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.

Kaiser Permanent Overturns Harmful Transgender Healthcare Access Policy; Showbox Update; Delridge Day; SPF 30!!


Kaiser Permanent Overturns Harmful Transgender Healthcare Access Policy

During the 2018 budget deliberations the Seattle LGBTQ Commission sent a letter to the City Council with requests that we support access to healthcare for transgender people including but not limited to:

  • Gender affirmation surgery and treatment
  •  Fertility and assisted reproduction needs
  •  Procedures that insurance may have previously designated as for a single gender, e.g. pap smears for trans men

In March of this year the LGBTQ Commission wrote to Mayor Durkan and the City Council with specific concerns about Kaiser Permanente, one of the healthcare providers for City of Seattle employees.  Their concerns included a policy of Kaiser’s to only cover breast augmentation when it was preceded by a mastectomy. The “Transgender Medical Coverage Rights” as outlined on the WA Office of the Insurance Commissioner states:

  • “Health insurers are required to cover procedures that are part of a gender transition process if they’re covered for other policyholders for different reasons. Examples include…Breast augmentation and reconstruction.”

In response to concerns from both the LGBTQ Commission and community advocates such as the Gender Justice League and Ingersoll Gender Center I had several combined meetings with these advocates and one with representatives from Kaiser. Due to the tireless efforts from these community advocates, last week Kaiser Permanent announced that they have reversed this inequitable practice.  In addition to changing this practice and under an agreement with the State, Kaiser will review all denials of these gender affirming surgeries since Jan. 2016.

I also want to acknowledge the work that CM Juarez has done on this issue and thank her for her advocacy on behalf of transgender communities in Seattle including her letter to Seattle area health care providers outlining the current protections for transgender people provided by the City of Seattle and the work of the State Insurance Commissioner to clarify the responsibilities of insurance carriers to serve ALL people in WA state.

All people should have access to affirming health care and coverage and I’m glad to see that Kaiser has taken this important step to help ensure that this is the case.


Showbox Update

Many of you may be following the efforts to preserve the Showbox.  On Monday the Council voted to introduce an ordinance relating to the Pike Place Market Historical District which would expand the boundaries for two years to allow for a study.  After two years, if the Council didn’t take action, the boundaries would revert.  Under that proposal the boundary expansion would include the Showbox and about a dozen other properties. Expanding the boundaries of the Pike Place Market Historical District is being considered because, in doing so, the Historic Commission would have the authority to review and approve the use of the structures within the District (not something the Landmarks Preservation Board can do). The Council voted Monday to refer this ordinance to the Finance and Neighborhoods Committee on Wednesday for continued discussion. You can watch the committee meeting here (start at 1:59:50).

At the Finance and Neighborhoods Committee on Wednesday six of the nine Councilmembers voted to pass an amended ordinance. The two changes made to the Sawant proposal were to limit the study area to just the Showbox and not other properties and to reduce the study period from two years to ten months.

With the ordinance passed out of committee, it will be headed back to Full Council on Monday. However, some new information from the Department of Construction and Inspection (DCI) may lead to the ordinance being held to a later date. DCI Director Torgelson joined the Council at the committee table on Wednesday and explained that, with the agreement of the developer, the department would delay conducting a pre-submittal conference with the developer until October 17.  This will delay the opportunity for the development to become vested. This agreement was made so that the Council would have more time to vote on the final bill, which the developer hopes to convince the Council not to pass.

I expect the Council on Monday to consider holding the legislation until sometime in September, this will allow for a public hearing as well as provide an opportunity for the developer to develop a plan that they hope will satisfy the Council’s concerns.  In the message from the developer’s legal counsel agreeing to delay vesting, the description of the effort was as follows:

“…we look forward to working with you on “win-win” solutions that could sustain the performance history (my emphasis added) of the Showbox into the future, while still also allowing the development of high-rise housing at this site.”

To learn more about the historical significance of the Showbox building, see the Landmarks Preservation application here.  The follow the preservation effort, led by Historic Seattle, see here.


Delridge Day

Delridge Day, which started in 2006, will be this Saturday between 11am and 3pm. The annual event hosts food venders, local musicians, games, and more. Additionally, the Southwest Police Precinct will be hosting a picnic at the same location.  Also, look for the City of Seattle table where there will be information about the North Delridge Action Plan.


SPF 30!!

Sub Pop is turning 30! Come out to Alki this Saturday where four stages will host live music from noon to 10pm. It’s all free, there’s no admission cost!

Sub Pop is also raising money to help support YouthCare. YouthCare works to end youth homelessness and empower them to achieve their goals.

Head to Sub Pop’s SPF 30 website here to check out the bands that are playing, the best transportation options, and more.

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.

Herbold’s Bill Broadens Definition of ‘Reasonable Accommodations’ for People with Disabilities

City Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park), and Chair of the Council’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee, issued the following statement today following the unanimous passage of Council Bill (CB) 119316, a bill to broaden the responsibility for providing reasonable accommodations to tenants with disabilities:

“Thank you to my Council colleagues who saw the pressing need to amend the Open Housing Ordinance (Chapter 14.08 of the Seattle Municipal Code) for the betterment of tenants everywhere who are living with disabilities.

“Earlier this year, a tenant of Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) was eligible for a voucher to cover 30 percent of the rent for a studio apartment, and had requested a voucher with a subsidy appropriate for a one-bedroom apartment based on the need for a disability related accommodation. SHA refused to grant the request.

“The tenant claimed that the refusal denied her a reasonable accommodation to which she was entitled and in doing so, violated Section 14.08.040.D, which prompted litigation and a decision from the Court of Appeals for the State of Washington.

“In its opinion, the 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 the case and makes two significant changes to the SMC.

“First, CB 119316 separates the obligation — of, in this instance SHA — to provide reasonable accommodations from the obligation to provide reasonable modifications. Second, the legislation amends the SMC by revising the responsible party for permitting reasonable modifications from ‘landlord’ to ‘person’, thereby ensuring that anyone who can grant a reasonable accommodation is covered by the law, not just landlords.

“Moving forward, City law will require SHA and any other voucher program administrator to provide reasonable modifications to persons with disabilities as appropriate.  Above all, today’s vote both balances the perspectives of both landlord and tenant, and restates the importance of fair housing practices to both promote and ensure the availability and accessibility of housing to all.

“We can all agree — tenants and landlords alike — that accommodations may be necessary to afford people with disabilities equal opportunity to use and enjoy any dwelling. Alternatively, to refuse to allow a person to make alterations or additions to existing premises occupied or to be occupied by a person with a disability which are necessary to make the rental property accessible by people with disabilities, is unfair.”