West Seattle Bridge Update; South Park Community Center Is Open; Abortion Access Legislation; Chief of Police Search Events/Survey; Hospitals Are Over Capacity Amidst a COVID Surge; Hit and Run Cyclist Death / SDOT Response ; Why is the Grass So Long?; CSCC Staffing and Alternate 911 Response; VOTE!; In-Person Office Hours

West Seattle Bridge Update

The West Seattle Bridge repair remains on track to reopen for the week of September 12th.

The installation of the 46 miles of post-tensioning steel cables is complete. The first phase of the tensioning of the cables, to 20%, is also complete. Work is proceeding on the second phase of tightening the steel cables to 100%.

Work on major maintenance projects is also continuing.

SDOT has released the second quarter 2022 report for Reconnect West Seattle. 59 of 70 projects have been completed, as well as 51 of 64 Home Zone projects. Projects completed in the second quarter include a Sylvan Way SW walkway; a flashing beacon at 17th Ave SW and SW Henderson Street, and intersection improvements at the intersection of 14th and Cloverdale Ave S, and the flashing beacon at the intersection of Dumar Way SW and SW Orchard Street shown below.

Below are upcoming projects, including projects that will be completed after the bridge opens.

Upcoming Reconnect West Seattle projects:

  • Complete left turn (EB and WB) signals at S Cloverdale St and 7th Ave S
  • Crossing improvement at 16 th Ave SW and SW Cambridge St
  • 14th Ave safety upgrades

7 projects are scheduled after the high bridge reopens:

  • 4 th Ave SW/SW Roxbury St/Olson Way SW intersection improvements
  • Dallas Ave S / 14 th Ave S half signal improvements
  • SW Holden St / Highland Park Way SW permanent signal improvements
  • Georgetown Home Zone = Corson Ave S / S Michigan St raised pedestrian crossing in the slip lane and sidewalk repair project
  • 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
  • Duwamish Longhouse permanent sidewalk and signal improvements
  • W Marginal Way PBL / on-street parking improvements

Upcoming Home Zone projects:

Highland Park:

  • Sidewalk repair on SW Henderson Pl and on SW Webster St
  • Median island at 16th Ave SW and SW Elmgrove St / 16th Ave SW and SW Cloverdale St for traffic calming
  • Finish conveyance swale and wheel stop projects in the fall during planting season at: 14th Ave SW between SW Elmgrove St and SW Kenyon St and 9th Ave SW between SW Roxbury St and SW Cambridge S

South Park:

  • Sidewalk repair on S Concord St
  • Median island at Dallas Ave S / 12th Ave S for traffic calming
  • Finish conveyance swale and wheel stop projects in the fall during planting season at S Elmgrove St between 10th Ave S and 12th Ave S and  S Trenton St between 5th Ave S and 7th Ave S

Traffic mitigation projects:

  • Replace 60+ concrete panels on the west end of the WSB
  • Pave ~10 lane miles on various arterials
  • Bevel sidewalks in the West Seattle Junction
  • Place radar speed trailer at various locations

South Park Community Center Is Open

I’m thrilled to share that Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) has agreed to re-open the South Park Community Center to public use this summer.  The Center will be open and available to community members Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, until August 22ndIn addition, SPR is offering a wide variety of activities adjacent to the Center, and Late Night programming on Fridays and Saturdays.  Check out this listing for more information.

The Center was closed during the pandemic and didn’t reopen when others did due to long-planned stabilization and redevelopment projects.  Those projects are significantly delayed, however, and now aren’t expected to begin until late November.

In response to significant concerns from community members and SPD officers about the safety of South Park’s young people amid escalating gang activity and the tragic shooting of a 14-year-old, I lifted up their request to reopen the community center, first with Seattle Parks and Recreation, and then with the Mayor’s Office.  I am grateful to both for meeting the urgent need with action.

SPR now reports that they are planning a robust fall schedule that, given the new construction timeline, will occur within the South Park Community Center.  My office will continue monitoring this issue to ensure South Park’s young people are adequately served at their community center.

Abortion Access Legislation

On Thursday, I joined Councilmember Morales and representatives from Pro-Choice Washington, Legal Voice, and Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates to announce new legislation that will protect access to abortion services in our city.

We announced two bills, which were discussed Friday morning at Councilmember Morales’ Neighborhoods, Education, Civil Rights and Culture Committee.  I expect that Council will vote on these bills on August 9th.

  • CB 120374 adds people who have received or are seeking abortions as a protected class, ensuring their civil rights’ protections.
  • CB 120376 creates a misdemeanor charge for people who encroach on individuals seeking abortions or gender affirming care.

On Tuesday, Council will vote to appropriate $250,000 for the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, which provides logistical support, care, and safety for people seeking abortion here.

We are still at the beginning of the crisis caused by the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe.  Thanks to the extraordinary network of advocates and providers, we can make very educated guesses about its impact and move to meet the challenges.  But its full impact is not yet known.  We cannot accurately guess today everything that will be needed to keep medical refugees, their providers, and those who support them, safe.  More work will be needed.

As a reminder – and we can’t say this enough right now – abortion remains safe and legal in Washington state.  Seattle welcomes all people who need abortion services, no matter where they live.  If you or someone you know is seeking abortion in Seattle, here’s a good to place to get accurate, non-biased information about abortion services here.

Chief of Police Search Events/Survey

The Mayor’s Office has announced the dates for the police chief search events mentioned last week. The events are listed below, and linked at the Police Chief Search website. For the virtual events links will be accessible at the website. Though some events include a community focus, the general public can attend any of the events.

The website also includes a survey to provide input to the Mayor’s Office on the Police Chief Search. Here’s a link to the survey.

The Mayor appoints the police chief, subject to a confirmation vote of the City Council.

Hospitals Are Over Capacity Amidst a COVID Surge

You may have seen recent reporting that local hospitals are operating significantly over capacity right now; Harborview is reportedly at 130% of bed capacity.  King County Public Health Officer Dr. Duchin reports there are many factors, including deferred procedures and lack of space in nursing homes to discharge patients.  Simultaneously, we’re seeing a significant surge in COVID transmission in our neighborhoods.

There are many individual choices we can make to help relieve the extreme stress on the hospital system, and to support overburdened healthcare workers:

Hit and Run Cyclist Death / SDOT Response

On July 15 Robert Mason was the victim of the hit and run near the Spokane Street Bridge while he rode his bicycle. He is the thirteenth person to die from a collision on Seattle streets in 2022.

I’ve heard from constituents with questions about what the City does after fatal crashes, and about potential road safety changes in that location.

After fatal crashes, SDOT evaluates sites from an engineering perspective to see whether there are short term and longer-term safety improvements to be made. This is in addition to the Seattle Police Department’s Traffic Collision Investigation Squad’s work on crash reconstruction and criminal investigation.

SDOT proposed safety improvements this last week, specifically, a project which would redesign the street layout of 4th Ave S near S Holgate St. The proposal includes creating a new median island to reduce conflicts and exposure and reduce the speed limit on 4th Ave S from 30 mph to 25 mph. There have been 7 fatalities within a quarter-mile radius of 4th Ave S & S Holgate St in the past 2.5 years, including Gan Hao Li who was killed while riding a bike in May 2022.

Residents of District 1 must pass through SODO to get to Downtown. Projects designed to enhance safety for cyclists and pedestrians include the East Marginal Way Project to enhance safety between West Seattle to Downtown; the Georgetown to South Park Connection, and the Georgetown to Downtown project.

Why is the Grass So Long?

If you notice longer grass in your local parks where it was usually mowed – that’s likely intentional!  As part of a Pollinator Corridor Project, SPR has worked with wildlife managers, landscape architects, and grounds crews to identify areas of “passive turf” that are not used actively by the public and could support wildlife habitat. Meadow-like conditions are a huge benefit to many of our pollinators and other animals such as our native bees, butterflies, and birds. Other benefits include protecting tree roots from mower damage, adding mulch to tree rings to build soil health, retaining water during the drought season, and creating habitat for insects and birds.  SPR says:

Look for the “Pollinator Habitat” signs in parks that describe these benefits. And share your thoughts about this pilot to Todd.Burley@seattle.gov so we can assess public perception.  Our parks can do so much for people and wildlife, and we hope you’ll agree that increasing biodiversity for pollinators and people is a win-win.

CSCC Staffing and Alternate 911 Response

The Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC) was established last year. The Council moved the 911 dispatch center from the Seattle Police Department as an initial step towards creating the foundation for building an alternative response for some 911 calls.

Some have called 911 dispatchers the “gatekeepers for the entire criminal justice system.” Moving the 911 dispatchers out of the Seattle Police Department was not performative, as some have said, but essential. Dispatchers send specific and responsive resources to a call they receive; by moving dispatchers out of the Seattle Police Department we set the stage for alternative responses. Without moving dispatchers out of the Police Department, the default resource to call-takers are sworn police officers, even if that’s not what a situation requires.

Funds to stand up an alternative response:  This past week, I sponsored a successful amendment to supplemental budget legislation that will provide $1.2 million for a non-police alternative response for crisis calls.  The funds were being held for former Mayor Durkan’s “Triage One” project, which has since been abandoned.  I appreciate Councilmember Lewis speaking to the amendment in my absence.

Seattle is falling behind on its commitments to create policing alternatives, and those impacts are being felt by community members who are not getting the service they deserve and by police officers who are stretched too thin.  We can’t keep asking police 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,

We have long known that “person down” and “welfare check” calls, which eat up 8,000 call hours per year, are good candidates for a non-sworn response. We need to move more quickly to develop a response for this subset of calls.  With this action, which I expect my colleagues to approve on Tuesday, we will hold funds sufficient to identify and fund such a response this year.

Staffing up dispatchers:  Last year, former Mayor Durkan proposed a budget that included funding for 139 positions in the dispatch center, at the time 20 of those positions were vacant, with another 17 having part-time absences due to situations such as medical and military leave. I sponsored a budget amendment and the Council adopted it, adding another 26 positions to address staffing and operational needs at CSCC. This brings their total funded positions up to 165.

To date, the CSCC has hired 24 new positions, more than any of the three years prior. When including separations, we have a net five new dispatchers in 2022, compared to 2020 when we had a net loss of 11 dispatchers. The CSCC currently has a recruit class every month.

Filling these positions is important, because though we talk a lot about the amount of time it takes for police to respond to 911 calls, having sufficient staff to answer the 911 calls is the first step in assigning a first responder. There is a real-world impact when the staffing levels at the CSCC dip too low. Answered call times at the CSCC have suffered due to turnover and previous understaffing of 911 dispatch positions.  Sometimes the non-emergency line isn’t staffed, or if it is, wait times may be prohibitively long. There are also the national standards for 911 emergency call answering times. The Association of Police Communications Officers (APCO), National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), recommend that 90% of 911 calls should be answered within 15 seconds.

Due to current staffing levels, the CSCC is not always meeting these standards, but they are making strides and with all hands-on deck, leading up to the busy 4th of July weekend, between June 29 and July 5, 2022, they had a service level of 82.94% of calls answered within 15 seconds. These service levels are why it’s so important that we continue to hire additional dispatchers. During last year’s budget process, when I proposed the amendment to add an additional 26 positions to address staffing needs, we received a letter from the dispatchers which in part said:

Our current telecommunicators are working endless mandatory overtime, 52-56 hour work weeks, being forced to come in on their days off, and constantly are working understaffed.

Working short-staffed increases workload and delays call answering times, which can be life-threatening situationally. Further, these employees are experiencing burnout, PTSD, depression, exhaustion, and a distorted work/life balance.


Tuesday, August 2 is the primary election.  You should have already received your ballot. You can fill it out and mail it back (without a stamp!) or take it to a ballot drop box. Be sure to make a plan to vote. Are you mailing it in or taking it to a drop box? Plan a time to do this and follow up here to make sure your vote is counted.

Some of you may have already read about Republican activists that are organizing surveillance of the ballot drop boxes. These intimidation tactics are an affront to our fundamental right to vote. Washington State law permits people to drop off legal mail-in ballots for other voters with no restrictions, including “ballot parties” to collect votes to turn in together.  Ballot signatures are always confirmed to ensure all votes are legal.

The King County Elections Chief of Staff, Kendall Hodson, has said the signs are illegal under both federal and state law.  The King County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

In-Person Office Hours

On Friday, July 29, I will be hosting in-person office hours between 3pm and 7pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 6:30pm.

As we move back to in-person office hours I am asking that you still please contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) to schedule an appointment to ensure too many people aren’t gathering in a small area.

Here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022
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