Mayor Murray Signs 2017-2018 Budget: Exciting Changes for Department of Neighborhoods

Message from Kathy Nyland, Director of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods:

Yesterday Mayor Murray signed the 2017-18 City Budget that was adopted November 21, 2016 by Seattle City Council. The budget includes several additions and changes to the work of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON), and I’m pleased to share them with you.

The department’s work has become much more important in the last year; and we see this work continuing and expanding as more issues come our way. We know everyone has a voice, and it is our job to hear them. The Mayor reminded us about the need for DON and the City Council has confirmed it.

When Mayor Murray issued the Executive Order in July mandating the City to approach outreach and engagement in a more equitable manner, it set the stage for this department to lead the City’s outreach and engagement practices. And through the Mayor’s Proposed Budget, he introduced legislation that outlined a new citywide framework for community engagement and redefined the role of DON in this work. This new legislation, Resolution 31718 and Council Bill 118834, does the following:

  • Advances a citywide approach to outreach and engagement that prioritizes equity and recognizes barriers to participation.
  • Demonstrates the City’s commitment to implementing equitable and inclusive community involvement strategies across all City Departments.
  • Directs City departments to develop well designed, responsive, and culturally relevant public involvement plans.
  • Creates a Community Involvement Commission to advise on City plans, policies, strategies, and community grant funding processes and make recommendations that advance equitable public engagement and civic participation.
  • Redefines the purpose of DON and the functions of the Director.

It is now up to DON to lead this work.
Going forward, you can depend on us to:

  • Focus on more access and more opportunity. We will broaden our reach and work with many groups knowing that no one speaks for all.
  • Implement a broad range of new initiatives and tools to encourage greater and more diverse participation. Read our workplan to learn more.
  • Work with city departments to ensure their outreach and engagement work is equitable and transparent through consultation and collaboration.


How are we going to do this? Here are DON’s budget highlights that will support this work:


  • Two staff members to continue their work in outreach and engagement oversight and city-wide coordination.
  • Two positions to focus on improving the City’s outreach and engagement to neighborhoods during impactful construction projects.
  • Two positions to provide additional capacity to the POEL (Public Outreach and Engagement Liaison) program with a focus on low-income transit options.
  • One position to broaden the participatory budgeting approach to new audiences.
  • One position to analyze the outcomes of DON’s programs and identify strategies and opportunities for improvements.
  • One part-time position dedicated to Historic Preservation process improvements.
  • One position dedicated to administer grants and contracts.
  • One Accounting Technician position to serve the Department of Education and Early Learning.


  • Funds to develop resources and tools to support all community organizations. These would include workshops, online trainings, and a one-stop shop for resources.
  • Funds to develop a fellowship program to support community-based organizations that provide leadership development opportunities and capacity-building.
  • Funds to develop and implement community satisfaction surveys to gain residents’ opinions on city services and priorities for improvement.
  • Funds to support outreach efforts for the Housing Affordability Livability Agenda, including funds to review the city’s historic preservation program review process.



Several of you had questions about our Neighborhood District Coordinators. We continue working with them and their labor representatives to evolve their job descriptions to meet our new goals. Please know that there will be staff designated to assist community groups, both community-based and geography-based.

The DON staff is excited to implement this work. It gives us and the City an opportunity to rethink and reimagine how we interact with one another. Over the coming months, you will be introduced to the many tools, processes, and initiatives that DON will be leading, supporting, and implementing. Make sure to visit our Engage Seattle webpage to learn more.

Outreach and engagement is the core of what we do. Equity, transparency and “meeting people where they are” are our guiding principles. Our work is about fostering community partnerships, cultivating emerging leadership, and facilitating community inclusiveness. We are a department known for many programs; but we are about people, first and foremost. We are thankful that this adopted budget supports the good work we do and our mission of “strengthening Seattle by engaging all communities.”

Volunteers Needed to Advise on Development Plans for South Seattle College

Here’s your chance to serve on a committee that advises the City on the development plans of South Seattle College. Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is seeking interested community members from surrounding neighborhoods to participate on the South Seattle College Standing Advisory Committee (SAC). This committee provides feedback on projects planned and under development by the college to ensure it complies with its Master Plan. The Master Plan describes zoning rules, long range planning of the property, and transportation planning.

Community members who have experience in neighborhood organizing and issues, land use and zoning, architecture or landscape architecture, economic development, building development, educational services, or just an interest in their neighborhood’s future are encouraged to apply.

The committee meets at South Seattle College one to four times a year. Committee members serve a two-year renewable term. If you are interested in serving on this committee, send a letter of interest via e-mail or regular mail to:

Maureen Sheehan
Mailing Address:  Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, P.O. Box 94649, Seattle, WA 98124-4649

For more information contact Maureen Sheehan, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, at 206-684-0302.

The City of Seattle is committed to promoting diversity in its boards and committees; women, young adults, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, persons of color, and immigrants are highly encouraged to apply.

The Major Institutions and Schools Program provides a way for neighbors of Seattle’s hospitals, universities, and colleges to be directly involved in the development plans for those institutions to ensure neighborhood concerns are considered when those plans are made. It is a program of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

Join Us for Community Conversations on Affordable Housing

In order to get feedback on proposed zoning changes and other citywide efforts, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is collaborating with a handful of city departments to host some fun community gatherings over the next few months.

We heard from many of you that City Scoop was a great model for engaging in and sharing information, so we are injecting some food and fun into this next round of meetups as well! We’ll be highlighting maps that show draft neighborhood affordable housing proposals. Read more about those here.

Starting December 3rd, we have five events planned at spaces around the city and we’d love to see you there.

December 3, 10am-12pm
NW Neighborhoods at Bitter Lake Community Center

December 7, 5:30-7:30pm
SW Neighborhoods at Shelby’s Bistro and Ice Creamery

December 13, 6-8pm
NE Neighborhoods at Ravenna Community Center

January 10, 6-8pm
Central Neighborhoods at Optimism Brewing

January 21, 10am-12pm
SE Neighborhoods at The Royal Room

Click on the above links for more details about each event.

We hope to see you there!

Youth Voice, Youth Choice Project Update

Last May, more than 3,000 Seattle youth voted to determine projects that they believed should be funded with $700,000 from the City budget.

That was May and here we are in November, so some of you might be wondering…what’s going on with all of these projects?  Are they happening yet?

The short answer is…kind of! They are all moving along, some faster than others.

Though we don’t yet have many specifics to share, we still want to make sure everyone has the most up-to-date information.

So, without further ado, below is the scoop on the City’s progress on each project:


Safe Routes to Schools Project – $45,500
Improve crosswalks in areas near schools to create safer routes to school for students.

Back in August, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) installed a blue and orange checker board pattern painted curb bulb at S Henderson St and 53rd Ave S near the Rainier Beach High School.  We wrote about it in this blog article.

In 2017, SDOT will design and install speed humps on S Kenyon St/Way near Wing Luke Elementary School and a raised crosswalk at the intersection of 16th Ave SW & SW Myrtle St.


Park Bathroom Upgrades Project – $205,000
Creating a map of public bathrooms in the city and implementing improvements at 1-2 bathrooms in parks in most need of repair.

Seattle Parks and Recreation (Parks) will do a full-scale renovation of the Brighton Playfield comfort station in the Hillman City neighborhood of SE Seattle. Renovations will include: ADA Improvements, demolishing and replacing interior partitions, fixtures, accessories (toilets, urinals, sinks), painting the interior, tiling the walls, adding interior LED lighting, and more.

Also, in the New Holly neighborhood, Parks plans to make minor improvements to the Van Asselt Comfort Station including painting the interior, sealing the floor, and pressure-washing the interior of the building.

These projects will be completed by June 2017.

And what about that map?  Seattle Parks has begun work on the map, and will continue to improve it in the coming months.


Wi-Fi Hotspot Checkout – $165,000
A term-limited expansion of the Seattle Public Library’s checkout system to include more Wi-Fi hotspots, which increase internet access.

Did you know that the library currently has 700 Wi-Fi Hotspots in circulation through their SPL HotSpot Program?  500 of these can be reserved, just as you would a book.  The other 200 hotspots are used for different programs in Seattle that address digital equity needs.

This program has been partially funded by a Google Grant that is set to expire in January 2017. This expiration would have caused a sharp decrease in service. However, this Youth Voice, Youth Choice funding will not only allow the Library to maintain its current service level, but expand it by 50 hotspots as well as hire a part-time staff member to ensure that devices are equitably distributed.


Homeless Children and Youth Liaison Services Project – $70,400
A term-limited expansion for school liaison services connecting youth experiencing homelessness to needed resources.

In 2017, through an agreement with the Seattle Human Services Department, the Seattle School District will expand services to an additional 40 unaccompanied homeless youth. Funds provided through this Agreement will be used for supports that move homeless students and families along the path to academic achievement and stable housing.


Youth Homeless Shelter Improvements – $42,000
Physical improvements for a youth homeless shelter such as installing lockers, washer and dryers, and new paint.

Beginning in January 2017, the Seattle Human Services Department will contract with organizations providing sheltering services to homeless youth.  Funding from the contracts will go towards creating permanent storage options and access to laundry facilities for the youth they serve.


Job Readiness Workshops for Homeless Youth – $43,600
A term-limited expansion of existing services for youth experiencing homelessness focused on job readiness.

The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is putting the final touches on a Request for Proposals (RFP) for this project.   We will be releasing details within the week and the deadline for organizations to submit proposals will be December 21.

The City seeks to fund an organization that has a proven history and success in working with young people who are unstably housed, offers existing job-readiness resources, and is looking to expand the breadth of their current service provisions or innovate the way their organization has traditionally approached job readiness training for homeless youth. The goal of this project is to improve the quality of life and financial independence for young people experiencing homelessness by increasing their ability to acquire and retain permanent employment.


Houses for People Experiencing Homelessness – $128,500
Youth collaborate with carpenters to build 10 tiny homes for people experiencing homelessness.

As you might remember, this project received the most votes.  Given the ongoing complexities of addressing the housing needs of Seattle’s unsheltered residents, it has also proven a bit challenging to get off the ground.

However, we are happy to report that we will begin working on this project with the newly established Homeless Strategy and Investment Division of the Human Services Department in January 2017. We will keep you posted on our progress.

Share Your Thoughts on Housing Affordability Proposals

Housing affordability continues to be on many people’s minds as we see headline after headline about rising home prices, rising rents, and an increase in our homeless population.  While we see many things in our community changing, what hasn’t changed is our commitment to each other and to rolling up our sleeves and solving these big issues.

That is why in August of this year we voted overwhelmingly to renew the Seattle Housing Levy.  Sustaining programs that provide home ownership opportunities and creating more housing for those most in need is a top priority.  What we also know is that the Seattle Housing Levy, while a great tool, cannot do all that is needed to address the growing need for more affordable housing.

We have been hard at work passing tenant protections, removing barriers to housing for vulnerable populations, and working in coalitions in Olympia to change state law and provide more funding.  You can check all that out at

What we want to talk about today is our Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program, which we have spent much of the year drafting for City Council’s review and passage.  This new program will, for the first time in our City’s history, require new development in Seattle’s most dense areas to contribute to affordable housing.  This contribution is based on the City providing more capacity (allowing buildings to be taller or wider) in exchange for a developer to either build new affordable units or pay a fee to the Office of Housing (the same stewards of our Housing Levy dollars).

We are about halfway through the process of putting this program to work.  We recently passed legislation that allows this program to exist in any area of the city where we make zoning changes.  The next step is to actually make the zoning changes, and the City recently released a set of proposed zoning maps that targets these changes in our most dense areas of the city. These mapped proposals have been shaped by a nearly year-long community engagement process in which residents were asked how they would like to see their neighborhoods change. From that process, we developed a set of principles to guide the design of zoning changes.

We understand that zoning is one of the more complex tools used to harness the growth in Seattle, so we created this video to help guide you through using the maps.

Review the proposed zoning maps and tell us what’s working and what isn’t.

Your feedback will help the City find appropriate ways to increase the amount of both affordable AND market rate housing in our growth areas.



Want to dig deeper? Here are a few more resources to help you make sense of affordable housing: