South Park; Second West Seattle Tree Cutting Settlement; Amazon Meeting; How Will Sound Transit Develop a Preferred Alternative for West Seattle Light Rail?

South Park

Like you, I was shocked, saddened, outraged, and worried for the safety of my neighbors when we learned about the shooting of one of our South Park children.

Wednesday evening, I was at the Denny/Sealth PTSA Safety meeting at Neighborhood House in High Point when the officers that were the presenting guests were called away to respond. Many of you were much closer to this event. Maybe you, like I, felt a sense of helplessness in the face of such a needless tragedy.

When a teenager or any child in our community is shot we all feel that pain in different ways. It is my greatest hope that the child involved can recover fully, and that family and community members are there to offer support every step of the way.

As a parent and grandparent this is the worst of our fears. But I need you to not feel helplessness. I need you to keep raising your voices to demand more from City Hall.

I know that South Park will not be defined by this incident, but instead by the strength and pride of this community who, every opportunity, rallies to the aid of others who are suffering.

While it’s too early to know specifically what could have been done to prevent this senseless shooting, what we do know is it is past time for City Hall to really rally its support for South Park. What I do is commit to you in my capacity as representative of our community to continue to keep the health, safety and welfare of my South Park constituents at the forefront. As a Councilmember, the formal scope of my powers doesn’t necessarily extend beyond legislation and budget decisions. But it does afford me a chance to secure resources and services for all of us, and to advocate for the community.

I’ve been able to advocate for the residents of South Park, only because of the efforts that many of you have made to engage with my office.  Over the last two years my staff and I have worked on South Park issues ranging from:

  • Securing a dedicated SPD bike beat
  • Securing a mobile precinct unit for South Park
  • Closing several residential and commercial nuisance property cases while continuing to work on others
  • Advocating for the clients of the South Park Information and Referral Center
  • Supporting efforts to do community-based planning for the South Park Neighborhood Center
  • Supporting superfund remediation efforts for the Duwamish
  • Pushing to break ground on the long-delayed SPU Pump Station project to improve the environment where you live
  • Working to improve the lighting on the streets, in alleys, and recreation areas
  • Helping the Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition, to support their capacity building to undertake anti-displacement work in the Duwamish Valley
  • Proposed and secured funding for the South Park Family Service Center
  • Helped ensure the future of Duwamish Waterway Park and the continued development into a park space
  • 36.5 hours of open office hours in South Park to hear from you
  • South Park Public Safety Task Force (see below)

Let’s continue our efforts to work with the precinct officers to maintain their presence, engaging the crime prevention coordinators to help SPD to be more proactive, fighting for greater support for youth engagement and violence prevention services, mental health funding, and other services that help the people that need it most, and implementing and funding the recommendations from the community-driven South Park Public Safety Task Force. The Council, in the budget process, secured $600,000 for implementation. The Executive has committed to reprioritizing funds to help implement some others.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been in touch with the Mayor’s Office, Chief Carmen Best, and City departments. Below is an update on the City’s work to implement the recommendations of the South Park Public Safety Task Force. Please click here for an update on the City’s work to implement the recommendations of the South Park Public Safety Task Force. Thanks to the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) for their work in coordinating this update; DON is assigning a point person to make sure these items keep moving forward.

I’ll see you at the vigil tonight.

 

Second West Seattle Tree Cutting Settlement

On Monday, the City Attorney announced a settlement of $360,000 for a second tree cutting lawsuit stemming from the illegal cutting of 153 trees on public property in the East Admiral area in early 2016.  The first lawsuit was settled in 2017 for $440,000. Remediation work is underway, including saplings that were planted within the last week.

Saplings now adorn a hillside where the trees once stood, though it will be decades before our West Seattle greenbelt is truly restored.  Thank you to City Attorney Holmes and his team for securing this $360,000 settlement, in addition to the $440,000 settlement from last spring; I expect these clear consequences will make someone think twice before considering arboricide in the future.  I’m glad the funds will be going to restore this greenbelt, and other greenbelts in Seattle.

Here’s a link to the City Attorney’s announcement. Parks and Recreation Interim Superintendent Williams notes that over 620 trees have been planted, and over 5,500 native plants overall.

Trees in our greenbelts are precious natural resources that maintain soil stability, thus lessening the risk of landslides, and maintain air quality by absorbing carbon.

Earlier, the King County Prosecutor opted not to file felony criminal changes; the City Attorney has jurisdiction over lesser charges, i.e. misdemeanors.

 

Today’s Amazon Meeting

Later today some of my colleagues and I are attending what has been referred to as the “Amazon Reset Meeting,” along with a number of other policy makers and opinion leaders in Seattle. I think of it as an opportunity for King County Councilmembers, State Legislators, Governor’s staff, School Board members, Seattle College Presidents, and other attendees to set the terms for what we as a City believe is important for a good corporate partner that is employing a larger and larger portion of our workforce.

I’ve not been shy about calling for Amazon to pay more attention to its labor practices. I sent this letter last year and worked to get the famous “reset letter” to also include these same critical issues.

These are the topics on Amazon’s agenda today:

  • Providing Affordability and Opportunity in Seattle
  • Transportation and Mobility
  • Seattle Business Environment
  • Education and the Future of Work

It’s important for Amazon to understand the elected leaders in this region highly value workers’ rights, and that in seeking a better relationship with Amazon will not look the other way when workers are misclassified as contract employees and labor rights are denied.   I also want to ensure that union represented workers in markets that Amazon has and is acquiring are secure in their employment futures.

With that in mind I will continue to advocate for many of the issues important to Amazon workers:  not receiving minimum wage, overtime, rest breaks, paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, and other benefits.  Resolving these problems for the workers who keep Amazon running – and others struggling to make it in our City — is critical for the high cost of living in Seattle.

Finally, I want to ensure the understanding that preemption bills in the State Legislature that would limit Seattle’s ability to enact strong labor laws are not acceptable to many City of Seattle lawmakers.

 

How Will Sound Transit Develop a Preferred Alternative for West Seattle Light Rail?

Next Tuesday, February 13th Sound Transit will host the first open house for light rail to West Seattle. This is part of the “early scoping” period from February 2 to March 5, which starts the formal process to develop the route light rail will travel from Downtown to West Seattle.

It’s vital to get involved and put forward proposals for the light rail route as early as possible. Suggestions from the public will inform what gets considered through the three-tiered formal decision making process for developing the preferred alternative for the light rail route for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions.

The first layer is the Stakeholder Advisory Group, which began meeting on February 8; the full membership roster was announced earlier this week. They will make recommendations for alternatives to study, and for a preferred alternative. They are advisory to the Elected Leadership Group.

The Elected Leadership Group will recommend a preferred alternative for consideration by the Sound Transit Board of Directors based on input of the Stakeholder Advisory Group, the public, and the voter-approved project scope, schedule and budget. The first meeting was in January.

Members of the Stakeholder Advisory Group come from neighborhoods along the entire line, from West Seattle, SODO, Downtown, South Lake Union, Uptown (Lower Queen Anne), Interbay, and Ballard. Members of the Elected Leadership Group represent all those areas as well (I serve on it as the Councilmember representing West Seattle); Snohomish County Executive Somers, Chair of the Sound Transit Board, is also a member.

The Sound Transit Board will make the final decision to adopt a preferred alternative. This board consists of elected officials from throughout the Sound Transit district in Snohomish, King and Pierce Counties.

Proposals from the public will inform the decisions made by each of the three layers of decision making. Here’s Sound Transit’s Community Engagement Guide, which includes additional information about how to get involved. More information is available at the Sound Transit document archive and the project website.

Here’s a link to a document that shows the decision making process and the schedule flow; I’ve asked Sound Transit to update the document to clarify that the Neighborhood Forums listed in the schedule are tied to the recommendations schedule of the three formal groups.

Downtown/South Lake Union MHA; South Park Crime and Public Safety Survey; Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane Street intersection improvements; Chief Sealth High School Walkway Improvements

Downtown and South Lake Union MHA 

On Tuesday, 3/21/2017, the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee discussed eight amendments to the proposed South Lake Union (SLU) and Downtown Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation. The amendments ranged from a. providing a carrot to developers not covered by MHA (because their projects are already through the design process) to voluntarily participate in the MHA affordable housing program to b. requiring developers to develop transportation management plans to c. my own proposal to increase the affordable housing obligations of developers in SLU and Downtown.   There was no vote on my amendment and several of the others.  The Full Council is scheduled to vote on these amendments and the final bill on Monday, 4/10/2017 at 2pm.

The basic tenet of the MHA affordable housing program is that we can legally require developers to contribute to affordable housing when we change zoning to grant some additional zoning capacity to build taller.   The MHA program proposes to “capture the value of the upzone” in the form of an affordable housing obligation on developers.   The broader MHA Program has two components: (1) a program that applies to commercial development, Mandatory Housing Affordability – Commercial (MHA-C) and (2) a program that applies to residential development, Mandatory Housing Affordability-Residential (MHA-R). This is the approach that the Council passed last month with the University District MHA rezones and it’s the approach proposed for all of the Citywide MHA rezones.  It is not the approach proposed for the SLU and Downtown MHA-R program. Here is some background on why there is a different approach proposed and why I don’t think it’s the best deal we can strike for affordable housing.

  1. How were the proposed MHA-R housing affordability requirements derived for Downtown and South Lake Union (SLU) MHA?

The special requirements for SLU/Downtown were laid out in the Grand Bargain.

“For high-rise areas (DT/SLU/HR-First Hill), residential buildings would be given an extra 1,000 sf/floor: (i) this increment would be charged at the current incentive zoning rate ($22.65/square foot); and (ii) this increment would be viewed as part of mandatory incentive zoning, so that value of this available increment would be paid towards affordable housing whether the increment was used.”

  1. What does this mean for affordable housing if enacted in SLU and downtown?

The $22.65/square foot incentive zoning program fee extended to the extra residential floor area granted through the upzone and divided across the entire building would result in MHA-R fees for SLU and Downtown that range from $5.55 – $13.75 per square foot and performance requirements that range from 2.1% – 6% of all units in a building.   This is a smaller requirement than if the same formula that was used for the University District and proposed for the rest of the City was also used in SLU and downtown.  Consequently, developers in Downtown and South Lake Union would pay a fee that recaptures less of the value conveyed through the upzone than their counterparts outside of Downtown and SLU.

  1. Were the Incentive Zoning requirements passed in 2013 based on the value of the upzone?

The proposal for the Downtown and South Lake Union MHA program is not based on the value conveyed by the 2013 upzone, which increased heights for residential development in most areas of South lake Union from 85-240 feet.  Rather, the payment and performance requirements reflected what developers and property owners convinced the 2013 Council was a good incentive for them to build.

  1. How much higher did our consultant at the time say the incentive zoning fees could be set with still guaranteeing a good “return on equity” for investors and developers?

In 2013, Spectrum Development Solutions estimated that the City could establish a voluntary in-lieu incentive zoning payment almost four times greater than was adopted with upzones in the South Lake Union area and still allow development to achieve an economic rate of return that would attract investment.  While the Spectrum study was based on an assumption that units provided through incentive zoning would be affordable to households with somewhat higher incomes than proposed under the MHA-R framework, the analysis indicates that there is uncaptured value from the currently proposed upzone that could be reflected in higher payment and performance requirements for MHA-R.

  1. How might production proposed for Downtown/ SLU under the MHA-R program change, if the Council used the same methodology for all the MHA proposed upzones?

If we were to use the formula proposed for all the other upzones in the proposed SLU/Downtown upzone we could build approximately 320-450 more affordable housing units over a 20 year period.  The additional $1.3 – $1.9 million a year in fees could leverage other housing funds (up to a 1-3 leverage) potentially a total as much as $3.9 million – $5.7 million more a year.

Here are some details using the Office of Planning and Community Development’s assumptions for how growth downtown would be distributed among zones and uses under two scenarios as compared to the current proposal.

Scenario 1 – Using capitalized revenue methodology proposed for outside of Downtown to establish a payment of $12.80 in the Downtown and South Lake Union Urban Centers based on a 5% performance requirement.

Scenario 2 – Same as Scenario 1 above, but assuming current market rents of $3.04/gsf, which would establish a payment of $14.20/gsf.

In-Lieu Payments Leveraged Amount Estimated Production with leveraged resources
Mayor’s Current Proposal $ 59,362,000.00  $ 133,564,500.00 742 Units
Scenario 1 ($12.80 s.f.) $ 87,776,000.00  $ 197,496,000.00 1,087 Units
Scenario 2 ($14.20 s.f.) $ 97,376,000.00  $ 219,096,000.00 1,217 units

These modest increases in payment and performance requirements go further to address the affordable housing crisis and use the private investment of developers to leverage significant additional affordable housing dollars, all while still providing an economic incentive for developers.  They also ensure a more consistent policy framework across the entire MHA Affordable Housing Program – so that we can say that in all places the program applies we are capturing the value of the additional development capacity that the City is granting and turning it into affordable housing.

South Park Crime and Public Safety Survey

The Seattle Neighborhood Group is conducting a Crime and Public Safety Survey about the 8th and Cloverdale area. You can take the survey online here, or call 206-322-1161 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays. The Seattle Neighborhood Group has worked on neighborhood safety problems over the last 25 years.

Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St Intersection Improvements 

SDOT is taking public comment for Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St Intersection Improvements, funded through the 2016 Neighborhood Street Fund awards.

The Early Design Concept is shown on the project webpage, and copied on the right. SDOT is asking for comments about the design concept, and your experiences there. You can send comments to NSFHarborandSpokane@seattle.gov.

Here’s a March 2017 project update, and the SDOT’s review of the 2016 grant application.

You can sign up here for e-mail updates.  Design is planned for 2017, and construction in 2018.

Chief Sealth High School Walkway Improvements

SDOT is also taking comments on walkway improvements to enhance access to Chief Sealth High School, also funded through the Neighborhood Street Fund. The project would install two 10-foot wide walkways on 25th SW and 26th SW to the cul-de-sacs to the north, and add pedestrian lights, and provide a better connection between Westwood Village, transit stops, and Chief Sealth High School.

The Early Design Concept is shown on the project webpage, and copied below. SDOT is asking for comments about the design concept, and your experiences there. You can send comments to NSFHarborandSpokane@seattle.gov.

Here’s a March 2017 project update, and the SDOT’s review of the 2016 grant application.

You can sign up here for e-mail updates.  Design is planned for 2017, and construction in 2018.

A new round of Neighborhood Street Fund applications is scheduled for 2019.

City Council statement after threats to the Jewish community and New Hate Crimes Hotline; Renter’s Commission; District 1 Your Voice, Your Choice Project Development Team meetings in March for Parks, Street Fund; March 11 Metro service changes; Symphony/5th Avenue Theatre Community Service in the Arts Events: March 8, 17/18; Seattle LGBTQ Commissioner Appointments

City Council statement after threats to the Jewish community and New Hate Crimes Hotline

Earlier this week the Council issued a statement in response to a bomb threat against the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island and the anti-Semitic and racist graffiti found in Ballard. In the statement, we expressed our condemnation of hate speech and threats of violence.  We also called upon the Department of Justice to condemn these actions and pursue prosecution and we expressed our solidarity with the South Asian families in Kansas, targeted in recent hate crimes.  You can read the statement here.

This week the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) also announced a new hotline (206-233-7100) to report harassment in Seattle. It is illegal in Seattle to harass someone based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and other protected groups. The Hotline is part of the City of Seattle’s Bias Hurts Campaign for targets of discriminatory harassment, including threats, slurs, intimidation and cyberbullying. SOCR is coordinating with the Seattle Police Department, which enforces criminal laws against hate crimes, also known as malicious harassment. Anyone who experiences physical violence, property damage or threats should call 911 to report directly to the police.

SOCR can investigate allegations of discriminatory harassment, issue findings and mandate remedies in cases of discriminatory harassment in housing, employment, or public places that does not rise to the level of a crime.

Finally, you may recall that in response to reports of a spike in bias and hate crimes, I requested that the City Auditor analyze how we address hate crimes, including analyzing geographic and demographic trends, possible strategies for prevention, and consideration of questions from the US Department of Justice Center for Community Policing Services Hate Crimes report.  For data on reported bias and hate crimes, visit the Seattle Police Department’s Bias/Hate Crime Data Dashboard.

 

Renter’s Commission

Did you know that 53.8 percent of Seattle’s housing units are occupied by renters, and approximately 48% of residents in the city are renters?  Renters are an important part of our city. The Affordable Housing, Neighborhood and Finance Committee held its first discussion on proposed legislation to create a Renters’ Commission this morning, March 3, 2017.

The proposal to create this Commission was first advocated for by Zachary DeWolf of the Capitol Hill Community Council.   I am excited to join Councilmembers Burgess and O’Brien in responding to this proposal because we need to ensure that, as our city grows and changes, the renters’ voice will be heard as a part of our decision-making.

Some people have expressed concern that we are creating a special interest group.  The City has 45 Boards and Commissions representing special interest groups.  With so many people in Seattle being renters, it’s appropriate to have a commission committed to lifting the voice of renters.  The formation of this Commission will not minimize the input of property owners, rather it will broaden the opportunity for more inclusive input from a significant portion of Seattle’s population.

The Renters Commission will represent a diverse set of renter voices from across the city. The Commission will be empowered to advise on a variety of issues ranging from transportation, land use and community development, to monitoring the implementation of the city’s new landlord tenant legislation, like Source of Income Discrimination and the Move In Fees legislation, as well as watch dogging enforcement of older laws like the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, Rental Housing Registration and Inspection Program, the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance, and the Rental Agreement Regulation Ordinance.

The AHNF Committee plans to vote on this legislation, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, at 9:30am.

 

District 1 Your Voice, Your Choice Project Development Team meetings in March for Parks, Street Fund

The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) is using the “Your Voice, Your Choice” participatory budgeting approach for the Neighborhood Parks and Street Fund this year, which will include proposal evaluations and public voting within each of Seattle’s 7 Council districts.

According to a DON presentation in committee today, nearly 900 ideas were collected citywide, more than four times as many as during last year’s Neighborhood Parks and Street Fund process, and twice as many ideas as collected in last year’s youth-oriented participatory budgeting.  District 1 submitted the most ideas of all 7 districts with 209 ideas submitted. A list of ideas submitted by Council District should be available next week. The 2017 Idea Collection web page shows all the ideas submitted.

The next step in the process is Project Development, during March; this will involve grouping and narrowing the ideas; after that, they will be passed on to SDOT and Parks for refinement.

If you’d like to be involved in the District 1 Project Development Team, contact Jenny Frankl  jenny.frankl@seattle.gov ; you can register here for the meetings:  March 9 at the Southwest Branch of the Seattle Public Library; March 13 @ Neighborhood House in High Point; March 21 at Highland Park Improvement Club, and March 30 at the Southwest Branch of the library. Everyone is welcome to attend and participate. Meetings are from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

 

March 11 Metro service changes

Service changes are coming to King County Metro bus service beginning on Saturday, March 11, affecting roughly one-third of Metro routes.  Metro’s approved budget will add 300,000 service hours during 2017-2018.

Metro’s prioritizes service additions based on 1) crowding, 2) reliability, 3) and target service level.

In District One, additions are as follows:

Routes with added trips and schedule changes: 21E

With added trips to address crowding: C line

Schedule changes to address reliability: 21E, 22, 37, 55, 57, 60, 119E, 128

I am also excited for future scheduled investments in September that will include the 116, 125, 131, and 132.

Revisions to the C, 21E, 60 are linked here; changes to other routes can be linked on the PDF collection linked at that page.

 

Symphony/5th Avenue Theatre Community Service in the Arts Events:  March 8, 17/18

On Tuesday, the Council committee I chair hosted a “Community Service in the Arts” presentation featuring the community service of the 5th Avenue Theatre and the Seattle Symphony.

The Symphony recently hosted a “Music Beyond Borders: Voices from the 7” free concert featuring the music of Iran, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia and Syria. The performance took place soon after the President’s immigration executive order, which was halted after a challenge by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. You can view the performance here.

The Symphony also discussed the important work that they do with people experiencing homelessness.  Their current project is a collaboration with Pathway With Art. For 16 weeks students work on an original score inspired by the idea that “we are all here”–that Seattle’s ever-changing social and economic climate is one that we all need to navigate together.

They will host a culminating performance of the We Are All Here Project on Wednesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. at Benaroya Hall. Admission is free.  The performance will showcase the banners and poetry that have inspired the composition.

The 5th Avenue Theatre presented about their education programs, which include the Rising Star Project, which provides education opportunities for youth from throughout the region, with a focus on historically underserved schools.

The project includes students performing plays two weeks after the regular run ends. Unions and 5th Avenue Theatre staff collaborate to mentor students, who perform the play, and provide technical support in marketing, casting, and production.

The students will perform The Pajama Game, about workers seeking a 7 ½ cent pay raise, on March 17th and 18th. More information is available here.

These are just a couple of the community projects of the Seattle Symphony and the 5th  Avenue Theatre.  They both do so much more.  For more details see here and here.        

 

Seattle LGBTQ Commissioner Appointments

The Seattle Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Commission has vacancies for which I would welcome interest of community members in filling. The LGBTQ Commission advises the Mayor, Council, and city departments about issues of concern affecting the LGBTQ community, recommends policies and legislation, brings the LGBTQ communities and the larger Seattle community together through long-range projects, and ensures that City departments equitably address issues affecting and involving Seattle’s LGBTQ individuals and communities. This is a volunteer position that meets monthly and requires regular meeting attendance and has a two year term of office.

To learn more about the commission please visit www.seattle.gov/lgbtq and you can also attend their next meeting Thursday, March 16, 2017, at 6:30pm, at City Hall in the Boards and Commissioners Room.

If you are interested in applying for the commission, please send your resume and cover letter to lisa.herbold@seattle.gov and cc: Commissioner Liaison Erika.pablo@seattle.gov

Womxn’s March Tomorrow, Pronto/Bike Share Ending in Seattle; Reminder: Alaska Junction MHA/HALA meeting January 26; In the Cold Poetry Reading January 26; Annexation Briefing; Mayor’s Executive Order on Encampments; In-District Office Hours January 27

Womxn’s March Tomorrow

Please join me at the Womxn’s March on Seattle tomorrow, January 21st. All people are invited to join in solidarity with the march taking place in Washington D.C. as well as in 200 events planned in 46 states and 30 countries.

Are you wondering about the “x” in the title “Womxn’s March?”  Seattle organizers adopted the name ‘Womxn’s March on Seattle” to recognize intersectionality.  The organizers say: “different forms of discrimination intersect, overlap, and reinforce each other, and take into account the impact of discrimination based not only on gender but also race, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, faith, class, disability, and other backgrounds.”

The day will start with a rally at 10am in Judkins Park (2150 S Norman St) and the march will begin at 11am. There are over 80 organizations participating and an expected turnout of more than 50,000 people.

The march will follow a route through downtown and disperse at the Seattle Center. Along the route, community advocates and social justice leaders will speak about issues threatened by the incoming Presidential administration, such as the safety and wellbeing of undocumented people, reproductive and LGBTQ rights, combating climate change, and more.

I believe our collective efforts to intentionally support one another in new ways will be more important than ever before in the days and years to come. If you can’t join the march tomorrow morning, please consider other avenues to show your support for community members who will be impacted by future efforts to reverse the gains of our nation in keeping immigrant and refugee families safe, protecting a woman’s access to birth control and her right to choose, maintaining drug policy reform, supporting the rights of everyone to love whom they choose, and defending a workers’ right to unionize.

Pronto/Bike Share in Seattle Ending

On Friday January 13 Mayor Murray announced the city would not pursue a new $4.7 million bike-share program in Seattle to replace the Pronto system, and instead direct funding to pedestrian and bicycle safety, and the Safe Routes to Schools program.

Here’s my statement on the Mayor’s announcement that the City will not pursue a new bike share system following Pronto’s decommissioning later this winter:

“This was absolutely the right call. With limited public dollars, these resources are better used to develop safe routes to schools for our students.  Now is not the time for public investment in a bike share system.

 “I’m glad to see these funds are proposed toward implementing the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans, and School Safety projects, in line with my proposal last year to re-direct $4 million in funding away from expansion of the Pronto system toward these existing needs. I regularly hear from constituents about school crossing safety, most recently regarding Genesee Hill Elementary.

 “During last year’s budget cycle, I sponsored a budget action the Council adopted to remove $900,000 in funding for operation of the Pronto system in 2017 and 2018, to preserve funding for these existing needs.”

Last year I voted “no” on legislation for the City to purchase the Pronto system for $1.4 million; it passed 7-2.

The cut adopted by the Council during the budget process allows the Pronto system to operate no longer than March 31.

Reminder: Alaska Junction MHA/HALA meeting January 26

Here’s a reminder about the Alaska Junction public meeting on the proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability and the Executive’s initial proposal for zoning changes:

  Alaska Junction. Thursday, January 26th, 6-9pm, West Seattle Senior Center, 4217 SW Oregon St, RSVP for the Alaska Junction Workshop by clicking here.

To RSVP, click the link above, email Spencer.Williams@Seattle.Gov or call (206) 384-2709.

The meeting originally scheduled for Morgan Junction on the 23rd has been delayed, and is being re-scheduled.

In the Cold Poetry Reading January 26

Seattle Civic Poet Claudia Luna Castro has organized In the Cold, a poetry reading on the eve of the annual survey to document homelessness in Seattle and King County.

It will feature Castro Luna, Seattle’s Youth Poet Laureate Angel Gardner, and writers from the Recovery Café and Mary’s Place for a Count Us In poetry reading and showing of Michelle de la Vega’s film US THEM WE.

It will take place on January 26 in City Hall Plaza at 600 4th Avenue, at 7 p.m.

It is Co-sponsored by Open Books, the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and myself.

Annexation Briefing

On Wednesday I attended the Education, Equity, and Governance Committee briefing on the potential annexation of both the North Highline area and the Duwamish area (or Sliver by the River). You can see a map of both proposed annexation areas here, a memo describing the process and timeline here, and a document outlining the impacts to service providers such as school districts, utilities, fire, police and other emergency services here.

The proposed timeline for the Duwamish area annexation includes May Council deliberations on a resolution approving an election date, proposed at this time to be August 2017, though this might change.  If approved by the voters then, the effective date would be January 1, 2018. Because annexation would result in the transfer of King County-owned assets to the City and an assumption of the costs of services, the Executive is currently negotiating an Interlocal Agreement (ILA) with King County as a prerequisite to moving forward.

The proposed timeline for the North Highline annexation includes an election in August or November of 2018 and, if approved by the voters, an effective date of January 1, 2020. You may recall I previously wrote about the public hearings for the North Highline annexation held by the County Boundary Review Board where they voted 8-1 to approve the annexation and directed staff to prepare the written findings and decision. Negotiations of an ILA for the North Highline Annexation Area are required but have not started.  Similar to the Sliver by the River Annexation, the City Council will first need to approve placing the question on the ballot and establish an election date.

We learned in the briefing that the financial analysis to determine City costs to provide services to the proposed annexation area, and determine revenues generated within the area to support those costs, is out of date.  I requested that the Executive prepare a new analysis prior to the Council deliberations on each of the two annexations.

If you have specific questions or a group that would like to receive a presentation from the City, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Mayor’s Executive Order re: three new encampments

This Tuesday the Mayor’s office filed three emergency orders with the City Clerk, as allowed by the state of emergency declared by the Mayor in late 2015. The emergency orders created encampments at three locations, each able to serve between 60 and 70 persons experiencing homelessness. One of those locations is the current Myers Way encampment. I have heard from many constituents about this encampment, specifically about the illegal dumping near the site and the surrounding greenbelt as well as the lack of available services at the current location.

The Executive Orders, as originally proposed, did not provide for the important standards and procedures applicable to already-existing sanctioned encampments authorized by the Seattle Municipal Code. The Highland Park Action Committee is seeking additional accountability structures, and in an effort to support their request, I proposed a modification to the orders requiring that these encampments also conform to standards applicable to the existing sanctioned encampments authorized by Seattle Municipal Code 23.42.056. Specifically:

  • Establishment of a Community Advisory Committee to facilitate resolution of complaints;
  • Development of an encampment operations plan; and
  • Access to bathrooms and water and removal of garbage no-less frequently than weekly.

These modifications to the Emergency Orders were approved.  I will follow the implementation of these requirements at Myers Way.  In addition, I’m working with Seattle Public Utilities to support community requests for monitoring of water quality at nearby Hamm Creek as well as the wetlands, both of which are impacted by unauthorized camping in other sections of the Greenbelt.

In-District Office Hours

I will be at the Southwest Neighborhood Center (2801 SW Thistle St) on Friday, January 27th from 2:00pm – 7:00pm.  The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30pm. 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).

MHA Citywide Proposal and Future Legislative Process; Arts and Music Commissions presentation on arts space affordability; Sound Transit Busker pilot program survey; Democracy Vouchers; Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families

MHA – Citywide Proposal and Future Legislative Process

The broad public conversation of the Executive’s initial (my emphasis added) proposal to implement the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program approved by the Council in last year’s MHA framework legislation  began in Fall 2016. Last year’s framework legislation laid out how all developers would have to contribute to new affordable housing in all developments in exchange for additional zoning capacity.  The steps that began this fall include how much developers must contribute and how much as well as where additional zoning capacity is added.

Prior to the development of the Mayor’s initial zoning proposal, the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) and Department of Neighborhoods (DON) selected 160 community members (from a pool of 250+ applicants) to participate in a nine-month facilitated focus group process to develop principles and recommendations for zoning change proposals to enact MHA. A summary of the focus group process may be found here. An additional summary may be found here.

The map of the proposed MHA zoning changes, by urban village, were made available online mid-October 2016, the City issued draft proposed zoning maps for neighborhoods across the city. An interactive website  allows for input to the draft maps.

The City Council allocated $300,000, in 2017, to facilitate its own community charrettes to help answer the question of where additional zoning capacity should be added.

The Executive’s initial proposal for these zoning changes includes where the boundary for urban villages should be drawn and what mix of zones best support the context and conditions of local areas.  These workshops are meant to be an interchange of ideas and opinions on whether these proposals hit the mark for communities or whether – while still adding sufficient addition zoning capacity necessary to require developers to contribute to affordable housing – boundaries should be shifted or a different mix of zoning changes considered.

You can provide input on the proposed draft urban village boundaries, draft zoning changes, and building types here www.seattle.gov/hala/focus-groups.  Additional opportunities for District 1 neighborhoods will be as follows:

To RSVP, click the link above, email Spencer.Williams@Seattle.Gov or call (206) 384-2709.

I’ve heard concerns that the City is moving too fast. We are early in the process.  The City has begun to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to measure benefits and impacts of the MHA citywide zoning proposal.  Here are the opportunities to influence the final Executive proposal, prior to beginning Council deliberations:

  • Residents will have had at least four months (mid-October until mid-February) to review the maps prior to the tentative mid-March release of the Draft EIS.
  • Once the Draft EIS is released, people will have at least 45 days to provide additional public comment.  Depending the sufficiency of the Draft EIS in identifying the issues raised public comment (which the Council has been compiling) I will consider whether there is a need for additional time for public comment on the Draft EIS. 
  • A Final EIS that further incorporates public comment is tentatively scheduled to be released in Summer 2017 with a final legislative proposal for the MHA citywide zoning changes and developer obligations to contribute to affordable housing.
  • The public will then have an additional approximately 6-month opportunity to comment before the City Council begins to consider the MHA citywide zoning legislation in early 2018.

Additional Helpful links:

Arts and Music Commissions presentation on arts space affordability

On December 2nd a tragic fire resulted in the death of 36 people at the Ghost Ship artists’ collective in Oakland. Two weeks later, the Seattle Arts Commission, Music Commission, and leadership of the Central Area Arts & Cultural District and Capitol Hill Arts District sent a letter to the Mayor regarding the future of arts spaces in Seattle, including recommendations.

The letter states concern about displacement, evictions, and disproportionate impact on people of color, mirroring problems facing housing and commercial affordability in Seattle.

Since these commissions relate to the committee I chair, wanted to give them the opportunity to present their recommendations. The recommendations include applying the City’s Race and Social Justice tooklit to enforcement, a grading system for safety, expanding eligibility for arts funding, and an “Arts Events License” similar to one recently adopted in Vancouver, BC.

The Office of Arts & Culture’s 2013 Cultural Space Inventory showed that Native American and African American organizations showed lower stability, and noted that “…an organization’s target audience’s race provides the most dramatic difference in a feeling of stability and security.”

The presentation will take place at the January 10 meeting of the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m.; the meeting agenda will be available soon. You can view the presentation live on the Seattle Channel.

Sound Transit Busker pilot program survey

Sound Transit is taking a survey regarding their Busking (street performer) pilot program at the University of Washington and Capitol Hill light rail stations.

Here’s a link to the survey; the performance policy is here.

Democracy Vouchers

The Seattle Office of Ethics and Elections Commissions (SEEC) is beginning implementation of the Democracy Voucher program, a form of partial public financing of elections. The program results from the passage of citizen-initiated “Honest Elections Seattle” Initiative 122 in 2015, and allows Seattle residents to use the vouchers to support candidate(s) in 2017 City of Seattle elections.

In 2017 Seattle voters can contribute the vouchers to qualifying candidates for the two citywide City Council elections, and the City Attorney’s election. The program will apply to the Mayor’s race in 2021.

SEEC began mailing the vouchers to registered voters earlier this week. Seattle residents 18 years of age and older can apply to receive vouchers if they are a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident.

Background on the program is available here. A multi-lingual webpage has materials here.

Seattle had partial public financing of elections in 1979 and 1981, and 1987-1991. State law prohibited public financing in 1992; in 2008 the state legislature allowed for public financing, if approved by a public vote, and funding comes from local sources only. Initiative 122 amended other sections of the elections code as well, including lowering the maximum contributions, limiting contributions from city contractor or those who have paid lobbyists $5,000 or more in the prior twelve months to lobby the City.

 Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families

On Friday, January 20, 2017 at McCaw Hall at Seattle Center obtain FREE legal services and information.

Volunteer registration is now open!
Click here to sign up to help us make this event successful.

Questions about volunteering? Please email citizenship@seattle.gov.

Do you need help applying for citizenship?

Check-in from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Do you need to plan for your family’s safety?

Three Identical Know Your Rights Training Sessions: 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 7:00 PM

  • Learn about what to do if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents stop you or come to your door.
  • Take steps to protect your children and family.
  • Learn about your rights as an immigrant, regardless of your status.

Do you need legal help?

Check-in from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

  • Talk to Immigration attorneys about your options.
  • Fill out forms needed to protect your family: power of attorney, temporary guardianship, and other forms.
  • Get your Mexican citizenship, passport, and birth certificate through Mexican Consulate document services.
  • Bring any immigration documents and court documents if you have them.

City of Seattle representatives will also be available to talk about services:

  • ORCA Lift (discounted public transportation card)
  • Utility Discount Program
  • Information on wage theft and unfair employment practices
  • And more…

To qualify for these City of Seattle programs, you will need a photo ID and proof of income:

  • Paycheck stubs/ Employer statement showing GROSS earnings
  • DSHS award letters (TANF, GAU/GAX)
  • Child support document
  • Social Security/SSI award letter/Survivor benefits
  • Pensions/Annuity/IRA, Interest & Dividends
  • Labor and Industry (L&I) statement
  • Student financial aid and tuition statement
  • Rental/investment property income (Provide a copy of lease/rental agreement.)
  • Self-employed (Most recent full tax return & 3 months’ profit & loss statements)

For more information please go to https://www.seattle.gov/iandraffairs/programs/new-citizen-campaign.