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:

POSITIONS

  • 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.


FUNDING

  • 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.”

Tell the City What You Think at Our New One-Stop Shop for Public Input Opportunities

For the past 3 months, we’ve been reaching out to Seattle residents through our Engage Seattle survey and campaign to get feedback on how the City can more effectively and equitably manage our outreach and engagement efforts.

During this process, we’ve heard one thing loud and clear: people want City information to be more centralized and more easily accessible.

We hear you and we are already taking steps to make this a reality!

For us, one of the most important first steps was to make it easier for residents to track and respond to public input requests from the City. The City of Seattle seeks public input in a variety of ways: through public meetings, surveys, direct outreach, online conversations, and more. What was clear is that we needed to create an online hub where we could bundle and house all of these active feedback opportunities.

This past August we did just that. We launched our Add Your Voice webpage, which serves as a one-stop shop for City of Seattle projects and topics currently open to public input. There you will find input opportunities organized by topic with clear timelines and links for more information.

We invite you to visit the site, explore the available opportunities for public feedback, and Add Your Voice!

We will continue to fine tune and improve this site as we move forward with our equitable outreach and engagement strategies. If you have ideas for improvement, please let us know by adding a comment to this post.

Changing the City’s Approach to Outreach and Engagement

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

On Monday, September 26, Mayor Murray presented his 2017-2018 Proposed Budget to the Seattle City Council. His proposal includes legislation that addresses equitable outreach and engagement and outlines a new citywide framework for community involvement to be led by the Department of Neighborhoods (DON).


The proposed legislation:

  • 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; and
  • 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.

This legislation is now available on our Engage Seattle webpage or by clicking the links below:


Impact on community groups:

Many of you have asked what the legislation means for the future of the District Council system.  Let me be clear:  the legislation does not dissolve or disband District Councils or any other community groups. It doesn’t replace face-to-face meetings or prohibit participation by any person or group – to the contrary, it helps create more opportunities for dynamic community engagement. As Seattle continues to grow and change, the City must continually revisit and expand its public engagement efforts to encourage broad participation across all demographic groups.


Work Plan:

In addition to the legislation, DON has also identified and developed a strategy for implementing a suite of initiatives and tools designed to make it easier for individuals and community groups to participate in the civic life of our city.  This work plan was crafted in partnership with other City departments and informed by responses to DON’s ongoing Engage Seattle survey effort.

Since launching Engage Seattle in August 2016, DON has collected over 3,500 responses and discussed the effort with community members at more than 30 local events.  If you haven’t already, I encourage you to make your voice heard by filling out the survey.


Going forward, you can depend on DON 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. Everyone has a voice, and it is our job to listen.
  • Implement a broad range of new initiatives and tools to encourage greater and more diverse participation.
  • Work with city departments to ensure their outreach and engagement work is equitable and transparent through consultation, collaboration, and tools to assist in their work.

 

We hope you will join us as we continue this important conversation.

Director Nyland Discusses Proposed Department of Neighborhoods 2017-2018 Budget

This afternoon, Mayor Murray presented his Proposed 2017-2018 Budget to the Seattle City Council. A section of this budget will focus on a new direction for Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON).

As you know, the Mayor issued an Executive Order in July that mandated the City of Seattle to approach outreach and engagement in a more equitable manner. It directed this department to lead and work with all City departments on their outreach and engagement practices that reaffirm the City’s commitment to inclusive participation.

This direction is reflected in our mission – to strengthen Seattle by engaging all communities. We do this every day by fostering community partnerships, cultivating emerging leadership, and facilitating community inclusiveness.

In the Mayor’s Proposed 2017-2018 Budget, you will find legislation that addresses these outreach and engagement principles and outlines a new citywide framework for community engagement. This will be the roadmap as we continue to develop a suite of tools with broader access points.

Below are the highlights to DON’s budget that reflect this work:

  • Two staff members will continue their work in outreach and engagement oversight and city-wide coordination.
  • Two positions will focus on improving the City’s outreach and engagement to neighborhoods during impactful construction projects.
  • Two positions will provide additional capacity to the POEL (Public Outreach and Engagement Liaison) program with a focus on low-income transit options.
  • One position will broaden the participatory budgeting approach to new audiences.

Additional capacity and investments:

  • One part-time position will be dedicated to Historic Preservation process improvements.
  • One Accounting Technician position will serve the Department of Education and Early Learning.
  • One position will be dedicated to Grants and Contracts.
  • $185,000 dedicated to outreach efforts for the Housing Affordability & Livability Agenda, including funds to review the city’s historic preservation program review process.

 

These are just some of the highlights reflected within the Proposed 2017-2018 Budget. Over the next two months, Seattle City Council will be reviewing and deliberating the proposed budget. To learn more about how you can provide your input, visit seattle.gov/council/.

We have an incredible opportunity before us to rethink and reimagine how we interact with one another. It’s not just about how the City talks with communities, but it’s about how communities can talk with and learn from one another. In the coming week, you can learn more about the legislation, the timeline, and the expected deliverables at our website.

Outreach and engagement is the core of what we do. Equity, transparency and “meeting people where they are” are our guiding principles. We hope you’ll join us as we continue to transform the way our City reaches out, listens to, and works with communities.

 

Sincerely,
Kathy Nyland, Director