Seattle University Public Safety Survey and Micro-Community Policing Plans; New Library Restroom Policy; RainWise Program Info & Eligibility

Seattle University Public Safety Survey and Micro-Community Policing Plans

Seattle University recently released their 2017 Seattle Public Safety Survey. The report includes analysis of community perceptions of public safety citywide, by police precinct, and by Micro-Community Policing Plan (MCPP) area.

There are 14 micro-communities for the Southwest Precinct: Alaska Junction, Alki, Commercial Duwamish, Commercial Harbor Island, Fauntleroy, High Point, Highland Park, Morgan Junction, North Admiral, North Delridge, Pigeon Point, South Delridge, South Park and Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights.

Micro community policing plans were developed in conjunction with community residents according to the distinctive needs of each community, and are used in conjunction with crime data and community perceptions; implementation began to be used in January 2015.

You can find the MCPP area for where you live at the MCPP map website.  You can see the priorities for each residential MCPP here by selecting Precinct and MCPP Neighborhood.

The Seattle University survey includes listing of the top five responses to survey questions, and open-ended narrative answers about public safety. Additional survey questions include: knowledge of the MCPP; fear of crime by day and night; police legitimacy; and social organization. The survey also includes demographic information, and analysis of social cohesion within communities.

The section on the Southwest Precinct begins on page 53 (page 54 of the pdf). The top public safety concerns in the SW Precinct are lack of police capacity; car prowls; unsafe driving/speeding; residential burglary, and auto theft. Themes in narrative comments include police capacity; public order; property crime; traffic issues, and homelessness public safety/public health. Each of the 14 MCPPs have separate survey results. The top five public safety concerns and narrative comments are listed for each MCPP.

Regarding the top community concern, police capacity, I’ve voted to add over 100 officer patrol positions since 2016; I am also interested in hearing from the police chief appointee about her plans to increase deployment of patrol officers. A letter from the co-chairs of the search committee to the Mayor raised the issue of officer deployment, noting that ‘less than half of all sworn officers are assigned to patrol, a percentage that is inconsistent with a national practice of 60%.” I submitted a question about this as part of the Council’s review process.

In addition, the Council has approved funding to re-establish the Community Service Officer (CSO) program. CSOs are unsworn officers who can prioritize community services associated with law enforcement such as crime prevention and non-emergency tasks, and free up SDP officers for 911 response.

 

New Library Restroom Policy

Last week my office received a letter from the Seattle Public Library announcing that on June 27th the Seattle Public Library Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new library restroom policy. As you may remember there was an incident last year at the library where a transgender library patron was denied access to the Central Branch Library’s family and ADA accessible restroom in the children’s area.

According to the new policy, this family and ADA restroom, located in the Central Library’s children’s area, is now available to all library patrons.  The Seattle Public Library maintains its stance that patrons are welcome to use the restroom based on the gender they identify with but have heard feedback from patrons who do not feel comfortable or safe using the library’s multi-stalled, gendered restrooms.  In addition to the children’s area restroom the Central Library now has a single occupant public restroom located on the third floor.

As a reminder, in August of 2015 the the Seattle City Council passed Council Bill 118455 amending the Seattle Municipal Code to clarify the right of individuals to use gender-specific facilitates consistent with their gender identity and adding a new Chapter 14.07 to Seattle’s Municipal Code providing for all-gender restrooms in City-controlled buildings and places of public accommodation.  You can find more information about the City’s practices and policies related to all-gender restrooms at the Office for Civil Rights Gender Justice Project webpage. 

 

RainWise Program Info & Eligibility

In order to help prevent flooding, reduce pollution, protect property, and to help provide water for summer irrigation Seattle Public Utilities offers a rebate program called RainWise. In the program, eligible property owners manage stormwater by installing rain gardens and/or cisterns on their property. The rebate can cover the full cost of instillation, but you must live in an eligible area.

Click here to see if you are eligible for a rebate. Additionally, you can sign up here for a webinar to learn about the program and rebates. The Webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, August 1 from 7:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

 

 

Seattle University Public Safety Survey and Micro-Community Policing Plans; New Library Restroom Policy; RainWise Program Info & Eligibility

Seattle University Public Safety Survey and Micro-Community Policing Plans

Seattle University recently released their 2017 Seattle Public Safety Survey. The report includes analysis of community perceptions of public safety citywide, by police precinct, and by Micro-Community Policing Plan (MCPP) area.

There are 14 micro-communities for the Southwest Precinct: Alaska Junction, Alki, Commercial Duwamish, Commercial Harbor Island, Fauntleroy, High Point, Highland Park, Morgan Junction, North Admiral, North Delridge, Pigeon Point, South Delridge, South Park and Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights.

Micro community policing plans were developed in conjunction with community residents according to the distinctive needs of each community, and are used in conjunction with crime data and community perceptions; implementation began to be used in January 2015.

You can find the MCPP area for where you live at the MCPP map website.  You can see the priorities for each residential MCPP here by selecting Precinct and MCPP Neighborhood.

The Seattle University survey includes listing of the top five responses to survey questions, and open-ended narrative answers about public safety. Additional survey questions include: knowledge of the MCPP; fear of crime by day and night; police legitimacy; and social organization. The survey also includes demographic information, and analysis of social cohesion within communities.

The section on the Southwest Precinct begins on page 53 (page 54 of the pdf). The top public safety concerns in the SW Precinct are lack of police capacity; car prowls; unsafe driving/speeding; residential burglary, and auto theft. Themes in narrative comments include police capacity; public order; property crime; traffic issues, and homelessness public safety/public health. Each of the 14 MCPPs have separate survey results. The top five public safety concerns and narrative comments are listed for each MCPP.

Regarding the top community concern, police capacity, I’ve voted to add over 100 officer patrol positions since 2016; I am also interested in hearing from the police chief appointee about her plans to increase deployment of patrol officers. A letter from the co-chairs of the search committee to the Mayor raised the issue of officer deployment, noting that ‘less than half of all sworn officers are assigned to patrol, a percentage that is inconsistent with a national practice of 60%.” I submitted a question about this as part of the Council’s review process.

In addition, the Council has approved funding to re-establish the Community Service Officer (CSO) program. CSOs are unsworn officers who can prioritize community services associated with law enforcement such as crime prevention and non-emergency tasks, and free up SDP officers for 911 response.

 

New Library Restroom Policy

Last week my office received a letter from the Seattle Public Library announcing that on June 27th the Seattle Public Library Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new library restroom policy. As you may remember there was an incident last year at the library where a transgender library patron was denied access to the Central Branch Library’s family and ADA accessible restroom in the children’s area.

According to the new policy, this family and ADA restroom, located in the Central Library’s children’s area, is now available to all library patrons.  The Seattle Public Library maintains its stance that patrons are welcome to use the restroom based on the gender they identify with but have heard feedback from patrons who do not feel comfortable or safe using the library’s multi-stalled, gendered restrooms.  In addition to the children’s area restroom the Central Library now has a single occupant public restroom located on the third floor.

As a reminder, in August of 2015 the the Seattle City Council passed Council Bill 118455 amending the Seattle Municipal Code to clarify the right of individuals to use gender-specific facilitates consistent with their gender identity and adding a new Chapter 14.07 to Seattle’s Municipal Code providing for all-gender restrooms in City-controlled buildings and places of public accommodation.  You can find more information about the City’s practices and policies related to all-gender restrooms at the Office for Civil Rights Gender Justice Project webpage. 

 

RainWise Program Info & Eligibility

In order to help prevent flooding, reduce pollution, protect property, and to help provide water for summer irrigation Seattle Public Utilities offers a rebate program called RainWise. In the program, eligible property owners manage stormwater by installing rain gardens and/or cisterns on their property. The rebate can cover the full cost of instillation, but you must live in an eligible area.

Click here to see if you are eligible for a rebate. Additionally, you can sign up here for a webinar to learn about the program and rebates. The Webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, August 1 from 7:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

 

 

Prepaid Postage for Returned Ballots; In-District Office Hours and Special Guest CM González!; Office of Planning and Community Development Growth Monitoring Report- D1 Highlights; Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition Wins Economic Development Initiative Award; Motor vehicle exhaust noise law goes into effect July 22; SW Precinct offering free use of engraver; Wrong Streetcars Purchased for Center City Streetcar

Prepaid Postage for Returned Ballots

As you may have heard, last May the King County Council approved the King County Elections request for prepaid postage for every voter in the County so that they could return their ballot through the mail without a stamp.

King County Elections conducted two prepaid postage pilots last year.  By eliminating the need for a stamp, it removes a barrier for voters, encourages higher return rates, and allows communities to become more engaged in elections.

Additionally, 21 ballot drop boxes will remain across the City of Seattle where you can return your ballot 24/7 and up until 8 p.m. on election day. Remember if you return your ballot via mail they need to be postmarked by election day. If you’re returning your ballot on election day the drop boxes are the best option to ensure that your vote is counted.

 

In-District Office Hours and Special Guest CM González!

On July 27, I will be at the Southwest Neighborhood Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) from 2:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 p.m., the final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Councilmember González will be joining me between 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

Friday, September 21, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

Friday, October 26, 2018
Southwest Neighborhood Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St

Friday, December 14, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

 

Office of Planning and Community Development Growth Monitoring Report- D1 Highlights 

Last month the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) released the Comprehensive Plan Urban Village Indicators Monitoring Report.  Adopted in 2016, Seattle 2035 is Seattle’s current 20-year Compressive plan.  This report is the first in a series of monitoring reports tracking the growth of Seattle through 2035.  This monitoring is an important part of maintaining the transparency and effectiveness of the Comprehensive Plan. The report is broken into 3 sections; Housing and Employment Growth, Affordability and Livability.

Housing and Employment Growth

According to the report, “Seattle’s Growth Strategy directs 84 percent of housing growth to urban centers and urban villages.”  District 1 contains 5 urban villages; Admiral, West Seattle Junction, Morgan Junction, South Park and Westwoord-Highland Park.  The City’s Growth and Equity Analysis identifies urban villages where there is a high risk of displacement for current residents.   You can see the displacement risk chart below.

The report notes Seattle’s extremely fast paced housing growth noting that, if the 21,500 housing units permitted as of December 2017 are

built, the City will have reached 52% of its 20-year housing growth estimate in just a few short years.  These rates of development varied greatly among individual urban villages with high displacement.  Among a notable exception to the growth rate is South Park and the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village which had housing growth of 1% or less between the beginning of 2016 and the end of 2017.

Below you can find the full chart of the 20 year Comprehensive Plan housing growth estimates, along with actual housing growth thus far in the monitoring period for each urban center, hub urban village, and residential urban village in the city:

Sixty-nine percent of the City’s employment growth between March 2015 and March 2016 occurred in urban centers.  Almost all urban centers have seen a growth in employment with one notable exception; the number of jobs in the Duwamish and Ballard-Interbay-Northend manufacturing/industrial centers declined during the same period.  The Greater Duwamish M/IC lost roughly 600 jobs during the monitoring period.

The first year of the monitoring, between March 2015 and March 2016 saw varies rate of growth in Seattle’s six urban hub villages.  Among the areas that grew more rapidly was the West Seattle Junction where employment grew by 9%.

Affordability

Seattle 2035’s goal is to achieve a supply of housing that is diverse and affordable.  The monitoring report acknowledges that “Seattle’s high housing costs are making it increasingly difficult for low-income household to live in our city.”  The Comp Plan found that meeting the plan’s 20-year growth estimate of 70,000 net new housing units would require roughly 27,500-36,500 new affordable units at or below 80% area medium income (AMI).  It should be noted these numbers did not account for existing unmet affordable housing needs and as such the need for new affordable housing units is likely much higher.

The affordability section of the report monitors two different indicators including affordability of market-rate rental housing and income-restricted affordable housing.  The data for these indicators shows several key factors for the city as a whole:

  • Market-rate apartment units in medium-to-large complexes, the most common form of rentals, are largely unaffordable to low income households
  • Small apartment complexes and multiplexes are more affordable but are decreasing as a share of rental housing in the city.
  • Average rents for newer properties are notably higher than those for older properties
  • The affordability of market-rate apartments varies greatly from one urban center to the next
  • As of March 31, 2018, the supply of income-restricted affordable housing in Seattle totaled approximately 29,370 units.
  • Of the rent- and income-restricted units existing in Seattle as of March 2018, roughly 82 percent are inside urban centers and villages.

Livability

The final section of the monitoring reporting addresses livability including access to transit, presence of sidewalks, and access to parks and open space.  Of these three livability indicators the report notes:

  • Within the urban villages 84% of housing units are within a half mile walk of transit running every 10 min or better and 99% are within a half-mile walk of transit running every 15 minutes or more. This includes the West Seattle Junction.
  • The report also notes that “Admiral is unique among urban villages in that none of the housing in this village is within a 10-minute walk of either 10-minute or 15-minute transit service. Corridors serving Admiral are identified in the Frequent Transit Network as priorities for upgrades to 15-minute service.”
  • There are several urban villages in south Seattle, including Westwood-Highland Park that have low rates of sidewalk completion as part of the Pedestrian Master Plan Priority Investment Network. See figure below for more details

 

Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition Wins Economic Development Initiative Award

Earlier this month it was announced by the Office of Planning and Community Development that the Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition was given an Economic Development Initative (EDI) award of $75,000 to build the capacity of the Coalition and the South Park community. The coalition intends to use the money to explore anti-displacement strategies that ultimately result in a community-serving project that includes affordable housing, childcare and community space.

While the DVAHC is still growing, the founding members include The Duwamish River CleanUp Coalition, Puentes Advocacy, Counseling & Education (Nuestro Barrio), South Park Information and Resource Center, and South Park Neighbors Association.  Congratulations to the Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition!

 

Motor vehicle exhaust noise law goes into effect July 22

The motor vehicle exhaust noise law adopted by the Council last month goes in to effect on July 22nd.

SPD has indicated they will begin with warnings before issuing citations.

 

SW Precinct offering free use of engraver

The Southwest Precinct is making a professional engraver  available for use, free of change.

The engraver allows you to mark your property with an identifying number. These markings assist the Seattle Police Department in getting recovered property back to victims, as well as aid with investigations.

If you are interested in renting an engraver- please stop by the SW Precinct (2300 SW Webster St.) and speak with the desk officer.

Thanks to SW Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Danner for this information. SPD also encourages residents to use a household inventory sheet, to fill out and keep in a safe place. The SW Crime Prevention Coordinator also offers free residential and commercial safety/security assessments. You can contact her at jennifer.danner@seattle.gov.

 

Wrong Streetcars Purchased for Center City Streetcar

While we are awaiting the results of the independent review of the Center City Streetcar ordered by the Mayor a media report noted that the new streetcars as designed won’t fit in the existing maintenance barns, and that there may be an issue of whether they fit the gauge of rail.

Council Central Staff, on my request, has verified the accuracy of this report; it appears the error will require either a change order for the design of the streetcars or incur new costs for construction of new or retrofitted maintenance barns. I am requesting that the Mayor’s Streetcar Assessment include full transparency in the added costs for this unfortunate error.

It’s disappointing to hear this—these issues of accountability need to be dealt with much earlier, and they highlight the need for the increased Capital Project Oversight the Council has been working on.

Small Business Survey; Results of Homeless Services; West Seattle Light Rail; SPU/SCL Call Center; Office Hours; Police Chief Confirmation


Seattle Small Business Survey

In continuing its efforts to support Seattle small businesses the Office of Economic Development has designed a survey to ask small business owners across the city what the City can do to better support the success of Seattle small businesses.  This information will help OED to prioritize their programs and services, as well as to inform pilot projects, such as the Legacy Business Program.

The survey closes in a few days so if you would like to participate make sure you respond by Sunday July 15th.  Apologies for the short turnaround, my office just learned of this survey this week.

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OEDsmallbusiness

 


City-Funded Homeless Services: First Quarter 2018 Results

On Tuesday June 26th the Human Services, Equitable Development and Renter Rights committee heard a summary of the Human Services Department (HSD) report on the 2018 Homelessness Services Investments.  This data reflects information provided to HSD by providers both through the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) as well as through their regular reporting requirements found in their service contracts and invoices.

In the first quarter of 2018, 3,030 households exited to housing (or maintained their permanent supportive housing) from the homeless services system.  This is an increase of 1,241 households when compared to the same timeframe during first quarter last year.  A total of 221 households were diverted from the homelessness emergency services system through the City’s homelessness prevention efforts.

Whenever possible, our homelessness services system tries to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.  The City of Seattle made an additional investment of over $3 million in our prevention services for 2018.  This was one area where rates of people maintaining housing was lower than it was for the same timeframe last year.  In their presentation, HSD shared that they anticipate these outcomes will improve in quarter two for two reasons.  First, $1.3 million of the new investments have been in 3 new programs.  These new programs have spent much of quarter one establishing and ramping up their services.  Additionally, prevention programs must keep client records open for 90 days. As such, outcomes for some program participants may not be available until the next quarter.  I will continue to monitor the quarter two prevention outcomes to track any changes.

The City of Seattle’s homelessness investments are broken into five categories; Emergency Shelter and Services, Housing, Prevention, and Access to Services and Operations.  When homelessness prevention is not possible there are two different options available.  The first is using diversion funds to move people directly into housing.  When this is not possible, people are directed into the emergency service system.

The City currently invests in two kinds of shelter; basic shelter and enhanced shelter.  In addition to providing low-barrier shelter, enhanced shelter provides services such as extended hours, increased flexibility, hygiene services, storage, meals and case management services.  Sixty-seven percent of the total shelter beds funded by the City in 2018 provide enhanced services, this is an increase of 23% over the same timeframe in 2017.  According to HSD, enhanced shelter moves people into permanent housing six times more quickly than basic shelter.  In the first quarter of 2018 2,800 households received enhanced shelter services.  Of those 2,800 households, 1457 exited enhanced shelter (to anywhere) and 299 households exited to permanent housing.  Another part of the emergency homelessness service system is transitional housing in which the City invests specifically to support youth and young adults. In the first quarter of 2018, City funded providers provided transitional housing to 672 households.  Of those households 175 exited (to anywhere) and 103 exited to permanent housing.

Diversion services offer one-time financial assistance or services to bypass shelters and move people facing homelessness directly into housing. The City invested an additional $1 million in diversion programs in 2018, doubling its investment to a total of $2 million.  The exit rate to permanent housing for diversion programs increased by 19% in 2018 (as compared to the same time last year) to a rate of 80.5%. Diversion can help people reunite with family, mediate with a landlord, or pay rent for a short time.

Rapid Rehousing assists individuals to quickly exit the homeless services system and move to permanent housing   The City measures the success of Rapid Rehousing when people live in their own housing without the on-going subsidy associated with Rapid Rehousing.  In quarter one of 2018 there was a slight increase in the number of households served from 605 in Q1 of 2017 to 629 in Q1 of 2018 and a 10% increase in the rate of exits to permanent housing, totaling 83%, in Q1 of 2018 as compared to Q1 of 2017.

Finally, Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is considered successful when people remain housed in a PSH unit or move to other permanent housing.  In the first quarter of 2018 there have been 1850 households who have maintained their housing in PSH with a 99% rate of “exits to” (which are better defined as maintenance of) permanent housing.  This represents continued success of this intervention especially for people who are experiencing chronic homelessness. The success of this program is also why the spending plan for the repealed Employee Hours Tax dedicated most of the anticipated revenue to PSH.

There have been many questions about how the City is accountable for its homelessness investments. Last year I proposed, and the Council passed the HSD Results Based-Accountability bill.  This ordinance was crafted with community providers, HSD, community-based researchers and Councilmembers relating to how the Human Services Department should utilize a results-based framework (RBA) when designing its human services investments.  Questions have arisen as to how HSD’s “exits to permanent housing” outcome is measured when it comes to prevention and diversion programs, programs that, by definition, are helping to KEEP people in housing.   Permanent housing, according to HUD, is defined as community-based housing without a designated length of stay in which formerly homeless individuals and families live as independently as possible.  The following is the definition used for exits to permanent housing for HUD:

  • Emergency Services and Transitional Housing to permanent housing: An exit from an authorized encampment/ City-permitted village would be considered an exit to permanent housing from an unsheltered location, since HUD does not recognize encampments as emergency services.
  • Prevention:  An exit is maintaining existing housing or being diverted to other permanent housing instead of becoming homeless.
  • Diversion:  An exit is being diverted from homelessness to permanent housing (which in some cases means maintaining existing housing).
  • Rapid Rehousing:  An exit is maintaining existing housing after subsidy ends.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH):  An exit is remaining in PSH.  This is considered an exit because accepting and maintaining permanent supportive housing is theoretically the only way the target population for PSH, people who need an ongoing level of deeper support, will not be homeless.

As such when HSD uses the term “permanent housing” it may include all of the above definitions.  Whether it is maintaining housing for people at risk of homelessness or moving someone who is homeless into permanent housing, the goal is still the same, to make sure that as many people as possible have a stable, permanent and affordable place to live.

In closing, it’s important to recognize that HSD is making continuous improvements in working with service providers to improve outcomes and ensure that there is accountability for the public’s tax dollars.  Importantly as well, they have improved their transparency in helping to tell the story to the public of how those outcomes and accountability has improved.  The reason this is so important is that it helps to answer the question:  “why do we see an increase in homelessness?”  With data like this, we can demonstrate that our programs are accomplishing the outcomes that we intend but that the need for more services is increasing because even though the available resources have successfully moved people out of homelessness, increasing numbers of people need those services.

 


Update on West Seattle Options and Schedule for Light Rail

In May Sound Transit moved forward with alternatives for light rail to West Seattle, for analysis in Level 2, as part of their three-tiered development of a preferred alternative. The Elected Leadership Group recommended four options proceed, beyond the baseline “Representative Alignment” Sound Transit is using.

Level 2 analysis will include greater detail, including cost estimates. I’ve asked that Sound Transit develop visual renderings to allow for ease of public understanding.

At the most recent Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting on June 20, as part of their ongoing Level 2 evaluation, Sound Transit released modified level 2 alternatives for the West Seattle-Ballard line.  Here’s a link to the West Seattle portion of the line.

Some of the revised alternatives show the Avalon station straddling Fauntleroy, in order to provide easier access to residents to the north of Fauntleroy near the entrance to the West Seattle Bridge. The Oregon Street/Alaska Junction Tunnel alternative has a revised route from the Avalon station westward, no longer going under Fauntleroy to SW Oregon Street. The Golf Course/Alaska Junction Tunnel alternative no longer crosses Delridge Playfield, or the West Seattle Golf Course. A mix-and-match example shows how elements of different options could be combined.

Level 2 evaluation results are scheduled for completion in early September. The Stakeholder Advisory Group will be briefed on September 5th; Sound Transit will then hold neighborhood forums. The Stakeholder Advisory Group will then make their recommendations for options to carry forward to Level 3 on September 26th.

The Elected Leadership Group is then scheduled to meet in early October to select options for Level 3 on October 5th.

Thanks to Sound Transit for holding these Level 2 neighborhood forums before the Stakeholder Advisory Group makes its recommendation. I appreciate their responsiveness to the West Seattle community’s concerns about the timing of the Level 1 neighborhood meeting taking place after the Stakeholder Advisory Group’s had made their recommendations.

 


SPU/SCL Call Center Update

In March I wrote about the Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light shared call center and the work that was being done to decrease the wait times and increase service levels. This week I had an opportunity to tour the call center and I received another update on call wait times and abandonment rates. Here are two charts that compare this year’s performance with that of last year.

As you can see, the average wait time (the amount of time someone is on hold) has dropped significantly; in turn that has helped to reduce the abandonment rate (when someone calls and hangs up before speaking with a representative). Anecdotally, I have also received less constituent correspondence about billing and call center issues.

The performance achieved is due in no small part to the hiring of 18 new temporary employees that SPU brought on to manage the workload. I also learned this week that staffing levels have not increased at the call center since 2001. Obviously, the city and service needs of the utilities has grown a lot since then, as such SPU will be requesting from the Mayor 24 new full-time positions by the end of 2020. In addition to the new employees, the call center is now operating an hour later on week days (until 7pm), as well as four hours on Saturdays (8:30am – 12:30pm).

You will notice, however from the graphs above, that the real test will come between July and the end of September. These months typically see a very large increase in calls due to seasonal moves, specifically for college students.

Again, I will continue to monitor this issue and if you have an issue with your utility bill, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in my office.


In-District Office Hours

On July 27, I will be at the Southwest Neighborhood Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) from 2:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 p.m., the final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

Friday, September 21, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

Friday, October 26, 2018
Southwest Neighborhood Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St

Friday, December 14, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

 


Upcoming Police Chief Confirmation and Council Questions

The Mayor is considering three potential candidates to appoint as Seattle’s next Chief of Police. After the Mayor selects a nominee, the Council will consider and vote on the nominee.

I want a chief who can successfully manage the Police Department to uphold public safety; implement the reforms required by the Department of Justice; carefully manage budgets, and work productively to build trust with the community.

Overseeing executive departments and ensuring accountability are important functions of the City Council. As part of the confirmation process, the Council will submit questions to the Mayor’s nominee. I’d like to invite District 1 constituents to send me questions you’d like to ask the Mayor’s appointee to answer. I’ll be submitting questions to Councilmember González, who, as Chair of the committee that oversees SPD, will be compiling Council questions.

Please send any questions to me by next Wednesday the 18th.

Transportation Benefit District Changes Allow for Additional Service for Delridge; An Update on Developer Impact Fees for Water, Drainage, and Wastewater Infrastructure – as well as Transportation and School District Capital Projects; Duwamish Valley Action Plan released/Duwamish Valley Opportunity Fund Applications; Duwamish River Opportunity Fund Taking Applications; June Constituent Email Report

Transportation Benefit District Changes Allow for Additional Service for Delridge

Last week the City Council passed legislation amending the criteria for Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) spending; under state law, these funds can only be used for transportation purposes.

One of the key changes is to amend the spending criteria to allow the STBD to fund additional service for Route 120 (planned for conversion to the RapidRide H Line). The current formula sharply limits STBD spending on this line, in contrast to the C Line, where STBD funds cover 1/3 of service hours, which has resulted in a 40% increase in ridership.

Route 120 is one of the priority routes for SDOT to improve frequency; SDOT is working with Metro to identify potential improvements that could be implemented in 2019.

In addition, the amendments allow for STBD spending on capital improvements for the Delridge Rapid Corridor project for the RapidRide H line.

Most of the STBD funds are dedicated to providing additional bus service in Seattle; here’s a link to the report about how the funds have been spent.

The original measure from 2014 allowed for $2 million for low-income transit riders; this legislation extends that for all Seattle Public School students. 2,680 cards were distributed for last year, which resulted in 444,000 trips, or 165 trips per card.

 

An Update on Developer Impact Fees for Water, Drainage, and Wastewater Infrastructure – as well as Transportation and School District Capital Projects

You may remember that during the Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Strategic Business Plan update last year I heeded the recommendation from the Customer Review Panel to implement system development charges, and I wrote about it in my blog at the time. System Development Charges (SDCs) are one-time charges (similar to impact fees) on new customers to buy into or access the utility system. These charges are authorized by the State, but Seattle has been hesitant to implement these fees at all in some cases and in a full cost recovery capacity in other instances. However, most other jurisdictions utilize these charges in order to hold new development accountable for increased costs for the utility, rather than spreading the costs of this infrastructure to general ratepayers. Much like other types of impact fees (Parks, Transportation, and School impact fees authorized by the State), the graph below shows that Seattle just doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity to make sure developers pay their fair share in the same ways that other jurisdictions do.

Following the recommendations from the Customer Review Panel, I proposed an amendment to the Strategic Business Plan that requested SPU to “revise its water connection charge calculation methodology to include interest on existing assets, develop an implementation plan for sewer and drainage connection charges…” The purpose of this change is to ensure that growth is paying for growth and that SPU has an effective and efficient method to recover those costs.

In June SPU delivered their first report to Council which describes the work which needs to be completed in order to make a recommendation on legislative changes to the Council. The paper covers four main issue areas: SDCs Calculation (how to calculate the fees), Use of SDCs Revenue (where and how to spend the revenue), Latecomer Agreements (how to accommodate “first-in developments”), and Affordable Housing Development.

One important initial bit of progress that this report does not cover that SPU is moving forward with a customer engagement plan and Director’s Rule public review related to updating the water connection charge and water taps installation fee.  Unlike the SDCs covered in the report, these changes do not require a code change to implement.  SPU will also be updating other separate charges such as meter reads and meter testing fees.  These changes are scheduled to go into effect in October 2018.  Again, why should you care?  Well, the closer SPU gets to full cost recovery for the costs associated with new customers using the system, the less these costs will be shifted to the general rate payer.

I appreciate the work that SPU has put into this report, and I have a better understanding of the complexity and possible paths forward in implementing responsible System Development Charges. However, growth and development are happening now, and the longer we wait the less effective these policies will be in generating needed revenue for the utility which will offset rate increases.

I intend on having SPU share this report with my committee this month so that we can publicly discuss the issues highlighted in the report and ensure that the utility is proceeding in a timely manner with their recommendations.

In case you are interested in Transportation Impact Fees, you might want to review this presentation in Councilmember O’Brien’s committee in March, see here.  The Council’s next steps for implementing Transportation Impact Fees will be to update our Comprehensive Plan.  Last summer the Council passed a resolution that established the 2018 docket of proposed amendments to the city’s Comprehensive Plan (the document that guides how we grow). The resolution directs city departments to analyze and propose amendments to our Comprehensive Plan establishing an impact-fee program.  We had planned to vote on these Comprehensive Plan changes in the first quarter of 2018.  See here from last summer’s Seattle Times editorial authored by Councilmember O’Brien, Bagshaw, and myself.  Because there has been an appeal to the City’s Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program and MHA implementation would require several Comprehensive Plan Amendments, the Comp Plan update originally planned for 1st Quarter 2018 has been delayed until after resolution of the MHA FEIS Appeal.

Finally, as it relates to School Impact Fees to help minimize the size of the future School Levy for Capital Facilities and the impact on property taxed, the city has to develop interlocal agreements in collaboration with Seattle Public Schools in order to enact impact fees for schools.  In February, the Seattle School District reported to the School District Board the goal of having a joint City/School District Memorandum of Understanding in place addressing, among other issues, the implementation of a School Impact Fees program by June.

 

Duwamish Valley Action Plan released/Duwamish Valley Opportunity Fund Applications

Last week the City released the Duwamish Valley Action Plan.

Seattle’s Duwamish Valley Program  is a multi-departmental effort focused on the Duwamish Valley neighborhoods of South Park and Georgetown, designed to advance the City’s and communities’ environmental justice and equitable development goals as outlined in the Equity & Environment Agenda and Equitable Development Implementation Plan. The release of the action plan is the culmination of efforts to date.

The Plan identifies over 90 near, mid, and long-term actions the City will take to deliver measurable community health and well-being outcomes. Priority areas include Healthy Environment, Parks & Open Spaces, Community Capacity, Mobility & Transportation, Economic Opportunity & Jobs, Affordable Housing, and Public Safety.

Some of the short-term things mentioned in the report are already completed, thanks to the advocacy of South Park residents working with my office and the Executive, such as adding street lighting in the alley between Cloverdale and Donovan, and hiring a public safety coordinator, as proposed by the South Park Public Safety Task Force.

The report is also available in Spanish , Vietnamese, and Somali.

Background information available at the Duwamish Valley Program resources page.

 

Duwamish River Opportunity Fund Taking Applications

The City of Seattle’s Duwamish River Opportunity Fund is taking applications for $250,000 for community-based projects that increase the Sustainability of these neighborhoods.

Applicants are encouraged to attend a workshop before applying. These workshops will review the application process and discuss the requirements for a good proposal. The workshops will be held:

The Request for Proposals and Application Materials are available at the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund  webpage. Applications are due by July 30 @ 5 p.m.

 

June Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office.  My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s through getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering.  The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in June, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in June related to policy or legislation the Council is considering.