Domestic Worker Anti-Discrimination, Retaliation, and Harassment Legislation; Move Levy Resolution to Address Implementation Challenges; King County Hotel-Motel Tax Legislation Update; August Break

Domestic Worker Anti-Discrimination, Retaliation, and Harassment Legislation

On Tuesday August 14th in my Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts (CRUEDA) Committee we heard a briefing on a necessary legislative fix to Chapter 14.04, the Fair Employment Practices section of the Seattle Municipal Code.  This change would protect domestic workers who are independent contractors from harassment and discrimination.

The Fair Employment Practices section (Chapter 14.04) of the municipal code currently only covers employees, not independent contractors.  This section of the municipal code is enforced by the Office of Civil Rights (SOCR).  You can watch the full briefing here. You can find a draft of the legislation as discussed in briefings here.

The reason this change is necessary is related to a bill recently passed by the Council, under the leadership of Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, the Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights legislation. This historic legislation guarantees that domestic workers earn minimum wage, rest and meal breaks and protects workers from both wage theft and from having their documents withheld.

As a part of the stakeholder engagement and listening sessions led by Councilmember Mosqueda, many domestic workers shared their experiences of harassment and discrimination they are subject to while working.

In exploring how to address the issue of harassment, retaliation, and discrimination legislatively it was discovered that making a change to the Fair Employment Practices section (Chapter 14.04) of the municipal code, enforced by SOCR would be important. Since my committee has legislative jurisdiction over SOCR, Councilmember Mosqueda reached out to my office asking us to collaborate.

In order to ensure that all workers exercising the rights under the new Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights will not be discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against, we will work to amend this section of the municipal code.  We will continue discussing the legislation with interested stakeholders.  A vote on the proposed legislation is scheduled for my committee on Tuesday September 11th.  To track this issue please sign up to receive CRUEDA meeting agendas.

Move Levy Resolution to Address Implementation Challenges

SDOT announced earlier this year that it was reevaluating implementation of the Move Seattle levy. In April, SDOT published a Work Plan Assessment Report. The report noted that of 31 program areas, 23 were on track, while 8 areas needed “further review and adjustment,” meaning potential reductions or downsizing of projects.

This appears to be due to rising construction costs, the reduced opportunity for federal funding under the Trump administration, and overestimation of how much outside funding was realistic. I appreciate the willingness of Interim Director Sparrman to initiate this work, and speak candidly about it.

SDOT plans to propose next steps on August 23 for public comment for the 8 program areas under review, and publish an updated workplan later this year.

SDOT presented an update in the Sustainabilty and Transportation committee August 7, with information about the timeline, process, and recommendations of the Levy Oversight Committee. Also linked on the agenda are reports the Council required re: bridge safety and major corridors.

On August 13 the Council adopted a resolution establishing principles for the revised work plan, to ensure transparency, accountability, and community outreach. The resolution calls for using value engineering to reduce costs, and clear documentation and explanation for any project changes.

As Chair of the committee overseeing Seattle Public Utilities, I believe it’s important to coordinate this work with SPU’s Strategic Business Plan; at times SDOT projects can require or intersect with utility work. The recent SPU Strategic Business Plan included significant rate increases for $201 million in SPU projects related to the Move Levy.  Changes in Move Levy projects could result in changes to the SPU projects related to the Move Levy, and potentially SPU rates as a consequence.  For this reason, I introduced an amendment requiring SDOT to coordinate this work with SPU, specifying and documenting any potential impact on SPU’s rate path, and report to the Sustainability and Transportation committee, and the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee, with an initial assessment due to December 1, and a final report by March 1, 2019.

King County Hotel-Motel Tax Legislation Update

In late June, I wrote about the deliberations at the King County Council regarding the amount of hotel-motel tax that should be devoted toward funding for affordable housing. The bill as introduced would dedicate the legally required minimum of 37.5% toward affordable housing, with $190 million going toward Safeco Field.

In late July, CM Jeanne Kohl-Welles instead proposed to increase the proposal’s investment in affordable housing by $184 million, and reduce the amount of funding directed toward Safeco field to $25 million.

Seattle City Councilmembers Mosqueda, Gonzalez, O’Brien, Harrell and myself recently sent this letter thanking King County Councilmember’s Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Dave Upthegrove, & Rod Dembowski for supporting more of these funds devoted to build affordable housing.

As the letter states, “The investment in affordable housing would mark a major step toward addressing the growing crisis in Seattle and King County and demonstrate the region’s real commitment to the issue.”

The next King County Council hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Wednesday August 29th at 9:30am in which there may be a vote.

August Break

The Council is on break through the day after Labor Day, so this newsletter will be taking a break for the next couple of weeks.

Housing for Tenants with Disabilities; Delridge Multimodal Corridor; One Center City Bike Network; Bike Share Program & Fees; July Constituent Email Report


Amending the Open Housing Ordinance for Tenants with Disabilities

On Monday July 30, 2018 the Seattle City Council passed CB 119309 amending the Open Housing Ordinance in Chapter 14.08 of the Seattle Municipal Code to increase the types of entities with an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to tenants with disabilities.

This issue was brought to my attention as an area needing new legislation after litigation and a decision from the Washington State Court where a Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) voucher recipient requested a change in her voucher from a studio apartment to one bedroom as a disability related accommodation.  SHA refused to grant her request.  As a result, she brought her complaint to the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR).  Here’s what happened next:

  1. SOCR issued a finding that SHA had unlawfully denied the voucher recipient a reasonable accommodation and the case was sent to the City Attorney’s office for prosecution.
  2. The complaint was filed in the Hearing Examiner’s (HE) office and the HE also issued a finding that SHA unlawfully denied the accommodation request. SHA was then ordered to issue the voucher recipient a one-bedroom section 8 voucher and to pay her $1,500.
  3. SHA filed a writ of review at the county level, and moved to dismiss. The judge denied this motion and ultimately affirmed the HE’s decision.
  4. SHA then appealed to the Washington State Court of Appeals who reversed the lower court’s decision. The Washington Appeals court decided that based on a plain reading of the language in the Seattle Municipal Code and the statutory context supporting legislative intent to cover only the landlord-tenant relationship and did not apply to SHA in its role as a voucher administrator in those cases that SHA isn’t also the landlord.

In its ruling. the Washington Appeals court noted that “if the City wishes to extend the unfair practice requirement of SMC 14.08.040.D to include a requirement that Section 8 program administrators like SHA make reasonable accommodation….it can amend the SMC accordingly.” This legislation is in direct response to this case and amends the SMC accordingly.

This bill makes several changes to the Seattle Municipal Code including:

  • Separating the obligation to provide reasonable accommodations from the obligation to provide reasonable modifications. These requirements were previously combined in the SMC and in separating the two it is intended to clarify the different responsibilities associated with each definition.
  • Revising the party for permitting reasonable modifications from “landlord” to “person” and including a Section 8 or other subsidy program administrator in the definition of “person.”
  • Defining “Section 8 or other subsidy program administrator” to explicitly ensure the SMC applies in the case of parties who are administrators but not landlords or a party such as SHA who is both landlord and administrator.
  • Adding the term “prospective tenant” to any references to “tenant” to clarify that those applying for units and trying to obtain reasonable modifications are also protected. The Office for Civil Rights currently enforces this law protecting prospective tenants, and this bill will make that protection explicit.


Transportation Actions

The City Council approved three actions on at Monday’s Full Council meeting. Below is a brief summary of each one; I sponsored amendments focused on accountability and oversight.


Delridge Multimodal Corridor

During the 2018 budget process, the Council adopted a restriction on spending on the Delridge Multimodal Project.  The proviso required Council approval for any SDOT spending beyond 10% design. I sponsored this spending restriction to begin use of the “stage-gating” process for large capital projects.   Stage-gating requires regular check-ins with the Council on project status, funding, and public engagement before proceeding.

The Delridge Multimodal Corridor includes improvement to Delridge Avenue SW designed to increase transit speed and access, in coordination with King County’s planned transition to convert Bus 120 into the RapidRide H line in 2021.

The Sustainability and Transportation Committee received a presentation on the 10% design, and on Monday the Council voted to authorize additional spending, with a an amendment I sponsored.

My amendment requires a report to the Sustainability and Transportation Committee on 30% design, and Council approval, before spending additional funds. After getting input from community stakeholders, I included language in the amendment expressing an expectation the Council will receive from SDOT “a clear definition of the sidewalk and bicycle infrastructure improvements in the project scope,” and anticipating that the 30% design package “will reflect continued community engagement and input in the project development.”

This is a good example of how the enhanced oversight and accountability of the “stage-gating” process for construction projects should work, requiring regular check ins on progress and budget status. This also has the benefit of allowing residents and advocates to get their questions answered, and ensure Council hears their concerns early on.

Work on revising  Capital Project Oversight began in 2016 with the North Precinct project cost increases.   It started by first getting several departments to adopt common project terminology and defining approval phases, and quarterly updates to the Council to identify problems early. The enhanced quarterly reports will begin in the 3rd quarter of 2018.


One Center City/ Center City Bike Network

In anticipation of the “period of maximum constraint” Downtown, SDOT has partnered with King County Metro, Sound Transit, and the Downtown Seattle Association in the One Center City group.  They have  been meeting since 2016 to develop a series of planned actions to move people safely and efficiently through the center city from later this year until 2021, when light rail will arrive at Northgate, though a variety of planned actions.

In 2017, only 25% of trips Downtown were in single-occupancy vehicles. The period of maximum constraint will further stress the system, requiring alternative access to Downtown.

Downtown faces a high volume of projects: removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, opening of the SR 99 tunnel, reconstruction of Alaskan Way, all buses vacating the Downtown tunnel for expansion of light rail and expansion of the Washington State Convention Center. The Center City Streetcar project is currently on hold as the study ordered by the Mayor on construction and operations costs is completed.

Last week Mayor Durkan announced some of the early actions to implement the One Center City program. Transit enhancements planned before March 2019, when buses will exit the tunnel, include adding bus stops, adding ORCA car readers to allow for pre-paying on all routes, adding real-time arrival signs at all stops, and adding additional bus-only hours on 3rd Avenue. Signal enhancements are planned by March 2019 on 2nd and 4th Avenues, and transit pathway enhancements on 5th and 6th.

In June the Council adopted a resolution directing SDOT to provide quarterly reporting on: a. implementation of the One Center City program, b. the performance of the transportation system with these projects, and c. SDOT’s intended actions to manage for the subsequent quarter. This came after the Council majority unfortunately voted against a motion to not allow buses to leave the tunnel, as necessary for the Convention Center expansion, until September 2019.  I supported not allowing buses to vacate the tunnel until September 2019 as one way to reduce the combined impacts of these projects on commuters.

The success of the One Center City program is especially important for West Seattle commuters.   The removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will require buses that access Downtown on the Viaduct to find another way into Downtown until Alaskan Way is re-built.  Eventually, buses will access Alaskan Way just before the entrance to the tunnel, then turn right onto Columbia onto 3rd Avenue. During the interim period, buses such as the C Line will access Downtown via 3rd Avenue at first, then later on 1st Avenue. More specifics will be available on this later when WSDOT announces their timeline for Viaduct removal.

I’ve also heard frustration from West Seattle bike commuters about the lack of access across Downtown. Without dedicated access through Downtown, reaching areas to the north of Downtown, such as employment centers in South Lake Union, is difficult, and often unsafe. The Downtown bike network is designed to help provide this kind of access to bike commuters.

One result of the One Center City program is that the implementation of the Center City Bike Network included in the Bicycle Master Plan has been delayed. SDOT announced that the 4th Avenue two-way protected bike lane, for example, has been delayed from 2018 until 2021. While noting this, the Council passed a resolution in support of a Center City bike network.

Among other amendments to this resolution, I proposed an amendment to this resolution to clarify the broader context of the One Center City program.  Bike network implementation must not compromise the One Center City goal of moving people safely and efficiently through the Center City.

With all the planning to date, we can’t fully know what will happen when tolling begins on the tunnel next year.  For this reason, some flexibility in implementation and scheduling of actions relate to the Downtown Bike Network may be necessary.


New Fees Passed to Support Free Floating Bike Share Program

After the demise of the ill-fated Pronto system that used fixed bicycle parking docks, Seattle became a focus for “free-floating” privately-funded bike share companies, since Seattle was one of only a few of the 50 biggest cities in the USA without a fixed dock system. Last year SDOT adopted a one-year pilot program under its existing street use authority, and charged the private-sector companies for use of city streets.

The use of these bikes has been much broader than the Pronto system, and the demographics of use have been reflective of the City’s population; a survey found that 36% of Latino and African-Americans have tried the system, along with 32% of Asian and White respondents.

The Council approved fees for use of public right of way for what SDOT terms “free-floating bike share” bicycles. The legislation sets a fee of $250,000 each for up to four companies to provide bike-share bicycles, a similar fee to that the City charges Car2Go and other car-share companies for use of city streets.

Given SDOT’s existing Street Use authority, the legislation by the Council is limited to setting fees. Some of the funds will be used to construct designated bike share parking.  Bike parking will be developed in areas where car parking is currently prohibited, such as the 30-foot zone from stop signs.  This is to ensure both that existing car parking isn’t removed and ensure that bike parking doesn’t block driver’s views.   Some of the funds will be used for enforcement of parking regulations

While the system is providing better citywide access than Pronto, and operates with no public subsidy, I do have concerns about “free floating” bikes blocking sidewalks, with impacts to pedestrians, especially to disabled and elderly persons.

In this spirit, I sponsored amendments to the legislation that:

1) limit the fee approval to bicycles and adaptive cycles to accommodate disabled riders, so that approval will not include other devices such as electric scooters (other devices would have been allowed in the original version);

2) request quarterly updates from SDOT about installation of designated bike parking associated with the free-floating bike share program;

3) request SDOT provide a written plan for sidewalk management and safety, addressing the increasing use of fast-moving electric-motor devices on sidewalks by December 31, 2018. Former WSDOT Director MacDonald has emphasized the need for a clear plan to address pedestrian safety on sidewalks with the rise in electric devices such as electric skateboards, hoverboards and uniwheels.

I strongly believe we need much greater clarity about sidewalk safety before considering approval for other electronic devices.


July 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 July, 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.

Housing for Tenants with Disabilities; Delridge Multimodal Corridor; One Center City Bike Network; Bike Share Program & Fees; July Constituent Email Report


Amending the Open Housing Ordinance for Tenants with Disabilities

On Monday July 30, 2018 the Seattle City Council passed CB 119309 amending the Open Housing Ordinance in Chapter 14.08 of the Seattle Municipal Code to increase the types of entities with an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to tenants with disabilities.

This issue was brought to my attention as an area needing new legislation after litigation and a decision from the Washington State Court where a Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) voucher recipient requested a change in her voucher from a studio apartment to one bedroom as a disability related accommodation.  SHA refused to grant her request.  As a result, she brought her complaint to the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR).  Here’s what happened next:

  1. SOCR issued a finding that SHA had unlawfully denied the voucher recipient a reasonable accommodation and the case was sent to the City Attorney’s office for prosecution.
  2. The complaint was filed in the Hearing Examiner’s (HE) office and the HE also issued a finding that SHA unlawfully denied the accommodation request. SHA was then ordered to issue the voucher recipient a one-bedroom section 8 voucher and to pay her $1,500.
  3. SHA filed a writ of review at the county level, and moved to dismiss. The judge denied this motion and ultimately affirmed the HE’s decision.
  4. SHA then appealed to the Washington State Court of Appeals who reversed the lower court’s decision. The Washington Appeals court decided that based on a plain reading of the language in the Seattle Municipal Code and the statutory context supporting legislative intent to cover only the landlord-tenant relationship and did not apply to SHA in its role as a voucher administrator in those cases that SHA isn’t also the landlord.

In its ruling. the Washington Appeals court noted that “if the City wishes to extend the unfair practice requirement of SMC 14.08.040.D to include a requirement that Section 8 program administrators like SHA make reasonable accommodation….it can amend the SMC accordingly.” This legislation is in direct response to this case and amends the SMC accordingly.

This bill makes several changes to the Seattle Municipal Code including:

  • Separating the obligation to provide reasonable accommodations from the obligation to provide reasonable modifications. These requirements were previously combined in the SMC and in separating the two it is intended to clarify the different responsibilities associated with each definition.
  • Revising the party for permitting reasonable modifications from “landlord” to “person” and including a Section 8 or other subsidy program administrator in the definition of “person.”
  • Defining “Section 8 or other subsidy program administrator” to explicitly ensure the SMC applies in the case of parties who are administrators but not landlords or a party such as SHA who is both landlord and administrator.
  • Adding the term “prospective tenant” to any references to “tenant” to clarify that those applying for units and trying to obtain reasonable modifications are also protected. The Office for Civil Rights currently enforces this law protecting prospective tenants, and this bill will make that protection explicit.


Transportation Actions

The City Council approved three actions on at Monday’s Full Council meeting. Below is a brief summary of each one; I sponsored amendments focused on accountability and oversight.


Delridge Multimodal Corridor

During the 2018 budget process, the Council adopted a restriction on spending on the Delridge Multimodal Project.  The proviso required Council approval for any SDOT spending beyond 10% design. I sponsored this spending restriction to begin use of the “stage-gating” process for large capital projects.   Stage-gating requires regular check-ins with the Council on project status, funding, and public engagement before proceeding.

The Delridge Multimodal Corridor includes improvement to Delridge Avenue SW designed to increase transit speed and access, in coordination with King County’s planned transition to convert Bus 120 into the RapidRide H line in 2021.

The Sustainability and Transportation Committee received a presentation on the 10% design, and on Monday the Council voted to authorize additional spending, with a an amendment I sponsored.

My amendment requires a report to the Sustainability and Transportation Committee on 30% design, and Council approval, before spending additional funds. After getting input from community stakeholders, I included language in the amendment expressing an expectation the Council will receive from SDOT “a clear definition of the sidewalk and bicycle infrastructure improvements in the project scope,” and anticipating that the 30% design package “will reflect continued community engagement and input in the project development.”

This is a good example of how the enhanced oversight and accountability of the “stage-gating” process for construction projects should work, requiring regular check ins on progress and budget status. This also has the benefit of allowing residents and advocates to get their questions answered, and ensure Council hears their concerns early on.

Work on revising  Capital Project Oversight began in 2016 with the North Precinct project cost increases.   It started by first getting several departments to adopt common project terminology and defining approval phases, and quarterly updates to the Council to identify problems early. The enhanced quarterly reports will begin in the 3rd quarter of 2018.


One Center City/ Center City Bike Network

In anticipation of the “period of maximum constraint” Downtown, SDOT has partnered with King County Metro, Sound Transit, and the Downtown Seattle Association in the One Center City group.  They have  been meeting since 2016 to develop a series of planned actions to move people safely and efficiently through the center city from later this year until 2021, when light rail will arrive at Northgate, though a variety of planned actions.

In 2017, only 25% of trips Downtown were in single-occupancy vehicles. The period of maximum constraint will further stress the system, requiring alternative access to Downtown.

Downtown faces a high volume of projects: removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, opening of the SR 99 tunnel, reconstruction of Alaskan Way, all buses vacating the Downtown tunnel for expansion of light rail and expansion of the Washington State Convention Center. The Center City Streetcar project is currently on hold as the study ordered by the Mayor on construction and operations costs is completed.

Last week Mayor Durkan announced some of the early actions to implement the One Center City program. Transit enhancements planned before March 2019, when buses will exit the tunnel, include adding bus stops, adding ORCA car readers to allow for pre-paying on all routes, adding real-time arrival signs at all stops, and adding additional bus-only hours on 3rd Avenue. Signal enhancements are planned by March 2019 on 2nd and 4th Avenues, and transit pathway enhancements on 5th and 6th.

In June the Council adopted a resolution directing SDOT to provide quarterly reporting on: a. implementation of the One Center City program, b. the performance of the transportation system with these projects, and c. SDOT’s intended actions to manage for the subsequent quarter. This came after the Council majority unfortunately voted against a motion to not allow buses to leave the tunnel, as necessary for the Convention Center expansion, until September 2019.  I supported not allowing buses to vacate the tunnel until September 2019 as one way to reduce the combined impacts of these projects on commuters.

The success of the One Center City program is especially important for West Seattle commuters.   The removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will require buses that access Downtown on the Viaduct to find another way into Downtown until Alaskan Way is re-built.  Eventually, buses will access Alaskan Way just before the entrance to the tunnel, then turn right onto Columbia onto 3rd Avenue. During the interim period, buses such as the C Line will access Downtown via 3rd Avenue at first, then later on 1st Avenue. More specifics will be available on this later when WSDOT announces their timeline for Viaduct removal.

I’ve also heard frustration from West Seattle bike commuters about the lack of access across Downtown. Without dedicated access through Downtown, reaching areas to the north of Downtown, such as employment centers in South Lake Union, is difficult, and often unsafe. The Downtown bike network is designed to help provide this kind of access to bike commuters.

One result of the One Center City program is that the implementation of the Center City Bike Network included in the Bicycle Master Plan has been delayed. SDOT announced that the 4th Avenue two-way protected bike lane, for example, has been delayed from 2018 until 2021. While noting this, the Council passed a resolution in support of a Center City bike network.

Among other amendments to this resolution, I proposed an amendment to this resolution to clarify the broader context of the One Center City program.  Bike network implementation must not compromise the One Center City goal of moving people safely and efficiently through the Center City.

With all the planning to date, we can’t fully know what will happen when tolling begins on the tunnel next year.  For this reason, some flexibility in implementation and scheduling of actions relate to the Downtown Bike Network may be necessary.


New Fees Passed to Support Free Floating Bike Share Program

After the demise of the ill-fated Pronto system that used fixed bicycle parking docks, Seattle became a focus for “free-floating” privately-funded bike share companies, since Seattle was one of only a few of the 50 biggest cities in the USA without a fixed dock system. Last year SDOT adopted a one-year pilot program under its existing street use authority, and charged the private-sector companies for use of city streets.

The use of these bikes has been much broader than the Pronto system, and the demographics of use have been reflective of the City’s population; a survey found that 36% of Latino and African-Americans have tried the system, along with 32% of Asian and White respondents.

The Council approved fees for use of public right of way for what SDOT terms “free-floating bike share” bicycles. The legislation sets a fee of $250,000 each for up to four companies to provide bike-share bicycles, a similar fee to that the City charges Car2Go and other car-share companies for use of city streets.

Given SDOT’s existing Street Use authority, the legislation by the Council is limited to setting fees. Some of the funds will be used to construct designated bike share parking.  Bike parking will be developed in areas where car parking is currently prohibited, such as the 30-foot zone from stop signs.  This is to ensure both that existing car parking isn’t removed and ensure that bike parking doesn’t block driver’s views.   Some of the funds will be used for enforcement of parking regulations

While the system is providing better citywide access than Pronto, and operates with no public subsidy, I do have concerns about “free floating” bikes blocking sidewalks, with impacts to pedestrians, especially to disabled and elderly persons.

In this spirit, I sponsored amendments to the legislation that:

1) limit the fee approval to bicycles and adaptive cycles to accommodate disabled riders, so that approval will not include other devices such as electric scooters (other devices would have been allowed in the original version);

2) request quarterly updates from SDOT about installation of designated bike parking associated with the free-floating bike share program;

3) request SDOT provide a written plan for sidewalk management and safety, addressing the increasing use of fast-moving electric-motor devices on sidewalks by December 31, 2018. Former WSDOT Director MacDonald has emphasized the need for a clear plan to address pedestrian safety on sidewalks with the rise in electric devices such as electric skateboards, hoverboards and uniwheels.

I strongly believe we need much greater clarity about sidewalk safety before considering approval for other electronic devices.


July 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 July, 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.

Creating a Roadmap to Becoming a 100% Renewable Energy and Carbon Neutral City

OSE is embarking on funded 100% Renewable Cities Project, a three-year effort to develop equity-centered climate strategies with members of the Environmental Justice Committee and the community. OSE is partnering with Puget Sound Sage, SDOT and City Light in this work. Actions will focus on reducing climate emissions by transitioning to fossil fuel-free heating & hot water, increasing efficiency, electrifying transportation & reducing VMT, and expanding solar and other renewables. A potential initial priority for the group is developing a residential roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality in residential buildings by 2050.

With a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation, Puget Sound Sage is partnering with the City to work with the community to co-create a roadmap to become a 100% renewable energy and carbon neutral city. The City/Community collaboration will work to 1) embed equity in the policies and programs developed to implement the Mayor’s climate agenda and 2) design a roadmap to fully transition Seattle to an equitable, renewable, and carbon-neutral energy future.

Mayor Durkan recently released an updated Climate Action Strategy, a suite of actions designed to significantly reduce GHG emissions from the buildings and transportation sectors, Seattle’s largest sources of emissions. The overarching strategy is to transition these sectors to Seattle City Light’s clean and carbon neutral electricity. The Equity and Environment Agenda includes a suite of process and outcome recommendations to embed equity in the city’s environmental work and creates the foundation for advancing equity through climate action.

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.