(SCROLL DOWN for live coverage – this is expected to run until about noon)
9:34 AM: We’re at City Hall for the alley-vacation hearing (process explained here, same as ‘street’ vacation) for 4755 Fauntleroy before the City Council’s Transportation Committee. Standing room only. Supporters are wearing purple stickers with slogans; opponents are wearing yellow stickers with slogans. Live coverage ahead – you also can watch the stream via Seattle Channel (click “play”):
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has opened the discussion by playing a message on his voice mail – he got the robocall that project opponents sent around West Seattle last night. “It told me to call Tom,” he said, drawing laughter.
9:39 AM: First to speak, project opponent Deb Barker, who was the voice of the robocall. She is a community organization leader and former Design Review Board member. She says the public benefits in the project package are not enough. She talks about the setbacks and says the alley vacation overall will “waste public land for profit.”
Next, project supporter Sharonn Meeks, also a community-organization leader. She notes she was “involved in this project way before it began” – that included being on the Triangle Planning Group. She calls the site “a blighted grayfield.” She says scrapping these proposal would cost time and “an excellent developer.”
Next, opponent Steve Williamson. He points out that the SDOT report on the vacation does not endorse the public-benefit proposal. He says there was a lack of community input in the street-vacation review process, and says the plan is unsafe. He also mentions income inequality.
Both sides are hauling out their highest-profile speakers. Jim Whittaker, after whom the building was recently named, is now speaking for the support side, saying “this is a magical place … I would like to see people live here and enjoy the natural world … this building will represent a lot of nature. … Let’s get out of base camp and climb this mountain.” Applause follows.
For the opponents, Dr. Sharon Sutton, who was paid to design two alternative designs for the site. She also calls attention to the SDOT public-benefit non-endorsement and says that her favorite “public benefit” is a “beautifully designed building.” And she says a pedestrian overlay on Alaska would be a “public benefit” as well. She also is followed by some applause.
Next is the first speaker we don’t recognize; a project supporter and business owner whose name is Clark and he says he used to service the old Huling lot on the site, and also has worked with Whole Foods. He says the store will “foster growth in our communities.”
On the opponent side, Claudia Newman, who identifies herself as a land-use lawyer. (Each speaker has up to two minutes.) She says the SDOT recommendation is “missing” some things. First she mentions the midblock connector and says that she has submitted a transportation study showing it would not be safe. She also says the midblock connector in the neighborhood plan was envisioned as for pedestrians, not for (motorized) vehicles too.
Pro: Denise from Whole Foods reads a statement she says is from an “organic farmer from Monroe” who supplies 18 WF markets in the region. She says the farmer also has been involved with neighborhood farmers’ markets that have found that Whole Foods did not impact those markets.
Anti: Natasha, who is reading a statement from a friend she says is a West Seattle resident named Ames, a “trade chef and cheesemonger at Metropolitan Market” who could not be present because he was hit by a car in The Junction about two weeks ago. The statement says that he had been working in the community to raise concern about the project, and he does not want the city to allow the developer to use public land. “This plan takes an already pedestrian-unfriendly plan and makes it worse.”
Pro: A.P., who says she is with the state’s commercial real-estate association, and she is here to speak for a “predictable … alley-vacation process.” The developer is providing $2.4 million in public benefits and open space, she says. She says if this alley vacation is judged by the tenant – Whole Foods – then we’ll have a city of buildings with approved tenant lists.
Anti: Tracy Champion, a West Seattleite “since the day I was born.” She says she’s been in the grocery building for 15 years and went to the Roosevelt Whole Foods to watch traffic. She says the project team’s numbers on deliveries are not accurate and if that’s the case, “what else are they misleading us on?”
Pro: Gordon McHenry from Solid Ground, which he says has a longrunning partnership with Whole Foods. It is a group that helps low-income people with food and housing. He says Whole Foods is an exemplary committee partner and he hopes the City Council will support its growth.
Anti: Jim Guenther, a West Seattle resident who says he is a former King County public-works director and is speaking as a private citizen and member of Getting It Right for West Seattle. He voices concern about the midblock connector. And he points out that the project is on Fauntleroy, a major thoroughfare to the ferry dock.
Pro: Susan Livingston, who also is affiliated with Whole Foods. She brought two e-mails she says are among “hundreds” WF has received regarding the alley vacation. The first voices support; the second one notes that the controversy “is stirred up by a group posing as concerned citizens but are not concerned citizens, but rather union representatives.”
Anti: Shawn Terjeson, who distributes visuals and asks that they be given to the council. He says he got drawn into the process by Chas Redmond, to look at the Triangle framework. “One of the most important points to them was a pedestrian corridor to connect the Triangle to the Junction.” He notes that West Seattle will have 300 percent of the density agreed to in the comprehensive plan. “We are going to have a VERY urban neighborhood.” He says the Alaska side of the project will include “a dead zone for pedestrians … please don’t give our alley away.”
Pro: Dave Montoure, business owner (and former West Seattle Chamber of Commerce chair). He says he was the only person who spoke the last time he came to an alley vacation hearing. “This process has been very politicized … it hurts me to see how this whole process has been hijacked by politics. Let’s put the noise and distraction behind us …” He points out that 80 percent of the project is housing, which the city needs. The tenants will change. He points out that his business (West 5) is in a building that has had many changes in its almost 90 years.
Anti: Sandra Adams. She reads a letter from T. Frick McNamara, local business owner (also Design Review Board member and landscape architect). The letter says McNamara voted against approving the project after she joined the board before its final review, though it makes clear she is not writing in that context. She says she supports a vibrant gateway, and a connector that is pedestrian-focused.
Pro: Nancy Woodland, chair of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, which is officially supporting it. “This project will increase the economic vitality of our area.” She notes she has participated in the meetings leading to this point and has spoken to developers “and asked very hard questions … adjustments have been made along the way.” She says she has often walked near the alley in question, including with kids in strollers, and “it’s a blight.” And she says “there’s a 65-foot building going up in my own back yard, so I’m very aware of how this affects our community.”
Anti: Robbie, who says he has brought a letter from 20 organizations opposing the alley vacation, including some working on poverty. “To me, this is about where the council is going to stand … on income inequality. They’re very clear that Whole Foods is going in, to compete against 8 other markets in the community.” He says Whole Foods’ leader is against health care, and that it does not treat workers well. He says the alley vacation would put private profit over public good.
Pro: Tracy Cilona, owner of Twilight Gallery in The Junction. She says that as a business owner it’s important to have a thriving, walkable community, and she looks forward to welcoming new residents. She says mixed-use development will benefit her as a resident and a businessperson. She believes the plans are pedestrian-friendly. “The Whittaker is what West Seattle needs, and I ask you to support it and approve it.”
10:20 AM: Anti, Patrick Keating, West Seattle resident. “The impact on traffic that this development is going to create has not been studied enough. It will have a huge impact on public transportation … bus stops will need to be removed and redone.” He says it will make crossing the street to the RapidRide stops difficult. He says something needs to go there, and this should be reviewed.
Rasmussen says there are about eight more minutes in the comment period.
Pro: Tracy Dart. “Living in West Seattle I’ve seen many changes over 40 years.” She says that she believes in supporting developers who will support small businesses, and she believes this will – she is a small business owner herself. “I’m willing to ‘get it right for West Seattle,’ I’m not willing to ‘get it right’ for a union.”
Anti: Transit Riders Union rep Katie. They are not opposed to development, but they are opposed to contractors, developers, etc. who stand to profit. Too much Seattle development creates businesses that don’t pay a living wage, and too much of the housing development creates not-affordable housing, she says.
(First TV sighting at 10:24 am)
Pro: Martin Monk from the Masonic Lodge neighboring the project site. “We are living on a block that looks horrible, hideous … something has to be done. Is this a great design? I don’t know but progress has to happen. We love our community and give back to our community and hope to stay there for generations beyond.)
Anti: Pauline from the Transit Riders Union says “I saw this happen in Ballard a generation ago, where blocks of houses were transformed into apartments and suddenly there was noplace for anybody to park, and the traffic got really bad, and someone finally said ‘Whoa, maybe we need to rethink this’.” She says that West Seattle’s traffic grid has trouble. And she ends with a plug for Proposition 1.
Pro: Chris Matsumoto who says he is from the Experimental Education Unit at the UW, “and Whole Foods has been a community partner. … I came here today because Whole Foods has been … a fantastic partner.”
Anti: David Parsons, “here to urge a no vote on the Weingarten development”; he says he is a union member and a concerned citizen “and it is possible to be both.” (Laughter.) He is a West Seattleite and says he and his partner frequent the Alaska Junction and are bewildered at the possibility of yet another food store when there are so many choices.
Pro: Joe Rogoff, regional Whole Foods president. “We have wanted to be in West Seattle for a long time – we had a site there years ago, as you know, the developer could not finalize it … there’s been a lot said about WF Market over the past year and much of it is false.” He says first, you shouldn’t judge a project on the basis of its tenant. “I believe in the highest wages possible for our team members … Our wages and benefits are now public record. We start at $11/hour, higher than anyone except PCC. We cap nonmanagement wages at $29.50 … our average wage for everybody nonmanagement is over $17 an hour .. We provide great benefits because our team members are responsible for our success …” He says they will create great jobs in West Seattle and denying this would deny that.”
Applause ends the public speaking period. Now the “Stand Up America” rep (Zimmerman), who has been sitting next to your editor here asking questions about what this hearing’s about, stands up and demands the right for him and everybody else to speak. Rasmussen says that he needs to sit down and be quiet. It appears he is leaving.
10:35 AM: Now, there are department presentations about the project. This is the proscribed process, Rasmussen says. Some from the audience are leaving.
Rasmussen points out that other councilmembers are here too, not just the ones on the committee.
First person to speak is Beverly Barnett, SDOT’s street-vacation point person.
She talks about the review process and what SDOT looks at. (She attended a Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting and was part of an excellent primer about the process – we’ll link it shortly.) She was asked whether part of the review is whether the city needs it any more. Yes, she said, and she noted that in this case, it’s not just a vacation of the alley, but its function would be somewhat replaced by the midblock connector.
Barnett says that the developers worked in the community to talk about the project in 2012. Then she goes through the process such as Design Review (four meetings, all covered here, starting in summer 2012; the alley-vacation petition was introduced in February 2013, and SDOT held two workshops looking at the function of the midblock connector).
From the Department of Planning and Development are Susan McLain and Bruce Rips. McLain, a West Seattleite, was the point person for the Triangle Plan process a few years ago. She notes that this block was part of that process, especially in 2010-2011. The process involved 35 community meetings, mailings, and more, she says. (Here’s a WSB report from 2011, when the resulting zoning changes were officially proposed.)
10:48 AM: Rips, who was the planner on this project, speaks now. He notes the four Design Review Board meetings (last one in July 2013), all of which were open to public comment, and goes through that process. Rasmussen notes that the Design Review Boards are made up of volunteers from the community. Rips says the SW DRB voted unanimously in favor of the massing and design.
Andy Rasmussen (no relation to Tom), who is the landscape architect on the project, is now presenting the “public benefit” package that the Design Commission had to review and approve (the latter was done with conditions) as part of the vacation process. Here is what he is showing (as published on WSB last week, when it was first made public) – The Whittaker’s presentation – see it here or via the Scribd viewer below:
11 AM: Councilmember Mike O’Brien asks if the below-ground parking garage (600 spaces) will be accessible from both entries. Andy Rasmussen says yes. O’Brien says he’s concerned about pedestrian conflicts and he thinks more of the grocery store traffic should use the south end, not the entry by the midblock connector. AR says that they used the Triangle Planning Urban Design Framework’s specific recommendations for the block and “all are incorporated” – from the gateway aspect of Fauntleroy/Alaska to “green street” features elsewhere. He now shows what they would do if they had to build without an alley vacation – 85′ height is allowed, though the current proposal is 70′; existing alley is 20′ wide and its existence would mean less underground parking.
O’Brien asks, could you do a grocery store along Fauntleroy instead of Alaska? “Not really. It’s a matter of depth, and better circulation,” is the reply. Next, A. Rasmussen shows a slide with a list of all the public meetings. (The gallery is now only about half full.) He says they also have had “numerous meetings” with city departments since the public process, a two-year process overall “culminating in today’s meeting.” He says the alley and the street grid haven’t been connected for years, and the project will connect it.
The project is being set back six feet from Fauntleroy so a bike lane can be built, as recommended in the Triangle plan, A. Rasmussen adds (this was brought up in some of the public meetings). And he mentions the new signalized pedestrian crosswalk planned on Alaska as part of this, from The Whittaker to Spruce (formerly “The Hole”). T. Rasmussen asks about parking along Fauntleroy. Answer: There’s street parking on all sides except Alaska.
Tomorrow’s the day that Democrats from West Seattle, White Center, Vashon/Maury Islands, and the rest of the 34th Legislative District are invited to caucus – “the first step in the journey toward the all-important 2016 election,’ per the 34th District Democrats‘ official caucus call. Registration starts at 1 pm at the Evergreen Campus, 830 SW 116th in White Center (map). While they aren’t voting on candidates – too soon for that – the “first step” includes electing delegates to June’s statewide convention, and collecting resolutions and platform issues for next month’s countywide convention. (State Republicans are not caucusing this year.)
Acting as the board of the newly created Transportation District, King County Councilmembers have officially voted to call an April 22nd vote on Proposition 1 – a car-tab fee ($40 more than what is charged now, since $20 of it replaces an expiring $20 fee) and sales-tax increase (1/10th of a percent) to raise money to cover the rest of Metro‘s funding gap and the cost of road repair/projects. Read the full text of what they approved here; for all the numbers, go here. Here’s how a county news release sums up what the measure will do if approved by voters:
·Increase the King County sales tax by 0.1 of a percent for ten years;
·Establish a $60 vehicle fee;
·Distribute 60 percent of the net revenues of the ballot measure to provide funding to maintain Metro transit service hours at current levels. If any funds remain after maintaining transit service hours, evenly split the remaining funds 50/50 between transit and unincorporated road purposes;
·40 percent would go to cities for transportation improvements and the county for unincorporated area road purposes allocated based on population;
·Specify that the funds must be used for transportation improvement projects contained in the County’s, Cities’ or Puget Sound Regional Council’s approved transportation plans (as updated by the individual jurisdictions);
·Establish a low-income rebate program that rebates $20 of vehicle fee for vehicle owners whose household income is less than 45 percent of the county’s median household income.
“This is truly the first step in the journey toward the all-important 2016 election,” says the announcement of the 34th (Legislative) District Democrats’ caucuses, two weeks from today. Specific tasks include electing delegates and alternates to the June 21st statewide Democratic convention, registering voters, collecting resolutions and platform issues for the countywide convention in April, and bringing donations for local food banks. The announcement linked above explains how to participate. Local Republicans are not scheduled for caucuses this year; the state Republican Party decided last year not to have a 2014 convention.
That’s video of brothers Adonis and Aji Piper, 9- and 13-year-old Pathfinder K-8 students, singing and playing a protest song they composed. They spent the final weekday of the week-long midwinter school break by participating in a demonstration and Seattle City Council committee meeting regarding a resolution urging increased scrutiny for a proposal to send more oil-carrying trains through the city. (Read about the resolution here.) Environmental advocates say the scrutiny is vital because trains are carrying more-volatile types of oil now, with literally explosive risks, as evidenced in several recent incidents around the continent. Joel Connelly wrote about the brothers in his coverage on seattlepi.com; today we received a note from the boys’ family, with a link to the video you see above.
(UPDATED with full archived Seattle Channel video of mayor’s speech)
2:08 PM: Live online via Seattle Channel – Mayor Ed Murray‘s first State of the City speech. Watch it by clicking the “play” button. We’ll update later with the archived video as well as any notes of particular West Seattle interest. (3:57 pm note – the archived video is now viewable above.)
2:30 PM UPDATE: Several notes of interest so far – a mention of the Youth Ambassadors program active at several local schools (the mayor mentioned Roxhill, Denny, and Concord); also a nod to the Duwamish River in a climate-change mention, and a promise that he’ll do something about deteriorating street conditions.
2:45 PM UPDATE: Speech over, but Council Chair Tim Burgess asks the mayor to stay for a special presentation – a photo from Murray’s days as a council staffer. Now it’s on to the council’s meeting. A few other notes in the meantime – he touched on growth without any promises of slowing it, and called the “urban village strategy” a success; he voiced support for the expected April vote on Metro/roads funding and August vote on “sustainable parks funding”; he said he intended to call for a maritime summit; he said the city needs to rebuild trust with neighborhoods, and reiterated his plan for a neighborhood summit April 5th.
3:57 PM UPDATE: Here’s the full text, sent by the mayor’s office as a PDF. We missed another West Seattle shoutout – a mention of the recently announced 35th Avenue SW safety project. The full video is also available, so we have added that above.
34th District Democrats: Metro $ semi-endorsement; councilmembers talk development, ride-sharing, moreFebruary 17, 2014 at 1:19 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 17 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Will Metro‘s next “service change” include a service cut?
Decision time is down to the wire. The King County Council has to decide soon whether to ask voters to approve a local tax package. Various Metro-related conversations are on its schedule this coming week.
With West Seattle and White Center bus service having the most to lose, because of Highway 99 “mitigation” money expiring as well as the $20 tab fee, local groups are taking their official stands.
The one taken by the 34th District Democrats this past week was a little unusual.
Mayor Ed Murray promised he would hold a “Neighborhood Summit” within 100 days of taking office – and today he’s announced the place and date: 9 am-1 pm Saturday, April 5th, in the Pavilion Room at Seattle Center. From the announcement:
Summit planners say this is the first step in what they hope to be an ongoing relationship aimed at rebuilding the trust between the City and neighborhoods. In addition to holding this traditional forum, they plan to use social media and technology so more can participate whether or not they are able to attend.
King County Executive Dow Constantine’s ‘State of the County’ speech focuses on ‘great generational challenges of our time’February 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off
(King County Executive’s Office photo, KCE Dow Constantine at podium, County Councilmember Larry Phillips at left)
Climate change and equity-building were the key themes of County Executive Dow Constantine‘s “State of the County” speech, presented this morning at White Center Heights Elementary School. Here’s the full text of his speech, which included, toward the beginning, after he spoke about the site of his speech and the children who learn there:
Decades from now, when these kids are grown and look back, what will they say of us? Of what we did, or failed to do, about the great generational challenges of our time?
About the grotesque inequality of means and opportunity in our society.
About the destruction of our planet.
Confronting climate change, and building equity in our community – addressing the physical world and the people who live in it – these are inescapable, global responsibilities.
Big ambitions for a county government, to be sure. But as an organization, we confront them from a position of strength, based on the foundation of all that we have accomplished these past four years.
For background and context on the two big issues, the county supplied “infographics” – climate change here, inequity here. Other topics included “saving Metro” – with the County Council, who convened at WCH Elementary for the speech, meeting back at its downtown headquarters shortly (1:30 pm) with two Metro-related measures on the ballot – the proposed measure to raise car-tab fees and sales tax to cover the funding the transit system is about to lose, and the first round of cuts that will be made if funding isn’t found either from the Legislature or the aforementioned vote (which is expected to be on April 22nd).
ADDED 3:15 PM: Video of the speech, from King County TV:
Once again this year, your State House Representatives Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle) and Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) are hosting a “Telephone Town Hall.” According to the announcement, it’s set for 6-7 pm Wednesday, February 5th (one week from tonight):
34th Legislative District residents should receive a call from their legislators at about 6:00 PM on the February 5. To participate, simply pick up the phone and follow the prompts. Reps. Cody and Fitzgibbon will deliver short opening thoughts and then will open up for questions. If you have a question for the lawmakers, simply press *3.
If for some reason you don’t receive a call, you can call 877-229-8493 and enter 18646 to participate.
P.S. We asked a followup question about where the phone list comes from, since so many people don’t have conventional “land lines” any more. Reply: The list is provided by the Secretary of State’s Office – the phone number you listed when you registered to vote.
(UPDATED 7:55 PM – archived ceremony video now substituted in the embedded player)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 3:39 PM: Not at City Hall for the ceremony inaugurating Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Kshama Sawant, as well as re-elected Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Sally Bagshaw, and Nick Licata, and City Attorney Pete Holmes? Watch live via Seattle Channel by clicking the “play” button above, which takes you to the live SC feed (which will move on to other programming afterward – we’ll replace it with the archived event video when that’s available later *update, archived video now live as of 7:55 pm*).
You’re also invited to a City Hall reception starting around 4:30 in the Bertha Knight Landes Room (street level from the 5th Avenue entrance) and the inauguration celebration at 7 pm at Benaroya Hall; Councilmember Sawant is also having a party (6 pm, SEIU HQ at 215 Columbia), with a suggested donation for retiring campaign debt but, she says, “no one will be turned away.”
5:15 PM: The inauguration ceremony is over, wrapping up just after the top of the hour. The oath of office was administered by former Gov. Gary Locke:
I do solemnly swear… pic.twitter.com/tnekokYDZp
— Ed Murray (@Mayor_Ed_Murray) January 7, 2014
Earlier in the day, new Councilmember Sawant tweeted photos from her first council meetings, starting with the morning briefing:
My first council briefing! pic.twitter.com/Ox1xkVniKy
— Councilmember Kshama (@cmkshama) January 6, 2014
Again, we’ll substitute the archived video from this afternoon’s ceremony when it’s available.
5:36 PM: Seattle Channel says that might not be until tomorrow. CM Sawant’s speech text was just sent. Read on (update: other speeches’ texts/links added, too):
It’s made headlines, but are you wondering about details of how the health-care-reform rollout is going in our state? It’s on the agenda for the first 2014 meeting of our area’s largest political group, the 34th District Democrats, this Wednesday. From the group’s chair Marcee Stone-Vekich:
Our program focuses on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in Washington state. Our panelists will give us a progress report on the rollout: how we’re doing compared to other states, website issues, who’s joining, and the future ahead. Moderated by Lisa Plymate, M.D., Washington State Director, Doctors for America; Copello Fellow, National Physicians Alliance, and State Committeewoman for the 34th LD Democrats. With panelists: Emily Brice, J.D., Senior Health Policy Advisor at the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner; Janet Varon, J.D., Executive Director of Northwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA,); non-profit consumer health-advocacy organization, and coordinator of Healthy Washington Coalition’s Low-Income Populations Workgroup; and Representative Eileen Cody, Chair of the Healthcare and Wellness Committee in the State Legislature.
Rep. Cody will also join 34th District State Sen. Sharon Nelson, now the Senate’s Democratic leader, for a legislative update, and the 34th DDs will present their annual awards to Bill Schrier (Lifetime Achievement Award) and Cecilia Palao Vargas (PCO of the Year). The meeting starts at 7 pm at The Hall @ Fauntleroy (9131 California SW).
With everything else that happened last night, from New Year’s Eve celebrations to breaking news, you might have missed this: Ed Murray, former Alki resident, is now officially mayor of Seattle. Though his formal inauguration ceremony isn’t until next Monday, he was sworn in before family and friends at 7:30 pm last night, with husband Michael Shiosaki at his side in their home on Capitol Hill. His new official mayoral Facebook page has photos. The introduction notes, “Murray took the oath of office holding Michael’s hand and beads from a rosary his grandmother brought into this country when she immigrated here in 1905, atop a Bible from 1850 written entirely in Gaelic. The tie he wore was the same tie he wore when he first took the oath of elected office in 1996.” In addition to the Facebook page, a mayoral Twitter account is now launched at @Mayor_Ed_Murray and he’s released his first address to the city, on video. Everyone’s invited to the inauguration ceremony at City Hall, 3:30 pm Monday (January 6th). *Photo from mayoral Facebook page, republished with permission*
One of our area’s most über-involved community activists says he’s running for the West Seattle-only City Council seat created by the passage of Charter Amendment 19 in last month’s election. Chas Redmond‘s official titles include vice president of the Morgan Community Association, but he’s also involved with other groups around the community, including Sustainable West Seattle, and he is a past chair of the City Neighborhood Council. Redmond is a U.S. Army veteran, retired from NASA, and has lived in West Seattle for a decade. His official announcement says he’s running “to bring a grass roots voice to the city council, to re-empower the citizens of Seattle, and ensure our investments benefit citizens across the entire city.” (WSB photo at right, from West Seattle Tool Library holiday party earlier this month)
Charter Amendment 19 restructures the City Council starting in 2015, with seven council districts – West Seattle is District 1 – plus two at-large positions to be elected citywide. While current Councilmember Tom Rasmussen lives in West Seattle, he and the other eight members were all elected to citywide seats; he has filed to run in 2015 but is listed by the city Ethics and Elections Commission as not yet having designated which position he’s running for.
The more active citizens and community groups get, the more important it is to know who’s in charge of what areas of emphasis in local government. So toward that end – the Seattle City Council has announced its “likely” committee chairs for next year. First, two areas of intense local interest: West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is expected to continue chairing Transportation; Councilmember Mike O’Brien is expected to become chair of Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability, the scope of which includes development and zoning. For the full list – including some renamed committees – read on for the council’s announcement:
An acting director for SDOT is one of the appointments just announced by Mayor-elect Ed Murray, in a lineup he declared “a winning team.” He has also announced three permanent department heads, one other acting department head, his executive-leadership team – including two deputy mayors – and their salaries, as well as some restructuring, and creation of a new Office of Policy and Innovation, which will include a “project lead for transportation and transit issues” among others. Here’s the news release in its entirety – (added 2:59 pm) followed by an announcement it did not contain, that of Parks leadership:
Seattle Mayor-elect Ed Murray today announced key staff roles and hires within the Office of the Mayor, outlined three major ‘staffing innovations’ and named several new City department head appointments.
“My administration, as with any administration, will be judged on how we serve Seattle residents, and my standard will be one of excellence,” said Murray. “To me, excellence means an administration that functions with a high level of inclusiveness, transparency, responsiveness and collaboration – and that brings innovation to solving problems for the people of Seattle.”
At a press conference today, Murray was flanked by his selections for his executive leadership team, his newly-created Office of Policy & Innovation, and his proposed appointments for interim and permanent department head positions.
Two topics of much discussion here go before City Council committees next Tuesday (December 10), as confirmed by agendas just made public:
EVERY-OTHER-WEEK TRASH PICKUP: Last week, many WSB’ers had something to say about a council proposal that paves the way for Seattle Public Utilities potentially changing to every-other-week garbage service citywide, following a test last year that included part of Highland Park. That proposal, adding an every-other-week option to the city’s contracts with haulers including Waste Management, will be considered by the Libraries, Utilities, and Center Committee at noon Tuesday. This would not be a final decision; as we reported last week, the council is committing itself to deciding by next March whether to pursue the plan, and would have to approve additional legislation to make it reality – but it’s never too soon to speak up if you feel strongly about it, pro or con.
(WSB Monday photo by Patrick Sand)
TRANSPORTATION TROUBLE: Remember the bridge shutdown back on Monday, after de-icer applied in relatively warm afternoon sunshine led to multiple crashes? City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen promised that the Transportation Committee, which he chairs, would seek an SDOT briefing at its next meeting – and there is indeed an agenda item titled “SDOT planning and procedures for roadways during inclement weather” toward the end of the agenda for Tuesday’s 9:30 am meeting.
Both of the above meetings have public-comment periods at the start; both are in council chambers at City Hall downtown; both will be live via Seattle Channel, seattlechannel.org online or cable channel 21.
2:02 PM: After a pilot project that included part of Highland Park, the Seattle City Council is now ready to talk about whether to extend every-other-week trash pickup to single-family homes citywide. That’s according to the text of this proposed council bill on the council’s next Introduction/Referral Calendar; it seeks to amend the Waste Management and CleanScapes contracts to permit the “option,” and it declares that the council will decide by March 1st of next year whether to “exercise its earliest option” for every-other-week service. Text further into the bill appears to indicate that “earliest option” would be April 1st, 2015, but a separate bill would have to be passed.
ADDED 6:47 PM: In comments, Admiral Neighborhood Association president David Whiting says a Seattle Public Utilities rep is booked for ANA’s January 14th meeting (7 pm, Admiral Congregational Church, California/Hill) to talk about this.
ADDED THURSDAY MORNING: The city’s report on last year’s pilot every-other-week-pickup project is here. It says that while 89 percent of people reported satisfaction with weekly service, 63 percent reported they were satisfied with every-other-weekly service (52 percent in the Highland Park test zone).
Council approves 2014 city budget with design $ for ‘Fauntleroy Green Boulevard,’ planning $ for DelridgeNovember 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 8 Comments
That’s the design so far for the “Fauntleroy Way Green Boulevard” plan – two lanes each way, a partial cycle track, and a median if utilities allow, among other safety and beautification components. $1.3 million to finish the design is in the 2014 budget just finalized by the City Council (more backstory in our report from last Monday). SDOT told us earlier this month that they expect at least one community meeting about the design early next year; the last one was in 2012. Other budget changes include $100,000 for Delridge Way “multi-modal corridor development” planning, explained here. You can see the full list of council changes here; lots more budget documentation here.
(WSB photo from November 2012 Spokane St. Viaduct celebration; SDOT’s Peter Hahn is at right)
As Mayor-elect Ed Murray continues his first transition team meeting, the media has received a first list of which city department heads are staying (for now) and which are going. Among those leaving: The head of SDOT, Peter Hahn. Here’s the full announcement:
Mayor-Elect Murray began meeting individually with the heads of city departments to discuss his plans and priorities for when he takes office in January. These are ongoing meetings that will continue through December.
“I mentioned earlier in the week that there would be some changes in personnel, as can be expected with any transition to a new administration. I wanted (to) share where things stand in that regard at the present time,” Murray said.
The following department heads will be not be returning once the new administration takes office:
The state senator who represents our area, Sen. Sharon Nelson, has just been elected leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus, a position held by State Sen. Ed Murray, leaving after his election to be Seattle Mayor. Click ahead to read the news release:
Story/video by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
As the morning traffic of busy 35th SW – including Metro buses – rolled behind them, three local elected officials joined members of the new grass-roots West Seattle Transportation Coalition to decry the political standoff that could lead to dramatic cuts in bus service, hitting hard in densifying West Seattle.
(L-R, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, County Councilmember Joe McDermott, State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon)
Metro outlined those potential cuts at a briefing a week and a half ago (WSB as-it-happened coverage here) – including a map showing the shrunken local route system that would result:
(Click for full-size view)
WSTC’s board met last week to plan strategy, and the first result was this morning’s rally – 14 minutes, which you can watch in its entirety in our clip above, bookended by WSTC’s Deb Barker (below) and Amanda Kay Helmick.
“We can’t keep putting a Band-Aid on this problem, we can’t keep expecting Metro to find funds and close this gap,” warned County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee. He pointed out that Metro already has taken $800 million in gap-closing actions.
City Council Transportation Committee chair, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, pointed out that his own bus route, 37, is one of those that Metro says will be “deleted” if its proposed cuts have to be made. And the effects go beyond citizens’ commutes, potentially putting thousands of cars back on the roads and snarling traffic further, affecting freight and commerce: “If this region is in gridlock, we are in deep trouble with regard to our economy.”
Also there, State House Transportation Committee member Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, who told WSB before the event that a special session is still not looking likely for later this week (when legislators will be in Olympia anyway), because they’re not close to an agreement yet. A special session would be vital for legislators to pass a package that would at least allow local voters to be asked to approve taxes/fees to replace the transit funding that is expiring next year; the package is not just about transit, it’s been stressed, but would include road funding too.
If legislators can’t do it, said Helmick (below), closing out the rally speeches, WSTC wants city and county leaders to go immediately with “Plan B,” which could include asking voters to approve a license-plate tax up to $100. “We need action and we need it now,” she declared.
They closed with a round of chanting “Save our Metro,” and WSTC members lingered for Q/A with media in attendance, which included three TV crews.
WSTC members are all volunteers and looking for more reinforcements – as explained on the WSTC website.
Meantime, to share your opinion on the Metro cuts – which, if nothing changes, would start taking effect next September – and what to do to avoid them, the county invites you to:
*Take this online survey
*Send e-mail to email@example.com
*Come to a meeting December 3rd, 6-8 pm, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW), described as an open house with optional presentation/small-group discussions starting at 7 pm
9:56 AM: Right after this morning’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition media briefing – full coverage on that is coming up – we spoke with City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen about his proposal to add money to the design budget for the “Fauntleroy Way Green Boulevard” project. As we first reported a week and a half ago, he proposed shifting $1.8 million to the project to finish design next year – it’s a plan that’s been more than a decade in the making.
More than $1 million was to come from sidewalk work that SDOT couldn’t start until 2015 anyway, and half a million was to be diverted from design work for a Northgate pedestrian project related to light-rail service that is still almost a decade away. Advocacy groups including Feet First pointed out that while the service is far away, the project involving an overpass needs to be designed ASAP or else some other parts of the project might be in jeopardy. So this morning, in response to our followup question, Councilmember Rasmussen said he plans to propose leaving the $500,000 in the Northgate budget, and downshifting the Fauntleroy request to $1.3 million, and that he is hopeful his fellow councilmembers will support that. Above is the latest version of the Fauntleroy proposal (click it to see the full-size PDF with details including 2 traffic lanes each way and a “cycle track”); SDOT told us earlier this month that they’ll be seeking community comments early next year – the last community meeting about the “Green Boulevard” was in 2012.
3:10 PM UPDATE: The sheaf of budget-amending “green sheets” attached to this afternoon’s Council agenda does indeed include a revised version for this project, with the $1.3 million we reported earlier.
After this afternoon’s added ballot count put Kshama Sawant 1,640 votes ahead of Councilmember Richard Conlin, he has just conceded. Here’s a tweet from Seattle Times (WSB partner) reporter Brian Rosenthal:
Standing behind Conlin at concession: Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Sally Bagshaw pic.twitter.com/oTVSwIDvwd
— Brian M. Rosenthal (@brianmrosenthal) November 16, 2013
See the newest vote total for this race here. Another note of interest: Though it’s not close enough to change the outcome, the gap has tightened in the mayor’s race since election night, and it’s now 52 percent for Ed Murray, 47 percent for Mike McGinn.
4:39 PM: Just in – today’s ballot count shows Kshama Sawant widening her lead over incumbent Councilmember Richard Conlin to 402 votes; see the new numbers here.
P.S. The one-sheet with every race in the county is here. Next ballot count, about this time tomorrow.
ADDED 5:16 PM: A media-advisory excerpt from the Sawant campaign, with some context and the numbers as they’ve shifted since Election Night eight days ago:
(Added: Seattle Times photo by Greg Gilbert, republished with permission)
4:23 PM: The newest ballot count is just in from King County Elections, and the race that has had the city on the edge of its election-watching seat has continued going the challenger’s way: Kshama Sawant now leads incumbent Richard Conlin in the Seattle City Council Position 2 race. Numbers here – 79,751 for Sawant, 79,710 for Conlin:
4:41 PM: If you haven’t been paying close attention, Sawant is a community-college economics teacher who ran as a Socialist. If she wins, she will be the first Socialist member of the Seattle City Council; she would be the fourth woman and second person of color on the current council. She would have to run again in 2015 because of Seattle Charter Amendment 19, which won in a landslide, setting up elections by district for seven of the council’s nine seats, including the creation of West Seattle’s District 1. (A Facebook group is already active for discussing ramifications – find it here.)
Meantime, the numbers from the next batch of ballots will be announced tomorrow around 4:30 pm. As our partners at The Seattle Times note, Sawant had 46 percent of the vote on Election Night, but has been closing the gap daily ever since.
Why no transportation solution? Rep. Fitzgibbon headlines West Seattle Chamber of Commerce ‘Lunch With LEO’November 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 4 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One of West Seattle’s three state legislators, just back from the short special session in Olympia, shared insights today at a West Seattle Chamber of Commerce-sponsored brown-bag-lunch discussion.
As noted here on Saturday, the session led to approval for extending Boeing tax breaks but inaction on a transportation package that could save Metro from slashing service.
State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, a Burien Democrat who’s on the House Transportation Committee, told today’s “Lunch with LEO” (local elected official) gathering at ArtsWest that he didn’t think transportation “was ever likely to get resolved” in this special session: “We’re not close enough to a deal on a transportation package,” between the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate. “We have some philosophical differences on things. … The Senate does not believe transit, pedestrian (etc.) is a state responsibility.”
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