West Seattle, Washington
We found Patti, Liz, and their canine companions at the White Center Library ballot dropbox late this afternoon. Also there, volunteers from the White Center Community Development Association, cheering for everyone who brought in their ballot. That dropbox at 1409 SW 107th might be closer to you if you’re in south West Seattle; otherwise, the only dropbox in WS is at the High Point Library, 3411 SW Raymond – and note that with the 8 pm deadline approaching, it’s likely to be busy (things were picking up when we passed by around dusk), so don’t rush out of the house at 7:55 pm and think you’ll beat the deadline. Your alternative to the dropboxes is the U.S. Mail, but make sure it’ll be postmarked tonight – look for pickup times on the mailbox, or walk it into a Post Office lobby (Westwood or The Junction). Lost your ballot and/or envelope? You can print out a replacement. Looking for last-minute candidate info? Links are in the reminder we published last night. First results are due by about 8:15 pm – we’ll have an update here on WSB.
The next list of possible city-budget changes is out tonight – in advance of a discussion with the full City Council (meeting as the Select Budget Committee) tomorrow morning – and there are some items of West Seattle interest.
These two are proposed by our area’s Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who is chairing the budget committee this year:
‘SPD ENFORCEMENT OF VEHICLE NOISE AND CRUISING ON ALKI’: That’s the title for the budget proposal spelled out in this document, though it doesn’t actually order or fund enforcement – it would order this:
By February 23, 2018, the Seattle Police Department is requested to submit a report to the Councilmember representing Council District 1, the Chair of the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, and New Americans Committee, and Council Central Staff Director on SPD’s enforcement policies and practices with respect to vehicle noise and cruising in the Alki neighborhood during the warm-weather months.
This was teed up by the recently announced results of this survey. The report would also be required to include “identification of and consideration of emerging technological approaches to vehicle noise
enforcement,” possibly a reference to something proprietary that’s being worked on by an entity including a citizen who made repeat appearances at local community-council meetings over the past year-plus. The proposal also notes that Fauntleroy also deals with vehicle noise issues, and that this report should address “how approaches to noise and cruising enforcement” could be applied there and elsewhere, too.
‘AMEND THE DELRIDGE MULTIMODAL CORRIDOR PROJECT CIP … AND IMPOSE A PROVISO’: This one is more-bureaucratic, as the title suggests. You can read it here. It would put a spending lid on the Delridge Multimodal Corridor Project, which is currently largely focused on the Metro Route 120 conversion to RapidRide H, until a council committee sees its 10 percent design and then passes an ordinance to lift that lid.
Speaking of Delridge RapidRide:
‘IMPLEMENTATION OF MOVE SEATTLE BRT CORRIDORS’: This one (read it here) would ask SDOT to report by next July on ways to make sure Delridge RapidRide and the six other “bus rapid transit” projects in the works happen, despite “the uncertainty with federal transportation funding under the current administration.” Councilmember Mike O’Brien is proposing it.
Not West Seattle-specific but also of interest:
‘AUTOMATED ENFORCEMENT OF BLOCK-THE-BOX AND TRANSIT-ONLY LANE VIOLATIONS’: The latter comes up often in WSB comment discussion – suggestions for cameras to catch bus-lane violators. This proposal (read it here), also from Councilmember O’Brien, would require SDOT to report by next March on what it might take to implement them, as well as cameras to enforce “block-the-box” intersection violations.
HOMELESSNESS RESPONSE: A variety of proposals are on Tuesday’s list of possible changes, including:
–Add $1.2 million for four more authorized encampments (locations not specified), proposed by Councilmember Kirsten Harris-Talley
–Add $450,000 for two more authorized encampments (“one in each Council District that does not currently contain an authorized encampment”), proposed by Councilmember Kshama Sawant
–Proviso on “unauthorized encampment removals in certain areas,” also from Councilmember Sawant. This would basically prohibit removals “except when the persons or property are on school property, active rights-of-way including sidewalks and stairways, activated park spaces, City utility rights-of way, or controlled-access areas of City-owned property, or unless authorized by future ordinance.”
-“Proviso on unauthorized encampment removals,” from Councilmember Herbold. This includes various provisions to ensure that removals follow the laid-out rules for prioritization, including:
(1) Objective hazards such as moving vehicles;
(2) Criminal activity beyond illegal substance abuse;
(3) Quantities of garbage, debris, or waste;
(4) Other active health hazards to occupants or the surrounding neighborhood;
(5) Difficulty in extending emergency services to the site;
(6) Imminent work scheduled at the site for which the encampment will pose an obstruction;
(7) Damage to the natural environment of environmentally critical areas; and
(8) The proximity of homeless individuals to uses of special concern including schools or facilities for
And there’s much more in the 50+ proposed changes – some of which will likely get big citywide scrutiny – these are just a few of the items that caught our eye. The discussions start at 9:30 am Tuesday, and will continue in a 2 pm session; if you have something to say and can get down to City Hall (600 4th Ave.), there are public-comment periods in both. You can e-mail email@example.com too. And if you just want to watch/listen from wherever you are, it’ll all be live on seattlechannel.org (and cable channel 21).
If you haven’t voted yet – you have 24 1/2 hours left. Tomorrow is Election Day, aka “voting deadline day” – you have to get your ballot to a dropbox by 8 pm Tuesday, or if you’re mailing it, be sure it’ll be postmarked Tuesday (or today). More than 80 percent of Seattle voters’ ballots had NOT been turned in as of midday today, according to the county Elections Department. So here’s what you need to know:
WHERE TO VOTE: The full list of ballot dropboxes around King County is here. West Seattle’s dropbox is outside High Point Library, on SW Raymond just east of 35th SW [map]; there’s also one outside the White Center Library, 1409 SW 107th [map]. Other ways to vote are detailed here.
WHAT/WHO’S ON THE BALLOT: Here’s what and who you will find on your ballot (each link below takes you to more information about the measure/candidate).
*One countywide ballot measure – King County Proposition 1, formally titled “Levy Lid Lift for Veterans, Seniors and Vulnerable Populations.”
Once you’ve voted – track your ballot here. And tomorrow, watch for the first round of results around 8:15 pm.
P.S. As noted in a comment, we forgot to include this link – if you need a replacement ballot and/or envelope – yours got lost, or damaged, or didn’t arrive – here’s what to do.
As the City Council’s budget review/change process approaches its crescendo, the biggest battles are over items related to homelessness – especially whether to restrict how and whether unauthorized encampments can be removed. An overnight camp-out outside City Hall downtown right now is urging city leaders to “stop the sweeps.” But Mayor Tim Burgess has sent the council a memo – embedded below (we requested and obtained it after seeing citywide outlets’ reports earlier tonight) – saying that would be dangerous.
Some key points in the memo (which you also can read here, in PDF) – first, he begins:
After consulting with Fire Chief Scoggins, Police Chief O’Toole, and Public Health Director Hayes, I want to warn the City Council that adoption of proposed budget proviso GS 240-1-A-1-2018 blocking unauthorized encampment removals will create an elevated public health and safety risk to the people of Seattle. Many of the estimated 400 unauthorized encampments inside the city presently pose health and safety risks to the residents of these encampments and adjacent neighbors. The city government cannot ignore or tolerate these risks.
Advocates say that the removals are inhumane. The mayor counters: “The removal practices being implemented by city workers are humane, well planned, and effective.” His document also contains memos from department heads that further argue the case for removals:
As of Oct. 18, 2017, the Customer Service Bureau has received 4,389 complaints related to unauthorized encampments this year. The current average of 462 complaints a month is on pace to nearly double the total amount of complaints from 2016 (2,719) and quadruple the amount of complaints (1,245) the City received in 2015.
It says the city is having more success moving people to better circumstances:
As of mid-October of this year, the City has removed 143 unauthorized encampments. Through the Navigation Team’s intensive one-on-one engagement, 1,484 individuals have been engaged, with 581 individuals living in encampments accepting referrals to safer living spaces, including people who were required to leave when an encampment was cleaned up, and those who took advantage of City outreach-only efforts.
This 2017 acceptance rate is significantly improved from 2016, when outreach workers made 4,548 contacts and only 213 people accepted offers to move to a safer location.
The department heads’ memo points out that allowing people to live in unsanitary conditions raises the risk of an epidemic like the one with which San Diego is currently grappling:
As recently advised by Public Health – Seattle & King County, an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego highlights the sanitation and hygiene concerns. As of mid-October, San Diego reported 18 individuals dead, 386 hospitalized and at least 578 individuals infected. The conditions in San Diego’s unmanaged encampments encouraged the spread of this entirely preventable disease
The document goes into extra detail related to city parks, contending that “prohibiting the removal of unauthorized encampments would open City parks and green space to unauthorized camping.” Listing the potential risks of that, this section mentions the recent peat fire at Roxhill Park and for the first time reveals its cause:
Fire is another hazard for park environs linked to homeless encampments. Residents of homeless encampments often use wood stoves or camp fires for heat and cooking. If left unattended, these fires can burn out of control and burn down camp structures, destroy vegetation and wildlife habitat and endanger people. Additionally, on Oct. 12, 2017, a fire started at the peat bog at Roxhill Park; it was caused by people using sterno cans. An area of 30×40 feet, 7-feet deep, was dug up as the Fire Department sprayed hundreds of gallons of water over a three-hour period to put out the hotspot that reached 150 degrees. Parks staff had to remove several trees to clear a path for SFD.
Also mentioned, “Had it been worse, the 2017 fire at an encampment at the west end of the Spokane
Street viaduct could have resulted in a long-term closure of the West Seattle high bridge.” Back to Parks:
The impact of encampments on parks and SPR park maintenance staff has been significant, and encampments or encampment-related issues have been the primary complaint we receive from the public. SPR crews this year have hauled away tons of trash. Even so, garbage, needles and feces continue to pile up in our natural areas and greenbelts across the city.
Preventing SPR from removing unauthorized encampments from City parks would undermine both the authority of the Superintendent to fulfill his role as steward of public lands and his responsibility to make policy decisions for the park system
The document also says that state grant funding received for many parks might have to be refunded if parks are allowed to be used as encampments, in effect converting them to a “non-park use.” The list of such grant-funded projects includes West Seattle locations such as Don Armeni Boat Ramp, Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook, Fauntleroy Park, Longfellow Creek, Puget Creek, Roxhill Park, E.C. Hughes, Ercolini Park, and the Alki Trail. Restricting removal, the memo says, could also mean “SPR would need to establish dedicated camping zones in a significant portion of City parks and greenspaces.”
The exact document to which the mayor refers at the start of his memo was presented last week – see it here – then amended before Councilmember Lisa Herbold presented her “initial balancing package” earlier this week as budget chair. The new version focuses on accountability rather than defunding. But nothing’s final for a few more weeks.
Next steps in the budget process, if councilmembers want changes in what was presented this week, they have to get them in by tomorrow afternoon. Changes will then be discussed next week. If you have feedback, firstname.lastname@example.org is the address.
(Click “play” to watch budget meeting live this morning)
Before we get to what’s happening in West Seattle today/tonight, a two-part note for everyone following the City Council‘s budget process, chaired this year by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold: The next phase of reviewing potential changes starts at 9:30 am today, when Herbold officially presents what’s called the “initial balancing package” – the draft list of changes that have made it through the process so far. You can review them (with links to individual explanations) by going here. You can watch live at seattlechannel.org (or cable 21). Then tomorrow (Wednesday) night brings the second and final evening public hearing before the budget gets finalized pre-Thanksgiving – 5:30 pm at City Hall (600 4th Ave.). The day after that, Thursday, is the deadline for councilmembers to propose changes to what’s being presented today.
P.S. If you can’t make it to the hearing but have a case to make for or against something, email@example.com is the e-mail address.
One week after their first general-election-campaign forum in West Seattle, the women running for mayor, Cary Moon and Jenny Durkan, returned this afternoon. This time, they answered questions during the West Seattle Democratic Women‘s monthly meeting. Chair Rachel Glass described the race as “compelling and intriguing” in her introduction.
Above is our full unedited video of the forum; the text below represents highlights, not full transcriptions – to see/hear the candidates’ full answers, you’ll have to watch the video. The ground rules, set out by Glass – “this forum is not about anything negative … I want you to see the best of these candidates.” They had two minutes each for an opening statement, for each of four prepared questions, then time for each candidate to ask her opponent a question, then a few audience questions, and two-minute closing statements.
Moon won the coin-flip to give her opening statement first. She says she believes she started as the least-known candidate. She says she came to the campaign with a “list of solutions” for problems including the “heartbreaking” homelessness crisis. “In the past mayoral administration, I don’t think anyone knew where we were headed.”
Durkan opens by saying her staff told her she and Moon have done 85 forums, 50 since the primary. She says three things put her on track to run for mayor, something that a year ago she couldn’t have envisioned herself doing. First thing she mentions – election of President Trump. She says we’re not getting “anything good” out of “the other Washington” right now.
(Both made a point of mentioning they’re moms – Moon with two teenagers and two grown stepkids, Durkan with children 21 and 16.)
Then, the questions:
Minutes from now – at 9:30 am – the City Council‘s second day of the second round of budget-change reviews will start with a variety of proposals related to homelessness and other human-services issues.
You can see the list on the agenda – each item has a link to the “green sheet” briefly discussing what’s being proposed. The council’s just discussing at this point, not voting, so you have time to let them know what you think.
Last night, homelessness-related issues were a big topic as West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who is chairing the council’s Budget Committee this year, spoke with the WS Block Watch Captains Network at the Southwest Precinct.
Many wondered about proposals that would in effect allow camping in parts of city parks – the areas that are not “activated.”
(Added: Click “play” to watch live Seattle Channel feed while meeting’s in session – in recess as of 11:07 am, resuming 2 pm)
9:07 AM: The next phase of the City Council‘s work on the next city budget starts today, with meetings at 9:30 am and 2 pm to consider specific changes that made the first cut for review. The agenda now has the documents attached for the potential changes they’re considering.
It starts with SDOT and a proposal to cut an item on which we’ve reported – $3 million for a pilot project to remotely operated one of the city’s five drawbridges. Councilmembers were told that if all five bridges were operated remotely, that could eventually save $1 million – but at $3 million for one bridge, the initial investment would be steep. Other SDOT-related proposed changes include $150,000 for the Summer Parkways program (which included the annual Alki “car-free day,” which didn’t happen last summer) and $500,000 for pedestrian improvements proposed by the South Park Safety Task Force. SDOT is one of 19 departments that’ll be addressed today.
Other proposals of interest include reclassifying three vacant Office of Planning and Community Development positions to assign them to “community planning,” and expanding the Ready to Work jobs program for adult English Language Learners to southwest Seattle (which generally means West Seattle/South Park). Also from the budget documents, you can learn what’s being proposed for changes in Seattle Parks facilities fees next year – not a lot of changes in our quick review.
You can follow along with all this via Seattle Channel, streaming and televising (cable 21) the meetings live at 9:30 am and 2 pm. Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org
11:09 AM: The morning session ended a few minutes ago and the council will be back in session at 2 pm. We’ve embedded the live Seattle Channel feed above – click “play” button to watch.
Wondering what your West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold is doing about crime, safety, policing concerns? Here’s your chance to ask her: She’s the guest at Tuesday night’s West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meeting, 6:30 pm at the Southwest Precinct (2300 SW Webster). Right now, in addition to representing our area on the council, Herbold is also chairing its budget committee, which is making spending decisions for the next year; she ascended to that role after the shakeup that started with former Mayor Murray’s resignation. You don’t have to be part of a Block Watch to attend the meeting, which will also include updates from local police leadership – just come to the precinct meeting room, which is right off the parking lot, entrance off Webster west of Delridge [map], east of the south side of Home Depot.
If you couldn’t make it to last Thursday night’s West Seattle forum with six citywide candidates (WSB video/photos/text coverage here), you have another chance this week to see two of them here – mayoral hopefuls Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon.
They’re scheduled to appear during the second half of the West Seattle Democratic Women‘s lunch meeting on Thursday (October 26th) at WS Golf Course, 12:30 pm-1:15 pm (the meeting starts at 11:30 am). If you’re interested in ordering lunch – you need to e-mail chair Rachel Glass by Monday morning – werdachel (at) aol (dot) com – it’s $13.50 members, $15 non-members. If you’re not interested in lunch, there’s a $5 program fee that includes coffee/tea and dessert. The golf course meeting room is right off the parking lot, 4600 35th SW.
Got your ballots yet? Ours just arrived. As voting begins, this fall’s candidates are still making the rounds to ask for your vote, and six citywide candidates were in West Seattle last night doing just that.
The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and WS Transportation Coalition hosted the mayoral and council candidates at American Legion Post 160, with more than 50 people braving the blustery weather to see and hear the forum in person.
If you couldn’t be there, we recorded it all, and have text highlights too – not full transcription, but the best we could do at capturing key points the candidates made. First, video of each faceoff:
Pete Spalding from the Chamber board moderated the forum, after brief remarks from Keith Hughes of Post 160 – who noted that the venue is an old schoolhouse gymnasium – and Deb Barker of the WSTC, reminding all that West Seattle’s bridges are the city’s busiest roads, followed Chamber board president Paul Prentice, who gave an overview of West Seattle’s business community. The peninsula is facing “serious issues” that require “serious leadership to resolve,” Prentice noted.
Now, our text highlights. Both sets of council candidates were asked the same questions. First up: City Council Position 8, the citywide position for which now-Mayor Tim Burgess was not running for re-election.
Your ballot for the November 8th election is on the way. That adds extra weight to the final few weeks of candidate forums – with voters able to make their choices at any time. On Wednesday night, the candidates for City Council Position 8 – the citywide spot for which now-Mayor Tim Burgess chose not to run again – visited the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council. Above is our video of the 48-minute forum, with candidates Jon Grant and Teresa Mosqueda. Housing affordability, homelessness, and transportation were the hot topics.
Mosqueda and Grant are due back in West Seattle tonight (Thursday), as part of the forum presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and West Seattle Transportation Coalition, which also will feature the Council Position 9 (Lorena González and Pat Murakami) and Mayor (Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon) candidates, 6:30 pm at American Legion Post 160 (3618 SW Alaska).
Also at the district-council meeting, before the candidates’ forum:
TRANSPORTATION: DNDC members want to hear from Metro and SDOT at future meetings, to talk about transportation along Delridge, including overcrowding on Routes 120 and 125. Pigeon Point’s Pete Spalding noted that Metro needs to understand that the Delridge routes aren’t just about going downtown – those routes are the ones the people who live in the area use to travel around West Seattle.
CITY BUDGET: Highland Park Action Committee co-chair Michele Witzki asked everyone to pay attention to the City Council budget discussions about where to deploy LEAD – Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion – which Highland Park has been asking for, for years. Earlier this week, councilmembers talked primarily about using it in the North and South Precincts, not the Southwest. Also discussed, pavement problems on 26th SW, and all were urged to contact City Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s office to ask for paving funds to be used to fix it.
The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets third Wednesdays most months, 7 pm, rotating locations, currently Highland Park Improvement Club.
Tomorrow, King County Elections will send out the general-election ballots. One day later, you have the only scheduled chance to see the six candidates for City Council and Mayor at one public West Seattle event: Thursday night’s forum co-presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and West Seattle Transportation Coalition.
Doors open at 6:30 at American Legion Post 160; at 7 pm, you’ll hear from City Council Position 8 candidates Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant; at 7:35 pm, you’ll hear from City Council Position 9 candidates Lorena González and Pat Murakami; at 8:10 pm, you’ll hear from the candidates for mayor, Cary Moon and Jenny Durkan. Here’s the planned format:
Each segment will begin with a two-minute opening statement by each candidate, followed by a series of questions centered on concerns of the West Seattle small-business and transportation community. We will conclude each segment with a one-minute closing statement.
Post 160 is at 3618 SW Alaska.
(WSB file photo by Christopher Boffoli)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Tomorrow (Tuesday) the City Council continues the next phase of discussion how, and whether, to change the budget officially presented by Mayor Tim Burgess three weeks ago.
Today, the council also met in morning and afternoon sessions. This is the stage of the budget where City Council staffers “identify issues” – such as, new proposed spending – and also mention the first round of council proposals for additions/changes.
The centerpiece was the Department of Transportation budget. Here’s the document in which the issues and possible changes are outlined:
(If the embedded version doesn’t work for you, see it here in PDF.)
When we first browsed the proposed city budget after it went public three weeks ago, one of the items that caught our eye was a proposal for a pilot program to enable remote openings/closings of one of the city’s five drawbridges. The proposal said they hadn’t yet determined which one – whether it would be the Spokane Street Swing Bridge (aka West Seattle “low bridge”) or somewhere else – but said the pilot project would cost an estimated $3 million.
During today’s briefing, the bridge proposal was first on the list of “issues,” 13 minutes into the meeting:
From the budget meeting briefing paper:
Remote Bridge Operations Pilot
The Proposed Budget includes $3M of Commercial Parking Tax revenue to implement remote operations for one of Seattle’s moveable bridges (to be determined). This project will allow SDOT to open and close the bridge from a central operating location. SDOT currently operates 5 moveable bridges with on-site operations; collectively, these bridges open approximately 15,400 times a year. The funding will provide for additional cameras, sensors, communication equipment, a remote operations center, and bridge modifications. The project will require approval from the U.S. Coast Guard, which regulates SDOT’s bridge operations.
Remote operations will not change the job requirements for Bridge Operators, and the pilot project is not anticipated to reduce operating costs as a stand-alone project. SDOT anticipates that if all 5 bridges were remotely operated, SDOT could save $1M per year through centralized staffing resulting in reduced labor costs. Full implementation to fully achieve these savings would require significant future funding, which is not currently identified.
Councilmember Rob Johnson was the first to call this into question, saying that theoretically spending $15 million over the next few years to convert all bridges to remote operation, and therefore saving $1 million a year, would be “spending a lot of money to save a little money” and “inconsistent” with budgeting philosophy.
Among the other SDOT issues, council staffers raised some concerns about the scheduling and funding for upcoming RapidRide lines including H for Delridge. From the briefing document:
The Move Seattle levy anticipates leveraging significant grant and partnership contributions for congestion relief projects, including seven bus rapid transit (BRT Corridor) projects identified in the levy. The Proposed Budget advances design on the Madison BRT, Roosevelt RapidRide, Delridge RapidRide, Rainier RapidRide, and Market/45th RapidRide projects. The total assumed grant and partnership contributions for these projects is $209M which is about 80 percent of the overall project costs.
Given the uncertainty with federal transportation funding under the current administration, Council may wish to consider a SLI asking SDOT to report on federal funding opportunities and present options for delivering the seven BRT Corridor projects in time for 2019-2020 Budget deliberations. Options could include revising project delivery schedules, reducing scope across projects, or prioritizing corridors for available funding.
Other SDOT issues include revenue from red-light and school-zone cameras. No new ones were installed this year but SDOT is reported to be reviewing 10 locations (not identified in the budget documents) for possible installation next year.
In the section of the briefing addressing changes proposed by councilmembers, one proposal of note was from Councilmember Mike O’Brien – who chairs the council committee dealing with transportation – would spend $200,000 to study what might happen when the future Highway 99 tunnel opens, with tolls, leading to “diversion” (some drivers not using it because they don’t want to pay):
This funding would support consultant studies to understand the implications of SR-99 diversion and explore options, such as congestion pricing, to help manage impacts to local streets and transit travel times.
Also proposed for addition to the budget, $500,000 for pedestrian improvements in South Park, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Herbold and Lorena González. Several speakers in the public-comment period of the morning meeting also asked for spending to safely connect South Park and Georgetown.
In today’s afternoon meeting, councilmembers were briefed on issues/proposals for the Seattle Public Utilities budget (see the document here) and for the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (see the document here). Here’s the video – no public commenters, so the discussion started off the top:
Key issues included money earmarked for the Seattle Police North Precinct and the new proposal by Councilmembers O’Brien and Kirsten Harris-Talley for a “head tax” that they say would only affect the top 10 percent (in gross revenue) Seattle businesses, raising more money for efforts to reduce homelessness.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: Herbold described the process in her weekly e-mail/online update last Friday. That includes this calendar with the full budget-process schedule. The next phase starts next Monday: “Proposals for the next set of meetings, from October 23 to 25, will need to be have specific funding amounts; they will also need three Council sponsors, by a 2 p.m. deadline on October 19.” So if there’s something you want to see in next year’s budget but haven’t seen so far, contact the council – email@example.com. And in the meantime, each of the budget committee meetings has a public-comment period, so if any of the departments interests you and you can make it to City Hall for that meeting, you can sign up to speak. There’s also one more nighttime public hearing about the budget in general, set for 5:30 pm November 1st.
From last night’s 34th District Democrats meeting, last one for our area’s largest political organization before the November election:
CHAIR ANNOUNCES COMPLAINTS: 34th DDs chair David Ginsberg warned the group that his monthly report would be different this time around. He used it to announce that the group had become the subject of complaints filed by Glen Morgan, who Ginsberg described as a lawyer trying to “bankrupt progressive causes” via legal action.
Though November 7th is Election Day, ballots go out a lot sooner – October 18th, less than a week and a half away. If you’re not already registered to vote, today is the last day to do it the easiest way – online. If you’re into procrastinating, you can do it in person until October 30th, but why wait? Find more how-to info here.
P.S. Besides the mayor’s race, you’ll also be voting on:
-Two citywide City Council positions
-Three School Board positions
-Three Port Commission positions
–County Proposition 1
–Three state “advisory measures,” including one about the education-funding tax increase
P.P.S. The only major West Seattle forum of the general-election campaign is one week from Thursday – 6:30 pm October 19th, presented by the WS Chamber of Commerce and WS Transportation Coalition, focused on business and transportation issues, at American Legion Post 160 (3618 SW Alaska), with candidates for mayor and City Council Positions 8 and 9 expected.
City Councilmembers have chosen Kirsten Harris-Talley to fill the temporary Position 8 (citywide) vacancy left when Tim Burgess became interim mayor, and she has just been sworn in. Harris-Talley is a Hillman City resident whose background you can read here. She will serve until the results of next month’s election – with Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant running for the permanent position – are certified.
Tomorrow night, each of the 16 applicants for the temporary Seattle City Council Position 8 vacancy – the one Tim Burgess left to become temporary Mayor – gets 3 minutes to make their case to the current councilmembers, at a City Hall hearing. Then members of the public get their chance to comment. It’s a key part of the process leading up to the councilmembers’ decision this Friday, as explained here. Application materials with the applicants’ backgrounds is now available online. The list:
Abel Pacheco Jr.
Browsing the background info – which, for each candidate, is linked toward the bottom of this page – we see at least one West Seattleite; that’s Brendan Kolding, who has run for office before. The application materials posted online don’t specifically include a spot for candidates to mention their neighborhoods, so if anyone else on the list is from West Seattle, let us know! The City Council seat is at-large (citywide), so applications were accepted from people anywhere in the city. The person appointed Friday by the current council will have the job until the November election results are certified – Burgess wasn’t running for re-election, so the permanent councilmember will be either Teresa Mosqueda or Jon Grant, the top two vote-getters in the August primary. In the meantime, if you don’t want to speak at tomorrow night’s 5 pm public hearing, you can also send your thoughts to the council by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday afternoon, the City Council‘s biggest fall task – budgeting – got into gear with newly appointed Mayor Tim Burgess presenting the proposed 2018 budget.
After taking a look through much of it (you can find all the links here), plus the resulting standalone announcements, a few notes:
BUDGET BOSS: West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold will lead the council through its review and finalization process. Burgess had been chairing the Select Budget Committee; Herbold was vice chair of the committee whose portfolio included finance, which meant it was likely she’d become the budget boss, but not finalized until a council vote on Monday.
HEADLINER: Burgess’s big headline proposal was the “Seattle Retirement Savings Plan” for workers whose employers don’t offer retirement plans. It’s explained here.
From a few of the city departments’ budget plans:
TRANSPORTATION – Its budget notes are here. Catching our eye:
Arterial Paving – (adding) $500,000: Heavy use and winter weather take their toll on city streets. SDOT’s Arterial Major Maintenance program addresses deteriorated pavement and uses City crews to pave one to three street blocks. The 2018 Proposed Budget includes a one-time investment of Real Estate Excise Taxes to augment the $4.9 million base budget for this program.
The next one didn’t say which of the five city-operated bridges (which include the West Seattle “low bridge”) would be the subject of the pilot project, but it’s notable because it could lead to automation of all five:
Bridge System Enhancements – $3,000,000: The City operates five movable bridges that open approximately 15,400 times annually. To operate these bridges, SDOT employs 23 bridge operators who operate the bridges 24/7. The proposed budget includes a one-time commercial parking tax allocation to pilot automation of one of Seattle’s movable bridges during 2018. This investment includes a remote operations location as well as communication and video enhancements. If the pilot is successful, it will take three to five years to automate all the City’s movable bridges and could result in approximately $1 million in annual cost savings as well as reduce or eliminate unnecessary bridge openings.
Speaking of pilot projects, a West Seattle SDOT project is mentioned here:
CIP Staged Oversight Proviso: The City is developing a more consistent approach to the planning, budgeting, design and delivery of capital projects with the goal of improving the overall quality, responsiveness, and success at meeting project schedules and budgets. As part of this effort, the proposed budget will pilot two projects by placing spending restrictions on them. For SDOT, the pilot project is the Delridge Multimodal Corridor Project where spending will be restricted until Seattle Department of Transportation reports to the Sustainability & Transportation Committee, or its successor committee, on the 10% design baseline package in a format requested by that committee’s chair.
The biggest part of the Delridge MCP is the conversion of Metro Route 120 into RapidRide Line H – still a couple years away.
(Archived Seattle Channel video from 5 pm swearing-in ceremony)
3:45 PM: 10-year City Councilmember Tim Burgess is about to become Mayor Tim Burgess. He was the only councilmember nominated this afternoon by colleagues eligible to vote on who would succeed Bruce Harrell, who took over last Wednesday after Ed Murray’s resignation, but said he didn’t want to keep the job through November. After several councilmembers spoke glowingly of Burgess, one councilmember did not – Kshama Sawant voted no, after citing reasons including Burgess’s support for encampment sweeps and a new North Precinct police station. He wasn’t running for re-election, so he was going to be leaving the council anyway. Burgess ran (briefly) for mayor in 2013. He promises now to help the city “heal” and “move forward. … Public service is a high calling.” After he’s sworn in, Harrell returns to the council presidency and councilmembers will have to choose a temporary councilmember for District 8, which Burgess has been representing. Updates to come.
4:02 PM: News release from the city says that Burgess will be sworn in by City Clerk Monica Martinez Simmons at 5 pm, and reiterates that he will serve until November 28th, when King County certifies election results (finalizing either Cary Moon or Jenny Durkan as the next mayor).
4:59 PM UPDATE: We’ve embedded the Seattle Channel live stream above for the swearing-in ceremony – click “play.”
5:04 PM UPDATE: Joining Burgess for the swearing-in ceremony are other elected officials including King County Executive Dow Constantine and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “We are united” in promising that the governments will collaborate, Burgess says. He notes, “We want our region to be a place where businesses are successful.” He repeats the “We are united” theme for a variety of other issues, including education. And with that, he becomes Mayor Tim Burgess, for two and a half months.
5:08 PM: The new mayor just answered a few media Q&A, first about the budget process, which he would have been heading up as a Councilmember, and now will be involved as submitting the mayoral budget proposal, one week from today (September 25th). Asked what he meant by saying this is a time to heal, he says the recent “crisis” was “painful for all of us.” Asked about what he hopes to accomplish, he said, “I’m going to be mayor for 71 days,” and the budget will be a major part of that time, as well as getting the city ready for its next permanent elected mayor. West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, by the way, as vice chair of the committee that leads the budget process, now will be leading it. And there’s a council vacancy that will have to be filled – the city clerk’s website spells out the process.
4:30 PM: Click the “play” button above for the live Seattle Channel feed of Mayor Bruce Harrell announcing his decision on whether to keep the interim mayoral position for the full two-plus months until the winner of November’s election is sworn in. He’s also scheduled to announce executive orders. It’s been two days since he became mayor following Ed Murray‘s resignation; city rules stipulated that the City Council President would ascend to that role but then have to decide within five days whether to keep it until the next election.
4:36 PM: Harrell has started not with word of his future intentions, but with word of the executive orders. He signaled Seattle’s intention to compete for Amazon’s 50,000 “HQ2” jobs. Another involves a partnership with King County to potentially change the plan for a $210 million youth detention center, and have the city “put some skin in the game.” Third, he said, involves the city having become – and this was his word – “filthy … as an elected official, I’m embarrassed driving around some of the areas of this city.” He says it’s time “to reset community norms” and is directing Seattle Public Utilities and other departments to “identify the 10 hot spots” in the city, and “then commit by saying how quickly we will clean those spots.” Fourth involves information technology. (We’ll add the documents when they’re available online.)
4:42 PM: Harrell has now made the big announcement – he’s declining the mayoral role beyond these few days, and will go back to being City Council President. This means the council will talk Monday afternoon about who’s next, from among their ranks.
4:46 PM: He’s moving on to Q&A. First one is about the youth detention center – instead of building a “traditional” facility as has been planned, he wants the city to move toward “zero detention” by finding other facilities, maybe near the current site on Capitol Hill, maybe outside the city, maybe leased, maybe built, including support services. Next, he’s asked if he’s confident that councilmembers will choose someone else to be mayor, as soon as Monday – it’s on their agenda for Monday afternoon. Then he’s asked why he decided not to keep the job. “I really care about the city, and I think there are issues” – including the upcoming budget process – “that need my leadership.” Staying on as mayor through November would have cost him his council seat (though otherwise he has two years left in his term); he’s not elaborating on how that played into his decision. Next: Why issue executive orders, as a short-term mayor? “This work needs to be done, I don’t care who’s the executive, I don’t care who’s calling the shots, this work needs to get done.” The last question – whether his executive order stops the youth detention center from being built. No, but “if we do this right, the county may look at what’s being built, and pivot.”
4:56 PM: The event’s over. To be clear, Harrell’s announcement wasn’t a resignation – so he remains mayor until the City Council appoints one of its own. We will replace the video window that was embedded atop this story with a still image until an archived video clip is available.
6:12 PM: Here are the executive orders, in PDF, as received from the mayor’s office:
Here’s the archived video of this afternoon’s announcement:
(Above: Click play button to see archived video of Harrell’s statement, Q&A, and oath)
4:50 PM: Watch it here live – one day after Ed Murray announced he’s resigning as mayor, City Council President Bruce Harrell will take the oath of office to become interim mayor. That’s set for 5:01 pm, after he – at least, as announced in advance – makes a statement and takes media Q&A. Updates to come.
4:54 PM: With City Council colleagues and city department heads among those surrounding him, Harrell has taken the podium, a bit later than expected. “I don’t see this as a caretaking obligation .. I see this as an opportunity to set the stage for excellence,” Harrell said. He is not yet announcing whether he will keep the interim job or decline it – but is hoping to announce his decision by 5 pm Friday, and has advised the council to be potentially ready to take action next Monday (September 18th). He mentions that the presentation of the city budget is coming up and “either I will present it, or I will receive it.” After mentioning a variety of issues he expects it to address, he says, “Let’s heal together … for those who are hurting, let’s heal together. We have a lot of work to do as a team – so let’s do it. It’s as simple as that.”
Asked what factors he’s evaluating in making his decision, Harrell says he’ll put “the needs of the city” first, whatever he decides, not his own “agenda.” Asked about some of the procedural points in the City Charter, he says it’s been a “challenge” to “dig out what the charter addresses,” and promises a “citywide e-mail” to reassure employees about the continuity of their work.
5:09 PM: Harrell has been sworn in as mayor. (As Jim Brunner of The Seattle Times pointed out on Twitter, city webpages already have a new header with his name replacing Murray’s.)
5:12 PM: The swearing-in event is over, so we’ve removed the live-video window atop this story, replaced it with an image from the Seattle Channel feed, and will re-add the full archived video once it’s available.
P.S. Harrell ran for mayor in 2013, finishing fourth in the primary behind Murray, then-incumbent mayor Mike McGinn, and former City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck. His current council term has two more years to go, unless he gives it up by deciding to keep the interim mayoral job until the November election results are certified.
6:19 PM: Archived as-it-happened Seattle Channel video is now embedded above.
THURSDAY NOTE: We originally embedded the archived video from YouTube; it’s now available from the Seattle Channel site (minus the outdated “live at 4:45 pm” slate), so we have substituted that.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
When city staff booked a Queen Anne movie theater for a doubleheader public hearing before the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee, they seriously underestimated the amount of time and space they would need.
Last night’s hearing at SIFF Cinema Uptown was scheduled for an hour and a half of public comment on the HALA upzoning proposal for the Uptown area, and then two hours of public comment on proposed changes to the city’s Design Review program.
The former turned out to be the hottest ticket. When we arrived around 6:40 pm, planning to cover the Design Review hearing, we found dozens of people waiting outside the theater – not for one of the movies in the other two auditoriums, but for the upzoning hearing. The theater had declared Auditorium 3 at capacity and was only letting people in to replace those who left; we had to argue our way in.
As it turned out, though, we might as well have waited, as the Uptown hearing ran an hour extra. It was a standing-room-only crowd, with four councilmembers – committee chair Rob Johnson, vice chair Mike O’Brien, Tim Burgess, and Sally Bagshaw – present for that hearing, while only Johnson and O’Brien stayed for the Design Review hearing. (West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who is a member of the committee, was not there.)
Uptown testimony finally wrapped up just after 8 pm, and Johnson ordered the proceedings to move immediately into the Design Review topic. A very quick overview was given by Christina Ghan from the Department of Construction and Inspections, and then it was on into the ~40 people who had signed up to speak. Seattle Channel was there, recording, but as of this writing, its video of the marathon hearing hasn’t appeared online, so here’s what we recorded. There’s literally nothing to see after the first couple slides, as our angle didn’t get the speakers (who were almost all down on the auditorium floor anyway), but you can play it as audio in the background.
Below – highlights of each speaker. Not full transcriptions – you’ll want to listen, to get the entirety of what was said. In summary, the criticism was wide-ranging, and not necessarily along the lines you’d expect. Criticism of the proposed “early community engagement” component ranged from leaving the fox in charge of the hen house to adds even more unpredictability for project teams; last-minute amendments led to a variety of concerns about changing the thresholds for design review, either raising them or lowering them. And several people suggested that adding staffing to SDCI would be the best way to speed up project reviews, expressing doubt that the design-review process was really a major factor in delays. Only a few people alluded to the amendments brought up last Friday (see them here). Ahead, the toplines: