Mayor Murray lauds passage of new energy efficiency ordinance

Mayor Ed Murray applauded the Seattle City Council today for passing building energy legislation that propels Seattle into an elite group of cities with progressive policies aimed at driving energy efficiencies and reducing climate impacts. The legislation was first mentioned in Mayor Murray’s State of the City on February 17th.

“Buildings are the second largest source of climate pollution in Seattle and reducing their emissions is critical to meeting our city’s ambitious climate goals,” said Mayor Murray. “Our legislation will ensure that our existing, older commercial buildings are high performing, helping to create jobs and reduce operating expenses for building owners and tenants as they get their regular ‘tune-ups.’ I applaud the Council for passing this legislation to build a more livable, healthy, and sustainable city.”

Seattle’s new energy legislation addresses three distinct areas:

  • Building Energy Transparency
    The proposed Benchmarking Amendments ordinance updates Seattle’s existing building energy benchmarking law to include public transparency of energy performance. Transparency of this data has been shown to be a critical tool in other cities in reducing energy use.
  • Building Tune-Ups
    The proposed Building Tune-Ups ordinance phases in a periodic (every 5 years) tune-up requirement for commercial buildings 50,000 square feet or larger, beginning in 2018. Tune-ups would identify and correct no- or low-cost changes to building operations, measures that would pay back in 2-3 years. Exemptions would take into account buildings that already conduct tune-ups or demonstrate high performance.
  • City Leadership
    The building community looks to the City to take a leadership role with its own facilities and to model actions before placing expectations onto the private market. An accompanying City-owned Building Tune-Ups resolution directs the City to conduct tune-ups on City-owned buildings one year in advance of the compliance deadlines in the Building Tune-Up ordinance.

“Seattle was one of the first cities to adopt a benchmarking law and it is again setting an example for cities around the country with its tune-up policy to ensure that buildings are operating at their most efficient,” said Cliff Majersik, Executive Director of the Institute for Market Transformation, a national non-profit that promotes market-based solutions to advance energy efficiency in buildings. “The benefits of energy efficient buildings are tremendous and Seattle’s approach is a great way to drive progress in the building sector.”

“Demonstrable City leadership is critical when it comes to asking the private sector to alter their approach,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “The fact that these new policies call for City compliance ahead of private sector deadlines underscores the fact that Seattle considers energy efficiency a priority. I look forward to seeing City buildings become more energy efficient and sharing our successes and lessons learned with the community.”

“Seattle has long been a leader in developing new strategies to reduce carbon pollution while also growing our economy,” said Jessica Finn Coven, Director of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment. “This legislation continues this tradition and keeps our city on track to meet the ambitious target of being carbon neutral by 2050.”

Council acts on Roosevelt park

Today Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after the Seattle City Council adopted his legislation to acquire land near Roosevelt High School for new public open space:

“Thanks to the Council for swift adoption of this ordinance. While it will take time to acquire the land and realize our vision, this is a victory for neighbors who have been fighting blight and seeking a park for this community. The City intends to use funds collected from the Sisleys to acquire open space for this growing neighborhood, provide assistance to tenants, and manage nuisance properties that are a safety concern. We are also working closely with developers to ensure that additional affordable housing is part of a revitalized neighborhood.”

Mayor unveils $47 million Seattle Park District plan for 2016

Mayor Ed Murray today unveiled his proposal for $47 million in Seattle Park District funding as part of his 2016 budget. This is the first full year of investments made through the district approved by voters in August 2014.

“Years of deferred maintenance and lack of major investment has taken its toll on Seattle Parks and Recreation facilities,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “In 2016, we will launch a major round of improvements to community centers, open spaces and facilities across the system.”

“The Seattle Park District helps ensure that the city’s great parks and recreation legacy will be around for generations of Seattle residents to enjoy,” said Jesús Aguirre, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent.

“I am so pleased about the improvements to our city parks and programs that will result from the Park District,” said Barbara Wright, Vice Chair of the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners. “After the year-long efforts of the Parks Legacy Citizens’ Advisory Committee, which I chaired with Charlie Zaragoza, it is extremely gratifying to know the city is moving forward with the commitment of Park District funds to taking care of what we have, improving the lives of people in the community and preparing for our future.”

A map of the proposed investments through the Seattle Park District can be found here.

Two-thirds of the new funding, $31 million dollars, will target deferred maintenance at existing facilities:

  • Install new play equipment at playgrounds, completing 3 projects in 2016 and starting 7 others.
  • Begin the rehabilitation of community centers throughout the city, with 7 centers currently being assessed for needed repairs.
  • Repair and upgrade the Ballard Pool.
  • Install synthetic turf on the Brighton Playfield.
  • Repair priority sections of the Burke-Gilman Trail.
  • Support the Green Seattle Partnership and the thousands of volunteers planting trees and removing invasive species to restore the urban forest.
  • Contribute to major renovations at Woodland Park Zoo.

Across the City, 24 facilities will benefit from major maintenance projects next year. In order to avoid disruptions to programming during the day, the City will add a third shift of journeyman trades people who will work at night to fix leaky plumbing, repair ceiling tiles and clean drains. The work will put facilities on a two-year maintenance cycle, rather than the current five to seven-year cycle.

Visitors will also notice that 41 of the busiest park restrooms across the system will benefit from twice as many cleanings during times of peak use.

The mayor also announced $4 million to develop new culturally relevant programming to serve an additional 6,000 Seattle residents across the system.

“Our parks facilities are only as good as the programs that fill the spaces – educational courses, the arts, physical fitness, child care and early childhood education,” said Murray. “We will establish new community partnerships to improve access to programming for communities of color and other underserved populations, for young people, for our elders.”

To support equity of access, the budget adds $400,000 in scholarships to offset program fees for low-income families and individuals.

Parks will form innovative community partnerships to bring more opportunities for young people, including youth with disabilities, to support after-school programs and over-night camps. New community partnerships will also support physical fitness activities for adults and children. A successful pilot project for seniors experiencing dementia will be expanded, as will other programs for seniors, with a special focus on serving immigrants and refugees.

Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture will launch “Put the Arts in Parks” with 40 exhibits and performances to renew the cultural role of City parks.

The City will build on the successful public-private partnership that is activating Westlake Park by working with community organizations to activate other urban parks with music, games and the arts, such as Hing Hay, Freeway and Victor Steinbrueck.

Finally, the Seattle Park District will invest $9 million in 2016 to acquire new properties, enhance existing facilities, and develop new parks to serve a growing city.

“We expect 120,000 new Seattle residents over the next 20 years,” said Murray. “We must expand our system to meet that need.”

In partnership with King County Conservation Futures, Parks will purchase additional land for future open space in growing urban centers and urban villages where most new Seattle residents will live. Existing land-banked sites in Seattle’s urban villages will be developed, beginning in Lake City, Greenwood-Phinney, Fremont, Denny Triangle and North Rainier.

Community groups can apply for matching funds to renovate or expand existing parks facilities through a new Major Projects Challenge Fund.

Mayor to move forward on acquisition of N.E. 130th Street beach

Mayor Ed Murray today announced that the City plans to purchase portions of two properties that make up the former N.E. 130th Street beach from the current owners and restore waterfront access for the public.

“For decades, generations of Seattle residents enjoyed lakefront access from the N.E. 130th Street beach,” said Mayor Murray. “I have directed the Parks Department to begin the process of restoring that access by acquiring the properties using all tools at our disposal.”

The two properties lie at the end of N.E. 130th Street and Rivera Place, near the Burke-Gilman Trail in the Cedar Park neighborhood in the Lake City area. Earlier this year, the private property owners restricted the public from accessing the waterfront.

“This parcel bordering Lake Washington has been used by the public to gain access to the water for over 80 years. It was very unfortunate to have access denied,” said Councilmember Jean Godden. “It’s great news that the City is now taking affirmative steps to restore this property to the public and to neighbors who know how much it matters to save this beach.”

“Privatizing public property based upon an 82 year-old records error is a disservice to the neighborhood,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “I commend the Mayor for joining the Council in reclaiming what has long served as the only public access to Lake Washington between Matthews Beach and the northern city limits.”

“I visited the 130th Street beach with neighbors and community members and stand firmly behind them in their desire to have the beach end returned to its original use—a neighborhood park,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. “Many congratulations to the community who worked hard to ensure this space is open and welcoming to the community.”

“When public access to Lake Washington was taken away, community activists pushed the City to recover it,” said Councilmember Kshama Sawant. “Generations in Lake City will be able to swim in the neighborhood due to their organizing efforts.”

Under the Mayor’s direction, Seattle Parks and Recreation will send a purchase and sale agreement to the current owners. The owners will then have 30 days to agree with the terms, counter-offer, or decline. In the event a negotiated purchase of the portions of the properties cannot be reached, the Mayor will transmit an ordinance to City Council authorizing the use of eminent domain to acquire the parcels for public use and benefit.

“The 130th Street beach has provided recreational access to Lake Washington for residents since 1932,” said Dave Pope of the Friends of 130th Street Beach community group. “As Seattle continues to grow, more parks are needed, not fewer. I applaud Mayor Murray and City Council for taking the first steps in restoring beach access for those who do not have the luxury of owning waterfront property.”

“Shoreline access is precious everywhere in Seattle,” said Jesús Aguirre, Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation. “We constantly strive to increase park and recreation opportunities for our residents and restoring this property to public use provides critical access for the community.”

In June, the City Council sent Mayor Murray a letter urging him to condemn the properties. The letter was signed by all members of the Council.

City acquires Greenwood property for Community Park

Today Mayor Ed Murray announced the acquisition of property at 8118 Greenwood Ave. N. for a new park in the Greenwood-Phinney neighborhood. The deal closed on July 1, 2015.

“As Seattle’s neighborhoods grow, residents must have access to public amenities like parks,” said Mayor Murray. “By adding this property, we’re increasing recreational opportunities for the Greenwood-Phinney community and creating more public space next to the new Greenwood Library for families and children.”

This acquisition will double the size of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s property on Greenwood Ave. N., encompassing the block between N  81st and N 82nd streets. The addition of this site to the mini-mart property at 8100 Greenwood Ave. N, purchased in May 2012, will now offer the community a total of 0.43 acres of new park space adjacent to the new Greenwood library.

Phinney resident and Parks and Green Spaces Levy Committee Member Bill Farmer was heavily involved in the search for a new park location and was glad to hear the City had acquired the additional acreage.

“The additional space will allow the community to do a lot more with this site,” Farmer said. “It’s a great location being next to the library. It will be able to accommodate more activities for kids, which wouldn’t have been feasible with a smaller property. Greenwood is booming right now, and it will be important for the community to have this green space.”

The property’s current tenant, Bleacher’s Pub, will remain under a new short-term lease while the City helps relocate the business. Seattle Parks and Recreation is still working with the Manna Teriyaki business, part of the mini-mart site, to relocate. The property was purchased for $1.7 million, drawing from the Parks and Green Spaces Levy approved by Seattle voters in 2008.

The mini-mart site, a “land-banked” property, is one of 14 sites that was purchased with funding from the Parks and Green Spaces Levy to address lack of green space in neighborhoods. Seattle Parks held this site in the current condition with minimal maintenance in anticipation of demolishing the building and developing the new park with funding provided by the newly created Park District. Parks plans on developing the land-banked sites in the order they were purchased with funding from the Seattle Park District, which was passed by Seattle voters in August 2014.