The tragic shooting death of Charleena Lyles, a mother of four young children, last weekend is a stark reminder of how the calls for police reform nationally must continue to be addressed by Seattle locally.
On Tuesday I attended the vigil for Ms. Lyles and heard the stories from family members telling the story of loved Ms. Lyles was by her family and how those family members would not rest without answers and justice for the Ms. Lyles. It was there that I responded to the call for a public hearing with my commitment that the Council would hold one. At times like these, when our institutions have failed our public, it is the responsibility of elected officials to allow the public to face us with their anger and their pain as they quest for answers, justice, and above all, change.
Wednesday evening I attended a private meeting hosted by Solid Ground Director, Gordon McHenry, to hear from the residents of Brettler Place and the other residences near where Ms. Lyles and her children lived. The residents were given a chance to address each Director McHenry, Mayor Murray, and Chief O’Toole. I was joined by Councilmember Rob Johnson, Reps Gerry Pollet and Javier Valdez from the 46th District, Brianna Thomas from Councilmember Gonzalez’s office (who was away caring for her mother), and Seattle Human Services Department Director Catherine Lester.
Today, Councilmember González, Chair of the Council’s Safe Communities Committee (GESCNA) announced a GESCNA Committee-hosted town hall forum in response to community calls for a public hearing around the recent death of Charleena Lyles. Here is an excerpt from the release:
“Lyles, a Sand Point resident, was shot and killed following the response to her call to the Seattle Police Department to report a burglary on Sunday, June 18. An investigation into the shooting is currently underway.
In partnership with the Community Police Commission and community based organizations, Councilmember González will host the public forum at University of Washington’s Kane Hall in Room 130 on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. Members of the public will have the opportunity to address Councilmembers with their thoughts and concerns.
The forum will be moderated by the Office for Civil Rights Director Patricia C. Lally and livestreamed online at SeattleChannel.org/live.”
Public Hearing on officer involved shooting of Charleena Lyles
Tuesday, June 27
University of Washington
Kane Hall, Room 130
4069 Spokane Lane
Seattle, WA 98105
Councilmember M. Lorena González (Chair of GESCNA)
Members of the Community Police Commission
Last Tuesday marked the three-year anniversary of the passage of Seattle’s historic $15 per hour minimum wage. The Seattle Office of Economic Development released a report on several economic indicators showing that Seattle’s economy is continuing to grow and unemployment is at a historic low of 2.6%.
Additionally, the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment out of Berkeley released a study which analyzes data before and after the new wages went into effect, and “finds no evidence of job loss in the city’s restaurant industry, even as pay reached $13 for workers in large companies…
“The results of the UC Berkeley analysis show that wages in Seattle’s food service industry increased because of the minimum wage law. The wage increase was less pronounced in full-service restaurants, suggesting that restaurants took advantage of the new tip credit included in the city’s minimum ordinance.”
Professor Michael Reich, is the lead author of the report. I invited, and he accepted, to present his findings to the Council this coming Monday, June 26 at 9:30am.
The Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) was passed by the Seattle City Council in 2013 to help ensure that all rental housing in Seattle is safe. Starting in 2014, all rental property owners in Seattle became required to register their properties with the City. Inspectors make sure all registered properties comply with minimum housing and safety standards at least once every 10 years.
In 2016, the City Council adopted a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) 25-2-A-2, because of big problems with how the program was working. You may remember reports of properties with severe code violations that had passed its RRIO inspection despite those violations.
The legislation originally sent to Council proposed the following:
- Require inspection reports from private inspectors so SDCI knows what properties have problems. Previously, owners were not required to submit these reports, so the SDCI was not aware of the problems private inspectors would find.
- Modify the percentage of units selected for inspection so that more units in multi-family buildings are sampled for inspection.
- Add requirements related to lead paint, carbon monoxide alarms, minimum fire and safety requirements for exiting, improving security standards for exterior doors.
In response to concerns from stakeholders including tenants and landlord advocacy groups, I proposed the following amendments, all of which were voted out of Committee.
- Selecting Additional Units for Inspection. This amendment will adopt specific criteria to require that more units are inspected when initial units fail their inspection under certain circumstances. While SDCI has the authority under RRIO to require inspection of additional units when a unit has failed, SDCI has not used that authority and it has resulted in buildings continuing to pass their inspection when they clearly should not pass.
- Reduce “Gaming” the Inspection Process. This amendment will shorten the identification of the specific units selected for inspection, while observing tenants’ legal rights to receive advance notice, in order to reduce the current practice of rush repairs being made to pass inspection while obscuring the inspector’s awareness of likely larger problems in the rest of the building.
- Tenant notification. This amendment will require the inspector to notify tenants, following an inspection, whether the unit passed or failed, information for how to contact SDCI for questions, and a tenant survey.
- Adjusting RRIO Program Fees. This amendment asks SDCI to evaluate and address any imbalances in the fee structure for small landlords while continuing to set fees to cover the cost of administering this program. SDCI is preparing RRO program fee adjustments in 2019. This amendment is in response to both concerns that (1) the fees are overly burdensome for smaller landlords; and (2) the fees will not fully cover the costs of administering the RRIO program.
The Full Council will vote on the final legislation on Monday, July 10, 2017, at 2pm.
This year marks the 43rd year of the Seattle Pride Parade. It will be held at 11:00 AM, on Sunday June 25. The theme for this year’s Pride will be “Indivisible” – a single word that conveys the core principle of our nation. Shouldn’t “We the People” mean that inclusion and intersectionality make us stronger?
The parade will last about 2.5 hours, starting along 4th Avenue in downtown Seattle and ending at Second Avenue and Denny Way near Seattle Center. Viewers are encouraged to watch the parade from the sidewalks, leaving the street open for the parade. Bring your water bottles and sunscreen because the weather is expected to be HOT!
Since late 2016, the One Center City working group has been meeting to coordinate management of a high volume of changes coming to Downtown transportation between 2017 and 2013. The working group includes SDOT, Sound Transit, King County Metro, and the Downtown Seattle Association. Different government agencies would implement elements of the proposal.
Upcoming projects in that time frame include the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and opening of the SR 99 tunnel; the closure of the Downtown Transit Tunnel to buses with the arrival of light rail to Northgate, Lynnwood and the Eastside; the re-opening of Alaskan Way; a 1st Avenue Streetcar; a Bus Rapid Transit line on Madison; and the proposed Convention Center expansion (see chart above).
On June 8 One Center City released a “Proposed Near-term Projects” plan; you can download the pdf file here. While most of the proposals affect Downtown, some of the projects could impact West Seattle bus access to Downtown.
The proposal includes potential changes to rush-hour only Routes 37, 56 and 57 in the Alki, Admiral and Alaska Junction neighborhoods, as well as to buses from White Center and Burien (see slide 23), by re-routing buses onto to go by the Pioneer Square Light Rail Station on 3rd Avenue, then proceed eastbound to First Hill.
King County Metro will begin a public engagement about these potential service revisions beginning in July.
A second potential impact on West Seattle service would be during 2019, when the Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed. Buses such as the C Line that currently access Downtown via the Alaskan Way Viaduct will access Downtown by Alaskan Way when it reopens in 2020. However, this leaves a gap of around a year where buses will need to be re-routed. In my discussions with SDOT and King County Metro, 1st Avenue and 4th Avenue have been mentioned as potential options, but there isn’t a specific proposal yet.
A potential concern is regarding the construction of the 1st Avenue Streetcar project. SDOT is planning to phase work in conjunction with Viaduct removal, though it will need to be well managed to avoid any delays; any work on 1st Avenue must be completed or paused if West Seattle bus routes such as the C Line are re-routed onto 1st Avenue during 2019-2020.
I learned from a constituent this week that the Reading Partners tutoring program at Highland Park Elementary in West Seattle is facing elimination due to budget cuts. The volunteer tutors need $30,000 to continue. July 15 is the fundraising deadline– donations collected only if the goal is met. Please contribute, to benefit children’s future success! Here is her “lively one-minute video to illustrate why the program is so compelling. Raising reading scores is crucial, but it’s more than that.”
And here is how you can support the program: https://www.gofundme.com/Save-RP-at-HP