At the end of this December 2019, I will have completed 10 years of service as your Seattle City Councilmember. It has been an honor to be the first Councilmember to represent District 7 and a true pleasure to serve you across this growing city for this past decade.
My time on the City Council has been both challenging and rewarding, and significant progress has been made on many fronts. I am grateful for the meaningful friendships we have forged.
This next year I am off to Harvard University where I will spend 2020 as a fellow in the Advanced Leadership Initiative. This is an exciting opportunity to learn more from others who like me have had full careers and are interested in their own Third Act. I intend to return to Seattle with new ideas for positive social impact in 2021.
I thought for this last blog I would highlight some of what we have accomplished together and provide a final short list of projects underway that newly elected Councilmember Dan Strauss will continue to shepherd.
Age Friendly Seattle
In 2017 the City became an “Age-Friendly” City, joining with the World Health Organization and AARP to make Seattle a super city for people of all ages and abilities. My goal has been to make every neighborhood safe and walkable, with housing and transportation options that meet the needs of all age groups, including seniors. Making Seattle a vibrant city accessible to all is important because our census projections show over the next decade that those of us who are over 65 will outnumber children under the age of 18. Imagine! With clear focus, we can make our City the place we want for our families and ourselves to grow up and grow old.
Special thanks to Irene Stewart, Cathy Knight, and Audrey Buehring in our Human Services Department who have championed this work to make Seattle a more livable city for all residents. We have built public awareness around supportive services, age-friendly benches, transportation, mobility and much more.
On March 4, 2011, I had an awakening. I went to Portland on the train with a group from Seattle wanting to learn more about Portland’s transportation infrastructure. On a gray, rainy day I first rode my bicycle on Portland’s original Neighborhood Greenway. I was sold. I met Greg Reisman and learned how Portland’s Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) turned boulevards into Greenways and encouraged families to organize bike trains to school. I returned to Seattle with a new passion and met Cathy Tuttle, Gordon Padelford, and hundreds of bicycle advocates who shared my enthusiasm. The Seattle Neighborhood Greenways organization was born. Thanks to some responsive leadership in SDOT, miles of Neighborhood Greenways and separated bike lanes are now in place. Of course, all of us bicycle riders want more and better connections, but what’s developed in Seattle these past 8 years is impressive.
I’ve written about Neighborhood Greenways many, many times, but here’s the first FAQ I wrote in April 2011. I love the history and am grateful for the people who ride them and support the work.
In the past ten years Seattle Center has become the Center of Seattle again. Think Chihuly; Oakview Group and the new Seattle Center Arena where the National Hockey League will drop the puck in October of 2021; MoPop has been reenergized and the Monorail is accepting Orca cards. KEXP has a new home and a major new civic role; the new XFL Seattle Dragons professional football team is practicing at Memorial Stadium right now as I write this. Skate Like a Girl will have an impressive new skatepark; Children’s Theater is alive and well, notwithstanding the major construction across the street. The Opera has a new home, KCTS and Crosscut have merged, and Thomas Street is getting redesigned as a pedestrian/bicycle priority corridor providing an east-west connection to Seattle Center. Thanks to a partnership with Seattle Public Schools a new Memorial Stadium may be created. Add the neighborhood support from Uptown and Robert Nellams and his team at Seattle Center. This has been quite a decade and there is much more in store.
This project is one of the reasons I ran for City Council in the first place. In 2004 I was on the Allied Arts board and we sponsored the first design charette for our waterfront. Over the next decade we fought for funding from the City, County, State and federal governments; we encouraged voters to vote; WSDOT and its partners built a tunnel; the Aquarium and the Pike Place Market have designed a connector between them; and the Friends of the Waterfront have raised millions of dollars to create a Waterfront for All. Huge thanks are owed to SDOT engineers and team, Marshall Foster, Heidi Hughes, Bob Donegan, Bob Davidson, Gerry Johnson, Maggie Walker, Christopher Williams, Allied Arts members and hundreds of local architects, designers, and neighborhood activists who understood the value of the Waterfront. And thanks to all of you who have donated money and shared the vision with me.
Big thanks to Fire Chief Harold Scoggins and his crew as well as Allie Franklin from Crisis Connections, in 2019 we launched Health One, a response to “low acuity” needs on the street. Rather than sending ladder trucks and firefighters trained to respond to high acuity and immediate needs such as fires and accidents, Health One sends trained emergency responders and a mental health worker to the scene. Based on what we’ve learned from San Diego and other cities, this directs the individuals needing help to the right clinic or case manager and reduces the number of emergency calls the Fire Department receives. This is better for everyone.
Addressing Homelessness – This is the big one
At my last full City Council meeting on December 16 we passed the ordinance adopting the new King County Regional Homelessness Authority. After years of national studies and evaluations, we have created a pathway for Seattle, King County, and the other 38 cities within King County to work together to resolve homelessness. We have learned lessons from other cities across the nation, built on evidence-based best practices and agreed to pursue a theory of change that makes “housing first” real for thousands of people who are either homeless tonight or unstably housed. I have written about this topic for years, seeking solutions and making action plans. Here are some of my favorites:
- Addressing Addiction: As a former prosecuting attorney and as past chair of the Human Services and Public Health committee, I was determined to learn more about how to break this cycle of addiction, overdoses, crime and death. I was hopeful someone had figured out something that works. Turns out in San Francisco there are available treatment programs called Integrated Buprenorphine Intervention Services (IBIS) Centers, so I visited one of the centers to see how it works with my own eyes. In Seattle we have recreated this model in our own hospitals and health clinics. This is one of several things we are doing to improve peoples’ lives and our neighborhoods. Also see: https://bagshaw.seattle.gov/2017/06/23/expanding-treatment-for-opioid-addiction/
- Increasing 24/7 Shelter with Services: I first learned about 24/7 shelters and the difference stability makes during a trip to San Francisco a few years ago. I wrote then that we know what works to end homelessness – more housing, case managers and better treatment options. https://bagshaw.seattle.gov/2017/06/19/homelessness-we-know-the-problem-and-we-know-how-to-solve-it/
Seattle followed this model, opening its first site on 12th Avenue, and most recently partnered with Downtown Emergency Services Center to open another 24/7 shelter in the West Wing of the King County jail. (The entry is on the ground floor away from anything that looks or feels like the jail). My experience with the West Wing was very positive and I wrote about it here: https://bagshaw.seattle.gov/2019/11/05/descs-west-wing-shelter/
- The Block Project is a unique endeavor to address low income housing needs in the City. It connects residents who want a block in their back yard to families in need. I think it’s great because it adds one more option to alleviate homelessness. My visionary friends Jenn and Rex started with the idea of inviting the broader community to help solve and end homelessness by building a BLOCK Home “in the backyard of one single-family lot on every residentially zoned block within the City of Seattle.” The Block Project Web Site explains more about how this project originated and the impact it has already had, for the better. Success! One BLOCK at a Time
- Making improvements to overnight shelters. Overnight shelters do little other than provide a dry space for a person to sleep for just tonight. There’s nothing stable about having to queue up for a mat on the floor and being asked to leave at 6:00 a.m. People who have experienced these shelters have said they get little sleep worrying that their belongings – even their shoes – will be stolen overnight. In response we made some strategic improvements by opening the red doors in City Hall and making other emergency shelter available in city property such as an old City Light facility on Roy Street. The Uptown community was very welcoming, and a local church raised money and donated lockers. Read more here: Finally — Affordable Lockers Now on Site at Roy Street Shelter!
In 2014 I coauthored an Op-Ed with Council President Bruce Harrell detailing why lockers should be installed citywide. Many shelters now routinely offer lockers.
- More Tiny Homes. I first started writing about the success of tiny homes villages after visiting Quixote Village in Olympia. Danny Westneat picked up the idea as well after we had an interview on the topic: Tiny home villages in each district. Crosscut wrote about the idea as well and commented that “Until we can do better, build more tiny homes.”
During this past budget, we heard from dozens of people including people who are living in tiny home villages now and people who have moved on into stable housing that these villages provide community along with privacy and security. I am a big fan knowing that we simply do not have enough housing stock to get everyone inside their own private home, and it’s unlikely that we will anytime in the foreseeable future. We budgeted for more villages because they work.
- More Partners. Thanks to our King County colleagues and provider partners we are seeing more 24/7 shelters for people in cities throughout our county; philanthropy and business have stepped up to assist organizations like Mary’s Place and Mercy Housing. Smaller cities are adding their own spaces for RV’s and people who are temporarily living in their cars. Much more housing and coordinated services are needed – and that’s where we need our Regional Governance approach to go next. Progress indeed is being made.
Judges, jurors and people working and visiting the King County Courthouse have for decades decried the lack of safety and unhealthy conditions around the Courthouse and in the adjacent park. Recently, our Presiding Superior Court judge took matters in his own hands and shut down the Third Avenue entry into the Courthouse. He was right – and actions are being taken to make police more visible and other service options available.
I have been concerned about this as well, and a full year ago Seattle Parks stepped up and we funded lighting and other physical improvements and positive activation within City Hall Park (immediately south of the Courthouse) and into Pioneer Square to Second Avenue south toward King Street Station. Sound Transit joined in to improve conditions around the Pioneer Square Station entrance, and SDOT through SDOT’s Superwoman Susan McLaughlin created a public life study in the area. Things are happening – in a very positive way.
In and around the Courthouse, my goals have been to improve public health and safety. Using a CPTED model (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design), we are adding more affordable housing which means more eyes on the street, improving the Prefontaine Fountain and Prefontaine Triangle area while making vibrant connections with several other neighborhood-funded projects such as the Waterfront and Sound Transit 3 links. I am thrilled at the progress including:
1) City Hall Park is lighted at night and more active during the day (thank you Victoria Schoenberg from Parks and Carolyn Whalen from King County);
2) Prefontaine Fountain may be moved and the area revitalized; money is in the budget to do so and SDOT and Parks are leading this effort;
3) Chief Seattle Club thanks to Colleen Echohawk and her board will start construction early in 2020 at the site of the old Lazarus Day Center at 2nd and Yesler to build their new ?Al?Al residence for urban natives and members of their club;
4) Fortson Square will be greatly improved and become a community gathering space on the corner of Yesler and 2nd in coordination with Chief Seattle Club. Thanks to SDOT and Seattle Arts and Culture, this corner will become a welcoming point for people living, working, and visiting the area.
5) Canton Lofts – with thanks to Lisa and Peter Nitse this residential project is underway on 3rd and Washington Streets. These impressive studio apartments will be available for people who make too much to qualify for subsidies but not enough to live in most privately-owned Seattle housing. Best of all, it is just two blocks from light rail offering car-free living and access to businesses north, south, and very soon east of Seattle.
6) Cannery Building – At long last the Cannery Building on the corner of 2nd and Main will become a site for more housing. Many thanks to leaders of our Filipino community. They have met with the property owner Ron Amundson and his architects at Hewitt to repurpose many of the materials and replace the blighted site with a charming new building that honors the Filipino history and blends in with Pioneer Square’s historic charm to create a welcoming and invigorated neighborhood for all. I look forward to next steps with the Pioneer Square Preservation Board.
7) Metropole Building -I understand that the Satterberg Foundation and Forterra have partnered to restore and reactivate the beautiful Metropole Building on the corner of Yesler and 2nd. Rumors abound that they will add childcare in the building. If so, this will be welcome. We need so much more childcare Downtown to meet the growing need.
These are but a fraction of the projects we’ve worked on together; I direct you back to the Sally Bagshaw Blog should you want to read more.
2019 was our Year of Action. Thanks for working with me this past year and for helping in all the areas we have undertaken.
At the end of December, I am passing the D7 torch to Councilmember-elect Andrew Lewis and wish him all the best. My former legislative aide –now Councilmember Dan Strauss – won his election to Seattle City Council and will represent D6. Lena Tebeau and Alyson McLean from my office will stay with him, so many of the projects we have undertaken together will move forward under their highly capable eyes. Those projects include:
- Belltown Parkway and Portal Park, providing green space to Belltown, one of the City’s fastest growing residential neighborhoods.
- Smith Cove Park – after years of working with King County and the Port the sports fields are improved but the east section has yet to be touched.
- Magnolia Bridge – working with our Magnolia neighbors and elected leaders, a financial package must be developed.
- Market to MOHAI – Thanks to my buddy John Pehrson, a 1.5 mile walking corridor will soon be completed, lighting our way and decorating the corridor with poetry and art from the north end of Pike Place Market to MOHAI. John has raised money from private and public sources, and he remains indefatigable.
- Yesler Crescent – yes, this will become one of the City’s finest corners within the next few years.
- Cannery Building described above honoring Filipino history and leadership as well as working closely with the Pioneer Square Preservation Board.
- Thomas Street – creating the walking/biking priority street to Seattle Center from Westlake to the Waterfront
I have faith that we in Seattle can rise above the national negativity, providing each other with some space for grace and understanding. Moving into that space and demonstrating that we can work together despite our differing political perspectives continues to be a driver for me and is one of the reasons I am spending this next year studying and teaching in Boston.
Blessings on you and your family for this next year. I look forward to seeing you back in Seattle in 2021.