U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, Mayor Murray, Port of Seattle and SODO business leaders celebrate funding milestone for Lander Street bridge

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, Mayor Ed Murray, Port Commissioner John Creighton and SODO business leaders announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that directs up to $10 million from the Port of Seattle towards completing the South Lander Street bridge project and $5 million towards solutions for a broader approach to ease traffic and improve safety on major freight and transit corridors throughout Seattle. The South Lander Street bridge is a critical project serving one of the busiest and most high-risk rail crossings in the country. The project is estimated to cost $123 million, funded through commitments from federal, state, and local partners. Last fall, the project was awarded a $45 million federal grant thanks to the advocacy of Senator Cantwell.

“Washington state loses millions of dollars in economic activity because of train, truck, and urban traffic congestion –at Lander Street alone. By moving freight faster, we can fuel our export economy and create good paying jobs,” said Senator Cantwell. “I’m proud to have helped secure the $45 million from the FASTLANE grant program which I championed in the FAST Act in 2015. I will continue fighting to fix our infrastructure to build strong economic growth and make our country more economically competitive.”

 “The City of Seattle, the Port of Seattle, the state of Washington, and federal leaders like United States Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell all came together around this vital infrastructure project because we are all committed to building a thriving, 21st Century economy that channels our booming $38 billon maritime industry,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “I’ve worked on this project dating back to my time in the state legislature, to support our industrial and maritime economy. Our shared economic values of mobility, safety, living wage jobs, and a clean environment all aligned around this bridge to the future.”

 “The Safe and Swift Corridor Program will create efficiency for freight, and continue the safe movement of cargo through our gateway,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton.  “This partnership will improve transportation for commuters, truckers, buses and bicyclists in these critical corridors.”

South Lander Street is an essential east-west corridor serving Port of Seattle freight, King County Metro buses, bicyclists, commuters and pedestrians. The corridor is closed for more than 4.5 hours daily due to rail traffic, impacting approximately 13,000 vehicles.

 The corridor is considered one of the most high-risk rail crossings in the state.  Since 2011, three fatalities have occurred between trains and pedestrians at the South Lander Street crossing and an average of 485 track violations occur daily as cars, pedestrians and bicycles cross the tracks when the safety gates are deployed.  The new four-lane bridge will provide safe connections for 1,400 pedestrians daily, primarily traversing between the SODO light rail station and area employers. This project will remove all at-grade access to the tracks at that location, improving safety for all.

The project is scheduled to break ground in early 2018.  For the latest updates on the South Lander Street project, click here.

 

 

 

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City of Seattle Signs Net Neutrality Letter and Joins Other Cities in Protest

Today, Mayor Ed Murray joined mayors of Boston, New York and San Francisco in sending a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, encouraging him to keep the internet open. The letter articulates net neutrality rules and recognizes the importance of maintaining a level playing field for all internet content to be enjoyed by all users, regardless of their internet provider.  This letter is part of the Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality.

“Individuals should be free to access the Internet without discriminatory practices applied to services and websites,” said Mayor Murray. “I encourage everyone to speak up and let the FCC know these rules should be kept in place. This is about equity and the ability for everyone to access the internet.”

In February 2015, the FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality by reclassifying broadband as a common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Those rules went into effect in June of 2015. Now, the FCC is taking comment from the public until August 16, 2017 on a possible repeal of net neutrality.

“The fight for strong net neutrality protections is important for the internet to remain a space for creativity, innovation and free speech,” said City of Seattle Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller. “Seattle joins a long list of cities and organizations that are championing a stand against a potential heavy-handed approach to Internet rules by the FCC.”

The FCC has already received nearly 5 million comments from the public. The City of Seattle encourages residents to comment, call or email the FCC and tell them to keep net neutrality.

FCC Contact Information:

To learn more about the City of Seattle’s Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality, visit www.seattle.gov/netneutrality.

 

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Mayor Ed Murray announces Fair Chance Housing policy to ensure access to opportunity and housing for all

Mayor Ed Murray announces Fair Chance Housing legislation to increase access to housing by reducing barriers faced by those with arrest and conviction records.

Mayor Ed Murray sent legislation to Council this week aiming to increase racial equity in housing to ensure everyone has access to opportunity. Among other steps, Fair Chance Housing would prevent landlords from screening applicants based on criminal convictions more than two years old, and prohibit the use of advertising language that categorically excludes people with arrests or conviction records. Today’s announcement is a recognition of years of work by the community supporting a policy that will increase racial equity in access to housing, help keep families together, and build stronger, more inclusive communities.

“The growth in the number of Americans with criminal records has created a crisis of housing inaccessibility that is disproportionately felt by people of color,” said Mayor Murray. “Not only has our criminal justice system punished Black Americans disproportionately, they continue to be punished by barriers to housing that cut off access to opportunity. Ensuring people have fair access to housing is about equity and about ensuring everyone has the ability contribute in our society, including getting a good job and raising a family.”

Announcing Fair Chance Housing legislation aimed at reducing barriers to housing.

Posted by Mayor Ed Murray on Wednesday, June 21, 2017

An estimated 1 in 3 Americans has a criminal record and nearly half of all children in the United States have at least one parent with a criminal record. It is estimated that 30 percent of Seattle residents over 18, or more than 173,000 people, have an arrest or conviction, with 7 percent having a felony record. Each of these people face significant barriers to housing because of current policy, denying them access to a basic need that would help them be successful. One study found that 43 percent of Seattle landlords are inclined to reject a tenant with a criminal history. All Home, which coordinates homelessness services for King County, found that 1 in 5 people who leave prison become homeless shortly after.

The Fair Chance Housing ordinance would prevent landlords from screening applicants based on criminal convictions older than two years; arrests that did not lead to a conviction; convictions that have been expunged, vacated or sealed; juvenile records; or status of a juvenile tenant on the sex offender registry. Landlords will not be able to use language in advertisements that categorically excludes people with arrests or conviction records and must provide a business justification for rejecting an applicant based on their criminal history. Fair Chance Housing is one of the dozens of recommendations in Mayor Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) meant to address public safety and racial equity in housing by lowering barriers for those re-entering society, who are disproportionately people of color.

“You can’t say everyone has a fair chance to succeed when we have a criminal justice system that disproportionately arrests and convicts people of color,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park). “Fair Chance Housing is about giving people fair opportunities. This legislation is about addressing a homelessness crisis that we have created ourselves because we are not giving everyone a fair chance.”

Seattle has previously taken steps to lower barriers to housing, a key recommendation in HALA after years of community advocacy, and an essential component of the City’s plan to address homelessness, Pathways Home. These include Source of Income Discrimination legislation that protects people using alternative sources of income to pay rent and the coordination with funders of homeless services to reduce and standardize screening criteria for programs. People impacted by previous policies have advocated for the City to address these barriers for years, including hundreds of who spoke at community forums and the Fair Chance Housing Stakeholder Committee convened last year. Today’s announcement is the culmination of that work, as the City works to lower barriers to housing and ensure Seattle remains affordable and accessible.

“If part of the American Dream is to own a home, what message are we sending to people who cannot even rent, even after they have paid their debt to society?” said Augustine Cita, Workforce Development Director, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. “We need to fix that.”

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Mayor Murray’s remarks from Liberty Bank Groundbreaking

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Liberty Bank Groundbreaking

June 19, 2017

Today was supposed to be a day of celebration for Seattle’s African American community.

On Juneteenth, we were scheduled to be here in the heart of Seattle’s historic Black neighborhood breaking ground on the future Liberty Bank Building, an inspiring community driven project that includes $12.2 million in City dollars to turn Seattle’s economic success into a model for inclusion rather than gentrification.

And while all of that is true, we are here today, grieving. Again.

Grieving over yet another devastating encounter between an African American family and the police.

Grieving over yet another death in the African American community.

Seattle’s Black community is hurting. Seattle’s Black community is angry.

This is a painful part of our city’s history — the hurt and the anger that the Black community has endured for decades. For too long.

All of America is grieving. Sunday’s shooting follows the painful Philando Castille verdict in Minnesota

But your deep sense of injustice and your deep dissatisfaction have led to action.

Your activism and collaboration with the City led to the landmark and historic police accountability legislation I signed last month.

That legislation gives civilians an unprecedented, independent oversight role of investigations into police conduct.

Of course, that does not bring Charleena Lyles back.

Like all of us, her family is now plagued with questions about this shooting, from technical policing questions to philosophical and moral questions.

Sadly, African American families may now be questioning whether they should even call the police during emergencies. An unacceptable, but real dilemma that undermines just governance. And points to the ultimate question that continues to define all these tragedies: This city is asking itself what factor race played in the death of Charleena Lyles.

That is not meant as a judgment, but as the reality of the type of questions we must be asking.

Under this new era of accountability, yesterday’s police shooting will be thoroughly investigated.

The pressing questions about how and why this happened will be answered. Must be answered.

Must be answered for her family and her children.

Must be answered for all who are grappling with this tragedy, particularly for the African American community.

You are grieving today, and I am committed to an exhaustive investigation of this shooting.

We are committed to the well-being, the civil rights, and the success Seattle’s African American community.

That’s why we are here today at the site of the Liberty Bank Building, the future home of a development that will include more than 100 units of affordable housing.

I want to congratulate all the partners who made this project happen.

Today, we are not simply breaking ground on another Seattle construction project.

We are breaking ground on a project that “gets it.” We are breaking ground on Seattle’s steadfast commitment to equity.

The First Bank Building is named after the first Black-owned bank West of the Mississippi, which opened its doors on this spot in the heart of the Black community in 1968.

We will build 115 units of affordable housing here.

While the city’s economy is booming, I have simultaneously been concerned that too many are being priced out of the city they love. Nowhere is this more acute than in the Central Area.

But an uncompromising tenet of this city is that growth must be accompanied by inclusion.

That’s a lofty goal. Fortunately, our Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda puts teeth into it: We are now mandating that developers contribute to affordable housing every time they build.

This unprecedented policy couples economic growth with housing affordability.

In the case of Liberty Bank, funded in part by City housing levy dollars from the Office of Housing, this fight for inclusion explicitly and proudly recognizes the Central Area’s unique history.

And that means recognizing its legacy businesses, religious institutions, organizations, and longtime residents.

The agreement for this new development makes a high-priority commitment to secure long-term African American ownership for the building, and that the bottom floor commercial space will support and develop African-American businesses.

But policy alone cannot guarantee success stories like today’s.

Guaranteeing and achieving inclusion also takes perseverance and partnerships. In fact, there’s no way to be inclusive without forming partnerships.

I applaud Centerstone, Black Community Impact Alliance, Africatown, and Capitol Hill Housing for your perseverance on behalf of this community, and for establishing a partnership that not only prioritized affordability, but also prioritized this City’s values.

Your partnership demonstrated that a community can shape the way it grows and changes — can shape how Seattle grows and changes.

I’d also like to also thank my Office of Economic Development for their role to support the growth and development of black-owned businesses in the Central Area, and for identifying black-owned contracting firms.

This historic partnership may be a first, but it cannot be the last. And it will not be the last. Mark my words, you have established a new standard. Call it the equity standard.

I now turn it over to Chris Persons, Executive Director of Capitol Hill Housing, to continue to mark this very special day.

Thank you.

 

 

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City of Seattle, King County release joint request for proposals for Legal Defense Fund

Today, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine, along with the King County and Seattle City Councils, announced a joint request for proposals (RFP) to provide legal services, guidance and referrals to legal services for immigrants and refugees from a $1.55 million fund. Local organizations providing these services can apply for the funding, which will assist people living in the area in need of representation for issues related to their immigration status. Both the City and the County passed legislation authorizing these funds earlier this year as President Donald Trump threatened immigrant and refugee communities through rhetoric and unconstitutional executive orders.

“Dating back nearly two years to the start of his campaign, President Trump has disparaged, targeted, and attempted to exclude immigrant and refugee communities,” said Mayor Murray. “Seattle has stood up against Trump and stood with our friends and neighbors by taking action. We are working together with King County to provide support and critical legal services for those who are being targeted because of their status, and for families that face being ripped apart. We are strong because we are a city of immigrants and a welcoming, inclusive city, and we will continue opposing Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.”

“The actions of our national leaders do not reflect our local values,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.  “Here, in Martin Luther King County, we uphold the Constitution and respect the rights of all people. Along with the City of Seattle, we are supporting those on the front lines of the resistance, providing legal assistance and standing up for the rule of law. In doing so, we declare that our region is, and will always be, a welcoming community.”

Two RFPs are being administered by the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) and the King County Office of Equity and Social Justice (OESJ) for:

  1. Community navigation services (i.e. guidance and referral) for legal representation for residents of King County who are in detention, facing deportation, or in danger of losing their status; and
  2. Legal representation for residents of King County who are in detention, facing deportation, or in danger of losing their status.

With immigrant and refugee communities facing the threat of deportation and being targeted by the Trump administration, both Seattle and King County have acted. Seattle reinforced its status as a Welcoming City, where no City employee will ask a resident about their immigration status and all City services are available to all residents. Since November, the City has responded to the federal administration’s anti-immigrant actions by funding peer support groups and counseling for immigrant and refugee middle and high school youth, and expanding naturalization assistance through citizenship clinics and large-scale workshops. Seattle has also bolstered community collaboration, education, and access to know-your-rights information and resources. Additionally, Mayor Murray created the Inclusive and Equitable Cabinet to address threats to civil rights, including to the immigrant and refugee community, and Mayor Murray signed an ordinance shepherded through Council by Councilmember M. Lorena González, establishing Seattle’s legal defense fund.

“We stand with our County partners in our steadfast commitment to ensuring that our immigrant and refugee community members have an opportunity to access free civil legal aid in immigration proceedings,” said Councilmember M. Lorena González. “In partnership with trusted community organizations, this investment will support our immigrant and refugee neighbors, friends and family at a time of critical need. Today we send a message to our immigrant and refugee neighbors throughout the region – we stand with you during these troubling times and beyond.”

King County’s legal defense funding is part of a broader, comprehensive strategy which includes education and know-your-rights trainings to work more upstream and prevent people from having the need for legal defense. In addition to legal defense, King County is supporting immigrant and refugee organizations with $450,000 to increase the protections of vulnerable residents in the county; via a Resilience Fund, the Seattle Foundation and other philanthropic partners have added to this funding for community organizations.

“It was an obvious choice to partner with the City of Seattle after we passed, on the same day, funding for legal aid for immigrants and refugees in our communities,” said King County Council Chair Joe McDermott. “We stand together in our work to ensure our region is a safe place for all residents, and this collaboration should be a model for jurisdictions around the country who want to protect and empower immigrant and refugee communities within their borders.”

King County is a Welcoming County, and it has passed ordinances that prohibit conditioning provision of services on immigration status and that stipulate that the County only honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers if they are accompanied by a criminal warrant issued by a federal judge.  King County Executive Dow Constantine has also led more than 80 elected officials from throughout King County who have signed a pledge to promote safe, welcoming, and inclusive communities. Information on applying for a Resilience Fund can be found here.

Both RFPs are due by July 12, with funding decisions to be announced in August.

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