By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Hours after the City Council finalized next year’s budget, West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold was the spotlight guest at last night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting.
ANA also elected next year’s leadership slate, including a new president, after David Hancock decided not to run for re-election.
We’ll start with the budget discussion.
Unlike the summer budget-rebalancing drama, no veto is looming this time – Mayor Jenny Durkan has already said she’ll sign the budget next week. Councilmembers made ~170 changes to what the mayor sent them in September; the council’s budget chair, West Seattle-residing at-large Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, declared post-vote that they’ve allocated “real dollars for real people.”
Herbold noted that the budget totals $6.5 billion, but the council only really has a major say in the $1.5 billion general fund. The “new approach” to public safety is a headline, including cuts and changes to SPD – “we’re looking at what functions currently housed in the police department” don’t need to be. 911 and parking-enforcement officers were moved out; the PEOs’ roles will evolve (see our story about the proposal, initiated by the PEOs) – responding to non-injury collisions, taking theft reports, more of a role in traffic control (flagging), reviewing camera-issued citations, for example. That can help ensure that police can focus on the work that really needs to be done by them. SFD’s HEALTH ONE response will get a second unit. The resulting investment in community-based safety programs will start with $12 million to the Human Services Department to contract with community organizations that are already doing some of that work. $30 million is set aside for “participatory budgeting” so the community can prioritize other investments.
Herbold’s other budget priorities. as chair of the committee that oversees public safety: The mayor’s budget had reduced the number of firefighters that could be recruited, but attrition made that dangerous, so the council reduced the cut in the recruiting class. They also reduced SPD overtime. Herbold added money for a South Park public-safety coordinator, a landlord liaison, rapid-housing help, neighborhood-based homelessness outreach; and she said Councilmember Tammy Morales championed full funding for the Georgetown to South Park Trail.
In budget Q&A, Herbold was asked for more details on police changes. The 911 and PEOs’ departure from SPD won’t take effect until June, for example; she noted the Emergency Management office is also moving out of SPD, which will as a result have a “smaller footprint.” “The motive is really about reducing the size of the police department so other people are filling (non-required duties) so that police (are able to focus) on traditional law enforcement.” She noted, as she has many times before, that Southwest Precinct Captain Kevin Grossman has said (in meetings covered by WSB) that police are currently asked to do too many things — not all requiring response from a sworn, armed officer. People not only want to see different people in city government assigned to handle these tasks, she said – they also want to see community-based groups take on what they can.
Another comment came from an attendee who described himself as a retired SPD officer and said he disagreed with some of the council’s plans. Another attendee asked about SPD’s reaction. Herbold said that if their actions require negotiations with the police union, that will follow. Another question was about her proposal earlier in the budget process – since shelved at least temporarily – to expand the potential defenses for some misdemeanors. She said there’s no draft legislation yet, but there’ll be a roundtable discussion on the topic in her committee December 8th. Has any other jurisdiction of this size tried this? Herbold said she didn’t know.
You can use this tool on the city website to see specific proposals Herbold (or any other councilmember) advanced in the budget process.
Before discussing the budget, Herbold talked about the West Seattle Bridge. She said the decision to repair it is “the biggest news,” and that repair is the direction in which she was “gently prodding” even before the mayor’s announcement, so she’s “overjoyed.” She recapped that there’s a chance the repairs could move more quickly than the rough estimate of a mid-2022 reopening. She also recapped the Reconnect West Seattle traffic-mitigation plans that are continuing. When she stopped to invite bridge Q&A, one attendee, unaware that low-bridge camera enforcement had long been on the way, advocated for it. The cameras will be up soon, with the one-month warning period to follow, and then $75 tickets. Asked about West Marginal Way SW, she noted that the newly approved budget fully funds the safety project – a light and crosswalk – by the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse. The bicycle improvements proposed for the southbound side, north of there, remain under discussion.
Also at the meeting, some internal business:
BYLAWS CHANGED: ANA approved a change allowing extended service – treasurer Carrie McCann is willing to stay on, so this will facilitate that.
NEW OFFICERS: One big change is ahead – president David Hancock isn’t running again; Drew Sowa will succeed him. Larry Wymer will continue as vice president, McCann as treasurer, Delores Kannas as secretary.
UPDATES: Admiral is participating in the West Seattle Art Walk, last one of the year coming up December 10th … hoping to bring back the concert series next year after the pandemic forced a hiatus this year; coordinator Stephanie Jordan says no matter what, she’s determined to work out something creative (drive-in events, maybe?) … As we reported recently, Nantes Park will benefit from a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant, including a temporary art installation and some permanent paved walkways plus an outreach to West Seattle schoolchildren to invite them to write about France (where Nantes is a Seattle sister city).
NEXT MEETING: Likely in January. Email email@example.com to get on the mailing list.