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Reminder: Sound Transit Open House next Wednesday + Visualizations/Displacement details; Neighborhood Street Fund Rankings—South Park Meeting, Deadline Extended; Seattle Office for Civil Rights Seeks Human Rights Commission members; Orca Emergency Recovery Letter; Anti-Displacement Ordinance

Reminder: Sound Transit Open House next Wednesday + Visualizations/Displacement details

Sound Transit will host a public open house about the ST3 light rail line in West Seattle on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 6 – 8:30 p.m. at Alki Masonic Center.

The open house is being held as part of the Environmental Impact Scoping (EIS) process. Public comment is open through March 18th. Comments can be given about the range of alternatives that should be studied in the EIS, and other topics and impacts that you’d like to see addressed. It will inform the Sound Transit Board decision on alternatives, as well as impacts, to study.

Two end-to-end lines are currently proposed. In the West Seattle segments, they include a “blue” line with an elevated alignment through Delridge and tunnel stations at Avalon and the Alaska Junction. The “yellow” line is all elevated, as is the Sound Transit “red” representative alignment included in the ballot measure.

Sound Transit has also released new visualizations along the alignments from West Seattle to Ballard. I have requested additional visualizations for the Avalon station area.

At the February 1 meeting of the Sound Transit Elected Leadership Group, I requested additional details regarding potential impacts of the different alignments in specific West Seattle neighborhoods; the draft evaluation matrices included information about potential displacement for the entire end-to-end line, and noted generally where it could occur, but didn’t include estimates for each West Seattle neighborhood; that is now available.  The information comes with a caveat that it is based on limited engineering and doesn’t include construction staging or underground station entrances.  The EIS process will allow for significantly greater detail.  Here is a quick summary:

RESIDENTIAL DISPLACEMENT

  • Estimated residential impacts of each of the alternatives are similar in Delridge.
  • In the Avalon/Junction area, the yellow elevated option has significantly higher residential impacts than a tunnel (blue).
  • In the Avalon/Junction area, the residential impacts of the representative (red) option are lower than that in the yellow elevated option but greater than the tunnel (blue) option.

BUSINESS DISPLACEMENT

  • In Delridge, the blue option is estimated to have higher business impacts.
  • The yellow elevated option has greater business impacts than the blue tunnel option in Avalon/Junction.
  • The red representative option has the highest business impacts.

Sound Transit is also holding a community workshop in Delridge on March 12th, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. This workshop will be focused exclusively on the Delridge area.

Additional information is available at Sound Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions website. You can compare alternatives by neighborhood or end-to-end at the Alternatives page. Some of the key documents available at the website include the detailed Alternatives Development Report and the Scoping Report. Additional background documents are linked here.

You can comment online here.

 

Neighborhood Street Fund Rankings—South Park Meeting, Deadline Extended

The Neighborhood Street Fund community prioritization phase has been extended to March 1, due to Seattle’s recent snowstorm, and the cancellation of community meetings. A new meeting has been scheduled for Monday, February 25th at the South Park Hall, at 1253 South Cloverdale.

You can also vote online. Here are all the project applications in District 1; you can link to information about each project. You can vote online here, selecting whether a project is high priority, lower priority, or in between.

The 2015 Move Seattle Levy included $24 million for the Neighborhood Street Fund. Projects are submitted by residents over three three-year cycles. We’re now in the second cycle, for 2019-2021.

 

Seattle Office for Civil Rights Seeks Human Rights Commission members

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is currently recruiting to fill five vacancies on the Seattle Human Rights Commission. The Commission advises the Mayor, City Council and city departments on human rights and social justice issues.

The Commission seeks candidates with diverse backgrounds in human rights, law, public policy, advocacy, social services, education, and business. Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor, City Council, and the Commission.

Participation on the Commission requires a minimum time commitment of 10-15 hours per month. This includes attendance at monthly meetings, participation in committee work, meetings with City officials, communicating with state legislators, and addressing human rights concerns. The Commission also hears appeals of discrimination cases from the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.

Commissioners are appointed for two years and all appointments are subject to confirmation by the City Council and serve without compensation.  Those interested in being considered should email a letter of interest, resume, and a completed Seattle Human Rights Commission application to Marta Idowu (marta.idowu@seattle.gov) by Tuesday, March 19 by 5 p.m.

The Commission encourages individuals who are interested in applying to attend a monthly Commission meeting.  Meetings are held in City Hall, in Room L280 on the first Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m.  Commission meetings are open to the public.

Additional information on the Work of the Human Rights Commission is available here.

 

Orca Emergency Recovery Letter

This summer the Southern Resident orca population lost three members, and we witnessed the heart-wrenching spectacle of a mother refusing to part from her dead calf for seventeen days.

The Southern Resident Orca population now stands at 74, the fewest in 30 years, and the fewest since they were classified as endangered in 2004 in the United States, and in Canada in 2003.

In March of 2018, Governor Inslee established Southern Orca Task Force, which issued their Report and recommendations in November. The three major threats they face are lack of food, disturbance from noise and pollution, and the threat of oil spills.

This week I co-signed a letter in support of legislation to address these issues. Bills at the state legislature include bills concerning Orca Emergency Response and Oil Spill Prevention:

  • HB 1194 and SB 5153, Pollution Prevention for Our Future Act
  • HB 1579, Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing chinook abundance; SB 5580, Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing habitat and forage fish abundance.
  • HB 1580 and SB 5577, Concerning the protection of southern resident orca whales from vessels
  • HB 1578 and SB 5578, Reducing threats to southern resident killer whales by improving the safety of oil transportation

Please consider contacting your representatives to support these bills as well.

 

Anti-Displacement Ordinance

This week the Mayor signed an Executive Order which proposes changes to the Housing Levy policies, in support of Community Preference policies, in response to Council Resolution 31754, passed in 2017. Done well, these policies can be an additional tool towards ensuring that the people who make our city work and keep it strong and diverse are able to live in our city. As described in the March 2018 status report to the Council, a community preferences policy will be useful for our non-profit developers.  I look forward to working with Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda when she brings this forward for a vote this Spring.

However, we also desperately need a tool to address the displacement that occurs when for-profit developers build.  Displacement is a challenging issue and we need many tools to address it. For this reason, I introduced this week a separate bill to address those instances when existing affordable units in areas having a high risk of displacement and low access to opportunity in the Growth and Equity: Analyzing Impacts on Displacement and Opportunity Related to Seattle’s Growth Strategy, in the Comprehensive Plan Seattle 2035.

This ordinance would use authority granted under the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) to create a requirement for developers to mitigate the impacts resulting from the loss of affordable housing in those areas of the city that, if we didn’t do so, the result would be a failure to fulfill our obligation to “affirmatively promote fair housing” — in other words, in areas where disproportionate displacement of communities of color and other protected classes is likely to occur. See upper left of this image:

MHA Framework legislation, passed in 2016, Section 2.A.2.a, stated: “The Council intends to consider whether to include higher performance and payment amounts, subject to statutory limits, for those areas where the increase in development capacity would be likely to increase displacement risk.  Resolution 31733, passed in 2017, stated: The Council intends to consider a range of strategies to increase affordable units sufficient to offset the affordable units at risk of demolition due to new development.” 

I’m proud that the Council has a long legislative record of its commitment to address displacement.  Now it’s time to act again.

I have, over the years, expressed my great concern that the City describes MHA as “housing displacement mitigation tool,” but has badly analyzed how development removes more affordable housing than the resources from MHA are sufficient to replace.

For example, in the case of the University District MHA upzone in 2017, the City estimated that only 40-275 units of existing affordable units of housing would be demolished over 20 years.   The EIS estimated likely demolition by identifying specific redevelopable parcels and quantifying their existing housing (zero, for parking lots and commercial buildings).  The “full buildout” scenario wherein construction occurs on all redevelopable parcels to the full capacity of the proposed rezone was estimated to result in the demolition of 275 homes over 20 years.  In less than 2 years, based upon a Council Central Staff analysis of new development projects that are currently in some stage of having their Master Use Permit issued or Early Design Guidance reviewed and that are subject to the new zoning put in place in 2017, 96 units of affordable units are already planned for demolition.

Using the same approach used in the University District in 2017, the City estimates that over 20 years 574 units of housing will be demolished in MHA rezone areas.  My concerns about displacement today are heightened, especially considering how far afield the University District estimate has proven to be.

Finally, here is a link to the companion resolution which became available on Thursday and is a working draft. Please let me know ASAP is you have questions, comments, or concerns about it.

There is still time to contact Councilmembers and share your thoughts about MHA, and my Anti-Displacement ordinance. The Selected Committee on Citywide MHA intends on voting on amendments as well as the overall package on Monday, February 25. It will then be held for a Full Council vote on March 18.

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