Hello, and welcome to our District 4 newsletter! Each month our newsletter will detail what our office has been working on for you, discuss City Council votes, and provide information about issues and events in “D4”. While our team has been at City Hall for only three weeks, we want to share what we have been working on to better represent you and the 20 neighborhoods of D4.
Meet our Team!
Join me in welcoming our fantastic D4 team of Legislative Aides: Alexa Halling, Cara Kadoshima Vallier, Lhorna Murray, and Toby Thaler. You can read our team’s full bios on the district website. Our highly capable team knows our District well and brings a diverse breadth of lived experience and professional background to the table. Together we are looking forward to working on behalf of you and the other 100,000 District 4 constituents.
Protecting Trees in the Emerald City
In the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning (PLUZ) committee this week I convened neighbors, environmentalists, scientists, and urban forestry experts to discuss the need to implement Resolution 31902 to finalize a stronger ordinance that protects and increases trees in our Emerald City.
Over the past year, I heard from hundreds of concerned citizens who want City Hall to implement stronger protections for our tree canopy in addition to planting more trees throughout our city. In addition to improving the livability and enjoyment of our communities and critical habitat for birds, a robust tree canopy fosters a healthy city by decreasing pollution, sequestering modest amounts of carbon, and cooling homes and buildings – all vitally important for our environment. In fact, the “Green New Deal” Resolution that garnered a lot of attention earlier this year specifically calls out trees: “Encouraging preservation and planting of trees citywide to increase the city’s tree canopy cover, prioritizing historically low-canopy and low-income neighborhoods.” To hold City Hall accountable on this issue, we need a stronger tree ordinance that is enforced. I heard you, and I am proud to keep the ball rolling on increasing environmental protections across our city. As we eagerly await their next update on the ordinance, you can visit the city’s website on trees by CLICKING HERE.
Office Hours in our District:
While I’ll be representing you at City Hall at City Council meetings during the week, it’s vital that I carve out as much time as possible to meet you where you are in our District 4. As there are no committee meetings scheduled for Fridays, you’ll find me “Fridays in 4.”
To make sure our constituents get the best customer service, we are establishing consistent office hours in our District! We will be meeting with constituents every Friday afternoon at Magnuson Park in the Building 30 conference room. To ensure you receive designated time with our office, sign up online by clicking here to reserve your appointment. See you Fridays in 4!
Follow us on Facebook
Use our new Facebook page. Like or follow us to receive more frequent updates from our office regarding District 4 issues. Be sure to send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 206.684-8808. If Facebook is not your thing, you can visit our website, which includes my blog with my statements on issues impacting our city and key votes such as supporting transit by exploring how best to expand ORCA card subsidies for workers.
4 You in District 4
Riding Along with the Navigation Team
In my first week, I accompanied the Navigation Team for a ride along that included a 7:00 a.m. huddle with the multi-disciplinary team to hear their concerns before we visited an unauthorized encampment of people experiencing homelessness. (As you may know, our Navigation Team has been Seattle’s key street-level response to the homelessness crisis which impacts communities across Seattle. Since 2017, the team has connected hundreds of people to shelter—moving people away from inhumane living conditions and connecting them with shelter resources, while also removing the most unsafe encampments that harm people living unsheltered and the community. To read more about the role of the Navigation Team, costs, and their performance, please read this letter drafted by Seattle City department leaders to our Mayor). I met with social workers, police officers, and case managers to discuss the challenges and barriers the team faces getting our unhoused neighbors into housing. I also observed the Navigation Team as they connected with our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Observing this challenging process is vital to improve and expand the Navigation Team.
I know that bringing people inside and connecting them to permanent housing is the #1 concern of District 4 residents, which is why my priority is to fund evidenced-based programs that connect our unhoused neighbors with programs that work.
This is why I am pleased that one of my first votes on the Seattle City Council was to move forward with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. The status quo has not worked, and we need a regional response to this regional crisis. I have confidence that this structure will provide a sensible balance between expert-driven policy, lived experience, and government officials who are ultimately held accountable by the public for results. Evidence-based solutions and accountability underpin the formal Guiding Principles of this ground-breaking agreement to address the regional homelessness crisis. There is much work to be done, and with this coordinated structure, we hope to do it with increased efficiency and effectiveness while centering the voices of those with lived experience of homelessness.
2. Public Safety
Seattle Fire Fighters and Paramedics
I know public safety is a top priority for District 4 residents, which is why I have visited fire stations across our district and throughout our city. As a newly elected Councilmember, one of my first acts was to meet again with firefighters at Station 17 in the U District.
Our firefighters and first responders have done a tremendous job serving the needs of our diverse neighborhoods, while also going through a big transition: as the U District has grown, our firefighters are responding to a growing population with greater needs. This includes more students, residents in all types of buildings, people experiencing homelessness, those who need transportation to and from nearby hospitals, and more. To ensure that response times from firefighters and paramedics are as quick as needed to save our neighbors suffering from health emergencies, it’s important for our Seattle Department of Transportation to coordinate proposed road changes with our Fire Department.
On December 9, I was proud to be a “yes” vote along with my Council colleagues to support a pay increase for Seattle Firefighters through its union, IAFF Local 27. I know that supporting our first responders is integral to helping our homelessness crisis, as they are often on the front lines.
I’m also pleased to report that, starting next year, our Seattle Fire Department will be able to recruit more firefighters, thanks to the City Council approving an additional $600,000 in the 2020 budget for recruitment. The budget addition allows Seattle to fund nine additional candidates for one recruit class. SFD staff have indicated that a larger recruit class would allow the department to fill vacancies more quickly.
Please remember our firefighters and first responders this season – they do so much to ensure our safety!
3. Supporting Small Neighborhood Businesses:
This week, I visited Pam’s Kitchen in Wallingford, a Caribbean restaurant which originally opened in the University District in 2006.
In my capacity as a Councilmember, I plan to regularly meet with local businesses to learn more about the unique challenges they face.
At my first Council meeting, I brought tokens of appreciation to share from District 4 including a mug from the U District’s Bulldog News and carrot cake from Eastlake Avenue’s 14 Carrot Café. I was so proud to highlight these amazing businesses in Council Chambers and give my Council colleagues a taste of what District 4 has to offer. (Click here to view a video of my comments).
I sat down with the owner and chef of Pam’s Kitchen, a Caribbean restaurant in Wallingford, to ask about the joys and challenges of running a small business – and what our city government can do better to prevent the displacement of so many local stores and restaurants that we adore and that give our neighborhoods character.
A restaurant’s biggest challenge is often financial – the combination of the high expenses of operating an eatery, the difficulty of getting low-interest loans from banks, and the disruption of moving costs or paying upfront costs at new locations. After pouring her heart into building her business for five years in the University District, Pam was forced to move from her original location because the building she leased was sold, torn down, and redeveloped. Pam had to incur the unexpected costs of finding a new location, renovating it, and starting from scratch to build a new clientele in Wallingford.
One idea I’d like to explore with our city’s Economic Development Department to prevent displacement is whether it could help more small businesses receive guidance before signing new leases. Small business owners are experts in the products they are selling but not always in the important details of such legal documents, which could have a major impact on the future of their business’s stability.
Ultimately, Pam expressed she does this work for the love of her neighborhood and community. She uses her restaurant to introduce Caribbean culture to Seattleites across the city (and customers from other states and internationally), and loves to bring people together through food.
“I just love to cook,” said Pam. “I believe if you do things the right way, and give them the best of you, it comes back.”
As we close out the year, shop for last minute gifts, and take your out-of-town family to restaurants, I hope you will keep our small businesses in mind during the holiday season.
4. Community Connections:
Getting Festive at Candy Cane Lane
Now in its 70th year, Ravenna’s Candy Cane Lane is a District 4 holiday tradition that people across Seattle look forward to experiencing. I had the honor of speaking to my neighbors during the big anniversary event last Tuesday. As I shared with the group who gathered for carols and celebration, it is my honor to serve as the City Council representative of this wonderful Seattle neighborhood.
The theme again this year is Peace, with each house hosting a peace sign in a different language. As you can see, this house has peace written in both Hebrew and Arabic, representing Seattle’s commitment to be a welcoming place to all cultures, all languages, all people.
You’ll also notice the large metal pipe decorated as a candy cane. Each house has one, and when someone moves from the neighborhood, the “candy cane” stays with the house, so the new owners can carry on the holiday tradition of Candy Cane Lane.
If you’re looking for something festive to do this month, visit Candy Cane Lane (NE Ravenna Blvd and Park Road NE, Seattle, WA 98105). The lights will be on through Jan. 1, with a “pedestrian night” (car-free) on Thursday, December 19.
As it is the season of giving, I encourage everyone to take a moment to give something back to our community. Giving can mean just finding time to volunteer, donating in-kind goods, or advocating for those in need.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season, and a Happy New Year.
I’m looking forward to working with you all in 2020!