Update on Sexual Assault Investigations / Helmet Use Remains High One Year Post-Repeal / Progress on Hiawatha Community Center / Human Services Department Director Nomination / Be a Film Commissioner! / Funding Opportunities / Appeal May Stall Deliberations on Possible Funding to Support Transit, Pedestrian and Bike Safety, and Bridge Projects / Sound Transit Update / Women in Public Safety Careers / Hyundai and Kia Thefts / Nurse Navigation Line


Update on Sexual Assault Investigations

Many of you will remember reporting last year by Seattle Times, KUOW, and others on the lack of investigations and services provided to adult survivors of sexual assault.  At the time, I appreciated SPD Chief Diaz’s willingness to transparently share data that demonstrated that only 1/3 of sexual assault cases were being routed and assigned for investigation.  Because advocacy and other services were only offered to survivors whose cases were investigated, that meant that most sexual assault survivors never received these vital services.

I wrote about this in detail here, repeatedly met with advocates for sexual assault survivors, and advocated for specific process improvements within SPD and the Human Services Department to improve the experience of survivors.

Last July, Mayor Harrell issued Executive Order 2022-05 directing SPD to conduct various assessments of SPD’s handling of sexual assault cases.  At last Friday’s meeting of the regional Domestic Violence Prevention Council, which I co-chair, we heard an update from Andrew Myerberg in the Mayor’s Office on work accomplished so far under that Order regarding Sexual Assault Unit (SAU) investigations.

In addition…

  • SPD has engaged in case review of Sexual Assault Unit (SAU) investigations with a panel of community experts, who issued recommendations to improve training in December. SPD is expected to respond shortly regarding implementation.
  • SPD has retained subject matter experts to review the functioning of the Investigations Bureau, and an academic expert to conduct a review of the functioning of the SAU specifically.
  • An expert advisory panel was convened in November to inform efforts to support victims of sexual assault and hold offenders accountable through effective investigations.

In last week’s Domestic Violence Prevention Council Community meeting, I raised that community partners continue to emphasize the need for an explicitly outlined system of triage between SPD detectives and King County Prosecutor’s Office (KCPO).  Though referrals to KCPO within 60 days is part of the Sexual Assault Network Protocol, an outlined triage system is a best practice that is used for other major crimes — and should be used for sexual assault cases. A system of triage increases the likelihood of a successful case.

I will continue to follow this work carefully as the various experts and advisory panel weigh in on how SPD can improve its practice to better support survivors of sexual assault.

Helmet Use Remains High One Year Post-Repeal

Last year, I joined fellow members of the regional Board of Health to repeal a law requiring mandatory helmet usage for bicyclists. As I and my colleagues repeatedly said at the time – there is no question that helmets save lives, and everyone who cycles should wear one every time. However, there was considerable evidence that the law was being used as a pretext for law enforcement to stop people, and that those stops were disproportionately borne by people of color and people experiencing homelessness.  I previously wrote about this here.

The Board of Health weighed the harms of over-policing against the very high rate of helmet usage in our community.  Under the leadership of King County Councilmember and Board of Health Chair Joe McDermott, the board voted to repeal the law, while providing funding to distribute free helmets to community members and continue encouraging their use. This week’s Seattle Times reports on a study undertaken by Public Health that observed almost 2,000 people at more than 50 locations and demonstrates that the law’s repeal did not cause helmet usage to drop. In fact, the study found 91% of cyclists wore a helmet. This is excellent news, and I’d like to take the opportunity to remind everyone to wear their helmets when they cycle.

Progress on Hiawatha Community Center

I know how eagerly the community has been awaiting news of the timeline for completing a significant stabilization project at Hiawatha Community Center.  The work was initially delayed by the pandemic, and then by new, federal “Buy American” guidance for infrastructure projects seeking FEMA funding, which put a hold on all pending sub-grants, including Hiawatha.  I provided significantly more detail about the federal delay here and advocated with Representative Jayapal’s office at the time to get this project moving again.

Last fall, we learned the project had been granted a waiver from the federal guidance, which made it possible for FEMA to consider the $500,000 grant application.  This week, we learned from Seattle Parks & Recreation (SPR) that FEMA has awarded Hiawatha the $500,000 grant!  This makes it possible for SPR to move forward with bidding this spring and begin construction in May.  I know this news will be welcome to the many community members who have missed their local community center.  While the project webpage has not yet been updated, you can learn more about the planned work here.

Human Services Department Director Nomination

The Mayor has announced his nomination for a permanent director of the Human Services Department: current acting director Tanya Kim. Per the requirements of Resolution 31868, which lays out a process and timeline for Council’s consideration of such appointments, my Public Safety & Human Services committee will consider the nomination at the April 11th committee meeting. My office is currently compiling questions for Acting Director Kim’s written response, a usual step in department head nominations.    You can sign up to receive notification of Public Safety & Human Services committee meetings and agendas here: Agenda Sign Up – Council | seattle.gov.

Be a Film Commissioner!

Apply or nominate a colleague by March 12 at Seattle Film Commission – filmandmusic | seattle.gov.

Funding Opportunities

  • Attention performers: Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) will waive fees for performance-based art in select Seattle Parks with amphitheaters, including Dragonfly Pavilion in Longfellow Creek, Solstice Park, and Cesar Chavez. Learn more here.  First come, first served.
  • 4Culture Project grants are now available in three disciplines: arts, heritage, and preservation. Learn more here.  Information is also available in Español, 中文, Русский, Soomaali and Tiếng Việt. 3/23 deadline.
  • Hospitality and lodging businesses that suffered Covid-related losses can seek grants from the State. Go to wahospitalitygrants.com to check eligibility and sign up for the 3/13 webinar.

Appeal May Stall Deliberations on Possible Funding to Support Transit, Pedestrian and Bike Safety, and Bridge Projects

One potential funding source for transportation projects the Council has taken initial steps on is impact fees. Numerous local jurisdictions use impact fees.

In 2017 Council made a commitment that the City would consider including in the Comprehensive Plan a list of priority transit, pedestrian and bike safety, and bridge projects that we could consider funding with a transportation impact fee program if legislation implementing the program was adopted later.

In 2018 a rate study and SEPA threshold determination were issued; the SEPA determination was appealed to the City Hearing Examiner, who remanded the determination to the Council in October 2019.

Council restated that commitment to the public by passing additional resolutions in 2020, 2021, and 2022. As planned, the 2023 SEPA threshold determination was published in February.  Unfortunately, it was appealed earlier this week and will now go, once again, before the Hearing Examiner.

What has kept Council from deliberating about this revenue tool has been successive lawsuits opposing even the recognition of these 25 priority projects as ones that would be eligible if a program were enacted in the future.  The City has been trying hard to identify new revenue in anticipation of a 2024 revenue gap.  Those most benefiting from growth shouldn’t stop civic stakeholders from having this necessary policy discussion.

An updated 2023 rate study has been completed, and includes a map of eligible projects:

The Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee will hold a briefing about these eligible projects at its meeting at 9:30 am on March 21st.   If you are a community member who has worked on one or more of these transit, pedestrian safety, bike safety, bridge, or freight mobility projects, you can show your support for adding these projects to the Comp Plan as possible eligible projects for future transportation impact fees, to allow the Council to discuss later whether to enact a transportation impact fee program.  You can register to speak online as early as 7:30 a.m. and be prepared to speak on your telephone when the meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. For instructions on how to register and call in, CLICK HERE or use this website:


Support at City Hall in person: You can also come to City Hall to speak in person. If you do, try to arrive a few minutes before 9:30 to sign in as a testifier.

Sound Transit Update

The Sound Transit System Expansion Committee met yesterday.

They adopted a motion on the Ballard Link Extension, which runs from Ballard through Downtown to Chinatown/International District. The motion added concepts for further study in those areas, in the context of the preferred alternative.

The committee did not consider modifications to the West Seattle to SODO segment, though the presentation included a slide showing the potential refinements to the stations in Delridge and the Alaska Junction shown in earlier meetings.

The Sound Transit Board will consider the motion on March 23rd.

Regarding potential additional funding sources, the presentation noted potential additional costs for some refinements, and said “Through coordination with the City of Seattle Mayor’s office and King County Executive’s office, there is up to $400 million in potential funding through various sources including publicly owned property, value capture from increased development, and in-kind contributions.” It said letters of intent were anticipated before the Board meeting.

Women in Public Safety Careers

This week, the world celebrated International Women’s Day, honoring the resilience and contributions of women everywhere.

Seattle Fire Department gave a shout-out to their women in leadership, including former Assistant Chief Reba Gonzales, who now serves as the Interim Director of the Community Safety and Communications Center.

Seattle Police Department has also been highlighting SPD personnel and sharing what women empowerment means to them on Facebook through the month of March, beginning with the esteemed Detective Cookie.

Seattle’s women in public safety service can serve as examples and inspirations for young women across our city as they excel in their fields in service to the community.  This weekend, our public safety departments will engage directly in this work by hosting a Women in Public Safety Career Fair.

The event, hosted by SPD, CSCC, and Seattle Parking Enforcement and their partners will take place at Garfield Community Center this Saturday, March 11; that’s tomorrow!

Next month, King County EMS and Eastside Fire and Rescue will join 11 other King County Fire and EMS agencies for a Future Women in EMS and Fire workshop. The weekend-long series of activities, panels, and live demos is open for women in King County curious about a career in EMS and fire.

Workshop: April 22-23, 2023 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days
Application: https://bit.ly/ESFRFWIEF
 Applications due March 31, 2023
Send questions to: futurewomenems@kingcounty.gov

Hyundai and Kia Thefts

In my regular meeting with Southwest Precinct Captain Rivera, we have discussed strategies to address that, according to community members contacting my office and confirmed by SPD’s crime dashboard, Roxhill/Westwood/Arbor Heights has the highest count of motor vehicle thefts south of the downtown neighborhoods.

Many of the recent car thefts in West Seattle have been of Hyundai and Kia models. It’s been reported that a TikTok challenge has taught people how to break into these older models. Southwest Precinct’s Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Danner sent out a bulletin regarding this crime trend, including information about a software update to help prevent auto thefts in these older Hyundai and Kia models, and some prevention tips:

  • Car prowls are crimes of opportunity! Never leave bags/valuables in view.
  • Park your vehicle in a driveway, secure garage, or well-lit street parking space.
  • Use a mechanical anti-theft steering wheel lock device for your car or truck.
  • Consider installing a catalytic converter anti-theft device or cage. Contact your trusted auto shop or dealer for options and costs.
  • Keep an eye on your parked car and ask neighbors to do the same.

In January, Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison filed a lawsuit against Kia and Hyundai for their failure to release and install anti-theft technology. The City Attorney’s Office (CAO) shared SPD’s data showing a 620% increase in reports of stolen Hyundais and Kias in July of 2022 compared to the previous July. These stolen cars have been used in other crimes such as robberies.

That City Attorney Davison acted against these manufacturers has been made possible by the data from owners reporting these stolen vehicles, allowing Seattle to make the argument that the crime data shows evidence of a problem with these models of cars. I have heard people say many times that they don’t file reports with SPD when they are victims of crime, because “it doesn’t make any difference.”  This is a good example of how data from reporting crimes can be used to create strategies specific to the crime.

Nurse Navigation Line

Last month, SFD celebrated the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Nurse Navigation Line. This program connects 911 callers with non-emergency medical issues to a licensed nurse. The consulting nurse who takes the call assesses the caller’s symptoms and can refer them to clinics, telehealth providers, urgent care centers, and offer support for self-care. In this first year of operation, over 7,000 calls were transferred to the Nurse Navigation Line.

The Nurse Navigation Line was created using funding allocated by a City Council budget action passed in 2020, sponsored by Councilmember Lewis, with implementation intended in 2021, but not launched until 2022 under Mayor Harrell’s administration. Not only does this program offer a new service to Seattle, but the program also helps to preserve first responder resources aiding the health and safety of our city.

© 1995-2018 City of Seattle