West Seattle Bridge; Police Recruitment and Incentives Bill Passes; Abortion Access Bill Signing; Metropolitan Parks District Public Hearing; Small Tenant Improvement Fund; Seattle Restored Program – Landlords and Artists/Entrepreneurs Can Apply; King County Assessor Valuations and Appeals; No Newsletter Next Two Weeks

West Seattle Bridge

SDOT announced last week that the West Seattle Bridge is expected to be opened to traffic on Sunday, September 18th, and work remains on track to reopen on that date.

The contractor continues work on the final phase of epoxy crack injection and carbon-fiber wrap installation on the end spans. The west span work is scheduled to be completed this week and the work platform is scheduled to be removed by August 21.

Here’s an update on work completed, in progress, and to do:

West Seattle Bridge Final Repairs Checklist

  • Completed: Let the post-tensioning concrete set and cure
  • Completed: Install post-tensioning ducts
  • Completed: Pre-tensioning epoxy injections and carbon-fiber wrapping
  • Completed: Install post-tensioning strands
  • Completed: Tension post-tensioning strands
  • In-Progress: Complete final epoxy injections and carbon-fiber wrapping
  • To do: Complete cure time for the carbon-fiber wrapping
  • To do: Remove work platforms
  • To do: Load test and inspect the repairs
  • To do: Restore the bridge deck
  • To do: Demobilize the site

Police Recruitment and Incentives Bill Passes

On Tuesday, the Council voted 6-3 on CB 120389 approving the provision of hiring incentives to new police officers proposed by Mayor Harrell, and other items. Following the Council vote, I released this statement:

“Cities across the country face police officer attrition,” said Councilmember Herbold. “These hiring incentives will allow SPD to use funds already in its budget to compete for well-qualified officers and achieve our hiring goals. We know this alone will not be enough. Moving forward, our top priority must be lightening the load on officers and creating new, more effective ways of responding to calls that do not require an armed police response. We can’t keep asking officers to direct traffic and help people in mental health crises when we don’t have enough officers to investigate sexual assaults or respond to 911 calls. Being a first responder is a difficult job. We shouldn’t make it an impossible job.”

In May, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance sponsored by Councilmember Herbold authorizing $1.15 million from existing funds in SPD’s 2022 budget for police recruitment. 

Today’s bill authorizes additional spending of $289,000 in hiring incentives from existing funds in SPD’s 2022 budget. The second half of the bonus would be paid after the one-year probationary period. Officers who leave the department within five years would need to return the bonus. The results of the partial study from the 2019 bonus program showed that 1 in 5 applicants cited the bonus as one reason they sought to work for the SPD. 20% more people applying matters when the Public Safety Civil Service Commission’s best estimate is that for every 12 applicants in 2021, we hired one police officer.

The bill also transfers $228,000 funds out of SPD to the Seattle Department of Human Resources for four positions to enhance recruiting, to administer tests, and to speed up the hiring process. It allows for funding for moving expenses, per the Council’s earlier legislation.

I appreciate collaborating with the Mayor’s Office, SPD, and Council in developing the bill.

For more information, including a chart detailing how these incentives and SPD salaries compare to other Washington jurisdictions (pg. 9), view this memo.

The bill that passed was a substitute bill to the bill proposed by the Mayor, and included amendments adopted in committee and at the City Council.  Changes included  1. ensuring that officers already hired, and thus not needing an incentive to apply, were not eligible for the bonus; 2. a sunset of the bonus program in December 2024, 3. a requirement to evaluate the effectiveness of the bonus program, 4. ensuring the officers rehired within two years of leaving SPD are not eligible for the bonus. Under Public Safety Civil Service Commission rules, officers may request and receive reinstatement, subject to approval by the Public Safety Civil Service Commission and Chief of Police. Reinstated officers receive reinstatement benefits such as returning to their previous classification, salary step and accrual rates for vacation and sick leave, per the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild contract, for officers that return within two years.  In addition, reinstated officers do not have to re-test and can begin work (and get paid) faster. These reinstatement benefits have economic value as hiring incentives.


Abortion Access Bill Signing

The Mayor hosted a bill signing for a suite of bills to protect abortion rights in Seattle, including for two bills Councilmember Morales and I co-sponsored.

My comments are below:

Thank you, Mayor Harrell and Councilmember Morales.

“Everyone in Seattle has heard of the “Big One” – the catastrophic earthquake that will occur at any moment – and most of us have spent time putting together emergency kits and communications plans to help us survive with our loved ones.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs is an earthquake – and it’s the Big One – in its impact on the ability of pregnant people to receive safe and medically sound healthcare and make extremely personal decisions that will affect the entire course of their lives, and their loved ones’. 

Like the big earthquake that we know is coming, Dobbs will also create a tidal wave – in the form of an influx of medical refugees who live in states where they are suddenly unable to get the healthcare they need and are forced to cross state lines in search of it.

Experts expect Washington state to see a four-fold increase in people seeking abortions here – a tidal wave that is gathering force as we speak and is headed our way.

Here in Seattle, we must be ready for them, and meet them with the care and protection that is so lacking in their own home states. 

The reality is that pregnant people – whether residents of Seattle or medical refugees from further afield – do not have the luxury of time to make these difficult decisions, scrape together the funds to travel, seek time off work, and find a local provider with appointments. 

And we know that reproductive healthcare delayed is almost always more difficult, more expensive, and riskier. 

I thank Mayor Harrell for answering Council’s call to appropriate $250,000 this year for the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, which will smooth the way and provide essential care for the tidal wave of medical refugees forced to travel here for reproductive care. 

I thank Councilmember Morales, and Alexis Turla on her staff, for their leadership in identifying the early, savvy regulatory fixes that we are celebrating today. 

And I pledge that I will continue to aggressively seek out ways to protect and expand abortion access for everyone who seeks unbiased healthcare here in Seattle. 

In particular I am concerned about the patients being cared for in religiously-affiliated healthcare facilities – which comprise an estimated half of our hospital beds. 

These hospitals are allowed to deny reproductive healthcare to their pregnant patients due to religious bias – and astonishingly, no one is ever required to tell the patient that they’re being denied care, or that there is a procedure that could help them, if only they’d gone to an unbiased provider.

Some religiously-affiliated hospitals will provide procedures to save a pregnant patient’s life when it is in immediate risk – which is not at all a clear line.

The result is that some patients are literally sent home to wait; they wait to get sicker, they wait until the pain is worse, and they wait until the risk is highest and their life in danger. 

And no one is required to tell them they could get treated and taken care of immediately, if they’d go to a different facility

Our state requires hospitals to post information online about the reproductive, gender-affirming, and end-of-life services that are and are not available there – but they are not required to hand that information over to their pregnant patients.

I want to get that information into patient’s hands when they most need it – when they are making appointments and showing up for emergent care.

There will be more emerging needs as medical refugees arrive, and as opponents of reproductive justice attempt to find ways to stop pregnant people from getting the healthcare they deserve.

I will continue working with our incredible local advocates and providers on the frontlines, Public Health, and our Board of Health to identify and address needs as they emerge.  Special thanks to Legal Voice, Pro Choice Washington, and Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. 

Lastly, I want to make clear that abortion remains safe and legal here in Seattle, and in Washington state.  There is so much disinformation and fear right now.  I will continue saying – and fighting to ensure – that anyone seeking unbiased, safe, reproductive healthcare can find it here.”

Metropolitan Parks District Public Hearing

Earlier this week the Metropolitan Parks District (MPD) held a Town Hall meeting at the Rainier Beach Community Center to discuss the renewal of the funding for the Park District to repair, maintain, and restore basic services at the City’s parks, community centers, and regional attractions.

The next Town Hall is scheduled for September 7, 6pm at the Northgate Community Center (10510 5th Ave NE). The public has the option to comment virtually or at City Hall during every Parks District Board meeting. These additional hearings are intended to provide opportunities for in-person comment in neighborhoods not close in proximity to Downtown. Due to space concerns and the ongoing pandemic, attendees will be capped at 100 people and masking is strongly encouraged.


Small Tenant Improvement Fund

Do you own a small business or have a commercial space that needs improvements?  The Seattle Office of Economic Development’s (OED) Tenant Improvement Fund will grant small businesses up to $100,000 to build out commercial spaces and make commercial improvements more affordable. In total, there’s $1.9 million available. If you’re interested, you can apply here.


Seattle Restored Program – Landlords and Artists/Entrepreneurs Can Apply

Seattle Restored is a program from the City of Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) focused on activating vacant commercial storefronts.

Seattle Restored is recruiting landlords to participate by offering their empty commercial space to artists/entrepreneurs – find more info here and here, and here’s how landlords can explore participating: “Please email Andrea Porter and Martin Tran, Seattle Restored Program managers, at seattlerestored@gmail.com to set up a time to connect.” There’s no due date.

Seattle Restored is also recruiting artists and entrepreneurs to occupy and activate the commercial space; applications are due August 26th. There’s an Info session regarding the application process and program on August 23rd at 5:30, hosted in English and as requested in ASL, Amharic, Spanish, Korean, Somali, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese Traditional. Find more info here and here.


King County Assessor Valuations and Appeals

Property valuations from the King County Assessor are beginning to arrive. These valuations will form the basis for 2023 property taxes.

Here’s the Assessor’s webpage about how to appeal the assessed value of your property.

Information is available here about potential reductions in property taxes for senior citizens or disabled persons.

For more information, or assistance with your online application, you can e-mail exemptions.assessments@kingcounty.gov or call 206-296-3920.


No Newsletter Next Two Weeks

The City Council is on its summer recess for the next two weeks, and there won’t be any Council meetings during that time. My next newsletter update will be in September.

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