Around Town Last Week
Posted: July 20th, 2015 under Councilmember Okamoto.
Last week I had the opportunity to see the economic resiliency of the waterfront up close and check out the progress on the Seawall project, the newly renovated Pier 54 and Ivar’s Acres of Clams, and the Seattle Aquarium expansion plan. I also had a chance to talk shop with a vibrant group of civically engaged seniors, join a discussion on housing equity, and meet the youth who will run Seattle one day.
Housing for All
I joined local leaders as they discussed why they support affordable housing linkage fees as a strong tool to address Seattle’s affordable needs. It’s better for society, the environment, and families if people can afford to live near their work. Inclusionary housing is a strong step toward helping Seattle achieve this vision, and everyone – including developers – shares in the responsibility in creating equity in housing.
Youth: They’ll Run the City Soon
The Mayor announced the Youth Employment Initiative, which has created nearly 2,000 positions for young people across the city. In addition to summer jobs through Seattle Parks and other City agencies, private-sector financial support has led to twice as many opportunities for Seattle youth as last year. I can think of no better way for the private sector to invest in our city than by embracing our youth. Employers participating in the Mayor’s initiative are developing talent that will drive our economic future.
A Glimpse of the New Waterfront
The Seawall Project construction started along Seattle’s waterfront in 2013 to protect critical infrastructure and utilities while enhancing the habitat through this area. The new seawall will last more than 75 years and stand up to seismic activity.
Most importantly, the Seawall Project has served as the foundation for projects transforming Seattle’s future waterfront. The seawall has been completed in the area adjacent to Waterfront Park, and excavation between Madison Street and Yesler Way continues this week.
Impressively, this very complex project is on schedule to complete in 2016.
In the meantime, many businesses that closed during seawall construction have now reopened for business just in time for the summer and tourist season. Some – like the businesses on Pier 54 – took advantage of the nine-month closure to remodel. After its facelift, Ivar’s Acres of Clams was up and running with a touch of the old and new. Pieces of history lined the walls of Ivar’s, while an improved building design opened up new waterfront views. This facelift will certainly draw more visitors and set the stage to attract more businesses back to the waterfront.
A few blocks down at Pier 59, the Seattle Aquarium was in the throes of its expansion planning that anticipates new exhibits and new, exciting ways for visitors to interact with the Aquarium. The Aquarium is an integral part of the waterfront project, and its expansion will greatly contribute to the economic development of the area.
SE Seattle Seniors Were in the House!
As some of you may already know, seniors are one of my top priorities. I care about what happens to seniors. I care that seniors have a full, vibrant life as they age, and I credit my parents as the driving force behind that. My dad helped start a non-profit to provide a better quality of life to elder members of our community and their families. My parents now live in the senior center that my dad helped create. It’s this history that drives me to work for the senior community in Seattle.
Thursday, I had lunch with the seniors at the SE Seattle Senior Center for their monthly birthday celebration. The event was a great success, complete with bright lights, colors, balloons, and smiling faces. Councilmember Harrell joined me, and we made our way around to each of the 52 seniors, chatting about issues of concerns ranging from affordable housing to rent control to bicycle lanes in the south end of our city.
This is the first of many stops I’ll make to senior centers during my time on the council. Call my office at (206) 684-8802 to find out where I’ll be next. I hope to see you at my next senior center stop!