wrote in with your concerns about the animals in the Zoo’s care.  Section 12.3 of the new agreement requires the Zoo to comply with all local laws regarding animal disposition.  This means that City Council could, in the future, consider animal disposition policies that would apply to, for instance, Zoo animals and other operators of animal attractions:

Animal Collection, Acquisition and Disposition. WPZS shall have the authority to determine the composition of the Zoo Animal collection, including breeding, acquisition, sale or other disposition of Zoo Animals in the course of WPZS’s operation of the Zoo. In implementing such authority to acquire, sell or otherwise dispose of its Zoo Animals, WPZS shall strictly comply with requirements of (a) all applicable federal, state or local laws, regulations and policies; and (b) the guidelines and policies of the AZA.

With this clause, and Council’s required approval of the Long Range Plan, I am comfortable that the new agreement gives Council sufficient oversight of animal habitat and welfare that is consistent with the City’s role as Zoo owner, not operator.

Public Benefits:  The new agreement also requires the Zoo to provide and report on public benefits they provide, the value of which will keep pace with annual inflation.  These include 100,000 free tickets distributed through community partners, eighteen 50% off family discount days between October and March, scholarships to Zoo camps, free school group admission for schools with a significant number of low-income students, and discounted educational programs.

State Legislative Agenda

The Council adopted the 2022 State Legislative Agenda, which guides the City’s lobbying during the state legislative session beginning next month in Olympia. The Office of Intergovernmental Relations (OIR) is responsible for directing the City’s lobbying there.  I testified at several committee hearings during the session earlier this year, as did other Councilmembers and department staff.

One provision I worked to get included in this year’s 2022 State Legislative Agenda is, “We support action to address the theft of catalytic converters, including repealing state’s preemption of the regulation of scrap metal processors.” The Seattle Police Department is partnering in this effort too.

I’d also like to thank OIR for including requests from Disability Rights Washington regarding the importance of funding for missing sidewalks and safe and accessible crossings.

Also included is language from Resolution 32026 I sponsored to ask the State to increase its investments in behavioral health: “We support additional behavioral health funding to ensure those in crisis, including our students and young people, receive the ongoing care, housing, and services they need.”

The agenda also includes support for allowing non-uniformed officers to perform garage and event management activities by allowing a flagger to direct traffic without a police officer present as part of the traffic control plan approved by the city. This has been an ongoing issue, and this year was a particular request from a coalition of advocates from the film, music, and special events communities.

Winter Weather Information

Colder temperatures are arriving in Seattle, which can lead to freezing temperatures, and snow and ice, so here’s information about City and King County Metro winter and snow response resources.

The City’s Winter Storm Response webpage is available in multiple languages, and has links to resources from SDOT, City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, Parks, home and pet safety, and shelter and food.

Here’s information about SDOT’s snow response resources: when snow arrives, SDOT’s interactive map shows which roads have been treated or cleared in the last hour, three hours, and twelve hours. You can view it by neighborhood.

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

Here’s Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) advice has advice on protecting pipes from freezing, and what to do if they burst. If icy road conditions may prevent regular collection, SPU recommends following their blog for updates about garbage, recycling, or food/yard wasted collection.

Here’s King County Metro Winter snow guide  page, including information about the Emergency Snow Network. KC Metro may activate this network when snow arrives.

You can sign up for alerts there as well. The Service Advisories page will have updates on bus times, and cancellations.

Metro’s Text for Departures feature provides real-time updates for the next departure time for transit service at that stop, by texting your bus stop number to 62550, no sign-up or download is needed.

You can also sign up for Transit Alerts by route, and follow @kcmetrobus on Twitter for the latest travel tips and service information.

The Human Services Department has identified hundreds of potential shelter spaces, including at Fisher Pavilion, Exhibition Hall and City Hall, that may be activated for an emergency response based on different scenarios, including a short-term weather event or a longer-term weather event.  When that happens, the locations will be listed at the City’s Winter Storm Response webpage, and via social media.

Updating Council Rules to Prepare for Return to City Hall

On Monday, my colleagues and I approved updated rules and procedures for Seattle City Council as part of a routine semi-annual review.  This update gave us the opportunity to consider the important question of how Council will return to in-person work in the coming year.

I believe that we should return to our civic building when we are able – and I also want to take advantage of the lessons we have learned during the pandemic, that robust electronic participation is possible.  Working closely with Councilmember Mosqueda’s office, I sponsored a successful amendment to request in-person attendance at full Council meetings but allow for electronic participation when needed and technically feasible.

I also sponsored an amendment that recognizes the important role of committee chairs in setting and accomplishing an annual work agenda, by requiring the Council President to consult with the committee chair with jurisdiction over legislation before placing it on the Introduction & Referral Calendar.  Committees often do the hard work of analyzing and strengthening proposed legislation before it comes before the Full Council.  My amendment will allow the committee chair to weigh in on whether legislation should be considered in committee first.

One change that you might notice: Council’s weekly calendar has shifted.  In 2022, Council Briefings will occur on Mondays at 2pm, while Full Council meetings will occur on Tuesdays at 2pm.  This change will help ensure that Clerks and other Legislative Department staff are not required to work over the weekend to prepare for Full Council meeting.

Legislation on City Attorney’s Office Reporting

The Council voted 7-1 this week to approve Council Bill 120247.

Many people wrote to my office with concerns that the Council was limiting the powers of the City Attorney.  This is incorrect. The content of the bill itself explicitly affirms that, under the City Charter, the City Attorney has sole discretion about how cases are prosecuted.

The bill simply adds data collection and reporting requirements to the duties of the City Attorney’s Office. These reporting requirements will help to increase transparency about how the City Attorney’s Office is handling diversion programming.

The Council passage of the 2022 budget resulted in a significant increase to the budget for the City Attorney’s Office (CAO) in 2022, including additional staffing positions.  When Council makes significant investments, it’s not unusual to require reporting on those investments.  Further, Council has requested and received similar reports of the CAO.  Please see these links for CAO reports provided to my committee this year:

  1. CAO Report on Choose 180
  2. Elements of the reporting requirements in this bill follow from work the Council has done dating back to 2015, with the vote of a previous Council to establish the Seattle Re-entry group, which led to the Seattle Reentry Workgroup Report in 2018; a recital in the legislation passed this week notes the Workgroup recommendation to expand the use of prefiling diversion to those 25 and older, leading to the Council requesting that the CAO contract with a consultant to provide this report:  Racial Equity Toolkit Report on diversion expansion

Similar to what is required under Council Bill 120247, the King County Prosecutor’s website has a data dashboard that includes data such as the number of open cases, felony referrals, declines, filings, dispositions, demographics, and other data.  The guiding principles of the data dashboard are listed as transparency; accountability; effectiveness, and reform.  A number of other additions to the dashboard are planned in the future, including analysis of specific types of crimes, details on diversion and other alternative programs, and juvenile court data.  The KCPO dashboard is updated monthly and the legislation that we passed this week only requires CAO reporting that is either quarterly or annual.

The CAO already issues an annual report, see page 10 for case data.  It seems to me that “beefing up” the reporting in the CAO annual report is all that is needed to be responsive to the requirements of this bill.

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