United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Calls for the Release of Xiyue Wang
This week the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that Iran’s detention of Xiyue Wang, an United States citizen and University of Washington Alumni imprisoned in Iran since August of 2016, is illegal and arbitrary and that he must be released immediately.
In July of 2018 the City Council wrote a letter asking the Trump administration to submit a request to Iran and other appropriate international bodies calling for the release of Mr. Wang.
I share hope with many others that the U.S. will take up this ruling of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention when the U.N. holds its General Assembly meeting in New York next week. You can read more about this case and the United Nations Working Group ruling here.
Letter to SDOT re: Bus Access to Downtown after Alaskan Way Viaduct Closes
During coming months WSDOT will permanently close the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and open the SR99 tunnel. WSDOT has announced that they will provide about a month’s notice before the start of the closure. The tunnel will open around three weeks after the closure of Viaduct; WDOT has an information page about the planned three-week closure of SR99; their webpage includes suggestions for travel alternatives.
The closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will impact bus routes from West Seattle that currently access Downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, such as the C Line, the 120, and several other lines.
Eventually, permanent access to Downtown from West Seattle on SR99 will be through a an exit onto Alaskan Way. Buses will turn onto Columbia, then continue northbound on 3rd Avenue. During most of the interim period while the Viaduct is being removed—likely much or all of 2019—those buses will exit SR99 at Dearborn, then travel on 1st Avenue to Cherry, then continue on 3rd Avenue.
It’s important that we do what we can to ameliorate what will undoubtedly be a significant impact, and facilitate timely bus travel as much as possible. According to 2017 data, there were more than 29,000 daily boardings from West Seattle and adjacent communities on buses that access Downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. It’s clear that West Seattle commuters will bear a heavy share of the burden for the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
I’ve written to SDOT’s Interim Director highlighting the importance of Downtown access for West Seattle, and to ask if SDOT intends to reserve a dedicated lane for buses on 1st Avenue. A dedicated transit lane was planned for the Center City Streetcar project, currently on hold. The letter is linked here.
The plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel was approved by the state legislature in 2009; background WSDOT documents and planning reports from 2004 to 2011 are available at WSDOT’s project website.
Sound Transit 3 Light Rail Visualizations Available, Online Open House
Sound Transit’s webpage for West Seattle and Ballard light rail now includes visualizations of alternatives being considered as part of the Level 2 analysis that includes more detail than before, including “high”, “medium” and “low” evaluations for 50+ measurements. Here’s a link to the visualizations document.
An online open house is also in progress. At Sound Transit’s website you can comment on any of the project areas (West Seattle, Downtown, Chinatown-International District/SODO, Ballard-Interbay).
Bail Reform Working Group Report Part I
During the 2018 budget deliberations I sponsored a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) requesting the Seattle Office of Civil Rights, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, Seattle Municipal Court (SMC), and the King County Department of Public Defense to develop recommendations for how the City could reform its pretrial bail practices.
According to SLI 303-1-A-1, “A 2013 Arnold Foundation study funded by the City on pre-trial criminal justice practices showed that more than 60 percent of inmates across the country are being held in detention while their cases move through the court system. In Seattle, research from an SMC study showed that 31 percent of individuals in custody who were charged with misdemeanors in 2014 remained in jail while waiting for their next court date because they were unable to come up with cash for bail.”
The ACLU issued a 2016 position paper entitled “No Money, No Freedom”, detailing the two-tiered monetary based justice system created by cash bail. It stated that “[j]udges in Washington often impose bail at an amount much higher than many people can afford to pay, and without consideration of individual financial circumstances and resources…This two-tiered approach denies justice to individuals, undermines the fairness of the court system, and imposes unacceptably high costs on the accused, their families, and our communities.” Though the purpose of bail is a deposit that under law imposes “the least restrictive conditions reasonably necessary to assure appearance” to their court date, it has “become an excessive financial burden, one so great that it prevents the accused from getting out of jail while his or her case is pending.”
Part 1 of the report was completed in August of 2018 reviews the benefits and promise of new pretrial strategies such as:
- Text message hearing reminders
- Electronic monitoring
- Day reporting
- Community-based pretrial release strategies
- Risk assessment tools
- Unsecured appearance bonds
In addition to this survey of new pretrial release strategies, the report discusses best practices associated with these new strategies, and potential racial equity outcomes associated with each strategy. A full copy of the report can be found here. Part 2 of the report will
Report back on whether LAW and SMC plans to implement any of these alternative strategies or tools as part of bail reform as well as a timeline and community engagement process necessary for reforms. Part 2 is expected later this year.
SPU Drainage and Wastewater Rates
On Tuesday my committee heard the first of two presentations regarding Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) Drainage and Wastewater rate proposal. The Drainage and Wastewater rate proposal stems from the SPU Strategic Business Plan which the Council passed last year and I wrote about here. The Strategic Business Plan is a six-year outlook and guiding document that the utility updates every three years to reflect the most accurate and up to date information about the utility rates needed to support projects and their costs. Included in the Strategic Business Plan is a projection for the rate path for all lines of business which includes: Water, Drainage and Wastewater, and Solid Waste. Rotating every year, each line of business presents Council with a three-year rate path, which is informed by the Strategic Business Plan. This year, we are considering the Drainage and Wastewater rate.
The Strategic Business Plan that the Council passed last year endorsed a six-year average annual rate increase of 5.2% across all lines of business. The Drainage and Wastewater package before us lowers that rate by 0.1%.
SPU can achieve this reduction by lower-than-expected wastewater treatment rates from King County, updated cost assumptions and reductions, favorable bond issuances in 2017, and lower spending and higher revenues than expected in 2017.
SPU is scheduled to return to my committee on September 21 at 9:30am to continue our discussion of these rates.
Washington State Ferries Long Range Plan Open House September 17th in Fauntleroy
The timeline calls for delivering a final plan to the Governor and State Legislature in January 2019.
After that process is complete, WSDOT Ferries will begin public outreach on the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock. The dock is 60 years old, with old pilings, and needs to be brought up to current seismic standards, and raised due to sea level rise and climate change. Construction is estimated for six or seven years from now.
The Draft 2040 Long Range Plan also notes that during the 2018 session, the state Legislature appropriated funding to the UW Evans School of Public Policy to complete a study titled “Improving Loading, Ticketing, and Rider/Community Relations for the Washington State Ferries’ Triangle Route” (Fauntleroy, Vashon, Southworth). The study began in June, and is expected to be delivered to the Legislature in January.
In-District Office Hours
On September 21, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Please note the different time and be sure to arrive no later than 5:30 p.m., the final meeting of the day will begin at 5:30 p.m.
These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.
Friday, October 26, 2018
Southwest Neighborhood Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, December 14, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S