Council Receives Vacancy Process Update, Briefed on Applicants By City Clerk

SEATTLE – Councilmember and President Pro Tem Rob Johnson (District 4, Northeast Seattle) and his colleagues received a briefing about the process to fill the vacancy for Position 8, and an update on the application period, which closed on Sunday, October 1 at 5:00 p.m.

Seattle City Clerk Monica Martinez Simmons provided a memo to Councilmembers which included a list of the applicants by name.  Applicants were invited to submit a resume, cover letter, and completed financial interest statement form, and up to three references (optional) along with a signed reference authorization form.

Simmons further indicated that completed application materials would be made available to Councilmembers in hard copy form and made available to the public online not later than 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 3.

Additional, related events, discussions and committee meetings this week include:

Tuesday, October 3 at 5:30 p.m.

Community Forum

Bertha Knight Landes Room at Seattle City Hall

  • Council expects applicants to attend the forum.  The purpose is to allow community members to meet and ask questions of the applicants.

Wednesday, October 4 at 5:00 p.m.

Special Full Council Meeting

Council Chambers

  • Council expects applicants to attend the Special Full Council Meeting.  Applicants for the vacant Council seat may address the Council and the public followed by a public comment period for community members.

Thursday, October 5 at 9:30 a.m.

City Council Executive Session to Discuss Qualifications

Council Chambers

  • As permitted by the Open Public Meetings Act, the Council will meet in executive session to discuss the qualifications of candidates.

Friday, October 6 at 2:00 p.m.

City Council Appointment at Special Full Council Meeting

Council Chambers

  • The Council will vote to fill the vacancy at the Special Full Council meeting.

The City Charter gives the City Council 20 days to fill a vacant Council position. This period began September 18, 2017. In the event the Council fails to fill the vacant position by the end of that 20-day period, the Council must meet every business day thereafter until the vacancy is filled.

Contact:
Amy Gore, Councilmember Johnson’s Office, 206-684-8808
Dana Robinson Slote, Council Communications, 206-615-0061

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It’s Budget Season Again!

This Monday kicked off my second City budget cycle as Mayor Burgess presented his proposal to the Council (you can watch the budget speech here). Councilmembers and staff are in the initial stages of reviewing the investments detailed in the proposal, but I wanted to call out a few early budget wins and projects included in the Mayor’s proposal that align directly with my priorities, and those of my constituents.

Earlier budget wins:

  • With the historic levels of growth our city is experiencing, funding affordable housing and supporting projects that reflect our cultural heritage are absolutely necessary investments. This year I proposed a new tax on short term rentals that gives long term and permanent funding to build more affordable housing projects and funds projects that preserve our city’s cultural heritage.
  • I’m a big believer in green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), so recently I sponsored an amendment to double the amount we spent on GSI without raising consumer rate paths. What is GSI? Click here to learn more, but overall, these investments help to address flooding and climate change impacts, create long term job opportunities (both in the creation and maintenance of the new GSI projects), incentivize more private sector development, and increase walkability and greenspace.

Highlights of investments in the Mayor’s draft budget:

  • I am thrilled to see funding allocated for the renovation of the Magnuson Park Community Center. This renovation, beginning in 2018, will provide much needed space for additional programming for the kids and adults who live, work, and play in the park.
  • I’ve heard from many constituents about the unsettling rise in property crime throughout our neighborhoods, so I am pleased to see the funds needed to fulfill our commitment to expand the police force by 200 officers. Resulting in a 15% increase in SPD’s uniformed personnel, this funding builds off of my 2017 budget goal to increase the number of officers and reduce response times.
  • With the success our Navigation Team has demonstrated getting those living outside to accept offers of shelter, I am happy to see additional funds for a second team outlined among other critical investments to address the homelessness crisis.
  • Because I strongly believe that including arts in education is an integral component of setting our students up for success, I am very glad to see the funds allocated to ensure Creative Advantage (a collaboration between our Office of Arts and Culture, Seattle Public Schools, and community partners) is operating in all Seattle’s public schools by 2022.

There are additional priorities I’ll be pushing for over the course of the budget process, including the renovation of the Burke Gilman Trail from UW to the U Village and ensuring the expansion of our successful Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) to the north end.  I’ll also be looking for ways that we can increase support for our local businesses to grow and how we can make our neighborhood streets safer for kids. Look out for more updates as the budget process gets underway.

Details on the Mayor’s proposed budget can be found here. More information can also be found on the Council’s budget page. There are two public hearings at City Hall (as usual, I made sure that we offer childcare at both):

  • Thursday, October 5 at 5:30 pm in Chambers
  • Wednesday, November 1 at 5:30 pm in Chamber

I hope you are able to join us and share your thoughts! If you are unable to attend, you can always reach out to our office with your comments at 206.684.8808 or Rob.Johnson@seattle.gov.

Shared Vision for Magnuson Park

I’ve had some very meaningful conversations over the last month with residents and neighborhood leaders in and around Magnuson Park, city officials, and Solid Ground Administrators about changes they want to see in their community – changes that are even more important following the tragic death of Charleena Lyles.  Through these conversations, we’ve outlined a set of strategies to realize a safer community offering more positive and healthy opportunities.

That list is a long one, including community center space renovation, better lighting in the park, increased transit access, and significantly better healthy food access. Many of these needs I will address through our budget process in the fall. However, the second quarter supplemental budget (currently being discussed in the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods & Finance Committee) represents an opportunity to re-prioritize existing funds and use them to help support some short-term needs of those living in the park.

One priority I heard loud and clear from everyone with whom I spoke was the need for more engaging programming for youth and adults at Magnuson Park Community Center. We need to fund a staff member dedicated to creating positive mental and physical health programming and to connecting users with the many nonprofit programs that already exist in the park.

I plan to bring an amendment forward at the August 2nd AHNF committee meeting to use city funds to support programming and staffing at the community center.  And I have called on different departments and agencies to address needs as well: the Department of Parks and Recreation is exploring modifications to enhance lighting in Magnuson, our Human Services Department is looking into helping Solid Ground provide more on-site support at Brettler Family Place, and Metro is making changes to provide bus service to the park on evenings and weekends.

It is deeply important to me to work with my colleagues to see these critical near term changes implemented by the start of the school year to support the residents and our community.

Why I Support Arts and Culture

Next week, Seattle’s Pacific Science Center will open its doors to the exhibit Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor, transporting viewers back 2,200 years to discover the story of the First Imperial Dynasty of China and the untouched tomb of the first Emperor.

I was honored to work with the Pacific Science Center during the budget season last year to allocate $100,000 towards their goal to make their exhibits, programs, and events accessible to everyone, regardless of income. These funds will go towards outreach and accessibility initiatives around this historic Terracotta Warriors exhibit by lowering the cost barrier for those who otherwise might not be able to attend.

I am proud to support art and culture in Seattle – namely access to art and cultural experiences – at a time when, at the national and local level, their relevancy and level of priority are being seriously questioned. To me, investment in the arts are an investment in our community – in so many different, fundamental ways.

Quite literally, our arts, cultural, and scientific organizations contribute in a big way to our local economy. In 2014 alone, spending by King County arts, cultural, and scientific organizations and their patrons generated $20 billion in business activity in Washington State’s economy. This activity in turn supported 30,721 jobs, and $859 million in labor income, and resulted in $87 million in sales, business and occupation, and hotel-motel room taxes. For more information on this sector’s economic impact, read this study.

Investment in the arts also represents an investment in the next generation. Arts and cultural experiences can provide young people the tools they need to succeed in school, life, and our City. An education complete with arts opportunities – whether we bring art to the classroom or classrooms to the arts – results in a next generation of Seattleites who are creative and critical thinkers who can collaborate to solve problems and engage with their communities. For more information on the 21st century skills our students learn through art, read this report.

Lastly, investment in the arts is an investment in the community as a whole. Not only does art and culture provide a beauty that promotes livability in a region, but art is powerful because it has the ability to make us feel differently. Art is a meaningful and personal way to enact change. Art is a way to inspire. It’s a way to connect us to others who might think differently than us and it’s a way for us to break barriers and cross cultures.

I am thankful to live in a city that values arts and culture for all it is and can inspire – not just for those who can afford it, but for everyone.

We are a Welcoming City

At a recent Transit Talks meeting, I said “It’s really disturbing for me when I hear somebody talking about how glad they were to see the neighborhood district councils stand up for single-family zoning and then in the next breath disparage the president for wanting to build a wall between the US and Mexico. I see those two things as actually linked,” and I’d like to provide commentary about the spirit behind the sentiments. This remark reflects my passion for Seattle to be a welcoming city, and to me, being welcoming means making space – at the national, local, and neighborhood level.

Every day, as many as 40 people choose to move to Seattle to call it home. Whether it is a new job opportunity, an education, or the desire to live in a place where one can be themselves without fear of violence or harassment, Seattle is their destination. Others have lived in this city for 40 years and the milestones experienced represent a very personal history here. For both those new to Seattle and for those who have lived here for many years, my goal is to ensure that Seattle’s growth is founded in welcoming and inclusive values.

As a planner, I understand the challenges that can come alongside growth (added congestion on streets, a loss of neighborhood character, and increased demands on elements of neighborhood livability like parks and schools) may make many long-term residents of Seattle wary of growth. But it’s these hurdles that we work to address through land use policy. Here are a few examples of how we support and enhance the aspects that have for so long drawn people to our city while simultaneously welcome new neighbors and build pathways for everyone to prosper as a result of future growth:

  • Increase access to economic prosperity and more affordable housing for a wide variety of households and housing types all throughout the city;
  • Require new development to contribute to long-term subsidized units that allow low and moderate income people to stay in our city as housing costs rise;
  • Contribute to neighborhood character through better design quality and strategies to protect historic structures;
  • Make room for working families through new approaches to family-sized housing that allow for more families to occupy space that previously held one home and to encourage larger units to be built within higher-density areas;
  • Encourage more spaces for neighbors to come together in our schools, parks, cultural institutions, and commercial districts;
  • Establish new requirements for certain residential and commercial buildings to support multi modal transit for their occupants, and;
  • Support the character of neighborhood businesses districts to reflect the vitality of the neighborhoods that they serve as more people call the neighborhood home.

To be able to extend more housing choices allows people to participate in and prosper from the opportunities presented by growth as well as increase the ability for established and emerging communities to be able to call this city home.

I’ll reiterate that to be welcoming means a lot of things, but through my land use work, it means to make space. Here’s how you can get involved to help have a voice in how we make space at the city and neighborhood level:

  • Attend a workshop. To date we have supported 12 Urban Village Community Design Workshops, a number of neighborhood walks, and have 6 additional Workshops coming up between late February and March. Through this process to date, we have gotten feedback and questions from nearly 1,000 people throughout the city.
  • Stay tuned for the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. This document will identify potential impacts related to citywide zone changes and how those impacts might be mitigated.
  • Add your thoughts online. By using the city’s online engagement tool you can share concerns and opportunities as well as comment on your neighbors’ ideas.
  • Talk with your neighbors.  Attend one of your neighborhood meetings. Host a neighborhood or block meeting. Find ways to interact with more people who may have a different experience or lifestyle from you and meet new people in your neighborhood. In neighborhoods across the city, neighbors are talking about ways to both celebrate and improve the city; add your voice to the conversation.
  • Sign up to receive updates at Seattle.Gov/HALA.  
  • Call the HALA Hotline, (206) 743-6612. Call with your questions or comments M-F from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.