West Seattle, Washington
“Cities are becoming the safety net for America.”
Durkan and Deputy Mayor Shefali Ranganathan discussed it with reporters in a briefing at midday today, embargoed until tonight, to be further discussed at an event tomorrow. We were among the roomful of journalists invited to City Hall for today’s briefing, told in advance only that it would be about a proposal involving “a new proposal for workers, housing, and transit,” so we went downtown to find out more.
One big component: The city currently taxes the companies 24 cents a ride. That would be tripled to 75 cents, with the revenues mostly going to three things:
-Cover the $56 million funding gap for the Center City Connector streetcar (which District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold refers to as the “shopping shuttle”)
-Raise $52 million to help build 500 units of affordable-to-workers (defined as people making $15-$25/hour) housing “near transit” (within a 10-minute walk of what the city defines as “frequent”) in the next five years
-Raise $17 million to open and run a “resolution center” for Uber/Lyft drivers, who the city says are often “deactivated” without explanation
The mayor also contended it’s fair to get more out of ride-share companies because they’re using the city’s public right-of-way and curbspace to run their businesses.
It should be noted, while Uber and Lyft are the only ride-share companies affected by the proposal, others could be affected too if they crossed the baseline of one million rides per quarter that start and/or end in Seattle.
Might the increased tax be passed on to ride-share users? Maybe, allowed the mayor, but in other places (such as New York) where costs went up, ridership didn’t go down, she said.
What will be the minimum wage for drivers, who are currently treated as independent contractors? A study, to launch shortly, will sort that out, in time to launch it in July 2020. Currently, Ranganathan said, drivers’ pay averages out to less than $11/hour, while the city’s current minimum wage is $16/hour. Drivers are only compensated for the time passengers are in their vehicles, but studies show, she said, that they spend more than a third of each hour waiting for their next assignment. The mayor declared, “No business should benefit by not treating its workers fairly.”
This will all be part of the mayor’s budget proposal, which goes public in its entirety next Monday. That means it’ll have to go through council hearings and votes before becoming official. First public hearing on the budget is set for 5:30 pm October 3 at City Hall.
–Tracy Record, WSB editor
You’re probably accustomed to seeing Seattle Public Utilities trucks like that one in the storm season, making the rounds clearing drains; SPU has 22 of them. But they also can be used in the life-threatening emergencies known as trench rescues. Today, SPU and Seattle Fire Department crews trained side by side at the Joint Training Facility in southeast West Seattle to be ready for those rare rescues.
The SPU truck can help SFD clear out a dirt deluge and get to victims quicker, explains Rescue 1’s Captain Brian Maier:
Even though trench-rescue calls are rare, this training is done every year to keep skills fresh. A trench was actually dug in the upper reaches of the JTF (which is at 9501 Myers Way S.).
Thanks for the tip. Police are on upper Fauntleroy Way across from the ferry dock, awaiting the Medical Examiner, after a man was found dead on a bench in what’s known as “Captain’s Park.” A neighbor told us it first looked like he was taking a nap – and then a passerby realized otherwise, so 911 was called. SFD verified the death and tells us the man was “about 60.” Police did find ID on him but the officer at the scene had no further comment. We don’t have any other details except that it’s not being treated as a crime scene.
(Rendering, packets by Fischer Architects)
Two and a half years after the first Southwest Design Review Board look at 3257 Harbor SW and its adjacent sites, the project goes back before the board tomorrow (Thursday, September 19th). The “North Parcels” are proposed for 15 rowhouse units and 15 offstreet parking spaces, the “South Parcels” for 17/17. Here are the design packets:
Public comment will be accepted at the meeting, which starts at 6:30 pm Thursday at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon). Some already has been received in writing/email, as summarized by assigned city planner Sean Conrad in this pre-meeting memo (PDF). This isn’t the first proposal for the site – back in 2014, a ~90-unit proposal went part of the way through Design Review.
For a second day, Kersti Muul tips us, Southern Resident Killer Whales are in central Puget Sound and headed our way. She says they’ve just been reported off Carkeek Park and are traveling southbound “at a good clip.” No guarantee they’ll make it this far – Kersti says they turned around yesterday before getting this far south – but we’re always committed to giving you a heads-up when we get an alert! Let us know if you see them.
From Denny International Middle School nurse Alison Enochs:
Visiting Nurses Association is holding a clinic especially for staff and community members (all are welcome over the age of 4, especially students – students must come with their parents).
Where: Denny Cafeteria (Galleria) park in the lot outside Denny and you can walk straight down to the Galleria Doors (go past the Main office doors to get there)
2601 SW Kenyon St. – 206-252-9000
Time: 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm September 25th
Cost: They take all insurance including Apple Health and Medicare. Any student will receive the shot for free if they do not have insurance.
In case you missed the weekend mention – one more reminder that most Seattle Parks facilities, including community centers and pools, will be closed tomorrow (Thursday, September 19th) for staff training.
Back in June, we reported on the Luna Park coffeehouse The Shack trying to cope with the road work out front. 3+ months later, it’s still open, but up for sale. After a reader tip (thanks, Taylor) we found the listing and contacted proprietor Angela Cough via email for comment. She confirms, “Yes, we have put the Shack up for sale … it’s so sad too – we love this little place. But we’re paying for payroll out of our pockets right now, and can’t continue to do it with the unknown outcome, post project completion.”
She continues: “When we purchased the Shack, it was a failing business. Folks didn’t know – but it was about to close back in March, 2017 when we took over to see what we could do. After working a year on getting a remodel done (it may not look like it, but that funky interior is all second-use/recycled, custom-built out of materials old & new to match the eclectic nature of that building) we re-launched the Shack with what folks were used to getting there for some 18 years with the previous Java Bean: Eggels.”
After that, the business’s recovery continued, with 50 percent year-to-year growth, Cough said – “UNTIL – construction. We had been talking to Seattle Department of Transportation since May, 2017 – about their plans for Avalon Way – which was disguised as a ‘re-paving’ project.” (It’s also rechannelization as well as, at 35th/Avalon, and some infrastructure updates such as the water-main work at 35th/Avalon.)
They talked with the city multiple times over two year, Cough says, “to discuss our thoughts on what should or should not be implemented and how it would devastate our businesses to a) lose precious parking, b) displace residential parking for bike lanes and zoned parking c) shut down Avalon during the summer months – the list goes on. But they effectively presented a plan for ‘input’ in May of 2017, and that plan, regardless of community and business input, has largely stayed exactly the same. As everyone knows too – they shut down Avalon during the summer, so there goes any chance to continuing building and trying to stockpile any cash if at all, like many businesses like ours do.”
Right after construction started last spring, Cough says, our transaction volume dropped 50%. It ‘recovered’ to an average of 30% loss, and is still behind. In early June I emailed Lisa Herbold and representatives of SDOT regarding our concern for our business as well as businesses in general, as city-wide improvements continue. I suggested strongly, that if the City wants to change the narrative surrounding small business (the narrative IMHO is not good right now), that it should consider setting aside 1% for Small Business Revenue Stability to make sure that shops like ours, suffering from physical barriers to access due to City Construction, could weather the storm. If we can set aside 1% for Art, we should be able to set aside 1% for Small Business, right? It’s not a handout – it’s the right thing to do and a reasonable part of the budget that should be available for use when planning for city improvements.” There are some grants, but nothing Cough and her business would qualify for.
But construction will eventually end, and Cough says The Shack is “a great business for someone who wants to owner/operate something and have an opportunity to build a small business that is manageable both in operation and physical size.” Her other businesses – Flying Apron and Hotwire Coffee, both in The Junction, will continue.(And Shack Coffeehouse, while up for sale, is still open.)
(Golden-crowned Kinglet, photographed by Mark Wangerin)
From the West Seattle Event Calendar:
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON MOVIE: At the Senior Center of West Seattle, 1 pm: “You and Me.” $1 members, $2 nonmembers, popcorn included. (4217 SW Oregon)
LADY JAYE OPENS: As previewed here Sunday, the new Junction restaurant/bar opens at 3 pm today. (4523 California SW)
HIGH POINT MARKET GARDEN FARM STAND: Fresh produce sold by the people who grow it next to the stand! 4-7 pm. (32nd SW/SW Juneau)
GROUP RUN + SHOE DEMO: Tonight at 6:15 pm at West Seattle Runner (WSB sponsor): “Come and demo Saucony shoes for the group run. Nick from Saucony will be here with Guides, Rides and Omni, so we will have every type of runner supported! Try the shoes for your group run or take them for a shorter spin on the track afterward.” (2743 California SW)
CHIEF SEALTH IHS PTSA: 7 pm, the PTSA‘s first meeting of the new school year. (2600 SW Thistle)
DELRIDGE NEIGHBORHOODS DISTRICT COUNCIL: 7 pm at Neighborhood House High Point, focused on what’s up in east West Seattle. (6400 Sylvan Way SW)
THE SUFFERING F-HEADS: Live at Parliament Tavern, 9 pm. No cover. 21+. (4210 SW Admiral Way)
SEE WHAT ELSE IS UP … via our complete calendar.
7:06 AM: Good morning! Here’s the biggest traffic news:
UPDATE: S Dearborn St between SR 99 and 1st Ave S has reopened. pic.twitter.com/iWIj4kWaN0
— SDOT Traffic (@SDOTtraffic) September 18, 2019
WSDOT announced yesterday that the demolition of a section of Alaskan Way Viaduct there had gone faster than expected and it would reopen early. But NB buses’ reroute is expected to continue through Saturday as scheduled.
My neighbor’s car was stolen from our condo garage, 3700 block of California, on Monday 9/16. Sometime between 3 pm and 1:30 am. 2006 teal Acura TSX, license AMR3549. Decal on back: “Any functioning adult 2020.” She asks that you please post on the blog in case anyone sees it.
If you see it, please call 911 (and then let us know!).
That’s the video from Tuesday afternoon’s City Council Sustainability and Transportation Committee meeting. The committee – actually, just chair Mike O’Brien, as no other councilmembers showed up – took up two proposals we’ve reported on before, both involving energy. One would ban natural-gas piping in new construction (here’s our previous report); the other would tax heating oil (here’s our original report and followup).
In 45 minutes of public comment at the start of the meeting, the gas proposal was the main topic. Most of the speakers opposed it and/or asked O’Brien to at least “slow down” and launch a discussion of its potential effects. He promised to do that, and didn’t put the proposal up for a vote, so it will have to come back to the committee at an unspecified future date. He did discuss some research he had asked council staff to do; one point of interest that they reported – Seattle City Light felt it could generate enough electricity to cover the increased use, but would need to beef up transmission/distribution capacity.
As for the oil tax – announced by the mayor in early August – O’Brien voted to advance that to a full council vote, with some amendments. It would tax heating oil 23.6 cents a gallon starting on July 1, 2020, with much of the money going to help cover the costs of conversion to electric heat.