West Seattle, Washington
Right now, many local positions are on the ballot in odd years. That could change for some King County positions, under a county-charter amendment that got county council committee approval today. The amendment would move elections for county executive, county assessor, county director of elections, and county councilmembers to even-numbered years. Supporters say that would mean higher voter turnout for those races, since even-numbered years tend to draw more voters because of higher-profile races. Opponents say this could mean the local races would get lost in the clamor over those higher-profile races. The next step for the proposal is a vote by the full County Council on June 28th; if they approve the amendment, final say would be up to King County voters this November.
Our area’s largest political group finished its pre-primary endorsements last night, but voting members didn’t have a clear choice in this year’s biggest local race, so that wound up with a dual endorsement: Two Democrats are among the three candidates seeking to succeed State House Rep. Eileen Cody, and after three rounds of voting last night, the 34th DDs had endorsed both of them, Emily Alvarado and Leah Griffin. The group’s rules reauire 60 percent approval for an endorsement, and while Griffin came close — 58% on the first ballot – that wasn’t enough. Two other contested races went to multiple ballots, both Seattle Municipal Court judgeships; Position #7 resulted in a sole endorsement for incumbent Judge Damon Shadid, while Position #3 ended up in a dual endorsement. The 34th DDs also endorsed a slate of candidates on a unanimous vote, pulling out one of those candidates – Leesa Manion, the West Seattleite running for King County Prosecutor – for a standalone vote, also a unanimous endorsement. The online meeting was attended by more than 100 people, with just under 90 voting. The primary election is Tuesday, August 2nd.
The District 1 Community Network – a coalition of West Seattle/South Park advocates – finally gets its long-planned visit from Mayor Bruce Harrell this Wednesday (June 1st). It’s an online meeting, all welcome; the group has questions lined up, but only gets half an hour with the mayor, so there won’t be much if any time for open Q&A, but the group has been discussing questions spanning a variety of topics, from public safety to transportation to land use to homelessness. (On that last topic, this appearance will be on the day after Harrell’s scheduled Tuesday announcement of his long-awaited plan to deal with the crisis.) The meeting is at 7 pm Wednesday; viewing and call-in information is in our calendar listing for the meeting.
Now that the withdrawal deadline has passed, the fields are set for the August primary (same as what we reported Friday, except for one State Senate withdrawal – see the official lists here). The marquee local race in our area this time around will be for 34th District State House Position 1, from which Rep. Eileen Cody is retiring after more than a quarter-century. The first debate/forum in the race is Thursday night (May 26th), 6:30 pm online, with the 34th District Democrats and West Seattle Democratic Women hosting the two Democrats who are running, Emily Alvarado (left) and Leah Griffin (right). 34th DDs chair Carla Rogers says All are welcome to attend; register here to get the link. In addition to being a public forum, this also is a prelude to the 34th DDs’ endorsement meeting, which Rogers says is set for June 8th.
Filing Week is over and pending the withdrawal deadline on Monday, the fields are tentatively finalized for positions up for election this year. The only West Seattle (and vicinity)-specific positions on which you’ll be voting this year are in the 34th Legislative District – State Senator and two State House Representatives. Here’s who has filed:
34TH DISTRICT STATE SENATOR (no links because the incumbent is the only one with a functioning website listed)
Joe Nguyen (D, incumbent)
Amber Bennett (I)
Larry Hussey (no party preference)
Tony Mitchum (no party preference)
John Potter (R)
You’ll also be voting on King County Prosecuting Attorney (for which West Seattleite Leesa Manion and Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell remain the only candidates), U.S. Senate, U.S. House District 7, Secretary of State, and a variety of city, county, and state judgeships. Here’s the full list of who’s filed for everything. After the withdrawal deadline passes on Monday afternoon, the fields will be finalized for the August 2nd primary. First local debate/forum of the season is planned by the 34th District Democrats for State House Position 1, next Thursday (May 26th) – details to come.
$1.81 a month to raise more money to save the “last, best” green spaces from disappearing.
That’s what King County Executive Dow Constantine is proposing charging property owners in a ballot measure he announced today at White Center Heights Park.
The cost, Constantine says, is what the owner of a “median-priced” home in King County would pay if voters approve the measure, which he is asking the County Council to place on the November general-election ballot.
Even at that, he says, it’s not an entirely new tax – he says it would bring back what property owners used to pay for the half-century-old Conservation Futures Program. The announcement explains:
Land conservation in King County – and 13 other counties – is largely funded by the Conservation Futures program that the state created 50 years ago. A series of actions by the state has dramatically reduced the amount of revenue that the program can generate for counties. Voters have the option to restore the local program to its original rate of 6.25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value from its current rate of 3.12 cents. That would cost the owner of a median-value home about $21.75 more per year.
Constantine was joined at the park – setting of other media events for environmental programs – by De’Sean Quinn, the Tukwila City Councilmember who co-chairs the Land Conservation Advisory Committee, as well as Open Space Equity Cabinet co-chair Michelle Benetua, Trust for Public Land’s Northwest director David Patton, and King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski. Here’s our video of what they said:
The money raised by this would, according to the announcement, “accelerate the Land Conservation Initiative, a regional partnership of communities, cities, farmers, businesses, and environmental leaders to protect 65,000 acres of the highest conservation-value open space.” Constantine launched the initiative three years ago. The land it’s saved includes a five-acre site in North Highline. That’s one of the sites intended to bring public green space closer to more people; Constantine said that 20 percent of the people in King County don’t live close to any. It’s about equitable access, climate change, wildlife protection, and more, he said while making the case. Quinn lauded him for the “political will” to push for this “to meet the urgency of now.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Dembowski, who chairs the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee, will sponsor the proposal. Councilmembers have until late July to approve sending it to the November ballot. Meantime, the Land Conservation Initiative continues working on potential sites to protect – not only via buying them; sometimes other tools are used, such as conservation easements, or the purchase of development rights, to take the pressure off property owners. Constantine said they can’t comment on what’s in negotiations or under consideration, for obvious reasons.
If you’re interested in running for office this year, this is the week to officially file to get onto the August primary ballot in King County. The only offices specific to West Seattle (and vicinity) this year are the three state-legislative positions for the 34th District. Two days in, here’s who has filed:
State Senate – incumbent Sen. Joe Nguyen (D)
State House Position 2 – incumbent Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D)
You’ll also be voting for the open King County Prosecuting Attorney seat (West Seattleite Leesa Manion and Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell have filed so far), U.S. Senate and U.S. House positions, Secretary of State, and a long list of city, county, and state judgeships – none of which has more than one filer so far.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Every Monday afternoon, City Councilmembers offer individual updates at what’s known as the “briefing” meeting – what they’re working on, what are issues of concern in their district, among other things. We watched today to see if West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold would mention Friday’s shooting alongside the SW Andover RV encampment. She did, as you can see/hear starting at 19:01 into the video recording of the meeting.
Herbold said she had talked with Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Martin Rivera recently and asked for a report on police responses in the area around the Andover encampment. She didn’t summarize that report in her remarks, but we requested and received it from her immediately after the meeting. You can see it here; it is dated April 30th, though the councilmember reported obtaining it last week – before the shooting – and if you’re familiar with the area, you’ll note that it covers a multi-block radius, stretching up to Avalon on the west, for example.
Herbold also said she had been in contact with the mayor’s office again, now that it’s been announced full enforcement of the 72-hour parking rule will resume. In our post-meeting email, we asked for clarification on what she had asked them to do regarding Andover, and she forwarded us the email she’d sent earlier this afternoon to Deputy Mayor Tiffany Washington (whose portfolio includes homelessness) and city Public Safety Director Andrew Myerberg:
I am writing to you regarding the ongoing situation at SW Andover Street around 26th Ave SW. A shooting took place there on Friday afternoon. This is the second recent shooting in this area, and has resulted in significant community alarm. I’ve been contacted by numerous constituents since Friday afternoon.
This location has been one that RVs have been parking at for at least 3 years, if not longer. I regularly hear reports of crime from constituents in this area, and have discussed this with SW Precinct Captain Rivera, and his predecessor, on numerous occasions. These reports have increased during the last several months, including from constituents who rarely contact me about crime-related issues. Please see the attached document for a summary provided to me last Thursday by Captain Rivera, upon my request.
I understand that the work the Mayor’s Office is doing regarding the 72 hour parking law includes working to develop prioritization criteria for the various areas throughout the city where nearly 400 RV are reportedly parked with people residing in them. I understand that you must look at the city as a whole in determining where to take action. I am restating the request that I have made verbally in meetings with you since the start of this administration, that you consider prioritizing this location for engagement and enforcement, as the public safety-related issues here appear to be escalating.
(The first paragraph of the email includes two links to WSB coverage, including linking “significant community alarm” to our report from last Friday with 150+ comments.) Nucor‘s top priority is the safety of our team and the community where we operate. This specific encampment on Andover along the southern fence-line of our mill has been the source of serious safety concerns that we have shared with city officials over the past several years. We are continuing to engage with our neighbors in hopes that city officials will soon identify a solution for addressing this proven public safety issue. Meantime, the encampment has long been a concern for the large businesses on both sides of it, including the Nucor steel mill. We asked for comment today and received this response tonight from the mill’s vice president/general mayor Matthew J. Lyons:
Nucor‘s top priority is the safety of our team and the community where we operate. This specific encampment on Andover along the southern fence-line of our mill has been the source of serious safety concerns that we have shared with city officials over the past several years. We are continuing to engage with our neighbors in hopes that city officials will soon identify a solution for addressing this proven public safety issue.
Meantime, no arrest in Friday’s shooting so far, SPD told us today, and we haven’t been able to get information on the victim’s condition.
ADDED TUESDAY MORNING: While no current condition/status is available without knowing the victim’s name, we have since learned from SFD that he is 39 years old and was in stable condition when transported on Friday. (Added Wednesday, for the record, we’ve also learned that police say the victim is a “resident of the encampment.”) We also have an update from Councilmember Herbold, who forwarded a reply she received this morning from Deputy Mayor Washington:
The Nucor site is currently scheduled for remediation for June 16th. This date is tentative and can be changed if circumstances shift but you should start to see a surge of outreach efforts to prepare vehicle owners prior to remediation day. Outreach will advise owners to get back in the habit of regularly moving vehicles to avoid a possible warning and citation. Our goal is to get as much compliance as possible or to offer services to those whose vehicles are not operable prior to the 16th.
The city Human Services Department and county Regional Homelessness Authority are supposed “to schedule outreach efforts as soon as possible.” But the question remains whether this “remediation” – the third in a little over half a year, after the ones in December and April – will result in anything more than temporary junk removal.
Two weeks ago, we reported on a discussion of Seattle Police‘s staffing/hiring struggles in the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee, chaired by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold. This Tuesday, the issue is back on the committee’s agenda, as are measures proposed by Herbold and by citywide Councilmember Sara Nelson. Herbold is proposing covering moving expenses for hires in SPD and some other city departments, while Nelson is proposing a resolution supporting hiring incentives such as bonuses. Both measures could be voted on at this meeting. Also on the agenda: An SPD report, as required by the council, on the department’s “efforts to identify a non‐sworn response for 911 call types that the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform categorized as appropriate for a civilian response.” The report notes that’s not so simple, as most calls turn out to be something other than what they were dispatched as, so SPD says it’s launched a project “to develop a risk assessment matrix to help determine which calls can be safely off‐loaded to an alternative response (though risk will never be completely eliminated).” This and the two councilmembers’ hiring-related proposals are on the agenda for the 9:30 am Tuesday (May 10th) meeting, which also explains how to watch/listen, and how to comment.
The Seattle Police Department is still losing more officers and hiring fewer than projected. So what if anything should/can be done about it? That question was at the heart of the latest SPD-staffing briefing, presented this morning to the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee, chaired by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold.
Overall, the committee was told, “the trend is not particularly good.” Here are the numbers presented by analyst Greg Doss:
We first mentioned the report last Friday, when it was released; we noted that the Southwest Precinct, which covers West Seattle and South Park, had lost more sworn staff in the past year – both in number and in percentage – than other precincts. (Our questions sent immediately to SPD and Herbold remain unanswered.) The discussion at today’s meeting didn’t get that granular. The issue became what to do about the continued staffing drop – or whether to do anything at all. That was a sharp point of disagreement between some of the councilmembers. Citywide Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (a West Seattle resident) emphasized that research has shown many of the calls handled by police could be handled by other types of responders. Yes, but, asked Councilmember Alex Pedersen, does the city have those alternative responders available today? “No,” replied Doss. Recently elected citywide Councilmember Sara Nelson, who is pushing to reinstate hiring incentives, asked, “Are we happy with the status quo? Are we fine with doing nothing? I am not.” In response to an observation that other cities are having hiring challenges too, Nelson wondered if any other cities are having trouble with departures as well as hiring.
Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz, also present at the online meeting, said the current staffing situation is causing “wear and tear” because almost every shift needs to be “augmented” with officers on overtime just to reach minimum levels. Response times continue rising, with “priority 2” calls up to half an hour, “priority 3” calls averaging a full hour, he said.
While Nelson is proposing a resolution expressing support for hiring bonuses/incentives, Herbold is proposing a bill to offer money to cover moving expenses for officers hired from outside Seattle – and for some other types of city employees; in the ongoing discussion of the SPD staffing challenges, she has countered that other departments face critical staffing challenges too. (This document from the meeting goes into both councilmembers’ proposals, as well as data including what other cities are offering.)
Nelson continued to advocate for hiring bonuses: “If we don’t do this, what else are we going to do? … I don’t see how we’re going to get to 98 new hires this year if we’ve only had 13 so far.” She wanted to extend the discussion, but Herbold cut it off, with the item having run more than an hour – twice the allotted time – and with two other items on the agenda, including another hot topic (the PayUp proposal for app-based workers). No votes had been scheduled for today, so the discussion is likely to continue when this committee reconvenes next month.
5:49 PM: Thanks to James Tilley for the top photo of Air Force One, visible from Alki as President Biden and entourage headed in for a Sea-Tac landing earlier this hour. Kay Kirkpatrick saw the 747 in the distance from Westcrest Park, too:
The Seattle Times reports the president’s motorcade left the airport about 20 minutes ago. His itinerary through tomorrow afternoon includes a fundraiser tonight and a visit to Auburn tomorrow.
P.S. Metro reroutes during the visit include the C Line.
6:26 PM: The presidential motorcade went directly to the fundraiser location, reported to be at a home on Lake Washington.
When Mayor Bruce Harrell recently announced his plan for a police-chief search, we asked about the plan for hiring another high-level city position – SDOT director. The reply was that a similar process would launch shortly, and now it has. A Friday afternoon announcement from the mayor’s office says these 15 people have been named to a search committee:
Genesee Adkins, former SDOT Chief of Staff
Cassie Chinn, Wing Luke Museum
Dr. Anne Goodchild, UW Urban Freight Lab
Amy Grotefendt, Transportation Lead, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Matt Howard, Seattle Department of Transportation
Alex Hudson, Transportation Choices Coalition
Rob Johnson, NHL Seattle Kraken, former Councilmember
Steve Kovac, IBEW Local 77
Lee Lambert, Cascade Bike Club
Geri Poor, Port of Seattle
Rizwan Rizwi, Muslim Housing Services
Monisha Singh, Chinatown International District Business Improvement Assoc.
Yordanos Teferi, SDOT’s Transportation Equity Workgroup
Terry White, King County Metro
Yu-Ann Youn, SDOT’s Transportation Equity Workgroup, UW student
The announcement does not mention neighborhoods of residence; our quick cross-check of public records shows only one name that potentially matches to a West Seattle address. The announcement says the committee members “were selected for their technical expertise and vision, lived experiences with the transportation system, and ability to leverage networks to market the position, collect feedback, and provide information to support the process and selection.” The committee is expected to meet for the first time later this month; applications for the SDOT director position officially open on Tuesday. No details yet of other plans for community input into the search. The mayor’s office has said the current interim director, Kristen Simpson, previously SDOT’s chief of staff, doesn’t intend to seek the permanent job.
A second West Seattle resident has declared her candidacy for the 34th District State House position that Rep. Eileen Cody is leaving at year’s end. Emily Alvarado spent five years with the City of Seattle Office of Housing, the last two as its director; she currently is a vice president with the housing nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners. She is quoted in the campaign announcement as saying, “For more than a decade, I have worked collaboratively to create affordable housing throughout our region, championing policies and investments that foster inclusive, healthy communities and reduce homelessness. … Everyone deserves quality, affordable housing, education and health care, in a safe, thriving community.” The announcement also describes Alvarado as “an attorney, coalition-builder and former community organizer” who “has fought for reproductive justice, equitable community development, and economic opportunity.” Alvarado’s announcement comes three weeks after the first candidate entered the race, Leah Griffin. The primary election is set for August 2nd.
All three of our area’s State Legislature positions, representing the 34th District, are up for election this year. Of our area’s two State House representatives, one (Rep. Eileen Cody) has announced she’s retiring. Now, our area’s State Senator, Joe Nguyen, has announced he’s running for a second term. Last year, Nguyen attempted to oust King County Executive and fellow West Seattleite Dow Constantine, finishing with 44 percent of the vote, but continued in the State Senate, as his term doesn’t expire until the end of this year. Today’s announcement touts his most-recent achievement as “help(ing) pass a historic transportation package and direct(ing) significant investments for working families during this crucial period of pandemic recovery.” Sen. Nguyen was elected to a leadership post before the 2021 legislative session, assistant floor leader for the State Senate Democratic Caucus. Today’s announcement notes Nguyen will be running in a district that “has slightly changed with recent redistricting,” now including Georgetown as well as South Park and part of downtown, in addition to West Seattle, Burien, White Center, and Vashon/Maury Islands. He is the only candidate so far to file a campaign with the state Public Disclosure Commission.
Mayor Bruce Harrell‘s announcement today of the search process for a new police chief had one WSB commenter wondering what’s up with the search for a new SDOT director. So we asked mayoral spokesperson Jamie Housen. His reply tonight: “We should have some news to announce on the SDOT front soon around the search process, which will be a robust national search and include community input and stakeholder engagement.” When Harrell announced previous SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe‘s departure three and a half months ago, he elevated SDOT chief of staff Kristen Simpson to interim director, but said she wouldn’t be applying for the permanent job. We also asked Housen if the mayor had visited the West Seattle Bridge yet, since those weekly progress-report documents we’ve been getting (on a 4-week delay via public-disclosure request) mentioned it. Housen said, “The mayor’s schedule hasn’t aligned for a site visit to the bridge yet, but it is something we are hoping to get on the calendar, as the bridge’s repair and reopening remains one of the administration’s highest priorities.” P.S. Former SDOT director Zimbabwe, who lives in West Seattle, just started a new job in the private sector, with the design-consulting firm Kimley-Horn.
2:29 PM: It’s been six weeks since Mayor Bruce Harrell and County Executive Dow Constantine stood in front of media in White Center and warned that the concrete drivers’ strike was starting to seriously hinder major public projects. Despite Teamsters Local 174 offering to send some drivers back to work at some companies, that apparently hasn’t happened yet. Today Constantine went to the King County Council, in collaboration with other entities including the city, and put forth a new idea: He wants them to approve what a news release describes as “legislation that would study the feasibility of King County and other local entities developing their own concrete manufacturing facilities to ensure the future of critical infrastructure construction in our region.” The study wouldn’t be due until December 1st, so, the county acknowledges, it’s not going to help the current situation. Meantime, we’re checking on the status of the nearer-term idea Constantine announced at that White Center event back in February, seeking alternate suppliers. We’re also checking with SDOT for any update on concrete supplies for the West Seattle Bridge, which has been closed exactly two years ago as of tomorrow.
3:18 PM: KCE spokesperson Chase Gallagher says the Request for Qualifications for alternate concrete suppliers closed March 11th, “no bids received.”
As reported here on Monday, 34th District State House Rep. Eileen Cody of West Seattle is retiring from the Legislature after 27+ years. Today, the first potential successor has announced her campaign: Leah Griffin, also a West Seattle resident (Highland Park). From her announcement:
Griffin is a certificated school librarian who works on sexual assault policy reform at the state and federal levels. After being raped by a man in her neighborhood in 2014 and seeing how broken the system is for survivors, Griffin knew she had to do something to make things better for other survivors. In 2015, she was appointed to the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Task Force in the Washington legislature with the aim of solving the myriad of problems survivors encounter navigating the justice system in Washington State.
As a representative of survivors, Griffin significantly contributed to the passage of HB1068, to test new rape kits, HB1109 to increase trauma informed interviewing techniques for police, HB2530 to track rape kits through the system, SB1539 to prevent child sexual assault, SB5649 to increase the statute of limitations for rape, and HB1109 to fund and test all untested rape kits in Washington, HB2318 to store unreported kits, and amend the legal definition of rape kits, and SB6158 to create model sexual assault protocols for hospitals.
She also helped write and lobby for the Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act with Senator Murray and Representative Jayapal to increase access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners in hospitals. Leah connects her work to her community by working with the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, Legal Voice, RISE, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, and the Washington Library Association. She sits on the board of the Sexual Violence Law Center.
“I took my rage, and I channeled it into reform. What I understand now is that sexual violence intersects with almost every other issue; healthcare, education, economic justice, law enforcement, homelessness. Trauma is at the root of our society’s problems, and it is past time that we talk about it. There is so much to do, and I look forward to making those changes together,” said Griffin.
The field of candidates for the seat won’t be finalized until after the formal filing period in May; this year’s primary election is on August 2nd.
4 PM: After more than 27 years of representing West Seattle and the rest of the 34th Legislative District, State Rep. Eileen Cody is retiring. That’s according to an announcement from the 34th District Democrats, which notes in part:
… Eileen has chaired the House Health Care and Wellness Committee and tirelessly worked for improved patient safety, mental health parity, public health services and to restore the universal purchase of vaccines. She led the effort to implement the Affordable Care Act at the state level. Largely due to her work, our system has been a model for the rest of the country. She leaves big shoes to fill. We thank her for her service and will be planning a special event in her honor after the term ends.
Rep. Cody’s interest in health care goes beyond her legislative work; as noted in her official biography, she worked as a nurse for more than 40 years, until retiring three years ago. She was first elected to the 34th District’s State House Position 1 in 1994 and last won re-election, unopposed, in November 2020; what is now her final term will end after the elections this fall. We are seeking comment from Rep. Cody and will update if and when we hear back.
4:30 PM: Just talked with Rep. Cody. She says, “It’s time … I had a good run.” She’s hoping to spend time traveling with her husband. But she’ll be on the job until her term ends when her successor takes office next January. She says she knows of multiple potential candidates – none are showing on the state Public Disclosure Commission website yet – so it’s likely to be an “active summer” of campaigning.
Two and a half years ago, then-Mayor Jenny Durkan proposed taxing heating oil as a way to encourage people to phase it out. The City Council approved the 23-cents-a-gallon tax in September 2019. But it still hasn’t gone into effect, and it may not, until next year – if ever. The heating-oil tax originally was set to start in September 2020, a year after its passage, but by then, the pandemic response was at center stage. A start date of April 2022 was eventually decided. On Tuesday, the City Council will look at pushing that back further, to January 1st of next year. It’s estimated that 15,500 households still use oil heat, and that the tax will cost them about $120 a year. Most of the proceeds, according to this briefing paper, will be used to help low-income households cover that cost, and to fully pay for conversion to electric heat pumps. The briefing paper suggests the city’s Green New Deal Oversight Board might eventually recommend another source, like the JumpStart tax, to cover those costs instead. The tax-delay proposal is on the agenda for Tuesday’s 2 pm council meeting. If the council doesn’t take action in March, the tax will start in April.
Two pandemic-related votes of note at this afternoon’s City Council meeting:
EVICTION-MORATORIUM EXTENSION FAILS: District 3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposed a resolution to extend the city eviction moratorium until the pandemic public-health emergency ends, countering Mayor Bruce Harrell‘s decision to end it on February 28th. The proposal was rejected, 3-5. Only West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold and West Seattle-residing citywide Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda joined Sawant in voting for the extension. (Councilmember Tammy Morales did not attend the meeting.)
EXTENSION PASSES FOR FREE STREET-CAFE PERMITS: Councilmembers unanimously approved extending the pilot program that “enables restaurants and other retail storefronts to utilize streets outside of their businesses for outdoor dining or displays,” as described by its sponsor, District 6 Councilmember Dan Strauss. The program was previously set to expire at the end of May; now it will continue through January 31, 2023. In the meantime, the city is expected to develop the rules and fees for a permanent program.
You’ve probably heard a lot about redistricting – drawing new boundaries for election districts – for the county, state, and federal governments. But you probably haven’t heard much about the fact the city has to do the same thing (we mentioned it back in October). Before the Seattle City Council‘s seven district seats are up for election again next year, new boundaries will be approved. An appointed commission (with two West Seattleites) is overseeing this process and has released four draft maps as potential starting points. Here’s how these drafts would reshape District 1, which currently encompasses West Seattle and South Park.
First, D-1 on draft map 1 (see this full citywide map here)
Next, D-1 on draft map 2 (see this full citywide map here):
Next, D-1 on draft map 3 (see this full citywide map here):
And finally, D-1 on draft map 4 (see this full citywide map here):
Follow the “full map” links to get a closer look; if you zoom in, you’ll see the current boundaries, for comparison. And keep in mind, these are proposed as starting points – this isn’t a contest between those four; the final map may be something completely different.
So what’s being taken into consideration here? you might wonder. The commission explains that it’s charged with following “City Charter-mandated criteria using geographic information system (GIS) expertise and the latest 2020 Census data to draw new boundaries and produce districts that are approximately equal in population. To the extent practical, the Commission must also consider additional factors, such as following existing district boundaries, recognizing waterways and geographic boundaries, and acknowledging Seattle’s communities and neighborhoods. The consideration of public input and a minimum of one public forum per Council District is required during this process.”
That input process just started this week, and will continue through the spring and summer. You have six ways to participate, all detailed on this webpage – you can attend a meeting at noon on upcoming Tuesdays, you can draw your own map, and you can watch for an upcoming survey, among other opportunities.
That’s Mayor Bruce Harrell‘s first State of the City speech, which lasted more than half an hour, presented at the start of this afternoon’s City Council meeting. No major announcements – his lone West Seattle-specific mention was a description of the 23-months-closed West Seattle Bridge as one of the city’s “most pressing priorities.” Recapping his announcement last week that the ongoing concrete-drivers strike may delay its reopening, he offered his City Hall conference room to the two sides if they need a place for talks. Earlier in the speech, he declared that “the status quo is unacceptable” and promised his administration will get “back to the basics.” He spent a major chunk of time on public safety, both embracing alternatives and declaring that the city needs more police on the streets. He said a promotional campaign will launch to encourage new officers to join – “the right number and the right kind” – and that the training academy will have a special Seattle-focused class of 36 in June. The city already has funding to hire 125 officers, he noted, budgeted even before he was elected. Regarding homelessness, he said a Unified Care Team would be created as the latest attempt to align resources, and that the city will simplify the process for members of the public to report issues of concern. On other issues, he voiced concern for struggling small businesses and promised to work with them. (Here’s the full transcript.)
On the second anniversary of the first King County COVID cases, Seattle’s pandemic-related eviction moratorium will expire. So says this announcement sent by the mayor’s office:
Today, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that residential and commercial eviction moratoria will expire at the end of the month of February. Mayor Harrell will issue an Executive Order extending the residential eviction moratorium from February 14 through February 28, after which the moratorium will not be renewed.
“With COVID cases steadily declining, the time has come for the City to move on from the broad approach of the eviction moratoria and instead drive more deliberate and focused efforts to support those most in need,” said Mayor Harrell. “In addition to distribution of all available emergency rental assistance, truly vulnerable tenants – those still suffering significant pandemic-related financial hardships – will continue to have enhanced eviction protections, while at the same time small landlords have needed clarity as they evaluate how to move forward.”
All residential tenants who demonstrate enduring financial hardship preventing them from paying rent will receive continued eviction protections for at least six months after the end of the moratorium, providing additional security for those most at risk through a specific legal defense created by ordinance. Seattle residents facing eviction are also afforded a right to legal counsel and additional eviction protections based on time of year. Landlords will be able to move forward with evictions proceedings for other purposes, such as those listed in the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance.
Mayor Harrell’s latest Executive Order comes after convening a work group of tenant advocates and small landlords, who through multiple meetings with Mayor Harrell provided input around impacts of the pandemic and the effects of the eviction moratorium informed by lived experience.
During the next two weeks, Mayor Harrell will review reports created by interdepartmental City teams defined in his previous Executive Order to evaluate data, improve existing efforts, and seek additional solutions.
As part of those efforts, Mayor Harrell has directed the Office of Housing to urgently distribute over $25 million in identified funding to support renters and small landlords, complementing funding being allocated by King County.
Mayor Harrell has also directed the City staff to develop a website to connect tenants and small landlords to available financial resources, information on rights and protections, and other critical updates needed as the moratoria ends.
“As we work together toward to a new normal, we know we’re not yet out of the woods of this pandemic,” said Mayor Harrell. “The City of Seattle will continue to take action to support those most in need – striving to protect the health and well-being of our residents, prevent homelessness and undue financial hardship, and build One Seattle with abundant opportunity for all and thriving, vibrant, connected communities.”