As chair of the Committee that oversees Civil Rights, I am charged with providing policy direction and oversight, and making recommendations on legislative matters related to civil rights issues. In response to Donald Trump becoming the President-elect, there has been an increase in hate speech and acts of violence targeted at Muslims, Sikhs, Arabs, Jews, Latinos, African-Americans Asians, women, people with disabilities, immigrants, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community members, that have been reported to police, on social media, and to advocacy organizations across the nation.
These incidents are extremely concerning for Seattle, which is a diverse city: 34% of Seattle residents are persons of color, and 19% of Seattle residents are foreign-born; 129 languages are spoken in Seattle schools. Moreover, the City of Seattle values being an open and inclusive city for all its residents, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ). Many people in our city and nationally are members of vulnerable constituencies; we find them in our families, workplaces, and as friends doing indispensable work as caregivers, activists, educators, social workers, service industry employees, in public service, as business owners, attorneys, and elsewhere. These are people we love and support and it must be explicitly clear that we as a City stand in solidarity with them to protect them from these disgraceful acts of hate. Along these lines, my office has drafted an Anti-Hate resolution.
I would like to thank Councilmember González, Councilmember Sawant and Mayor Murray for their work on the Anti-Hate Resolution as well as One America, Allyship, and Gender Justice League for assisting with this resolution to reaffirm Seattle’s values of inclusion, respect, and justice, and the City’s commitment toward actions to reinforce these values; and calling on President-elect Donald Trump to condemn recent attacks and hate speech that perpetuate religious persecution, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia.
The resolution is scheduled for a vote at the Full Council Meeting on Monday, 12/12/16, 2pm, in Council Chambers.
Fauntleroy Boulevard project update
Shortly after taking office this year, community advocates expressed interest in making changes to the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project, to support it as a visual gateway to West Seattle. In response, I organized meetings between community advocates and SDOT and City Light. At my request, the departments explored undergrounding utility wires, but this proved too expensive.
Community advocates proposed a compromise solution involving design modifications for beautification, consolidation and standardization of utility poles, to provide a better overall appearance, in keeping with the aim to create a gateway entrance. The departments agreed.
Upon my request to Mayor Murray, during the budget process, City Light revised the project to specifically include $1.5 million for the street light improvements and utility pole relocations that were recommended by community members.
Earlier this month, SDOT announced an update regarding the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project. I thank them for re-initiating project work so soon after the Council approved funding during the budget process.
The project is designed to provide a gateway entrance to West Seattle coming in from the West Seattle Bridge, and to move away from the suburban, commercial-style arterial criticized on Fauntleroy Way between 35th Ave. SW and SW Alaska, toward a more pedestrian, transit, and bicycle-friendly urban boulevard, in an area with increasing residential density and transit use. It is funded through the Move Seattle Transportation levy passed in 2015.
The project reached 60% design during 2014; the last open house was in September 2014. Further work was put on hold until funding was secured. Conceptual design work began in 2011; improvements to Fauntleroy were first prioritized in the 1999 West Seattle Junction Hub Neighborhood Plan.
SDOT’s schedule lists meetings with property owners, businesses and community organizations, and a 90% design target during Winter 2017, with Spring 2017 targeted for 100% design, pre-construction coordination with the community during Spring and Summer 2017, with construction anticipated to begin in late 2017.
LGBT Commission name change
I am proud to work with the Seattle Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Commissioners on Council Bill 118873, to change the name of the LGBT Commission to include the Q for Queer, as recommended by the Commission. This is important legislation for the Queer community. Queer identities may be adopted by those who reject traditional gender identities and seek a broader, more inclusive term that encompasses their full humanity. Starting in the late 1980s, queer scholars, activists, community members, and workers began to reclaim the term “queer” to establish a sense of community and assert a distinct politicized identity to be civically engaged. The City of Seattle advocates for greater awareness of discrimination faced by young people who use “queer” as a positive identity in which to feel empowered. It is important for the Commission that represents the LGBTQ community that the name should reflect the current and inclusive term. With this legislation the Commission’s name will also reflect the values of openness and inclusivity.
The legislation will be discussed in the Civil Rights, Economic Development, Utilities, and Arts Committee on Tuesday, 12/13/16 at 9:30am.
Music Commission appointments
Another item that will be up in the December 13 committee meeting are several appointments to the Seattle Music Commission. The City Council voted to establish the Seattle Music Commission in early 2010. Commissioners are limited to two three-year terms, so several of the original commissioners are cycling out.
The establishment of the commission reflected a change in City government toward a more collaborative relationship with Seattle’s music community, and an acknowledgement of the economic impact of the city and region’s music industry. The commission brings together musicians, and representatives from radio, records labels, recording studios, the Symphony, the Opera, major Seattle corporations, small and large venue operators, retailers, and others.
The purpose on goals outlined in City of Music vision document, prepared under former Mayor Nickels, with three key areas: a City of Musicians, a City of Live Music, and a City of Music Business.
The Commission has worked on a wide variety of issues since its formation, including the Experience the City of Music program at Sea-Tac Airport, Pianos in the Park, Career Day for the music industry, a Black Music Summit. They’ve also worked on issues involving other City departments, such as loading access areas for musicians, and taxi stands in nightlife areas. They worked with me earlier this year to provide input on the update to Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan 2035 update, which now includes their recommendations.
I’d like to thanks the commissioners who have spent six years working hard on this commission, and contributing greatly toward developing an integrated approach to addressing issues of music, affordability and economic development.