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Bonuses for Hiring Police Officers; Bus Routes 120 and 50 getting additional service + other changes coming March 23rd; Sound Transit meeting in Delridge March 12th /Comment Period Extension; February Constituent Email Report

Bonuses for Hiring Police Officers

The City Council passed legislation to create an incentive program for hiring police officers. I voted in support.

This legislation allows the Seattle Police Department to provide bonuses of up to $15,000 for officers who transfer from other departments, and up to $7,500 for new hires.

The legislation received from the Mayor allowed for bonuses up to $15,000 for lateral hires only. Amendments introduced by Councilmember González changed the legislation to also allow for bonuses for new officer of up to $7,500.

I support these changes, which align with SPD’s hiring plan. Over the next two years SPD is targeting hiring over four times as many new officers as lateral hires, so including new hires in the bonus program will make the overall program more effective.

Lateral hires have lower training costs, so a higher bonus makes sense.

Local cities offering incentives for “lateral” (i.e. transfer) hires include Bellevue ($16,000), Everett ($15,000), Renton ($10,000) and Tukwila ($5,000).

After record hiring of new officers in 2016 and 2017, hiring was down sharply in 2018. In a presentation SPD noted factors affecting the hiring pace include a shortage of new officers in numerous big city departments (SPD noted that 80% of large jurisdictions in this country have a significant number of vacancies currently); hiring incentives by other local jurisdiction, housing costs, historically low unemployment (amazon for example has lately had between 9,000 and 10,000 openings in Seattle) and flat wages.

The hiring bonus and increasing wages last year to be the highest in the state address two of those; after the Council’s vote last November to approve a new contract for officers, the starting base salary (not including overtime) for new officers is $81,000, rising to $106,000 after 54 months. Lateral hires start at a range of $91,000 to $99,600. Seattle officers now have the highest salaries in the state.

The presentation noted the Mayor’s office is convening a hiring and recruitment study group. I’ve requested they involve the Community Police Commission in that effort and use their July 2017 report, Recommendations of Community Police Commission for Recruitment, Hiring and Training. The study includes numerous recommendations that can inform this work and serve as a starting point, including comparisons to polices and studies in other cities.

 

Bus Routes 120 and 50 getting additional service + other changes coming March 23rd

As part of King County Metro’s biannual service updates, Bus Routes 120 and 50 will be getting additional service starting March 23rd.  Funding is provided by the Seattle Transportation Benefit District approved by Seattle voters; it runs through end of 2020.

Route 120 will now have 10- to 12-minute service all day and improved Sunday service to 15 minutes, including 28 new weekday trips and 43 more trips on Sundays. Here’s the timetable for service beginning March 23rd.  This is part of a ramp-up to converting the 120 to the Rapid Ride H Line. King County Metro and SDOT are collaborating on this project. The Seattle portion includes the Delridge Multimodal Corridor project, presented at the Sustainabilty & Transportation Committee earlier this week.  At the Full Council meeting on Monday I’ll be proposing an amendment to the Delridge Multimodal Corridor funding bill to ensure that SDOT continues to incorporate community recommendations.

The City Council voted last year to change SDOT funding criteria to allow for expanding service to Route 120, which is one of the 10 busiest routes in the Metro system.

Route 50 will have additional midday trips; here’s the timetable for service beginning March 23rd. My office analyzed SDOT and City plans last year and found that the Admiral Urban Village didn’t meet the standards for Urban Villages, and that it was an area listed as a priority for an upgrade in the City’s Frequent Transit Network.

A few months ago, I requested that SDOT consider a bus lane on 1st Avenue, where buses that used to use the Alaskan Way Viaduct now travel coming into Downtown. SDOT studied this but found that the curb-side lanes were not strong enough to handle buses or large trucks (buses have 2,500 to 8,000 times the impact on pavement of a car). So, buses are using the inside lanes.

I’ve asked SDOT about considering adding a stop in Pioneer Square for these buses, rather than a first stop Downtown at 3rd and Seneca. They are studying this, along with Metro; the issue is the strength of streets on 1st Avenue adjacent to curbs. They hope to have an answer by March 23rd.

Other changes are coming on March 23rd. The last 7 bus routes that use the Downtown Transit Tunnel will leave the tunnel, and run on 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th. The buses leaving the tunnel are the 41, 74, 101, 102, 150, 255 and ST 550; you can see which Downtown streets they will be using here.

This is to prepare the tunnel for light rail expansion to Northgate in 2021 (and Bellevue in 2023, and Lynnwood, Federal Way and Redmond in 2024).

Other changes starting March 23rd to adapt to the buses leaving the tunnel include all-door boarding and off-board fare payment at all bus stops Downtown on 3rd Avenue (as for the C Line currently); new transit corridors will be on 5th and 6th, and signal improvements on 2nd and 4th.

For the last few years, SDOT, KC Metro, Sound Transit and the Downtown Seattle association have collaborated on the One Center City program goal of moving people safely and efficiently through Center City, and Seattle, KC and ST have invested $30 million to help make this happen.

Metro’s Service Change website has additional information on service changes.

During the Convention Center debate, I voted in support of an amendment to delay buses coming out of the tunnel onto city streets until September, but it failed by a 5-4 vote. During the council discussions, SDOT estimated they would be able to minimize delays through the changes noted above.

Council required quarterly reporting from SDOT on a downtown-related projects; here’s a link to King County Metro’s announcement.

 

Sound Transit meeting in Delridge March 12th /Comment Period Extension

On March 12, Sound Transit will hold a Delridge Station Community Workshop, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.

Here’s a link to Sound Transit’s event page, and the event flyer. This meeting is specific to the Delridge area.

Also, Sound Transit announced they are extending the deadline for comments in the formal scoping period by 15 days, until April 2nd. You can comment at the online open house or by e-mail at wsbscopingcomments@soundtransit.org.

 

February Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office.  My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s by getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering.  The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in February, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in February related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.

 

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