This Week in Budget Deliberations / Dumar Substation Transfer / Upcoming Climate Meeting / Ceasefire Resolution / Giving My Thanks to You


This Week in Budget Deliberations

The Council adopted the 2024 Budget this week.  My thanks go to Chair Mosqueda as this is the fourth biennial budget season that she has shepherded through the Council deliberative process as Chair of the Council’s Select Committee on the Budget.

The City Council’s priorities are summarized here.

The Council-endorsed budget rejects austerity and makes investments to help address the greatest needs of those with the least, including the human service provider wage increases necessary to not leave workers behind.

Thank you as well to Mayor Harrell for including in his proposed budget a 2% downpayment on closing the 7% Pay Penalty Gap for frontline human services providers.  This $4.3 million investment was my highest budget priority as expressed by Resolution 32094.  The “Pay Penalty Gap” refers to a Wage Equity Study finding that workers who leave the human services industry for a job in a different industry see a net pay increase of seven percent a year later.  Equal thanks go to all the Councilmembers who supported human service provider inflationary wage increases (separate from closing the pay penalty gap) to keep up with inflation to ensure they don’t fall behind and continue their live-saving mission-critical care work.

My other funded priorities in this budget include:

  • Funding to implement the App-Based Worker Deactivations Rights Ordinance to ensure our historic legislation – supporting workers not afforded the same rights as employees – is enforced.
  • Funding for mental-health resources for frontline community-based crisis responders who are doing trauma-inducing work as violence preventers and violence interrupters and finding themselves, friends, and family members to be victims of gun violence.
  • Funding to increase the reach of a gun-violence reduction program that provides wrap-around services to victims of gun violence and their families, proven to reduce the likelihood of their involvement in retributive violence.
  • Funding for domestic violence mobile community-based survivor supports to protect survivor safety and confidentiality. This funding was responsive to the 2023 recommendations of the Seattle Community Responses to Domestic Violence work group, which was funded in a prior year’s budget with an action I sponsored to support ways of responding to domestic violence outside of the criminal legal system.
  • Requesting a report on funding needed to handle increased referrals to Let Everyone Advance with Dignity (LEAD) and the funding required to support LEAD database integration. Ordinance 126896 added to the Seattle Municipal Code the new crimes of knowing possession of a controlled substance and use of a controlled substance in a public place and it explicitly established diversion to services and treatment as the City’s standard approach for most instances of these crimes.  The Seattle Police Department’s estimate is that the new ordinance would result in its making approximately 700 to 800 new diversion referrals annually.
  • Requesting that HSD provide a report on how the department will implement forthcoming legislation related to provider pay increases and integrate wage equity into competitive funding processes
  • Funding to support both the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Police Accountability in their efforts to support constitutional policing

Thank you to thousands of members of the public for engaging in this process to make sure this Council is tending to the greatest needs of those with the least first. As this is my last budget process on the Council, it will be a memory I will hold dear.

Dumar Substation Transfer

I have been in conversation with the Highland Park Action Committee (HPAC) for several years about the vacant, surplus property owned by Seattle City Light at 1605 SW Holden Street, known as the Dumar substation.

Next week, in my Public Safety and Human Service Committee we will be hearing legislation that:

  • Approves transfer of the Dumar site from SCL to the Office of Housing (OH) in exchange for $424,000
  • Authorizes OH to: Conduct a competitive process to solicit proposals for the development of resale restricted homeownership and negotiate property transfer to the selected developer

This is following up on years of conversation between my office, Seattle City Light (SCL), and the Office of Housing about the proposed community use for this property.  SCL is willing to transfer the property to the Office of Housing for affordable housing development; the Office of Housing is willing as well.

In 2015, then Councilmembers Harrell, Licata, and Rasmussen proposed a statement of legislative intent directing the consideration of zoning and land use changes.

Community advocacy led by HPAC resulted in a new zoning designation in for the Dumar Substation property in 2019.  The community’s goal was to develop it with affordable housing and a ground floor commercial use, so I worked to help the property be rezoned to Neighborhood Commercial 1-40 (M2).

One requirement for a transfer is the property must be used for a “public benefit purpose.”  Public benefit is defined as:

…affordable housing for low-income and very low-income households as defined in RCW 43.63A.510, and related facilities that support the goals of affordable housing development in providing economic and social stability for low-income persons. 

Enterprise Community Partners and the Office of Housing did a preliminary analysis of the site; both believe it’s a good opportunity for affordable homeownership, such as townhomes or live/work lofts.  Both agree the site is too small for affordable rental housing to be financially feasible.

The community has met with Homestead Community Land Trust and Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County to talk about the potential for development of this site.  Homestead and Habitat both develop affordable homes for homeownership. Because of the size and other factors, the Office of Housing and our affordable housing consultant both agree that the site is most likely to be attractive to developers for affordable homeownership.

Because of the “public benefit” requirement, to be developed as affordable housing it will be challenging to also ensure that the ground-floor space will be used by a commercial tenant such as a grocery or bar.  The ground floor could meet the public benefit definition of providing “economic and social stability for low-income persons,” with perhaps subsidized childcare or food bank.

What we’ve heard from the community:

  • Street-level activation: Neighbors are interested in adding liveliness to the neighborhood and increasing its walkability.
  • Public benefit: Many neighbors were interested in providing a public benefit on the ground floor.
  • Affordable housing: Neighbors expressed their desire for affordable housing at this site.
  • Adjacent lot: Several people noted that the lot to the south was for sale.
  • Safety: Neighbors noted it would be beneficial to have additional eyes on this corner and expressed concerns about traffic flow if parking were included.
  • Desirability: It will be helpful to understand how desirable this site is to potential non-profit or for-profit developers and lessees.

Here is some content from the bill’s fiscal note that emphasizes the value of this action:

The neighborhood surrounding the site is more racially diverse with a higher percentage of low-income households than the City as a whole. As more households are priced out of the City, securing this site for the development of permanently affordable homeownership will mitigate current and future displacement. By providing affordable homeownership in Highland Park and ensuring affirmative marketing to communities least likely to apply, including Black, Indigenous, and other households of color who historically have been systematically and disproportionately excluded from homeownership opportunities and who are at higher risk of displacement, such displacement impacts can be mitigated.

Ceasefire Resolution

The Seattle City Council approved a resolution calling for a long-term ceasefire in Gaza, an immediate return of all hostages, and restoration of humanitarian aid. It also condemns rising antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Palestinian/Arab bigotry.

Council President Debora Juarez, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda and I worked together so we could propose our common ground amendment consistent with the statement developed by a large interfaith coalition and other community members who signed the Washington Solidarity Statement.

The letter of support stated “We firmly believe that the calls set forth in the resolution by Juarez/Herbold/Mosqueda help bring better safety and well-being for all peoples living in the region, Palestinians and Israelis alike. A ceasefire and the restoration of basic necessities along with humanitarian aid would enable the development of political solutions, including for the release and safe return of all hostages, rather than perpetuate violence through a military option. In addition, given the rise in antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Palestinian/anti-Arab bigotry, the language in the resolution helps make clear that the City of Seattle will not condone such hatred or divisiveness, regardless of where it occurs.”

The vote on the final resolution, after our amendment, was six Councilmembers unanimously in favor and three abstaining.

As passed, the resolution underscores the Council’s support for the people of both Israel and Palestine to live in peace and security, condemns the attack on October 7 by Hamas as well as the Israeli military’s response on the 2.3 million Palestinian people living in Gaza (nearly half of whom are children) since then.

Some have argued that the resolution that passed was weak or “watered down.”  I used as my north star this brief resolution before the US House of Representatives introduced by Reps. Bush, Tlaib, Carson, Lee, Ramirez, Bowman, Coleman, Garcia, Jackson, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Velazquez.

I believe that if you want to effectively call for a ceasefire you must have a laser focus on the call for the immediate end of bloodshed.  Concepts such as the origins of the conflict, ending all US military funding, and other information that may in dispute or longer-term political objectives like ending the occupation distracts from the call for a ceasefire creating the humanitarian crisis.

This is not a watered-down resolution. It is focused. It is focused on improving immediate conditions for Gaza’s 2.3 million people, 1.7 million of whom have been displaced since the 7 October Hamas attack in Israel resulted in the killing of 1,200 Israelis and capture of 240 hostages. Since then, more than 11,000 people have been killed in besieged Gaza.

The strongest statement for peace is a statement that has more Councilmembers voting with a unified voice.

2023 Select Committee on Climate Action Meeting November 29

The 2023 Select Committee on Climate Action will hold its first meeting on November 29th, for a presentation on Council Bill 120718, Building Emissions Performance legislation.

The agenda materials include a Director’s Report, Introduction, and Guide to the Proposed Policy. A presentation will be added early next week.

The committee will meet the following week on December 7th.

Giving My Thanks to You

This is the time of year that I take stock of all for which I have to be thankful. I bet you do too.  On this Thanksgiving Day eve, there are individual people to be thankful for their contribution to making Seattle a better city.  If you are working for your community, I’m thankful for you raising your voices, to ensure City government is making decisions in the interest of the city, and our District.

On this Thanksgiving Day eve, I find that there is so much for which I have to give thanks.  There are people in District 1 and elsewhere who raise their voices and help contribute every day to making Seattle a better city.  There also are legislative victories that I couldn’t have accomplished without others. I am thankful for those as well, but I’ll wait until my annual year end wrap up post, to give recognize those accomplishments and those who helped me get it done.

What unites us this week is that we all take stock of the reasons we have to be thankful. It doesn’t matter whether you observe Thanksgiving or whether you think of the fourth Thursday of November as an idealized myth obscuring genocide and imperialism. It doesn’t matter if you are on your own for Thanksgiving or whether you are with friends and family.

I’m a person who sometimes forgets to practice mindful gratitude. For me, the fourth Thursday of November is a good reminder to practice. I have the regular reasons to be thankful: family, friends, work, my health. But I want to use this space today for my mindful gratitude for the people who work with me, each and every day, to serve the residents of District 1.

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