West Seattle, Washington
Last month, we reported on Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s announcement that she planned to pursue a ban on natural-gas usage in many types of new construction. On Wednesday, while we were focused on windstorm aftermath, her office announced that the proposal has been officially sent to the City Council. Note, this is for new multifamily/commercial construction and major remodeling of larger buildings, NOT existing gas usage. Here’s the announcement:
Following the State Environmental Policy Act process, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced that she has transmitted to City Council the proposed update to the energy code that would further electrify buildings using clean energy and restrict fossil fuels for most building use. By updating its energy code, the City will restrict the use of fossil fuels in new commercial and large multi-family construction for space and most water heating in order to cut down on the significant emissions contributed by the building sector. Space and water heating account for most building gas use according to City and national data.
“2020 and 2021 will be remembered as years of crises, and as we recover, Seattle can create a more equitable city with green buildings. It is up to Seattle and other cities to make the bold changes necessary to lower our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mayor Durkan. “Business as usual will not get us to a future where all Seattle residents, especially our Black, Indigenous and people of color neighbors who are unfairly burdened by environmental inequities, enjoy a healthy and prosperous future. Electrifying our buildings is an important step in the many actions needed to curb climate pollution.”
The proposed Seattle Energy Code update includes the following key changes for commercial and large multifamily buildings:
Eliminates all gas and most electric resistance space heating systems
Eliminates gas water heating in large multifamily buildings and hotels
Improves building exteriors to improve energy efficiency and comfort
Creates more opportunities for solar power
Requires electrical infrastructure necessary for future conversion of any gas appliances in multifamily buildings
In 2019, Mayor Durkan issued an Executive Order committing the City to new actions that will support the goals of Seattle’s Green New Deal. In addition to requiring that all new or substantially altered City of Seattle buildings operate without fossil fuels, City departments will work with the Office of Sustainability & Environment to develop a strategy to eliminate fossil fuel use in existing City buildings, improve data collection and sharing on Seattle’s climate emissions, and engage stakeholders like the philanthropic community, business community, labor community, non-governmental organizations, health care community, county and state agencies, state legislators, and tribes to achieve the goals of the Green New Deal.
The proposed energy code amendments will eliminate most direct carbon emissions from new commercial and multifamily buildings. Requiring these changes at construction is the most economical opportunity to transition to clean electricity. Without the proposed code changes, the City expects that greenhouse gas emissions from buildings to be at least 12% higher by 2050.
Since 2017, the City has also helped approximately 600 households convert from dirty, inefficient heating oil to clean, energy-efficient heat pumps. The City will convert more households to electric heat with the goal of eliminating heating oil use by 2028.
The City also requires Building Tune-Ups to help building owners identify ways to reduce energy and water costs. Through tune-ups, building owners find operational efficiencies and low- and no-cost fixes that improve building performance and can reduce building emissions 10-15% on average. Seattle’s largest buildings have completed 450 tune-ups to date, reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the city and saving money on their energy bills.
The Seattle Energy Code impacts new construction and substantial alterations of commercial and 4+ story tall multi-family buildings. The proposed code changes were recommended for approval late last year by Seattle’s Construction Codes Advisory Board (CCAB), an advisory body tasked with reviewing changes to technical codes for construction.
The City of Seattle is receiving technical support in developing the energy code from the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge. Seattle is one of 25 cities participating in the Climate Challenge, a program to significantly deepen and accelerate their efforts to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future for their residents.
With City Council approval, code updates will become effective in the spring of 2021, along with the full suite of Seattle building code changes in line with the statewide building code updates. For more information about the proposed energy code updates, including the proposed code language, visit the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections energy code web page.
We’ll follow up when it appears on council agendas (which you can always preview here, once they are published).
Local notes related to the breaking national news that’s been happening for the last several hours – the insurrection that disrupted Congress’s electoral-vote counting to finalize the presidential election:
REP. JAYAPAL EVACUATED: Watching cable-TV coverage for a while, we saw NBC video showing West Seattle-residing U.S. House Rep. Pramila Jayapal taking cover in the upper House gallery. She had to evacuate and has since tweeted:
I am safe and sheltering in place.
I was one of a dozen Representatives in the gallery above the House floor. We pulled out gas masks and had to get down on the ground. Capitol police barricaded the doors and had guns drawn. We were eventually told that we had to quickly exit.
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) January 6, 2021
PRAYER FOR PEACE: From Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church:
With the deeply troubling events happening in DC right now, Our Lady of Guadalupe invites all in the community to join with us tonight, January 6 at 7:00 pm for a prayer service. The service will focus on intentions for Peace and Reconciliation. Let us gather in prayer asking Mary’s intercession for peace and reconciliation in our country at this very difficult time.
This will be via livestream – here’s the Vimeo link.
WEST SEATTLE ELECTED OFFICIALS’ STATEMENTS: West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold says, “”This violent occupation of our Capitol – and attack on our American Democracy and values – must be ended immediately” (full statement here); West Seattle-residing Councilmember Lorena González says, “As elected leaders, we all have a responsibility to continue to denounce dangerous rhetoric and work to move our country forward toward progress and healing” (full statement here); West Seattle-residing King County Executive Dow Constantine says, “I urge leaders at all levels of government and across the political spectrum to stand together in support of our nation, our constitution, and the peaceful transfer of power that these traitors are seeking in vain to disrupt” (full statement here).
Though some speculated she might run for mayor, West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda has decided to run for re-election instead. Mosqueda has moved to North Delridge since her 2017 election to Position 8, one of two at-large (citywide) seats on the council. She was in the spotlight last year for multiple reasons, including as the council’s budget chair, and as sponsor of the “JumpStart” tax, as well as workers-rights issues. The early-morning news release announcing her candidacy quotes her as saying, “There are many challenges ahead as we leave the COVID-19 era; to restart our economy and get people into housing, a proven track record of delivering will be needed. My team and I are ready to do the work.” Her listed priorities include homelessness, housing affordability, supporting child-care providers, strengthening support for small businesses and community services, and continuing public-safety reform. She plans to participate in the Democracy Voucher program, as she did in her 2017 campaign. So far, one other candidate has registered a Position 8 campaign with the city, Kaia Persson. (Photo courtesy Mosqueda campaign)
With that campaign-style video, Mayor Jenny Durkan has just announced she will NOT run for re-election next year. The emailed announcement quotes her as saying, “”We know stopping the spread of the virus, protecting jobs and focusing on the economic recovery — especially for downtown– is going to take everything we’ve got. As Mayor approaching the last year of my term, that meant a choice. I could spend the next year campaigning to keep this job or focus all my energy on doing the job. There was only one right choice for our city: doing the job. I have decided not to run for reelection because Seattle, we still have some tough months ahead.”
ADDED: Durkan, a former U.S. Attorney, beat Cary Moon in 2017 after the two emerged from a 21-candidate primary. Three candidates have registered campaigns with the city so far – Lance Randall (who filed months ago) and two recent filers, perennial candidate David Ishii and William Kopatich.
Seattle hasn’t had a two-term mayor since West Seattle’s Greg Nickels, who left office a decade ago.
Durkan has visited West Seattle for more than half a dozen walking tours and town halls since taking office three years ago. Before the West Seattle Bridge shutdown, public safety was the most-frequent topic, and she returned time and again to The Junction to talk with business owners. That’s also the topic on which she and City Councilmembers clashed last summer, with their push to cut the SPD budget leading to the departure of SPD Chief Carmen Best. But more recently, she did not challenge the cuts and changes that made it into the 2021 budget she signed last week.
Her highest-profile action regarding West Seattle, of course, was the decision announced last month to repair rather than replace the cracked high bridge, now in its ninth month of closure. Since Durkan’s term won’t end until late 2021, she’ll still be presiding as most of the repair process plays out.
We’ll update with any post-announcement developments of note throughout the day.
As the State Legislature gets ready for its mostly online session starting next month, legislators are choosing leaders, and one from our area has been chosen by his colleagues for a major role. 34th District Sen. Joe Nguyen, a West Seattle resident, has been elected as Assistant Floor Leader by the State Senate Democratic Caucus. The announcement explains, “The Assistant Floor Leader supports the Floor Leader in setting Senate floor agendas and works with bicameral and bipartisan leadership to facilitate discussion.” Sen. Nguyen is midway through his first 4-year term and also is on the Transportation, Environment, Energy & Technology, Rules, and Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation committees. The legislative session is set to start January 11th.
Three weeks after the voting ended, the general-election results for King County are now certified. Three notes:
TURNOUT: Countywide, 86.87 percent, breaking the 85 percent record set in 2012. For the city of Seattle, 88.18 percent. For the 34th Legislative District (West Seattle, White Center, Vashon, part of Burien), 87.64 percent.
PRESIDENTIAL VOTING: Countywide, it was 74.95 percent for Biden/Harris, 22.24 percent for Trump/Pence.
HOW BALLOTS WERE TURNED IN: KCE says 73.9 percent of voters used ballot drop boxes, 24.98 percent mailed in their ballots, and 1.1 percent got theirs in by fax.
More stats are in the KCE news release.
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.
One of last week’s many community meetings featured five West Seattle-residing elected representatives joining forces for an online Town Hall.
Wednesday night’s livestreamed event was hosted by State Sen. Joe Nguyen, with guests State Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, and County Councilmember Joe McDermott.
They presented updates and answered questions. We’ll start with where they ended: Discussing Thanksgiving plans.
One of the issues brought up in the process of deciding whether to repair or replace the damaged West Seattle Bridge is the cost of future maintenance. Tonight, three councilmembers including West Seattle/South Park’s Lisa Herbold are proposing a car-tab fee to help pay for bridge maintenance citywide, replacing part of a fee that’s about to expire. From the announcement we just received:
With support from labor and business communities, Councilmembers Alex Pedersen, Lisa Herbold, and Andrew J. Lewis today proposed legislation to use Vehicle Licensing Fees to boost maintenance of multimodal bridges throughout Seattle. Vehicle Licensing Fees, which were previously set at $80, would move from $20 to $40 under the new legislation, as authorized by RCW 36.73.065 and RCW 82.80.140. The legislation would raise an additional $3.6 million in 2021 and an additional $7.2 million in subsequent years. The Councilmembers propose to direct the additional funding to bridges with high-frequency public transit.
The Seattle City Auditor recently published a report on the city’s bridges indicating high unmet needs for bridge maintenance. The engineering standard for bridge maintenance in Seattle ranges from $34 million to $102 million per year, and yet the current level for is only $10 million approximately. The city needs to add $24 million at the very least to meet the lowest estimate of maintenance needs. The City Council Budget Chair’s initial balance package restores or funds several transportation projects while adding $4 million to bridge maintenance. By tapping the adjusted vehicle license fees, this legislation would invest another $3.6 million to double the Council’s addition to $7.6 million. This represents an incremental increase to begin meeting a clear need.
So to recap – the current city car-tab fee is at $80 (going toward transit) and scheduled to drop to $20, but this would drop it to $40 instead. The proposed legislation (read it here) is on the council’s “introduction and referral” calendar for the coming week; it likely won’t be voted on until after the council wraps up its budget work just before Thanksgiving.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Next Wednesday, your state legislators and local city/county councilmembers will join forces for an online Town Hall.
The three legislators gave a preview in their appearance at this past Wednesday’s 34th District Democrats meeting.
It began with updates from each: Read More
West Seattle’s Statue of Liberty had a new accessory tonight, we noticed while on rounds just before dark. The inbox brought word of other flags:
The photo is from Xuu206, who explained, “Flags are popping up on houses all over the neighborhood. (Genesee-Junction) Feels so good to be proud to fly our flag again! Ours will be up through Inauguration Day!” And flags were still being waved in The Junction at sunset, more than six hours after we first found revelers at Walk All Ways:
Late in the day, as one reader put it, this turned into more of a dance party, with a DJ in the garage-door-open Easy Street Café:
The DJ: West Seattleite Derek Moon of Soul Focus:
Outside, signs and sightings:
We went back through California/Alaska after nightfall and just a few people remained outside Easy Street. (Our earlier coverage is here.)
8:50 AM: In case you haven’t seen/heard it somewhere else already – the presidential race has been called. We heard when someone here on the Gatewood/Fauntleroy line went outside their house and yelled “JOE BIDEN GOT THE WIN!” and now the scanner has multiple reports of fireworks. This is because the state of Pennsylvania has been called for Biden, meaning he’s got 273 electoral votes, three more than needed for election. California Sen. Kamala Harris makes history as the first woman on a winning president/vice president ticket, 36 years after the late Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman on a major-party ticket.
LOCAL NOTE: In King County, the most-recent results count shows 75 percent of the countywide vote for Biden/Harris, 22 percent for Trump/Pence.
9:26 AM: Via Twitter, a sample of West Seattle-residing elected officials’ reactions:
Congratulations to @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris on their victory and for proving that compassion, truth, and science win out over cruelty, fear, and lies. Today is about far more than two individuals or one party. It's about you — and it's about what we all did to save our country.
— Pramila Jayapal (@PramilaJayapal) November 7, 2020
— Council President M. Lorena González (Seattle) (@CMLGonzalez) November 7, 2020
Meantime, multiple drivers have gone through the two-arterial intersection near our HQ, honking,
10:29 AM: We went out to look for spontaneous celebrations, and found some, big and small, In Admiral, outside Circa:
On our second pass through The Junction, flag- and sign-wavers had gathered at Walk All Ways:
12:30 PM: The Junction revelry continues. Jess sent us this clip, also from Walk All Ways:
Earlier this hour, we participated in a media Q&A with Mayor Jenny Durkan, who says the Biden win increases the chance of federal money for the West Seattle Bridge. Separate story to come. On a more personal note, she said, “I’ve waited a lifetime to see a woman elected to one of the highest offices in America.”
1:20 PM: People are still at Walk All Ways celebrating.
All the post-election suspense is at the national level – but we’re going to present a quick local update anyway.
TURNOUT UPDATE: Will King County hit that 90 percent goal? It’s getting closer – as of tonight, just under 86 percent of ballots countywide had been received; looking just at the city of Seattle, it’s almost 88 percent. (For comparison, the final 2016 percentages were 80.85% countywide, 84.26% for Seattle.)
RESULTS UPDATE: Nothing we were watching at the local/state level was close, and today’s added returns haven’t changed anything. Seattle Transportation Benefit District Prop 1, sales tax to fund extra Metro service, has 8X percent approval, while King County Prop 1, property tax for improvements at Harborview Medical Center, has 77 percent approval. See the updated King County results here, and the updated state results here.
King County is out with its first and only results report – 72.4% of county votes have been counted. Locally, the ballot measures are tonight’s biggest news:
SEATTLE PROPOSITION 1
Sales tax for transit funding
ADDED 8:33 PM: West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold on Prop 1:
“Today’s vote in support of Proposition 1 for transit funding is good news for West Seattle. Proposition 1 specifies that up to $9 million annually to support mobility needs related to the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, and COVID-19 response and recovery. With the West Seattle Bridge closed through at least 2022, traffic and access issues will only increase once social distancing ends or decreases. Transit service will be critical to meeting the ambitious goals of SDOT’s Reconnect West Seattle plan. The ballot measure notes Investments could include, in addition to transit service, speed and reliability improvements, first-last mile transit connections, and Transportation Demand Management strategies described in the community-driven Reconnect West Seattle plan.”
Back to results:
KING COUNTY PROPOSITION 1
Harborview Medical Center property tax
ADDED 8:49 PM: From King County Executive Dow Constantine:
“While there are still many votes to be counted, I thank the voters of King County for their support for Harborview Medical Center. These investments will ensure that our region continues to be the best place in the country to receive emergency medical care, and needed seismic upgrades will protect the lives of patients, employees, and visitors to Harborview. Besides helping people with behavioral health needs and better preparing the region to fight pandemics, the measure creates thousands of family-wage construction jobs at a time when our region needs them the most.”
Back to results:
KING COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENT 5
Change sheriff from elected to appointed?
We’ll be adding more. Meantime, major races are for Congress and state offices – plus one state ballot measure of note – those results are here:
U.S. HOUSE DISTRICT 7
(Includes West Seattle)
Pramila Jayapal (D) 85%
Craig Keller (R) 15%
ADDED 11:45 PM: Rep. Jayapal (a West Seattle resident) thanked voters via Twitter, adding:
I am humbled, grateful & ready to serve again. Our path to truly build a more just & equitable country is long. But we are bold, progressive & unafraid, and if we believe in the possible & organize, we WILL win!
Jay Inslee (D) 60%
Loren Culp (R) 40%
Denny Heck (D) 47%
Marko Liias (D) 34%
SECRETARY OF STATE
Kim Wyman (R) 52%
Gael Tarleton (D) 48%
STATE REFERENDUM 90
Unlike the Seattle/King County-only races, the statewide ones will change through the night because of other counties, so we’ll keep updating.
P.S. If you’re interested – the presidential race in King County so far is Biden 77%, Trump 21%; statewide, it’s Biden 61%, Trump 36%.
Final hour of voting – and ballot drop-box sites are ready for a crush of procrastinators who might not show up, given this year’s early voting – 83 percent of Seattle ballots received by late today. Nonetheless, there are flaggers on the street and staffers on the sidewalk by The Junction’s drop box:
And when we stopped by before 7 pm, they were outnumbering the last-minute voters. If you still haven’t dropped off your ballot, get to your nearest drop box by 8 pm – the list is in our daily preview. King County’s first round of results are due out around 8:15 pm.
The Katz family is among the Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioners joining in a streetside Election Day vigil this afternoon along 35th SW in. front of the church. The sign is one of several expressing hopes and wishes on this day of decision:
Also seen at the vigil: Tag the Corgi.
If you’re procrastinating, you now have a little over 5 hours remaining to get your ballot in – our morning preview has all the info you need on where and how.
Two scenes from Election Eve around West Seattle – with 80 percent of the city’s ballots already in!
STUDENTS CHEERING VOTERS: Until 2007, we voted in person and got “I Voted!” stickers. Tonight, three West Seattle High School students were offering unofficial stickers by the ballot drop box in The Junction.
Kailey, Zoe, and Carmen are part of the West Seattle chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led organization focused on advocacy for climate action. They’re planning to be back by the box 5 pm-7 pm Election Day, too.
ELECTION EVE VIGIL: About three dozen people gathered tonight in the Fauntleroy Church parking lot for a distanced prayer vigil by candlelight/flashlights.
Rev. Leah Atkinson Bilinski opened by acknowledging the emotions of this time – from fear to hope. The prayers and thoughts dwelled far more on the latter than the former, especially hope for reconciliation, including the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself,” and an exhortation to “pray tonight for our country, our beautiful, divided country.”
They prayed for strength, courage, humility, and honesty, wishing blessings on those working to protect free, fair elections, and hoping that every vote will be counted, every voice heard, and that leaders will stand by the voters’ decisions. “No matter what happens tomorrow … you are the hope,” the pastor concluded, before closing the 40-minute service with everyone humming “We Shall Overcome.”
Though more than three-quarters of Seattle voters have turned in their ballots, that still leaves thousands who haven’t, and if you’re among them, today’s your second-to-last day to do it. Most direct route to get it to those who will count it is to use an.official King County Elections drop box – here again are the three in West Seattle and the two closest others:
–The Junction, south side of SW Alaska between California SW and 44th SW
–High Point Library, 3411 SW Raymond
–South Seattle College, 6000 16th SW
–South Park Library, 8th Avenue S./S. Cloverdale
–White Center Library, 1409 SW 107th
Drop boxes close at 8 pm Tuesday night. If you decide to use USPS mail, your ballot must be postmarked by Tuesday.
Already sent/dropped off your ballot? Check here to be sure it’s been received/verified. Need a replacement ballot, or to register? Go to a Vote Center (none in West Seattle, but one’s on the south end of downtown). Can’t get there or have a question? 206-296-VOTE.
One other note for today/tonight so far:
WEST SEATTLE BIKE CONNECTIONS: Because of the election, this group has moved up its monthly meeting to tonight, 6:30 pm online. Attendance information is in our calendar listing.
Voting can be fun. Just ask Ellie and her boyfriend:
She sent the pic, explaining that they decided to wear their Halloween costumes to The Junction’s ballot drop box Friday. That box had collected 16,900 ballots as of the most-recent count; High Point Library, 12,454; South Seattle College, 2,188. (Here’s the full list of drop-box totals.) As for total ballots, no West Seattle breakout is available but citywide, 76.4 percent of ballots are in as of tonight; countywide, 72 percent. (Here are all those totals.) If you haven’t yet checked to be sure your ballot’s been received, do that here. If you haven’t yet voted, get to a drop box before 8 pm Tuesday!
One way to do that – be part of this election-related event tomorrow (Sunday, November 1st): At Puget Ridge Edible Park (18th/Brandon), kids will have a chance to learn about democracy and participate, by voting and joining a “parade” to the SSC ballot drop box. The day starts with a harvest festival 11 am-1 pm including kids voting on what they want to see at the park, and then the 1 pm parade – details are in our preview.
As of tonight, almost 72 percent of Seattle voters have turned in their ballots. If you’re not among them, you have exactly four more days to vote. Because of the tense times in recent months, people are bracing for Election Day/Night on Tuesday in ways we haven’t seen before, and tonight we have a few notes to share:
EARLY CLOSURES TUESDAY: We’re starting to hear about some of these – for example, port terminals are closing early, along with other West Coast ports, according to the ILWU, to ensure everyone has time to get their ballots in. Here are the adjusted schedules for terminals in the Northwest Seaport Alliance (Seattle and Tacoma), including Harbor Island’s Terminal 18.
Some businesses are closing early; we noticed a sign on the Chase Bank branch in The Junction mentioning an early closure on Tuesday. If your business is closing early, let us know.
CITY PREPS: We asked the mayor’s office about city plans for possible election reaction (whether it be protests or celebrations). They indicated they’re planning a briefing on Monday, but gave us this statement:
For the last month, the Mayor’s Office has been closely coordinating with the Governor, County Executive, and City departments for a safe and secure Election Day and preparing for a range of scenarios. Our goal in the City is to ensure that all residents and business know that we will protect their sacred right to vote and ensure their vote is counted. The City’s Office of Emergency Management has been coordinating with agencies across Washington state to ensure Election Day – and potentially the days and weeks following – proceeds as smoothly as possible. At this time, OEM and City departments will be on standby should the need arise and are prepared for real-time coordination of any response with internal and external partners throughout the week of the election and beyond if needed.
As of this writing, the Seattle Police Department and partner law enforcement agencies do not have any intelligence to indicate that there any threats for Election Day or the days following. Our partners at King County Elections have not reported any threats or security issues at any ballot boxes. As such, the Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, and other law enforcement agencies have been planning for contingency purposes only in order to be prepared for a wide range of scenarios.
We will provide small business owners and residents information on how to prepare and secure their employees and customers as well as their property in recent months for any demonstrations. We will also remind property owners to be mindful of their dumpsters and carts.
‘ROCK THE BLOCK’: If you want to have a Stay Healthy Block (no through traffic) on your non-arterial street on Election Day/Night, the city is offering free permits for residents to “Rock the Block.”
DROP BOX TRAFFIC TUESDAY: We looked at this back in early October. With so many early ballot returns, this might not be as much of an issue as usual, but the county does plan to have personnel out helping ensure traffic by the drop boxes (all listed/mapped here) moves smoothly.
WATCHING THE RETURNS: If you’re planning to track the national election, the website FiveThirtyEight has a complete guide to what time voting ends in every state, and how long it might take to get full results.
During this morning’s City Council budget-review meeting, Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s proposal to add potential defenses to city misdemeanor criminal law – covered here Monday night – got about half an hour of discussion (starting at 1:46:50 in the video above). End result: At Council President Lorena González‘s request, the proposal is being pulled out of the budget process and shelved until the council gets back to regular business in about a month. González said that council staffers are already more or less maxed out on the work they can do during the intensive budget-review process, and also noted that this isn’t purely a budget matter anyway. In her initial remarks about it, Herbold said, “This is really about creating some transparency about the conditions of the lives of people who have been accused of offenses … The proposal does not require a dismissal or acquittal – it simply allows the defense.” The other councilmembers who spoke during the discussion expressed support for the concept, including González and Councilmember Andrew Lewis, a former assistant city attorney. He noted that no legislation has been drafted yet but he would expect some (unspecified) changes in the version posted by public defenders: “There’s a lot more work that needs to be done, a lot more discussion that needs to happen.” González said she supports the goals of the proposal – “I continue to believe that it’s time to stop the criminalization of poverty, addiction, and mental illness.” Though shelving the proposal until after the budget process wasn’t described during the meeting as a done deal, we confirmed with Herbold later that it is – and she adds, “Consequently, I’ll be taking the issue up in December.”
That’s another artwork by Ruthi Winter of West Seattle Beach Drive Art Studio, encouraging early voting – which is still going strong. As of tonight, King County Elections has received ballots from almost 65% of Seattle voters. Countywide, it’s 59 percent. If you’ve already put your ballot in the mail or in a drop box, you can go here to see whether it’s been received and counted. If you’re using USPS Mail, even though our state requires only that the ballot be postmarked by Election Day – next Tuesday, November 3rd – early is still better. Same if you’re using a drop box, though they’re open 24 hours a day until 8 pm Tuesday – even if you’re usually a procrastinator, get your ballot in now so the one-and-only Election Night results drop can be as complete a report as possible. West Seattle’s three boxes are on the list/map here; so far, those three boxes have accounted for more than 27,000 ballots. If you’re not registered, you can do that in person up until, and even on, Election Day; one way to do it – or update your address – is at one of the Vote Centers that will open starting Saturday – closest one is the CenturyLink Event Center on the south end of downtown.
The City Council continues its budget review this week – looking at what the mayor proposed, and floating some of its own counterproposals and additions. The next step happens Tuesday night, when the council holds another public hearing (5:30 pm online). In her weekly email/online update last Friday, West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold listed 14 of the items she has suggested in the “issue identification” phase; she’s been including budget-process updates each week. Among the 14 items was this one:
Duress and Di Minimis Defense Legislation:
This bill redefines the City’s definition of duress and di minimis in the Seattle Municipal Code to reduce the use of the King County Jail in instances where a jail sentence is not appropriate. If the bill passes, the duress and di minimis defenses could be utilized for individuals who, “at the time of the offense, experience symptoms of a behavioral health disorder or a behavioral health condition.” Or when, “the defendant committed the offense with the intent of meeting a basic need the defendant was experiencing at the time of the offense.”