West Seattle Bridge Opened / Ladder Truck 37 and Medic Unit 26 Maintained Through the End of 2022 / Terminal 5 Closure / Mayor Announces Choice for Permanent Police Chief / New Public Health Director Confirmed / New Director of Office of Police Accountability Confirmed / Lowman Beach Park Is Reopening / Park District Budget Vote / Fall Prevention Tips / Get Involved in Council’s 2023/24 Budget Work


West Seattle Bridge Opened

Shortly after 9 p.m. last Saturday the 17th, the moment we’d been eagerly awaiting arrived: the West Seattle Bridge re-opened. The immense relief throughout West Seattle and the Duwamish communities is tangibly felt everywhere I’ve gone this week.

Along with the re-opening, SDOT has re-activated the mid-span traffic camera on the bridge, available here in both camera and live video.

Seven Reconnect West Seattle will be completed after the bridge opening:

  1. 4th Ave SW/SW Roxbury St/Olson Way SW intersection improvements
  2. Dallas Ave S / 14th Ave S half signal improvements
  3. SW Holden St / Highland Park Way SW permanent signal improvements
  4. Georgetown Home Zone = Corson Ave S / S Michigan St raised pedestrian crossing in the slip lane and sidewalk repair project
  5. Highland Park Home Zone = 12th Ave SW/SW Holden St new signal (removal of 11th Ave SW / SW Holden St RRFB) and Neighborhood Greenway connection
  6. Duwamish Longhouse permanent sidewalk and signal improvements
  7. W Marginal Way PBL / on-street parking improvements

Last week I thanked:

  • My Council colleagues both current and past, for their steadfast support for the bridge repair project and mitigating the impact to communities;
  • The leadership of Councilmember Pedersen, Chair of the Transportation and Utilities Committee;
  • Former Mayor Durkan for her decision to repair (not replace) the bridge;
  • The prior SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe (and the entire SDOT team – with a special shout out to Bridge Boss Heather Marx) for managing the repair process and delivering more than 400 mitigation projects to bridge detour impacted communities; and
  • Our federal delegation for their diligent work for federal assistance, especially Representative Jayapal, who in short order spoke on the House floor about the need for federal funding for this project and Senator Cantwell who organized bridge tours with federal decision-makers like Transportation Secretary Buttigieg.

This week I want to thank the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, especially the co-chairs Former Mayor Greg Nickels and Paulina Lopez.  The WSBCTF worked hard so that the many voices of the community were heard, and ensured transparency, clear communication, broad community engagement and understanding around both traffic mitigation efforts and the path forward for the West Seattle Bridge.

Finally, and importantly I must thank Newell Aldrich in my office.  The number of people responding to last week’s email and thanking me for this weekly update on the bridge status was a reminder that I want to make certain that Newell’s work is recognized.  About 120 weekly newsletters have been published from my office since the West Seattle Bridge closed.  All but a couple of those newsletters included a West Seattle Bridge update.  Tens of thousands of emails from constituents have been answered by Newell about the status of the bridge repair and the 400 Reconnect West Seattle mitigation projects.  Thank you, Newell for keeping District 1 constituents informed about a topic that has required extended resilience and patience from so many.

Ladder Truck 37 and Medic Unit 26 Maintained Through the End of 2022

Many people have written to me to support the life-saving services of Ladder Truck 37 and Medic Unit 26.

As soon as the Bridge closed in March of 2020, I asked Chief Scoggins whether another ladder truck was needed for the peninsula.  I was grateful then that Chief Scoggins’ championed the safety of District 1 with his decision to place a ladder truck for the peninsula at Fire Station 37, in the High Point neighborhood, and a medic unit at Fire Station 26 in South Park.

I have confirmed with Mayor Harrell’s office that, though these resources were originally intended to stay in place through the bridge opening this month, that they have sufficient funding to remain in place through the end of 2022.

The historically underserved areas that receive life-saving assistance from our first responders at Fire Station 37 and Fire Station 26 need these resources in 2023 and beyond.  Without the ladder truck at Station 37 there is only one ladder truck to serve all of West Seattle. The nearest medic units are Medic 28 in Rainer Valley and Medic 32 in the Junction, far away from the Delridge neighborhoods and South Park. As our population continues to grow it’s critical that we reevaluate the need for new resources, especially in historically underserved areas.

I hope that Mayor Harrell sees the value that these resources bring to West Seattle and South Park and that continued funding is included in the Mayor’s proposed budget. However, if funding is not included, I will propose an amendment to fund maintaining these services in 2023.  The Mayor’s proposed budget will be delivered to Council on September 27.  Your voice will be essential during the budget process to encourage a majority of my Council colleagues to vote for an amendment to the budget.

Terminal 5 Closure

Some of you may have heard, or seen on the West Seattle Blog, that Terminal 5 was shut down briefly on Wednesday morning. As the Blog reported, there was a protest from Climate Action Families who said: “Today we shut down SSA Marine Port of Seattle Terminal 5. Cargo carrier MSC could plug ships into shore power but chooses not to.”

I reached out to the Port because I had for years advocated for the Port to make shore power available at Terminal 5 and a requirement for ships to use it.  Shore power provides electrical power to a ship when docked so that it does not have to run its diesel engines while at port; this is significantly more environmentally friendly and reduces noise.  The permits issued by the CIty of Seattle required that shore power be available at Terminal 5 but only required the Port to develop incentives to encourage ships to plug in, not require it.

The good news is that since January, the Port requires that shore power capable ships to plug into the available shore power.  The ships had not been plugging into shore power because of ongoing labor negotiations. There’s now a temporary agreement in place and the ship is currently using shore power.  Here is the Northwest Seaport Alliance’s statement:

“Tuesday’s T5 closure was due to a protest from an environmental group regarding shore-power plug in. The Northwest Seaport Alliance requires, through its tariff, that all shore power capable vessels plug in if the infrastructure is available. Currently labor parties are negotiating the use of shore power equipment on the terminal and usage will be determined when negotiations are complete. The NWSA is working with our terminal operator and carriers on an interim solution.”

Mayor Announces Choice for Permanent Police Chief

On Tuesday, Mayor Harrell appointed Adrian Diaz as the permanent Seattle Chief of Police. Diaz has served as Interim Chief since September 2020.

Here is the Seattle Channel’s Q&A with the three finalists for the position (Diaz is up first). Here is video of the Mayor’s press conference of Diaz.

This is one of the most consequential decisions that Mayor Harrell will make. Seattle’s next police chief will play a central role in the Seattle Police Department’s work to build community safety, increase police accountability, and regain public trust.

Thank you to every community member who took the time to make their voice heard, and particularly, members of the Search Committee for their many hours given to this process. I look forward to further discussions with interim Chief Adrian Diaz as part of the Council confirmation process in the Public Safety and Human Services Committee.

New Public Health Director Confirmed

On Tuesday, Seattle City Council approved the nomination of Dr. Faisal Khan to lead Public Health – Seattle & King County.  I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Khan several times, and he has impressed me with his passion for public health.  I’m particularly grateful that Dr. Khan sees clearly the exhaustion of our public health workers, and understands how important it is to rejuvenate and invest in our workforce.

Dr. Khan appeared before my Public Safety & Human Services committee the week before to talk about his work and respond to committee member questions.  Dr. Khan also responded in writing to Councilmember questions submitted in advance.  You can watch our discussion starting at the 18:18’ mark here.

Residents of Seattle and King County, as well as our public health workers, are fortunate that we have attracted a leader who will continue the visionary leadership that we have come to expect from our Public Health department.  Next up, King County Council will consider his nomination, likely in October.

New Director of Office of Police Accountability Confirmed

On Tuesday the Council approved Gino Betts as the Director of the Office of Police Accountability. Mr. Betts was selected for this position by Mayor Harrell.

Mr. Betts appeared twice before the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, and provided written responses to Council questions. He was the unanimous recommendation of the search committee appointed by the Mayor, upon which I sat.

His personal and professional experience have prepared him well to serve as Director of OPA. Mr. Betts has worked in a police accountability system with more authority than the OPA; I believe this experience will make him an effective voice for additional accountability reforms in Seattle.

He has committed to facilitating frequent and meaningful communications with complainants, including inviting them to closeout meetings. This is a welcome system improvement, and I appreciate this commitment and willingness to examine OPA procedures with a fresh set of eyes. He stated his belief that OPA should consist of 100% civilian investigators and indicated “this is the best model for overcoming public skepticism regarding police oversight.”

He committed to working to advise the Labor Relations Policy Committee on bargaining issues related to accountability.

In his Q&A rsponses, he referenced other cities: Denver, South Bend and San Diego, for having discipline matrices, and New Orleans for a community-police mediation program (while noting allegations of dishonesty, misuse of authority and criminal allegations are inappropriate for mediation) I appreciate this willingness to examine practices of other cities.

Lowman Beach Park Is Reopening

Join me, Morgan Community Association, and Seattle Parks & Recreation on Saturday, 9/24 to celebrate the renovation of Lowman Beach Park. Events include kayak tours, stand-up paddleboarding, and naturalists from the Seattle Aquarium to help the community explore the beach at low tide.

Learn more about the Lowman Beach Park Seawall project.

Park District Budget Vote

Next Tuesday, Council will vote on the 6-year Park District budget known as “Cycle 2.”  Cycle 2 funds will provide about 30% of the total funding for Seattle Parks & Recreation activities over the next six years; the rest will be considered during Council’s fall budget deliberations – which begin on 9/27.  You can read more about Park District Cycle 2 here, here, and here.

I’m happy to say that a number of my priorities will be included for Cycle 2 funding, subject to Council approval next week:

  • New West Seattle Off Leash Area: Cycle 2 will include funding to establish two new Off Leash Areas in Seattle, and plan for a third.  Because of significant advocacy from West Seattle Dog Park Coalition, one of the new Off Leash Areas will be in West Seattle.
  • Commitment to Decarbonization: The Cycle 2 package will include language stating the Park District Board’s intent that by 2029, Seattle Parks & Recreation will decarbonize half its community centers. This is a stretch goal, which will require resources beyond Cycle 2 to accomplish.
  • Trees for Seattle Parks: Cycle 2 fully funds advocates’ requests for $1 million annually to replace trees in Seattle’s developed parks.  They plan to match this amount with private donations to reach the goal of no net tree loss.
  • Equity Fund: Community members will be able to apply for up to $3 million annually for small projects and planning, such as play areas, without being required to match that amount with private donations. This will make it easier for communities without significant financial resources to organize and win new amenities.
  • Marra-Desimone Park Play Area will be an early beneficiary of the Equity Fund, with dedicated dollars in 2023 going toward this long-delayed priority.
  • Hearing Loops: Community centers will be able to use Park District funds to install hearing loops in community meeting rooms, boosting their accessibility for people who rely on these devices to participate.

You can watch our most recent discussion of Park District Cycle 2 budget here.

Fall Prevention Tips

The first day of fall is Fall Prevention Day!  Did you know that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults?  The Centers for Disease Control report that one out of five falls (20 percent) results in a serious injury.  Falls result in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations.  The cost of treating injuries is projected to increase to over $101 billion by 2030.

Here are 6 steps to prevent a fall – and learn more at NCOA.org/FallsPrevention!

Get Involved in Council’s 2023/24 Budget Work

On Tuesday September 27th, Mayor Harrell will deliver his proposed City budget for 2023 and 2024 to Council – the start of Council’s work to make changes and approve the budget by late November.

The Six Stages of the Budget

Here are some ways to follow along with Council’s budget deliberations:

  • Watch budget committee meetings live on Seattle Channel (on your TV or here)
  • Stream video of budget meetings afterwards
  • Sign up to receive agendas via email for budget committee meetings here
  • I’ll keep you updated via this blog as well

If you’d like to provide public comment, you have a variety of options: remote, in-person, or in writing.  Learn more here.

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