West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“These are our neighbors.”
One of the participants in Saturday’s West Seattle Chamber of Commerce-presented forum on homelessness used that simple statement in the hope of debunking various myths about people experiencing it.
The almost-two-hours event also addressed frequently asked questions, such as where the city’s homelessness-related spending is going.
The speakers were, in order, Sola Plumacher from the city’s Human Services Department, which oversees its homelessness-related spending and initiatives; Michael Maddux, a local activist/advocate (who is also a City Council staffer but made it clear he was participating as a private citizen); Paul Lambros, executive director of nonprofit housing provider Plymouth Housing; Annie Blackledge, executive director of The Mockingbird Society, which is focused on ending youth homelessness and advocating for foster children. The Seattle Police Department was planning to send a speaker but canceled at the last minute. Introducing the forum was Chamber CEO Lynn Dennis; emceeing it, Chamber government-affairs chair Rik Keller. We recorded it all:
If you weren’t there and don’t have time to watch, here’s how it went:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Though the details of a city “head tax” proposal haven’t been finalized yet, city councilmembers are trying to make the case for it, and that’s why two of them talked with West Seattle Chamber of Commerce members this morning.
West Seattle-residing Councilmembers Lorena González and Lisa Herbold co-chaired the task force that came up with the idea,
About 50 people were at the Disabled American Veterans hall in Delridge to hear them out and ask questions. And there were multiple mentions of the letter that Mayor Jenny Durkan has sent to the council, urging some caution:
The chamber offered the councilmembers a chance to speak beforetaking questions. Herbold opened by thanking attendees:
When Mayor Jenny Durkan came to South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) on her second day in office last November, she signed an executive order to expand the free-college program that’s brought hundreds of students to SSC in recent years, but it wasn’t clear at the time where the money would come from. Now it is. Today she announced that funding her Seattle Promise plan – free community college at more campuses, for more students – would be part of a levy this fall that also will replace two expiring levies, the Families and Education Levy (passed in 2011) and the Seattle Preschool Program levy (passed in 2014). From the announcement:
Under Mayor Durkan’s plan, homeowners of a median assessed value property ($665,000 in 2019) would pay approximately $20.75 a month or $249 a year. For the first time, qualified low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans with a service-connected disability will be eligible for an exemption.
So what exactly would that get you? Not just college – that’s actually only a fraction. More than half the money would go to the preschool program. Here’s the full plan (PDF). Page 9 in that report has this breakdown of what percentage of the levy money would go to which programs:
The mayor is proposing that the levy go to voters on the November ballot.
Just found out about this event set for tomorrow afternoon at Bethaday Community Learning Space in White Center:
The Racial Equity Team (RET) – a People of Color-led group of lobbyists of color and community organizations focused on helping communities of color – invites you to our Tribal Lunch and Learn where Native leaders will speak on Native issues in Washington.
Many folks have taken for granted the original people of this land. The genocide of Native peoples continues through widespread discrimination and systematic lack of resources. As we strive to help our brothers and sisters in the Native community, we must first better understand their communitywide needs from those who have firsthand knowledge.
Senator John McCoy (left), one of the few Native American legislators currently serving
Former Senator Claudia Kauffman (right), first Native American woman in WA legislature
Aren Sparck, Cup’ik, Government Affairs Officer of Seattle Indian Health Board
Eir Cheeka, Early Native Learning Coordinator, WCCDA
When: April 11, 12-1:30 PM
Where: Bethaday Community Learning Space, 605 SW 108th St
This legislative session, the RET watched several bills pertaining to Native communities: HB 2267 – Indigenous Peoples Day; SB 6384 – Wanaput Band at Priest Rapids; SB 6131 – Providing tuition waivers equal to 50% cut to students who are enrolled members of a federally recognized Tribe; $150k budget request for Native Action Network; and HB 2761 – Improving child placement stability that includes Indian Child Welfare Act.
It is tremendously important that we work together to better understand and serve our Native communities in Washington state. Hearing from Native leaders is the first step in this process. We hope to see you there.
Thanks to Mark Ufkes for forwarding the announcement.
A week and a half after State Senator Sharon Nelson announced she won’t run for re-election, the first candidate has come forward: Shannon Braddock, who narrowly lost the first-ever District 1 race for City Council in 2015. The announcement from her campaign:
Democrat Shannon Braddock, a longtime advocate for children and senior member of County Executive Dow Constantine’s administration, has announced that she will run for the State Senate in District 34, which includes West Seattle, North Highline, Vashon and Maury Islands, and parts of Burien. Braddock, who previously served as Chief of Staff to County Councilmember Joe McDermott, is seeking to replace Majority Leader Sharon Nelson, who is retiring.
“I’m excited to bring the progressive values of our region to the State Senate, where we need to continue working to pass common sense gun laws, invest in early learning, provide behavioral health and addiction support that restores lives, and reform taxes to help working and middle-class families,” said Braddock, mother of three Seattle Public Schools students. “I’m grateful for Senator Nelson’s leadership on so many issues and helping break partisan logjams preventing action on regional priorities. It’s been a privilege to work on behalf of the district the past 8 years and I look forward to joining our strong 34th District legislative team in taking on the tough issues and making real progress for local communities.”
Braddock is on the board of WestSide Baby, a volunteer-based organization that provides support to low-income mothers and their babies and she previously served on the Board of the West Seattle Food Bank. At the County, she helped ensure passage of the highly successful Best Starts for Kids programs—targeting resources to early learning, behavioral intervention, and other critical investments.
“I’ve always focused on issues that help give kids the best start in life, and the opportunities to thrive,” said Braddock. “This is why I am so passionate about expanding early learning, so we don’t rely on local governments to fill the gaps that should be part of a comprehensive state investment in the education and welfare of all children, regardless of zip code or economic status.”
Braddock is also committed to carrying the passion and energy of the thousands of local students who marched for stronger gun laws to Olympia, consistent with her commitment to healthy children and families.
“The safety and well being of our kids in school is something we took for granted too long and is at risk of being dangerously exploited by the cynical gun lobby and their allies in the White House,” said Braddock. “We must take real action on removing guns—and access to guns—from the hands of young people, dangerous individuals, and those most at risk of violence. We have the tools to save lives. We need to stop making excuses and allowing the NRA to tell us there is nothing we can do other than arm teachers. Let’s get real about this crisis and put kids ahead of the gun lobby.”
Braddock has worked regionally on coordinating and seeking reforms in the delivery of mental, health, addiction, and homelessness services, including working to pass the successful Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services levy renewal in 2017. She views Olympia as a needed partner in helping remove the burden on local taxpayers to address a statewide crisis.
“Local voters and cities across the region have stepped up to do their part to tackle the related crises of addiction and homelessness,” said Braddock. “But we need more from the State to provide uniform access to early intervention and treatment, transitional programs that prevent relapse, training in life and job skills that restore lives and to rebuild self-sufficiency. We can and must address these issues in a more comprehensive, compassionate way.”
Braddock says she will begin knocking on doors throughout the district and will announce a formal campaign kickoff for later in the Spring.
“I’m thrilled for this opportunity and look forward to meeting with voters, union workers, small business owners, community leaders, and families about how we can improve our communities,” said Braddock. “While Washington, DC may be trying to take us in the wrong direction, we must move forward here in Washington State with progressive policies and leadership that brings every voice to the table.”
The official filing period isn’t until mid-May. One otherwise-likely candidate has already announced he’s NOT in the running: State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, who says he’ll run for House re-election instead.
(Seattle Channel video of this afternoon’s City Council meeting)
Six years after a quiet rule change to allow some projects to be built without parking, a not-so-quiet rule change heading further down that road passed the City Council this afternoon. West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold was the only one voting “no.” Her proposed amendment to allow the city to consider parking impacts for some projects in neighborhoods where parking is mostly maxed out (explained here) was rejected before the final vote.
We first reported on the proposed changes last November, when then-Mayor Tim Burgess officially sent them to the council. Almost a year before that, it was one of the topics at a series of city “open house” events, which otherwise were focused on the proposed HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning.
You can read the full legislation (140 pages) here. Highlights were described by city staffers who briefed the Southwest District Council four weeks ago. They include a change in the definition of “frequent transit” – which governs whether a project can omit parking if its developers don’t want to include it – as well as allowing building owners to open up unused parking to more potential users. Supporters say requiring less parking to be built will be environmentally friendlier and will make new housing more affordable.
When our area’s State Sen. Sharon Nelson announced last week that she would not run for re-election, the question immediately arose, who will run to succeed her? One seemingly natural successor, State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon – who had been mentored by Nelson before he joined the Legislature eight years ago – has made his decision: He wants to stay in the House. His announcement today:
After much consideration and receiving much advice, I believe the place I can be the most effective for my district and the issues I care about is in the House of Representatives. I’ll be running for reelection to the House this year, not for the Senate.
2019 can be (and needs to be) a watershed year in the Washington State Legislature on fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is great energy and leadership around climate priorities in the Senate right now, and staying in the House lets me focus on building momentum for climate and clean energy progress in our chamber. I’m also motivated to make progress in the House on gun safety, death penalty repeal, multimodal transportation infrastructure, restoring habitat for salmon and other endangered species, and fixing our upside-down tax code.
I also love the team-oriented culture of the House and want to remain a part of a great team, the House Democrats, that I know and love well. I’m confident that our district will choose a great new senator to represent us, who can make the 34th district proud and serve the Senate and the state well.
Thanks to all who provided advice and input as I made my decision. I’d be honored to have your support as I run for reelection.
The official filing period for legislative offices is in mid-May. Rep. Fitzgibbon is one of two State House representatives for the 34th District – which includes West Seattle, White Center, Vashon and Maury Islands, and part of Burien – along with Rep. Eileen Cody. He won re-election four years ago with 82 percent of the vote over another Democrat, Brendan Kolding; Cody and Nelson were both re-elected that year without opponents.
Some talking and a lot of listening last night at The Hall at Fauntleroy, as our area’s first-term U.S. House Rep. Pramila Jayapal held the first of two Town Hall meetings in her district. We estimated the crowd at more than 120:
Rep. Jayapal, whose local home is in the West Seattle area, took questions over two hours on a wide range of topics. Here’s our unedited video:
Her next Town Hall is tomorrow (Thursday, March 29) at the Edmonds Senior Center (220 Railroad Ave.).
For the first time in eight years, there’ll be an open seat in our area’s 34th Legislative District – State Sen. Sharon Nelson announced today that she will not run for re-election. The Maury Island resident has served in the Legislature for 10 years, first in the House, where she won Legislator of the Year after just one year. In fall of 2010, she moved up to the Senate, where she became Majority Leader earlier this year. In a note to colleagues in Olympia today, she said, in part:
… Five years ago, when I became leader, my goals were to build a strong caucus and to retake the majority and to show what that majority meant to the State of Washington. Because of each of you, my goals have been achieved. … it is time for me to return next year to being a wife, mother, grandmother and daughter (yes, my mother is 89 and still a big part of our family). Simply said, I am not running for re-election to the Senate and looking forward to time with my family while all of you are in session next year!
Sen. Nelson’s focuses have included environmental and consumer protection. So who will run to succeed her? No word yet. The official filing week starts May 14th.
ADDED WEDNESDAY: The first person we asked about potential candidacy was 34th District Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, who worked for Sen. Nelson before his election. His reply: “I have not yet decided if I will run for Sen. Nelson’s seat. I am taking input from friends regarding in which chamber they think I can be most effective for our district and our priorities. I will be making a decision soon.”
If you have a question or concern about what’s happening in Washington, D.C., one week from tonight, you can talk with our area’s U.S. House representative here in West Seattle – Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who’s planning a town-hall meeting at 6 pm Tuesday, March 27th, at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9131 California SW). She lives in West Seattle but represents (corrected) much of the city as well as the rest of the 7th District [added: here’s the map].
11:02 AM: “I could do that all day!” So exclaimed Mayor Jenny Durkan after spending a few minutes reading to Delridge preschoolers this past hour.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 15, 2018
The book: “Pirates Don’t Change Diapers.” The occasion: She visited the preschool at the Immigrant and Refugee Family Center as a backdrop for announcing the ongoing growth of the levy-funded Seattle Preschool Program, which she subsequently did at a portable podium set up elsewhere in the building.
And now the announcement. pic.twitter.com/HjpscaRLnN
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 15, 2018
She noted that the program is now four years old. In fact, its original announcement also happened in West Seattle, with then-Mayor Ed Murray and then-Councilmember Tim Burgess talking to reporters and community members in May 2014 at the amphitheater behind Neighborhood House High Point. The four-year levy passed later that year, and is up for renewal this fall. We asked the mayor about that; she said the details are still under development. Meantime, from the media materials distributed at this morning’s event, here’s the list of sites joining those already participating in the city program:
(Delridge Community Center had a different preschool program, not part of the SPP, until early this year, when it was abruptly closed for low enrollment.) We’ll be adding more info about all this later, including video of the mayor’s entire announcement – meantime, she invited interested families to check out the program’s enrollment website at seattle.gov/applyspp.
12:58 PM: Here’s the official city announcement; added above this paragraph, our full video of today’s announcement, also including the city’s Director of Education and Early Learning, Dwane Chappelle. Regarding applications, note that the city is welcoming applications from families of all 4-year-olds regardless of income level, as well as 3-year-olds whose families’ income qualifies.
On the same day City Councilmembers were scheduled to have their first official discussion about the newest move toward a “head tax” (backstory here), more than 300 businesses around the city – including 50+ from West Seattle (our count of the names we recognized) – have signed a letter expressing concern. Here’s the letter and those who signed it (note that while it is dated March 9th, to our knowledge it is just being circulated today, March 14th):
The letter is similar to one circulated to West Seattle Chamber of Commerce members yesterday, in the name of the city’s Small Business Advisory Council, with an invitation for signatures. The new proposal is from a task force co-chaired by West Seattle’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold and WS-residing at-large Councilmember Lorena González. It is not yet in the form of proposed legislation – that is expected later in the year. We weren’t able to monitor today’s council committee discussion but hope to link it here when the archived video appears on the Seattle Channel website.
(Though the live event is over, it’s archived already, so you can replay it above)
6:44 PM: Click “play” and that should get you into the Seattle Channel live stream of an event that just started in the auditorium at Chief Sealth International High School right now – Mayor Jenny Durkan hosting a town hall on the topic “Students Stopping Gun Violence.” We’ll be chronicling it as it goes, and will substitute archived video when it’s over.
West Seattle/South Park school-board director Leslie Harris opened the town hall – she is president of the board, which passed a gun-violence resolution unanimously last week. (She is also parent of a Chief Sealth IHS graduate, as she noted.) She introduced TV journalist Natalie Brand and radio veteran Ross Reynolds, who are moderating the event. “This violence has to stop,” Harris declared in closing. The moderators note that they are using an interactive platform for this, and you can access it – pigeonhole.at – enter passcode ENDGUNVIOLENCE. Panelists along with Mayor Durkan include a principal, a student, a gun-violence researcher, and a leader from the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps.
Also introduced as being in the audience are dignitaries including City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, County Councilmember Joe McDermott, SPS superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland. SPD Chief Carmen Best is here too (below with Harris).
First question seeks elaboration on the SPS gun-violence resolution. Harris says it also underscores the importance of services for students. Second, “will Seattle be taking an interest in preventive legislation as well as retroactive legislation?” Durkan says, “We will do what we can and will continue to press Olympia to give us power to protect our communities.” She adds, “I personally believe we need an assault-weapons ban.” And she mentions those killed in shootings that are suicide or accidents, and that she wants to address that too. She asks the student on the panel for his thoughts; gun availability is a key issue, Rainier Beach HS student Gregory Pleasant says.
“If I leave my house every day and I feel like if I don’t have a gun on me, I can’t walk back out that door, that’s going to change the way I live.” The mayor asks about his T-shirt, which reads WHO’S NEXT? That question can apply to positive answers as well as negative, he said.
9:24 PM: We and many others reported earlier this week on the uproar over 6617, the public-records-access bill approved overwhelmingly and mega-quickly by state legislators. Gov. Inslee was urged to veto it, despite it being seemingly veto-proof – and he just did, saying that he did so by request of legislators. Among those signing letters requesting the veto, two local reps who voted for the bill.
9:55 PM: The governor’s veto message is here; the House Democrats’ letter (signed by 34th District Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon) is here. The heart of it, from the latter letter, is a promise to “start again” with a collaborative “public process” over the next 9 months to “make recommendations to the 2019 Legislature.”
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“Whatever the legitimate reasons for this bill, those reasons will forever be overshadowed by the fact that this was crafted behind closed doors without any benefit of sunshine.”
That’s what the League of Women Voters says in its analysis of SB 6617, the public-records bill that passed the state Legislature at lightning speed a few days ago and is now the subject of a campaign to urge a veto by Governor Inslee.
The latest voices calling for a veto include our area’s King County Councilmember Joe McDermott (a former legislator himself). He and fellow County Councilmember Reagan Dunn sent the governor this letter today:
That puts him on the side opposing the stance of our area’s three current state legislators – Sen. Sharon Nelson (the Maury Island-residing Senate Majority Leader) and West Seattle-residing Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon – all of whom voted to approve it.
We asked them all for comment/explanation today, and have received two responses. But before we get to that – if you haven’t heard about this bill, let alone the uproar surrounding it, we refer again to the LWV’s analysis for a summary:
While the headlines focus on the fact that the bill states the legislature is exempt from the official Public Records Act (PRA), the next statement is “the legislature is subject to separate disclosure requirements.” The bill then goes on to establish a number of specific requirements regarding public records that do not currently exist in law. These include the release of calendars, names of those met with and communication with lobbyists. None of this is required under current law, nor has it been part of general practice. What is specifically exempted is personal correspondence with constituents, which often contains very personal Information.
But that’s no excuse for the rush job, the LWV notes. And other outcry includes a particularly loud voice, The Seattle Times, which made this the subject of a first-in-its-history front-page editorial today. Times As editorial-page editor Kate Riley described it, they are opposed to the bill because it “slams the door to government records a judge said the public should have access to.” Riley’s report quotes Times publisher Frank Blethen as saying, “In the 37 years I have served as a publisher in our state, I have never seen as blatant or dangerous an attack on your right to know than the inexplicable attempt of bipartisan legislative leadership in Olympia to essentially keep you from knowing what they are doing.”
Public-records access is the lifeblood of what our business calls “accountability journalism.” Obtaining them isn’t easy, but the fact they are legally supposed to be made available can at the very least be considered something of a check on power. And in this time when there are fewer people in the journalism business, due to a long list of factors, many are disturbed by anything constraining the ability to get public records.
Now, to what our legislators have to say. We sent requests for comment to all three this morning. We have not heard back from Sen. Nelson or her staff. Reps. Cody and Fitzgibbon have both sent lengthy responses, and we are publishing both in their entirety, after the jump, along with contact info – his response first, because we received it first:
Story by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
Mayor Jenny Durkan has promised to listen to small businesses, taking early action to set up a Small Business Advisory Council that just had its first meeting.
On a smaller scale, she has been visiting community business districts, including an hourlong walking tour in the heart of the West Seattle Junction on Saturday before her town-hall event at the Senior Center.
We’ve already published our “town hall” coverage, but we were also along for the walking tour – here’s what we saw and heard:
Lora Swift (above right), executive director of the West Seattle Junction Association, met with mayoral staffers in advance to plan the tour, which started at West Seattle Performing Arts (4210 SW Edmunds). A kids’ dance class was under way when the mayor and her entourage arrived; she had a bouquet of flowers and high-fives before she left.
This was after she posed with students and parents for a “smile and say West Seattle!” photo op.
(Added 4:52 pm, full video)
Just wrapping up at the Senior Center of West Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s first “town hall” event – part speech, part Q&A, part resource fair with multiple city departments tabling. She took half a dozen questions, but heard even more about local concerns during a pre-event walking tour of Junction businesses:
That photo is from Virago Gallery (on Alaska west of California but moving soon) – we’ll have a separate full report on the walking tour later. We’ll also have full video from the Senior Center event, at which center director Lyle Evans introduced Durkan as the “first woman mayor elected in Seattle in more than 100 years.” He also lauded her for choosing this location and shining a light on the “Silver Tsunami.” (Later she joked that she had a solution for what she re-termed the “gray tsunami” – “Don’t go gray.”)
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) February 24, 2018
The mayor sounded the themes of her State of the City address – including her concern that the city is in danger of losing its soul if issues such as affordability are not addressed. She also touted the Seattle Promise program for two free years of community college for all graduates of Seattle Public Schools, and the ORCA cards that will be provided to all public-school students.
She brought up the “shock” delivered with the new property-tax bills, acknowledging that too is adding to the affordability crisis, and that landlords will be passing the increases on to renters.
Problems won’t be solved overnight, she warned, and she knows people will be frustrated.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) February 24, 2018
Transportation – “you can’t come to West Seattle without talking about transportation,” she acknowledged. She mentioned Sound Transit 3 and light rail, and hopes of speeding it up. She then mentioned the impending d “Traffic in West Seattle is going to get much, much worse in the next three years and it’s not the mayor’s fault – you look at what’s coming online – the viaduct’s being torn down, 1st Avenue’s being torn up for the streetcar, the Convention Center (is resulting in) buses coming out of the (transit) tunnel and onto the street … we’re going to have to look at innovative solutions to get past this time.” That will include transit. “We’ll work with Metro,” she promised. “We’ve got to get people out of single-occupancy vehicles out of this time … we have more cars than we have room on the streets.” But as she had done in her State of the City Address, she declared that Seattle is “the best city anywhere” – in no small part because of the “eclectic nature of the individual neighborhoods … Every one of our communities has its own feel, and that’s what we’ve got to preserve.”
Yes, the demolition of the viaduct will lead to what she sees as temporary traffic trouble, but she envisions a “collective gasp” when people see the viaduct-less waterfront.
She acknowledges concerns about HALA – “we’re not going to undo HALA and upzoning because we have to have growth and density … but I (also) don’t believe ‘one size fits all’ … so we’re going to listen to you … (and will) have a process that’s meaningful.” She says that in some places she asks people who wishes growth would just stop – a lot of hands go up – and then she asks how many people were born here, and most hands go down. (Note – she did not ask that here.)
Then to Q&A. First person to speak is from Highland Park Action Committee co-chair Gunner Scott. He mentions that they have been asking for transportation infrastructure improvements “for 70 years – 70 years.” There is a plan for density, but no plan for improving that infrastructure. He also mentions that Highland Park is hosting a third encampment. And he invites her to visit Highland Park. She accepts the invitation, also says SDOT can look at the improvements (editor’s note, which they have), and says that Camp Second Chance – the third encampment Scott mentioned – seems to be successful and that encampments are needed because there’s no place for
Next question: How will the Seattle Promise college plan be funded? There’s no more room for added property taxes, the questioner asks, because “we’ll break.” Durkan says that she is aware of the tax burden, but “if we don’t do right by our kids … we will have to spend more time on them in other systems.” She says many people who are frequently booked into jail “are discharged into homelessness.” She says that “full buildout” of the college program would be about $7 million a year – “not only can we afford to do it – we’ll look at some of it in the family levy” and other unspecified places. “I know we’ve got to make choices.” And she says she’s asked all her department directors to provide budgets with potential cuts.
Next question: David Toledo brings up a work-readiness/arts program that started in 2011 that was initiated by Mayor Mike McGinn and cut by Mayor Ed Murray. Durkan says it’s “critical to have kids exposed to the arts” and promises “additional programs like that.” She mentions her pre-Town Hall walk and the apprentice who she met at Virago Gallery. She says arts are vital to “the soul of the city.”
Next question: Diane Vincent, identifying herself as a lifelong renter whose Social Security barely covers half of her rent, and she’s been on a waitlist for a senior apartment for three years. The mayor’s Office of Senior Citizens is being shut down, she says, but she needs retraining because she has to work “to survive.” Her Social Security went up $12 – her rent went up $200. The city isn’t offering help for senior jobs, she said.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) February 24, 2018
The mayor’s reply included a mention that she is asking the state for tax breaks for landlords in affordable rentals – so that tax increases don’t automatically mean rent increases. Vincent follows up about jobs. Durkan mentions job losses imminent because of automation and uses “self-driving vehicles” as an example.
Next: What about free college for adults to help with retraining? Durkan reiterates the success of the Seattle Promise’s predecessor program, 1 free year at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) for graduates of certain high schools’ graduates, and says she hopes it might eventually be more than that.
Final question is from someone who identifies herself as a “second-generation landlord” who also says she was on one of the HALA focus groups and she is happy about the upcoming upzoning, but she also wants to see permitting sped up. She also wants to see more mental-health and addiction services, saying her brother was homeless because he needed help “and it took us two years to get him help … (the system is) broken. Addiction and mental health go hand in hand. .. We wait for people to (seek help) but if someone is (unwell) they are not going to come to a rational decision.”
Durkan says everyone in the room likely has been touched by the problem. Overall, she says, she is a “data-driven person” but knowing the numbers doesn’t assist in solving the problem. “There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for homelessness. … They all need the same solution, a home, but how you get them there … is different.” She then notes the city/county/regional group that’s convening to “work and coordinate better” to try to find solutions. “It’s a longer-term (solution) … it took a long time to get where we are.” She does get to one solution for some – methadone for heroin addiction, but Seattle has one provider, she says, and they are maxed out at 1,400 people. She says she’s in favor of increasing services but “we’re going to have to do it together” and urges the community member to continue advocating.
“Seattle’s only Seattle if people like you show up not only in these rooms but (in their personal lives) and not only demand a better city, but work for a better city.” She promises to “listen … and we’ll do what we can.” And she wraps at 1:45 pm. The resource fair continued on for another 20-plus minutes.
Full video and more photos to come!
We first told you back on Tuesday that Mayor Jenny Durkan is coming to West Seattle for a public event on Saturday. We’ve obtained a few more details about the event via the mayor’s office and local community organizations:
-The mayor will be joined by representatives of city departments including SDOT, Seattle Public Utilities, Department of Neighborhoods, the Office of Economic Development, Parks, Office of Housing, Seattle Housing Authority, Office of Planning and Community Development, Seattle Police, and Seattle Fire “with information about city-wide programs, and projects specific to West Seattle”
-The mayor plans to “discuss her vision for building a more affordable, inclusive Seattle” as described in her State of the City speech on Tuesday
She’s also expected to visit several local businesses before the public event, which is scheduled for 1 pm to 2 pm Saturday at the Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon).
The idea of having Mayor Jenny Durkan come to West Seattle for a “town hall” has been mentioned frequently at community meetings since she took office. Now, there’s a date, just confirmed by the mayor’s office: Next Saturday, February 24th, Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon), 1 pm. (We’re following up to find out more about the format.) That’ll be four days after her first State of the City address (WSB coverage here).
(Substituted 5:40 pm: Seattle Channel video of the State of the City speech and introductions)
11:08 AM: Click the “play” button and you’ll open the
live Seattle Channel stream of Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s first “State of the City” address, which she is presenting at Rainier Beach High School. We’re watching too, and adding notes of interest below.
First, she’s being introduced by City Council President Bruce Harrell and RBHS student-body president Nyshae Petty. Harrell mentioned others in attendance including West Seattle/South Park’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold and School Board rep (and board president) Leslie Harris.
11:16 AM: Durkan is now speaking, after Diana Bautista talked about her studies at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) in the 13th Year Promise scholarship, which Durkan plans to expand into a two-year program at more colleges, serving more high-school graduates.
She says this is an “unprecedented and for many painful period of growth,” but that Seattle is “the best damn city anywhere.” She says her nickname at City Hall is “the impatient mayor,” and says the crisis of affordability and homelessness threatens “the soul of our city” and is “the central challenge we face … the moral issue of our times.” She also promises that the city will “stand up” for its values in the face of “attacks from the other Washington,” before getting back to the homelessness/affordability crisis: “People experiencing homelessness are us – moms and dads, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.” She says the crisis has been “years in the making and will not be fixed overnight.”
Adding affordable housing requires “speeding up permitting” and increasing density, Durkan says, and more units such as backyard cottages. And she reiterates that it’s a regional crisis, not just a city issue, which is why she’s working with King County Executive Dow Constantine (another West Seattle-residing elected official mentioned as being in the audience). It’s also not just a government issue – “it’s going to take businesses, philanthropists, neighborhoods, people of faith, community organizations … every one of us.” It’s not just about creating housing but about creating “true .. equitable economic opportunity.”
11:33 AM: She’s now talking about a new plan – free year-round ORCA transit passes for all Seattle Public Schools high-school students “by this fall,” and for Seattle Promise college attendees too. She will work with the City Council to do this. And then she is back to the Seattle Promise plan (announced at SCC on her second day in office) for “two free years of college education and support” so that more young adults get the educational background that’s required for so many of the jobs that would otherwise be unattainable.
11:43 AM: She has moved on to talking about the other city-funded educational efforts – the Families and Education Levy and the levy-funded Seattle Preschool Program, which are to be combined when they next go to voters, saying college readiness goes back to the early years. And she calls for new protections for domestic workers.
She then touches on other city services – power, trash, utilities, “the fire and police services that keep everyone safe,” street services (telling the story of one of ~50 SDOT workers who worked on Christmas Eve “to make the streets safe and passable). She lauds city workers, but also warns that a budget deficit “is on the horizon.”
Now, traffic, which she says “is going to get worse before it gets better.” But she says it’s good news that “more people are using transit and fewer people are driving alone in their cars, and we need to keep that trend going.”
And then crime – “we have to acknowledge that parts of our city do not feel safe,” declaring that people must be safe in their homes and on the streets and in schools. “Schools are meant for joy and learning … not for lockdowns and mass shootings.” She promises to fight for “common-sense gun-safety laws” (without specifying what those might be). And she says that she wants citizens’ help in choosing the next police chief, starting with a survey you can take online [added – here it is].
11:58 AM: About the environment, she takes another dig at the White House by saying that “we believe in science” here, and then she says environmental justice is vital, and that the burdens of environmental problems so often fall on underserved communities: “South Park, Georgetown, South Seattle – I have heard you!” she declares.
And she goes on to speak of a rosy future, saying that Seattle is where the future has been invented – aviation, tech, medicine, and more.
Looking to the near future: “And next year, in 2019, the Alaskan Way Viaduct will finally come down, and it will be amazing … it will open the door for a waterfront for all … 20 acres of new parks and public spaces … it will reconnect Elliott Bay and its maritime heritage” to the rest of the city.
In closing: “I love Seattle to my bones … and I know we will do the right thing and build a more affordable, inclusive future … Will it be easy? No. It will take grit … Let’s resolve together that next year we can look each other in the eye and say the state of our city is more just … even stronger … that life for all who call Seattle home is better, because of our resolve, our actions, and our love.”
12:05 PM: The speech is over. We’ll substitute archived video for the live window atop this story as soon as we can, and will attach a link to the full text when it’s available.
2:29 PM: The mayor’s office just sent what it says is a transcription. Not on the city website yet so we have cut and pasted it after the jump (the spacing is as sent):
Got a question or request for your 34th District representatives in the State House, Rep. Eileen Cody and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon? They’re holding a “telephone town hall” tomorrow night (Tuesday, February 20th), 6-7 pm:
Calls will go out to thousands of homes throughout the 34th Legislative District. Residents will be able to listen live and speak directly with their lawmakers. Those who do not receive a call can participate by dialing 877-229-8493 and using ID Code 116287
Alternatively, the telephone town hall can be live-streamed:
Both 34th District representatives are committee chairs – Cody, who works as a nurse, chairs the House Health Care and Wellness Committee; Fitzgibbon chairs the House Environment Committee.
It’s been a hot discussion topic in WSB transit/transportation coverage for a long time – north West Seattle’s relative lack of Metro service compared to other areas. In her newest weekly update, Councilmember Lisa Herbold announced she is asking SDOT – via the letter embedded above – to find out what it would cost to fix that. (Though Metro is a county service, city dollars pay for some of the service.) If you haven’t seen it via e-mail or web, here’s her update:
As District 1 Councilmember, I regularly hear from residents of the Admiral and Alki neighborhoods about the lack of daytime and evening bus service to and from Downtown. Non-rush hour service on Bus Route 56, which connects Alki and Admiral to Downtown, was eliminated in 2012.
As a result, Admiral is the only Urban Village in Seattle without off-peak transit service to Downtown. It is also the only Urban Village not served by the Frequent Transit Network included in the Seattle Transit Master Plan. Urban Villages were adopted by Seattle in the 1994 Comprehensive Plan to direct growth to areas with enhanced services, so the lack of service is noteworthy, and unique. The lack of off-peak service to Downtown for an urban village also does not seem consistent with our approach to managing growth.
I have written a letter to SDOT Director Goran Sparrman, requesting that SDOT assess the costs associated with improving off-peak transit service on Route 56, and inform me of the City’s funding capacity to meet this need with Seattle Transportation Benefit District funds passed by Seattle voters in Proposition 1 in late 2014, which directly funds bus service in Seattle. You can see the letter here. While King County Metro operates bus service, since 2015, with the passage by Seattle voters of Proposition 1, Seattle funds additional bus service.
Background information is included below about how the Admiral Urban Village fits into the city’s transportation and growth plans.
After the State Legislature passed the Growth Management Act in 1990, to stop regional sprawl and direct growth into designated areas. The City of Seattle adopted the Urban Village Strategy in its passage of the 1994 Comprehensive Plan. By 1999, the City had completed passage of neighborhood plans throughout Seattle, to implement the state Growth Management Act, and to direct growth into areas with enhanced services to match the growth.
Seattle has six Urban Centers, six Hub Urban Villages and eighteen Residential Urban Villages. Of those 30 areas targeted for growth in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan, only Admiral lacks off-peak transit service to Downtown.
Figures from the Seattle Transit Master Plan illustrate the unique status of the Admiral Urban Village. Figure 3-1 shows the City Capacity Transit Vision for High Capacity Transit Corridors. Figure 1-2 shows how these current and planned corridors align with the Urban Centers, Hub Urban Villages, and Residential Urban Villages adopted in Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan.
All of Seattle’s six Urban Centers and six Hub Urban Villages are included in a corridor—nearly all of which go to Downtown. In addition, 16 of Seattle’s 18 Residential Urban Villages are included in a corridor. The only ones that aren’t included in one of the transit corridors for RapidRide, Light Rail, Priority Bus Corridors, and the Streetcar are 1) Admiral and 2) South Park.
Figure 4-1 shows the status of the Frequent Transit Network as of March 2016; it notes a few areas on the map for “Priority Upgrade to Frequent,” including the Admiral Urban Village.
The Frequent Transit network included in the Transit Master Plan is designed to provide service every 15 minutes or better, 18-24 hours a day, seven days a week. This document shows bus routes that meet the frequent transit service level for land use purposes (SMC 23.84A.038), i.e. 15 minutes or less for at least 12 hours per day, 6 days a week, and transit headways of 30 minutes or less for at least 18 hours every day.
The current Frequent Transit Network using land use standards serves 29 of the 30 areas targeted for growth, but not Admiral.
Transportation Figure 5, from the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan, shows the Planned Frequent Transit Network, which includes SW Admiral Way through the Urban Village.
It appears that among Seattle’s 30 Urban Centers and Urban Villages, the Admiral Urban Village is one of only two not included the High Capacity Transit Network, and uniquely 1) is not served by the current Frequent Transit Network, and 2) has no off-peak bus service to Downtown. In addition, it saw a decrease in bus service to Downtown, with the 2012 elimination of off-peak service to Downtown on bus route 56. No buses leave for Downtown after 9 a.m., and return buses from Downtown operate only during evening rush hour.
Given the geographic distribution of jobs and work patterns, direct access to Downtown is important. Unless we are able to provide sufficient bus service to the Admiral Urban Village, it is less likely it will be able to accommodate its share of growth.
Metro Service prioritizes crowding, schedule reliability and service frequency. Proposition 1 noted that revenues would be used for these purposes, consistent with the Seattle Transit Master Plan and Metro’s Service Guidelines.
However, I believe we are missing an important element of equity in not considering how we can increase ridership in areas with low ridership and minimal options available to improve ridership. The lack of off-peak service to Downtown for an Urban Village also does not seem consistent with our approach to managing growth.
While King County Metro’s Service Guidelines target a minimum service level of at least every 60 minutes, even an exception for less frequent off-peak service would be an improvement.
If you would like to talk with Councilmember Herbold about this or anything else, her next “in-district office hours” event is Friday (February 23rd), 2-7 pm at South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave. S.).
While a vote is months away, the City Council is continuing its series of meetings about the legislation that could eventually upzone much of the city for the Mandatory Housing Affordability component of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). The Seattle Channel video above is from Monday, when councilmembers met for the second time (agenda here) as the Select Committee that will decide the plan’s fate.
They were briefed by city staffers, first on what was described as “how the proposal got shaped,” then on specific highlights for Council District 4 in North Seattle, where a public hearing was scheduled hours later. They also took public comment before the meeting ended.
Councilmembers asked questions along the way, on topics from tree protection to encouragement of “flats.” Our area’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold asked about one of her key ongoing concerns, displacement, saying she’d learned of a development (not in this area) that would replace 66 affordable units and only require the developer to pay for the equivalent of 18 units. (Staffers said they could talk with her about it after the meeting.) She also asked whether the presentation points represented changes since the first round of upzoning proposals; staffers said the legislation, which is what the committee is reviewing, is “the first time we’re laying out all of the detail.” She also asked if some components address geographic specifics; staffers offered an example from Rainier Beach.
The public-comment period at the end of the meeting included two speakers from West Seattle, Cindi Barker from Morgan Junction (who was a member of the original HALA advisory group a few years back) and Christy Tobin-Presser from The Junction. Barker told the council that they’re “not asking for enough in exchange for” the potential upzoning – the MHA fees, she said, should be higher, for example.