Illegal Dumping, CRUEDA Update, and Alki Community Council

Seattle Public Utility’s (SPU) Brand New Approach to Address Illegal dumping

Since 2014, the number of illegal dumping service requests to SPU has jumped from about 5,000 to an astonishing 11,500 in 2015. As a result, unfortunately, the average response time went from 21 days to 28 days.  To address this SPU decided they needed to find a way to both 1. Reduce the current service request backlog and 2. Improve future response times.

In order to do that, last week SPU assigned temporary staff to consolidate the backlog of service requests.  As of February 18th they had 100% of the backlogged requests reviewed and found that approximately 25% were duplicate requests.   This clearly demonstrated a need to address the issue of illegal dumping differently.  In other words, SPU shifted from an enforcement model that only responded to complaints, to an enforcement model that also includes proactively clean up illegal dumping in areas where it happens frequently.  SPU is now preparing “clean sweep” maps and routes for cleanup crews where they will drive each street to pick up both reported and unreported items – especially in those locations that have frequent illegal dumping activity, so that pick-up opportunities are maximized, the complaint backlog reduced, and response time improved.


Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts (CRUEDA) Committee Highlights

You may have heard about the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) project on 23rd Avenue and the impacts of this construction on the businesses in the area.  Though the problems have only recently come to light at City Hall, the Central District businesses have been dealing with them for many, many months.  Businesses that have been around for 20 years, like Earl’s Cuts and Styles barbershop and Flowers Just 4U have seen sales plummet since November and are at risk of closing down.  Other businesses have had to delay expansion plans.  Since my committee addresses issues related to economic development – particularly small businesses in our neighborhood business districts – last week I requested that the Office of Economic Development (OED) and SDOT come and brief my committee on how they intended to address these impacts.


The “rechannelization” project is to modify 23rd Ave from a four-lane street to a three-lane street – one lane in each direction with a center left-turn lane, (key intersections will stay four lanes).  As with District 1’s own 35th Avenue SW rechannelization project, the turn lane is intended to allow left-turning vehicles to make a safe left turn, while still allowing thru-traffic to continue through an intersection and down the street.   Road rechannelization projects are often controversial, but in this case, because of a desire to reduce collisions, to allow vehicles to turn without blocking traffic, and to make streets easier to cross there was relatively little opposition for this project.

A commitment was made to the community that this part of the project would be broken into zones, as a way to reduce impacts by making sure that no more than 2 blocks were under construction at any given time.  But all of that changed in November 2015 when a problem arose with the design of the light poles.  To keep the project on schedule SDOT decided to start work on the 2nd zone of the project before the 1st zone was completed.  Neither OED nor the community was consulted.  As one business owner told the Seattle Times, “This project has been a slow squeeze to the point now where we get no car traffic, no bus traffic, no foot traffic, and this isn’t just about me. This is about a corridor of 100 percent minority and family-owned businesses.”


Though the business community had been told previously that there were no funds to assist them beyond some limited marketing services, the day before my CRUEDA committee meeting, the Mayor announced a $650,000 Business Stabilization Fund formed comprised of federal Community Development Block Grant funds and fees from New Market Tax Credits.  In my committee we learned more about how those funds would be administered.  Eligible businesses are:

  • Micro business with 5 or fewer employees; and
  • Serve a low-income service area; or
  • A low-income business owner, earning less than 80% AMI and
  • Has a demonstrated need.

As described in the CRUEDA meeting, funds can be used for operational costs or physical improvements.  My concern is that we should ensure the fund pays for all demonstrated business losses associated with the construction before funding physical improvements. 

OED is still formalizing the process but hopes to have it all mapped out by next week.  This includes creating a simple intake form that will be accessible online at a website for initial intake that hopefully also will be up by the end of the week.

The first step will be getting businesses to complete the intake form.  OED will facilitate 2-3 workshops with the community around the intake and eligibility to obtain mitigation funds.  Business owners will have to show loss of revenue since construction started and projected impact through its completion – OED suggested that they should start gathering any documentation to show this.

The preliminary plan is to create an initial cap on the funds to each eligible business, then potentially follow up with additional funding as necessary/demonstrated need by business if there are funds left.  The goal is to get the money directly to businesses well before the end of March.  The City is also offering Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utility bill payment deferrals.

SDOT agreed that they must do a better job in engaging businesses and other community members when issues arise like these and answers need to be made in very short time frame. This includes working more closely with OED; in particular on its detour notices that go out to the community. The notice that went out last week for this project read as a “stay away” notice instead of a “come here” and patronize our open businesses.


My Visit to the Alki Community Council

Last Thursday I attended the Alki Community Council meeting.  I talked about my committee assignments and answered a broad range of questions.

Much of the discussion there concerned a project proposed for 1250 Alki Avenue SW, for a six-story building with 100 residential units, 150 parking spaces, and 1500 square feet of retail space. The area is a midrise (MR) zone.  It would replace several single-family homes on lots from 1250 to 1262 Alki Avenue SW.  I learned that the community is asking to be involved in future design discussions; supports a code-compliant option that meets the massing and scale of the neighborhood, and opposes the departures for width and depth being requested; their position is it does not meet the “public benefit” test required for variances.  A Second design review board meeting took place in January.  More information about the design proposal and permit status can be found here.



Seattle City Council Announces 2016 Committee Assignments

Seattle City Council Announces 2016 Committee Assignments

Councilmembers to elect Council President and assign committees on January 4, 2016

SEATTLESeattle City Council announced its tentative plan for committee assignments today, in preparation for work in 2016. Each Councilmember is responsible for chairing a Council committee and managing legislation related to the committee’s focus. Councilmembers also serve as a vice-chair on one committee and as a member on another. Councilmembers can also sponsor legislation on other committees under certain conditions. Committee assignments are made official at the first Full Council meeting of the year, on Monday January 4, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. Councilmembers will also elect their 2016-17 Council President at the meeting. Committee assignments last for two years.

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw will chair the Human Services and Public Health Committee. Councilmember Bagshaw will oversee Council’s work on issues relating to services provided by the Human Services Department, including programs that meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable people in our community. The committee will also consider matters involving public health and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), which allows law enforcement officers to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug or prostitution activity to community-based services.

Councilmember Tim Burgess will chair the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee. As chair of this committee, Councilmember Burgess will focus on issues relating to housing-investing and promoting the development and preservation of affordable housing, and building strong neighborhoods through outreach and engagement. Councilmember Burgess will also chair the Budget committee, overseeing the review of the Mayor’s proposed budget.

Councilmember Lorena González will chair the Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans Committee. As chair, Councilmember González will consider policies to address gender equity and help improve the lives of Seattle’s immigrant and refugee residents.  The committee will also focus on fostering safe communities, improving police accountability, crime prevention, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, and fire and medical services.

Councilmember Bruce Harrell will chair the Education, Equity and Governance Committee. As chair, Councilmember Harrell will focus on issues relating to public schools and improving student success rates, intergovernmental relations, technology, ethics and elections, prisoner reentry and equity issues for underserved communities.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold will chair the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee. Councilmember Herbold’s committee will manage issues relating to labor standards, civil rights, Seattle Public Utilities, and economic development. The committee will also manage issues relating to arts and culture in Seattle, which includes nightlife issues.

Councilmember Rob Johnson will chair the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee. As chair of this committee, Councilmember Johnson will take up issues involving City zoning, planning, major institutions, quasi-judicial decisions, community development, and land use regulations.

Councilmember Debora Juarez will chair the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Waterfront Committee. As chair, Councilmember Juarez will focus on issues relating to City parks, community centers, and public grounds, including the Seattle Center.  Her committee will also manage legislation relating to the Seattle Public Library system.  Councilmember Juarez will also chair the Central Waterfront committee.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien will chair the Sustainability and Transportation Committee. Councilmember O’Brien’s committee will handle matters pertaining to city-wide and regional transportation policy and planning. These issues range from pedestrian and bicycle programs, traffic control and parking policies, and overseeing the City’s coordination with regional and state departments of transportation. The committee will also have a shared-focus on Seattle’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant will chair the Energy and Environment Committee. Councilmember Sawant’s committee will handle policies relating to Seattle’s energy usage, as well as issues relating to alternative energy sources, air pollution regulation, energy utility rates, and Seattle City Light finances. In addition, Councilmember Sawant will take up matters that relate to climate and environmental protections, conservation programs, and green infrastructure.


Standing Committee

Committee Members

Committee Meeting Days and Times

Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods & Finance

Chair:  Tim Burgess
Vice-Chair:  Lisa Herbold
Member:  Rob Johnson
Alternate:  Mike O’Brien

1st and 3rd Wednesdays
9:30 a.m.

Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development & Arts

Chair:  Lisa Herbold
Vice-Chair:  Kshama Sawant
Member:  Mike O’Brien
Alternate:  Bruce Harrell

2nd and 4th Tuesdays
9:30 a.m.

Education, Equity & Governance

Chair:  Bruce A. Harrell
Vice-Chair:  Lorena González
Member:  Debora Juarez
Alternate:  Tim Burgess

1st and 3rd Wednesdays
2:00 p.m.

Energy & Environment

Chair:  Kshama Sawant
Vice-Chair:  Debora Juarez
Member:  Lorena González
Alternate:  Sally Bagshaw

2nd and 4th Tuesdays
2:00 p.m.

Gender Equity, Safe Communities & New Americans

Chair:  Lorena González
Vice-Chair:  Tim Burgess
Member:  Sally Bagshaw
Alternate:  Debora Juarez

2nd and 4th Wednesdays
9:30 a.m.

Human Services & Public Health

Chair:  Sally Bagshaw
Vice-Chair:  Bruce Harrell
Member:  Tim Burgess
Alternate:  Rob Johnson

2nd and 4th Wednesdays
2:00 p.m.

Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries & Waterfront

Chair:  Debora Juarez
Vice-Chair:  Sally Bagshaw
Member:  Bruce Harrell
Alternate:  Kshama Sawant

1st and 3rd Thursdays
9:30 a.m.

Planning, Land Use & Zoning

Chair:  Rob Johnson
Vice-Chair:  Mike O’Brien
Member:  Lisa Herbold
Alternate:  Lorena González

1st and 3rd Tuesdays
9:30 a.m.

Sustainability & Transportation

Chair:  Mike O’Brien
Vice-Chair:  Rob Johnson
Member:  Kshama Sawant
Alternate:  Lisa Herbold

1st and 3rd Tuesdays 2:00 p.m.

Seattle City Council meetings are cablecast and Webcast live on Seattle Channel 21 and on the City Council’s website. Copies of legislation, Council meeting calendar, and archives of news releases can be found on the City Council website. Follow the Council on Twitter and on Facebook.