West Seattle, Washington
Out of a 43-page slide deck, that’s the one slide that caught our attention when Sound Transit briefed the Seattle City Council Transportation and Utilities Committee this morning. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the West Seattle to Ballard extension is now not expected to be released before fall. Last estimated release timeline (see this December 2020 WSB report) was “mid-(year),” and that already was a slide past the originally projected release this year. When the DEIS comes out, it will trigger a new round of public comment, and will provide an avalanche of new information about the potential paths that could be taken to get light rail across the Duwamish River and to stations at Delridge, Avalon, and The Junction. The topic of the briefing was the “realignment” process, which we’ve been covering – the pursuit of a new plan/timeline for system expansion projects to address what’s currently estimated as a $7.9 billion “affordability gap” (currently mostly because on new cost estimates, rather than revenue shortfalls). The briefing started an hour and 30 minutes into the meeting (recorded by Seattle Channel):
During the briefing, councilmembers repeatedly asked a question that several ST board members also have asked – isn’t it too soon to make a new plan when the post-pandemic revenue picture isn’t clear? ST in response said it has to make decisions soon about $2 billion worth of projects (not including West Seattle-Ballard), but also insisted that a realignment plan would be a “flexible framework” that could be revisited. West Seattle light rail, originally planned to launch in 2030, already has been delayed a year beyond that, even before further delays that might be part of realignment.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
With 5 weeks to go until primary voting begins, our area’s biggest political organization – the 34th District Democrats – met online last night to make their endorsements. It took almost five hours, even with a decision late in the evening to delay one set of endorsements until next month.
Toward the meeting’s start, chair Carla Rogers acknowledged the event had brought a boost in membership (only those who were members by last month’s meeting could vote), surmising that was mostly because of the King County Executive race. Membership was announced at 548, and the onscreen counter showed attendance last night peaking at close to 400. At the start of the night, group leaders gave a pitch on staying engaged even after the vote.
A few notes first: The 34th legislative district includes West Seattle, White Center, Vashon/Maury Islands, and part of Burien. The group requires candidates to identify themselves as Democrats to be eligible for endorsement nominations, even for nonpartisan positions. To win endorsement, 60 percent support was required; if nobody got that on the first ballot, the top two votegetters went to a second ballot, and if neither got 60 percent, the remaining options were dual endorsement or no endorsement (the latter happened in one big race). There were up to four speeches for each candidate nominated – potentially two in favor (including the candidates themselves if the original nominator gave them the floor), two against.
Rogers said the meeting recording will be posted online within a few days. We watched it all in real time, 6:30 pm until almost 11:30; here are our toplines:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
8 of the 15 candidates for Seattle mayor participated today in the campaign season’s first forum presented by a West Seattle-based organization.
The 34th District Democrats‘ forum happened online four days before our area’s biggest political organization meets Wednesday to decide who it’s endorsing in this and other key local races.
The 34th DDs’ chair Carla Rogers hosted; moderators were Rachel Glass and Chris Porter; timer was Ann Martin. Rogers said all 15 candidates were invited; 9 accepted, 8 showed up – Colleen Echohawk, Jessyn Farrell, Lorena González, Bruce Harrell, Andrew Grant Houston, Lance Randall, Don Rivers, and Casey Sixkiller. (If you’re just catching up, there’s no incumbent in the race – Jenny Durkan decided one term was enough.)
The questions and answers did not at any point get deeply West Seattle-specific. There were a few mentions of the closed bridge – Harrell scored local points there by briefly noting that the issue of accountability for its damage has yet to be settled – and González noted that she was the only West Seattleite there; Sixkiller said he had recently visited the West Seattle Farmers’ Market and local businesses. Answers to most of the questions by most of the candidates leaned more heavily on self-descriptive information – their background, their family status and/or history – than on concrete policy plans, with a few notable exceptions.
If you’re interested in the race, we highly recommend watching the video. If you don’t have the time, below are our notes – brief paraphrases or select quotes from each answer, following a transcription of each question as posted in the on-screen chat window by Rogers. First, each candidate got up to a minute and a half for an opening statement:
Got a question for your state legislators after the just-completed session that resulted in monumental legislation, from the capital-gains tax to climate action? Your next chance to hear from/talk with them is Thursday night, when the West Seattle Democratic Women host Sen. Joe Nguyen, Rep. Eileen Cody, and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon at their monthly meeting. It starts at 6 pm online, and if you’re interested in attending, RSVP by tonight to WSDW chair Mary Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the attendance info.
This was the official Filing Week for candidates who want to be on the August 3rd primary ballot in King County (and the November 2nd general election if they make the top two). The deadline has passed; here are the highlights:
SEATTLE MAYOR: Jenny Durkan, remember, decided not to run for re-election. 15 people filed this week to run, including West Seattleite Lorena González, president of the City Council:
Arthur K. Langlie
Don L. Rivers
Henry C. Dennison
M. Lorena González
Andrew Grant Houston
KING COUNTY EXECUTIVE: West Seattleite Dow Constantine is seeking a fourth term; West Seattleite Joe Nguyen, the 34th District’s state senator, is one of four challengers.
SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL POSITION 8: West Seattleite Teresa Mosqueda is the incumbent, and has drawn 10 challengers:
Jordan Elizabeth Fisher
Paul Felipe Glumaz
Bobby Lindsey Miller
SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL POSITION 9: This citywide seat is the one González is leaving to run for mayor. West Seattleite Brianna Thomas is among the seven contenders:
Rebecca L. Williamson
Brianna K. Thomas
CITY ATTORNEY: Incumbent Pete Holmes has two challengers:
Other positions you’ll see on the ballot include three Seattle Port Commission seats, each with the incumbent plus one challenger. See those lists, and links to more information about all the candidates, by going here. The list won’t be finalized until after the Monday deadline for filers to change their mind and withdraw.
Though we’ve been hearing from, and about, candidates for months, nobody’s officially on the ballot until they formally file to run – and the official Filing Week starts tomorrow. Here’s the reminder from King County Elections:
Candidates looking to run for office this year will have the opportunity to put their name on the ballot during the upcoming filing week of May 17 through May 21, 2021.
King County Elections is strongly encouraging all candidates to file online. Online filing opens at 9 am on May 17 and is open 24 hours a day until 4 pm on May 21.
In-person assistance will be available for those who need it at King County Elections Headquarters in Renton. Those who do come in person will be required to wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth. One can be provided, if needed. Candidates in need of assistance can also call 206-296-1565.
As the COVID-19 situation continues in our community, we will not be accommodating large groups or photo opportunities inside the facility.
Candidates can also file by mail. Mailed filings must be received no later than 4:30 pm on May 21, regardless of postmark.
The final deadline to withdraw one’s name from the ballot is 4:30 pm on Monday, May 24.
An updated list of candidate filings will be posted by noon and by 6 p.m. each day until the filing week ends. The list will be finalized following the withdrawal deadline.
There are many offices subject to election this year, including county and city level offices, school boards, and special purpose districts. You can find the complete list of offices subject to election in King County on our website here.
Candidates can sign up for notifications by email or text to get alerts about deadlines and other candidate-related information. Candidates looking for more information, please visit our website or call 206-296-1565.
In advance of filing week, candidates and ballot-measure advocates/opponents have registered campaigns with entities such as the city Ethics and Election Commission – see those lists here – and state Public Disclosure Commission – see those lists here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
After coasting to re-election twice, King County Executive Dow Constantine has a fight ahead in his bid for a fourth term.
As of today, it’s a battle of two West Seattleites.
This morning, two days after this year’s legislative session wrapped up, State Sen. Joe Nguyen announced that he’s running for county executive. Nothing personal, he says – saying that he even volunteered for Constantine’s first campaign in 2009 – but Nguyen says it’s time for a change. Without using the exact words, his pitch is that while the incumbent is the past, he is the future – and the person to fight for the future of even the youngest King County residents, his three small children among them.
We spoke with Nguyen before this morning’s announcement.
The State Legislature has just adjourned for the year. Two of the bills getting the most post-session buzz have West Seattle sponsors – Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon was lead sponsor on the clean-fuels bill, HB 1091; Sen. Joe Nguyen was a co-sponsor of the capital-gains tax, SB 5096. Both bills have gone to the governor’s desk. If you have questions about those bills or others passed – or not passed – by state legislators, the 34th District Democrats are presenting a Town Hall this Sunday (May 2nd) with Sen. Nguyen, Rep. Fitzgibbon, and Rep. Eileen Cody, online at.1 pm. Also scheduled to join them is our area’s U.S. House rep – also a West Seattle resident – Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. You can send questions in advance via this link; no RSVP required for the event itself – here’s that link.
Four city councilmembers have a new-but-not-new idea for spending $20 in car-tab taxes.
First, the backstory: The city used to charge $80 for the Transportation Benefit District. Then after the last election, that dropped to $20, but the city has authority to add another $20 and is doing so starting in July. In November, three councilmembers including West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold proposed spending the money on bridge maintenance. But instead, a council majority had SDOT come up with a different plan, which only spent 24 percent on bridges; you might recall the community survey about it last month.
Now that plan is going to the council (here are its toplines). Four councilmembers, including the three who originally proposed bridge spending, are bringing back that idea. The four say that while the SDOT plan is fine for this year, starting next year they’d rather use the fee’s $7 million revenue to finance $100 million in bond money, with three-quarters of that going toward bridges. (While the councilmembers’ news release mentions the West Seattle Bridge, spending for that project isn’t specified in their proposed amendment, which you can read here. They instead would direct SDOT to come up with a bridge-spending plan. This will all play out before the Transportation and Utilities Committee starting this Wednesday (agenda here).
Seattle Port Commissioner Ryan Calkins announced today that he’s running for a second 4-year term. Calkins, who works as a business consultant, says economic recovery from the pandemic-caused hardships will be a priority. He lists job creation as a focus. His announcement also says he “is running to build on his commitment and track record as a climate champion and advocate for mitigation and cleanup in communities that have historically suffered the impacts of pollution, dislocation, and development.” Calkins, an Eastlake resident, holds Position 1 on the commission; so far no one else has registered a campaign for that seat. The formal filing period, however, isn’t until next month. Commissioners are elected in a countywide vote.
The state’s “Good Samaritan Law“ will expand to protect emergency-services volunteers in more circumstances, thanks to teamwork between West Seattle advocates and legislators. The bill has passed both houses of the Legislature. It’s explained in this announcement as:
House Bill 1209 expands Washington’s Good Samaritan Law by providing that a person is not liable for any act or omission while providing volunteer nonmedical care or assistance at the scene of an emergency or disaster, unless the act or omission rises to the level of gross negligence, or willful or wanton misconduct.
The main sponsor, Pierce County Rep. Dan Bronoske – who happens to also be a firefighter – explains, “Say a flood is approaching and the only way to help you escape is to break down a door or windows, response teams would be able to take that emergency step without fear of personal liability. That does not mean you would be left without financial help like insurance or disaster aid, just that the emergency volunteers responding would be protected too.”
Key advocacy came from the volunteers of the Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs; West Seattle-residing Hubs advocate Cindi Barker tells WSB they first approached West Seattle state Rep. Eileen Cody, who in turn worked with Rep. Bronoske to make the bill happen (Cody and West Seattle Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon are among the co-sponsors). Barker tells WSB, “The Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs have been aware of this issue for several years; the question of liability protection often comes up when we do outreach about emergency preparedness and talking about helping our communities after a disaster. The State Attorney General’s Office had provided us information that a general response after an earthquake would not be covered by the Good Samaritan provisions because when it was written, it addressed medical responses only. Even most recently, during the COVID response, some people have held back from volunteering, worried about the liability. So we decided to fix that gap.”
Next step will be for Gov. Inslee to sign the bill into law; no date for that is set yet.
This Thursday, the West Seattle Democratic Women invite you to learn about two hot topics from their guest speaker. Here’s the announcement:
In honor of Women’s History Month, for its meeting on Thursday, March 25th, the West Seattle Democratic Women have invited Alison McCaffree from the League of Women Voters of Washington to present the history of the Equal Right Amendment and current efforts to get it passed. She will also tell us about Speak Up Schools in Washington State, a program created to inspire people to testify in front of the Washington State Redistricting Commission which will draw the lines for our legislative districts this year. Why do we care about these issues? How do they impact us? To join us on Zoom for this interactive and engaging presentation, email Mary Fisher at email@example.com by 11 a.m. Thursday for the Zoom link. Speaker begins at 7 p.m, after we share positive news of the month in a pre-meeting discussion starting at 6:30 p.m.
For the past two months, the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee, chaired by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold, has been considering a proposal to cut $5.4 million from the Seattle Police Department budget. Despite representing a relatively small part of the SPD budget, it’s loomed large in symbolism even more than effects. Today, on the eve of a possible committee vote, a new proposal – but first some backstory:
The $5.4 million was actually added to the SPD budget last December – as explained in the original council memo, $1.9 million in federal pandemic reimbursement, $1.9 million to cover spending on paid parental leave, and $1.6 million to cover increased separation-pay costs that accompany increased departures from the department. But, sponsoring councilmembers including Herbold originally argued, that money shouldn’t be needed because, said the memo:
• SPD would have had sufficient appropriation authority to cover the $5.4 million had it not overspent its overtime budget, due largely to over-deployment of officers during the largely peaceful demonstrations in the summer of 2020, including a deployment of officers that exceeded $10 million in overtime costs in less than 60 days; and
• That there would be salary savings in SPD’s budget achieved in 2021 due to higher than anticipated attrition that has already occurred in October 2020 and may continue to occur during November 2020 and December 2020.
So they instead sought to move the $5.4 million to the “participatory budgeting” process which has been under way, focused on the development of alternative public-safety responses.
At the committee’s last meeting March 9th, SPD and mayor’s office reps made their case for keeping the money in the budget. Deputy mayor Mike Fong declared flatly that SPD “is in a staffing crisis.” He and others recapped that the department lost 200 officers last year. We have reported, following Southwest Precinct leaders’ appearances at local community meetings, that the precinct serving West Seattle/South Park has lost a third of its staff. The precinct-by-precinct staffing reports in the March 9th agenda packet showed that SW Precinct patrol staffing dropped from 79 to 66 just in the last quarter of last year.
This is not because the staffing budget has been cut – but a variety of factors, including the perceived lack of City Council support, has led to departures, SPD says. And if this cut is made, the committee was told, the department could be in a staffing shortage “beyond mitigation.”
Already, the committee was told, the department has “minimum staffing days” more frequently citywide, as well as an increase in times when it’s on “priority call” status – times when they can only dispatch officers to the highest-priority calls, such as violent crimes. Response times are higher, with averages no longer meeting the 7-minute target. And with the redeployment of officers to the patrol ranks, they’ve lost “problem-solving teams,” like the Community Police Teams. But the SPD presentation didn’t just focus on what’s wrong currently – it also focused on how it’s not too late for a positive turning point, with the department still experiencing a record number of applicants for the openings it has – while warning that more officers “will leave if they see these continued cuts.” SPD also spelled out what it would do with the $5.4 million if it’s not cut, including technical support for the increase in online reporting.
At tomorrow’s committee meeting, a vote is possible – which would then send the measure to full council. But at this morning’s weekly council briefing meeting (one hour and 45 minutes into this video), when each councilmember provides a preview of the week ahead, Herbold announced she had come up with a new version of the bill to present tomorrow. We requested and just received a copy – see it here. It cuts less, moving $2 million to “participatory budgeting” instead of the original $5.4 million, and specifies other spending such as 5 mental-health responders to join SPD crisis responses, and also funds the civilian positions, technology improvements, and separation pay funding that SPD had requested, Herbold said..
In addition to announcing the new proposal, Herbold said that even if it – or another version – passes out of committee tomorrow, a final full council vote is likely to be delayed because those overseeing the consent decree have questions before final action. Tomorrow’s meeting is at 9:30 am; the agenda explains how to view it as well as how to sign up to comment.
The 15th candidate to enter the race for Seattle mayor is Jessyn Farrell. This is her second mayoral campaign – she finished fourth in the August 2017 primary. Farrell is a former state legislator (2013-2017) who is senior vice president of Civic Ventures, described in her campaign announcement as “a public policy incubator,” and has also been executive director of the Transportation Choices Coalition. She vows to “establish a new standard for successful, thriving cities” with priorities including “making housing more affordable and establishing universal birth-to 5-childcare.” Her website says she’s seeking community collaboration to develop a full policy platform. Farrell is a Northeast Seattle resident. The primary to narrow the race to two candidates is August 2nd; the lineup will be finalized in May.
Adding his name today to what’s now a 14-candidate list in the Seattle mayor’s race is someone who once, albeit briefly, held the title: Former City Councilmember Bruce Harrell. He was council president when then-mayor Ed Murray resigned in 2017, but declined to keep the interim mayoral position, so the council appointed another member, Tim Burgess, to serve the two months until the next election. Harrell then decided not to run for council re-election in 2019. His campaign announcement today is in the form of an “open letter” to Seattle residents. It tells his personal story as well as laying out a wide-ranging platform including business assistance, affordable health care, job creation, arts/culture/nightlife revitalization, public/private partnership to address homelessness, addressing structural racism and police bias, and more. His few days as mayor in 2017 were marked by issuance of four executive orders, as we reported here. This isn’t his first run for mayor – he ran in 2013, finishing fourth in a primary field of nine. This year’s primary is August 2nd; the candidate lineup will be finalized in May.
Another candidate has announced she’s running for Seattle Port Commission: Toshiko Grace Hasegawa, executive director of the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, has entered the race for Position 4, currently held by first-term Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck. Hasegawa’s announcement quotes her as saying, “I’m running in the wake of economic devastation because I have the values and the experience to meet the dire needs of this moment. The Port is uniquely positioned to be a model for bringing together industry, business, workers and communities to rebuild our economy and be better than it was before. I bring the necessary perspective and sense of urgency to ensure that the next rising tide will lift all of our ships.” The announcement explains that in her current role leading CAPAA, she “advises the Governor, State Legislature and other agencies on laws, programs, and policies impacting historically marginalized communities.” She also has worked as communications/outreach manager for King County’s Office of Law Enforcement Oversight and as a legislative assistant to King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles. Her port priorities include “shaping an equitable economic recovery for our region, reducing pollution and carbon emissions from the Port; ensuring safety at the Port for all travelers and workers; and promoting clean & ethical supply chains to address the growing issue of labor trafficking and economic exploitation.” Hasegawa lives on Beacon Hill. Position 4 is one of three commission seats on this year’s ballot; the field won’t be finalized until May, and the primary is August 2nd.
Last month, we reported twice on a City Council proposal to change the rules for small businesses operating from home, as more have done to stay afloat during the pandemic. Tomorrow afternoon, the council is expected to vote on the proposal. It passed the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee 4-1. Here’s how the agenda document summarizes the proposed changes:
Specifically, during the COVID-19 civil emergency, the bill would remove the following requirements that currently apply to home occupations:
Customer visits are by appointment only
There shall be no evidence of the home occupation visible from the exterior of the structure
No more than two persons who are not residents of a dwelling unit on the lot may work in a home occupation, regardless of whether the persons work full or part-time or are compensated.
The home occupation shall not cause a substantial increase in on-street parking= congestion or a substantial increase in traffic within the immediate vicinity
In addition, the legislation would (1) allow a home business to operate in a required parking space provided that no changes are made that would prevent the space from being used for parking in the future and (2) allow home businesses to install a nonilluminated sign up to 720 square inches bearing the name of the home occupation.
For everyone who suggests the solution to a problem is to elect new leadership, there’s someone else who points out that many elected positions don’t draw many candidates. That’s true. (Just one example – both of our area’s State House representatives ran for re-election unopposed last year.) If you are interested in finding out what it takes to run for an elected position, King County Elections has just announced workshops. From the WSB inbox:
King County Elections will host four virtual Candidate Workshops in an effort to empower potential candidates to take the leap and run for office.
Tuesday, March 16, 6 p.m. – 8p.m.
Thursday, April 1, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 17, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Thursday, April 29, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The workshops will be held to demystify the process by empowering potential candidates with key information they need to file their candidacy. This year there are over 330 local, nonpartisan offices up for election.
“We know that one of the key reasons people don’t vote in local elections is because they don’t see candidates on the ballot who look like them or represent their community,” said Director of Elections Julie Wise. “These workshops are an opportunity for less experienced or first-time candidates to get information and ask questions directly from the team that will ultimately help them through the filing process.”
The workshops will cover a range of topics including the elections calendar, online candidate filing, filing fee petitions, ballot order, local voters’ pamphlet filing, and more.
“Running for office takes a tremendous amount of courage and even the most technical parts of the process can be intimidating. We want to make to make things as easy as possible,” said Wise.
The workshops will be in preparation for the candidate filing period this year, Monday, May 17 through the following Friday, May 21. All Declarations of Candidacy must be received by King County Elections before the close of business on Friday, regardless of postmark.
Though the rest of the election cycle is still months away, there’s one local election happening right now, with online voting. You might even have received a postcard about it. Here’s the announcement:
King Conservation District (KCD) is holding its annual Board Supervisor election in March to fill an open Board of Supervisors seat. The 2021 election has attracted an unprecedented eight candidates for the position. Brittany Bush Bollay, Kali Clark, John Comerford, Wayne Gullstad, Doug Hennick, Natalie Reber, Melissa Tatro, and David Toledo are all vying for the open seat. Candidate statements can be read at kingcd.org/elections.
In 2020, KCD made international headlines by offering electronic ballot access for their Board Supervisor election. Those changes increased the visibility, and accessibility, of the election and doubled voter turnout from the prior year. To increase awareness of the election in 2021, KCD will be mailing out over 800,000 postcards to eligible voter households in the district with information on how to vote in our board election. …
KCD is a natural-resources-assistance agency authorized by Washington State and guided by the Washington State Conservation Commission (WSCC). Its mission is to help people in King County steward their natural resources and offers services to assist people with forestry management, streamside and shoreline restoration, farm conservation planning, and other environmental efforts. KCD promotes conservation through demonstration projects, educational events, technical assistance and, in some cases, providing or pointing the way to funds which may be available for projects. KCD has no regulatory or enforcement authority and only works with those who choose to work with KCD.
An all-volunteer, five-member Board of Supervisors is responsible for overseeing all KCD programs and activities. Three of the members are elected while the other two are appointed by the WSCC, an agency created to assist and guide conservation district activities in Washington State. Supervisors serve a three-year term and oversee the operations of KCD. Board members contribute local perspectives on important natural resource management and conservation issues, seek feedback about conservation programs from district residents, set KCD policy, and direct KCD’s work plan and budget.
KCD’s district includes all eligible voters in King County (but does not include City of Enumclaw, City of Federal Way, City of Milton, City of Pacific, and City of Skykomish that are not within our service area). Voters will have the option of voting through electronic ballot access, print and mail, or picking up a ballot at the KCD Office at 800 SW 39th St Suite #150, Renton, WA 98057.
Ballots are available to eligible voters online and at the KCD Office (800 SW 39th St Suite #150, Renton, WA 98057). Voters may return ballots electronically through the electronic ballot marking system by 5:00 p.m. on March 23, 2021, or print and mail the ballots with a postmark of March 23, 2021. Ballots postmarked March 23, 2021 and mailed to King County Elections, 919 SW Grady Way, Suite 200, Renton WA 98057 will be counted and accepted through March 26, 2021.
Side note – Current KCD supervisors include West Seattleite Chris Porter.
Less than two weeks after kicking off his City Council Position 8 candidacy with a citywide tour including a West Seattle Junction stop, Mike McQuaid has withdrawn. We noticed it on the city elections website this afternoon and confirmed it with a campaign spokesperson. The Seattle Times reported last Friday that McQuaid had been charged with assault and harassment in 2015 after, according to a police report, he threatened and threw a rock at a man working on a landscaping project outside his South Lake Union condo building. The Times report says the charge resulted in a “deferred prosecution” agreement and a dismissal in 2018. McQuaid’s withdrawal leaves West Seattle-residing incumbent Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda alone in the Position 8 race for now; filings won’t be finalized until May.
Today the state House passed a major environmental bill sponsored by one of our area’s lawmakers, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, who chairs the House Environment and Energy Committee. Here’s the news release:
Washington is one step closer to joining its west coast neighbors in establishing a clean fuel standard. House Bill 1091, sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-West Seattle) directs the Washington State Department of Ecology to adopt a rule establishing a Clean Fuels Program that would limit greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. It passed the House today with a vote of 52-46.
“It is long past time for Washington to join our neighbors in Oregon, California, and British Columbia in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector,” said Fitzgibbon. “We owe it to future generations to protect the climate, improve our air quality, and create jobs in the biofuels industry. Washington can be a leader in clean fuel production, but we are falling behind our neighbors. This bill protects our climate, cleans our air, and grows clean energy jobs. This program is overdue, but it’s not too late for us to do our part.”
The transportation sector is responsible for roughly 45% of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will also help reduce the state’s contributions to climate change. The most recent National Climate Assessment, a federal report prepared by hundreds of scientists, details the disruptive impacts anticipated in the United States and the Pacific Northwest if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed. The addition of fire season to the west coast calendar highlights the urgency of the moment.
This would create opportunities for Washington producers of clean transportation fuels – from biodiesel, to renewable natural gas, to the clean electricity produced by the state’s utilities. The policy itself is technology-neutral, not mandating use of any specific renewable fuel. Currently, Washingtonians spend $9 billion annually on gasoline and diesel, while the vast majority of locally-produced clean fuels are shipped to states that already have a clean fuel standard. A clean fuel standard will create a market for clean fuels right here in Washington.
Prior to passing the full House, the bill advanced through the House Environment & Energy, Transportation, and Appropriations committees. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Our area’s senior House Rep. Eileen Cody also voted for the bill, which you can read in its entirety here. As for the Senate, here’s what our area’s State Senator tweeted tonight:
I 👀 you @joefitzgibbon! Marathon of a debate for Clean Fuels in WA State.
We’re ready to fight for it in the Senate. #WaLeg
— Joe (@meetjoenguyen) February 28, 2021
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The first West Seattleite to declare she’s running for City Council citywide Position 9 has campaigned for a council spot before.
Back in 2015, Brianna Thomas finished fourth in a field of nine during the first-ever District 1 primary election.
At the time, she had a resumé of political and community organizing. Since then, she’s learned about City Council work from the inside, as chief of staff for Council President Lorena González, whose run for mayor is opening the position Thomas is seeking.
We talked with Thomas by phone at midday today, a few hours after her campaign was announced.
Two days after the announcement of a proposal to relax rules for operating businesses at home, a City Council committee discussed it this morning. The Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee is chaired by the bill’s main sponsor, Councilmember Dan Strauss. No vote today, but the committee heard a presentation from council staff as well as comments from councilmembers and the public. The latter included the proprietor of a business cited as inspiration for the bill, a cider company that tried becoming home-based because of the pandemic but ran afoul of city rules. The main presentation/discussion starts at 1 hour, 21 minutes into the meeting video (which you can watch above or here on the Seattle Channel website). The presentation included a mention that if this is adopted, city staff also could start researching making some or all of its provisions permanent; otherwise, it would be temporary, for up to a year. Here’s the slide deck from today’s presentation:
Many of the questions asked during the briefing were from North Seattle Councilmember Debora Juarez. She expressed concern that, as written, the proposal could open the door for neighborhood businesses run from homes to endanger small businesses in nearby business districts. For example, she said, what would be stopping someone from turning their garage into an espresso stand, taking business away from an established shop a few blocks away that has higher expenses because it’s a permanent brick-and-mortar business? “I’m supportive of the intent, but the application … is where I get concerned.” Other agencies’ rules would still apply – for example, health rules for commercial food/beverage service – Strauss said. You can read the proposed legislation here; it’s expected to return to the committee for a potential vote on March 10th.