Neighbors, So much has changed in the weeks since I emailed you last. In this newsletter we have updates from before the COVID-19 State of Emergency, resources for you to use during this emergency, and a reminder to use our office to help you navigate access to these resources.
Our office is already assisting D6 small businesses stay afloat, helping people navigate housing and food resources, and addressing individuals’ concerns – from parking enforcement to what to expect in the coming days and weeks. If you need help navigating these resources, please reach out to my office:
- For all issues – email me at: Dan.Strauss@seattle.gov
- For small businesses – Peter Nguyen: Peter.Nguyen@seattle.gov
- For housing and food assistance – Amanda Pleasant-Brown: Amanda.Pleasant-Brown2@seattle.gov
- For emerging issues – Noah An: Noah.An@seattle.gov
Seattle is strong. We lead the nation in response to this pandemic because we chose to take this seriously from the beginning. Like the University of Washington, who did not wait for testing to be available and created their own. We were the first in the nation to tell seniors to stay at home, and we are the first to start a vaccine trial. We were also the first to extend Unemployment Insurance benefits (there is still more to do), and we are the first to ban both residential and commercial evictions, which is now national policy. We are operating under the guidance of our public health professionals and are using scientifically-backed strategies to address this emergency situation.
Social distancing is an extremely important and effective method of limiting the number of people who get sick. One reason is because people can be contagious without being symptomatic or may not realize they are experiencing symptoms of this virus. Either way, this means people could unknowingly spread COVID-19, like this couple who both tested positive for COVID-19 and had very different symptoms. The more distance we give each other and the fewer unnecessary trips we take out of our homes, the safer we’ll all be.
This is a rapidly evolving situation and my newsletter is not the place to get up-to-the-minute information. Please use the resources below for current information on how to keep you and your family safe and healthy:
- City of Seattle COVID-19 Information and Resources
- Seattle King County Public Health
- Seattle Times Coronavirus Updates
- Center for Disease Control
- Sanitation Facilities Open for our Homeless Neighbors
OTHER RESOURCES FOR COVID-19
Meal Support for Students
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is distributing lunches from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every weekday at 26 school sites throughout the city. On the left is the citywide map and on the right is the NW Seattle map for public school lunch sites. All SPS students can participate. Lunch distribution sites can be also be found on SPS’s family resource page.
$5 Million in Grocery Vouchers for Families
Mayor Durkan announced that a $5 million grocery voucher program will distribute $800 to 6,250 eligible families who are currently enrolled in City-supported child care programs and food assistance programs. The Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) will distribute the grocery vouchers in two $400 installments, and vouchers will be distributed by mail as early as this week.
Relief for Small Businesses
DEADLINE TO APPLY IS MARCH 25TH!
City Council voted and passed emergency legislation to support small businesses. Council Bill 119757, transfers $1.5 million in city funds to the Small Business Stabilization Fund, which will support vulnerable small businesses in Seattle that are facing financial uncertainty due to the public’s economic response to COVID-19. Are you a small business in need of assistance? My office is here to help! Please email Peter Nguyen to assist you navigating resources.
Utility Bill Relief
Council also passed Council Bill 119758, which waives interest charges on delinquent utility bills during this crisis. This legislation relates to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s announcement that Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities will provide other utility relief for residential, small business, and nonprofit customers, including flexible payment plans and no shut-offs during this crisis.
In District 6
Small Business Walking Tour: Fremont
As a part of my role as your Councilmember, I make it a priority to regularly walk and talk with business owners and community members in different neighborhoods across the district. So far we have visited Ballard, Phinneywood, and Greenlake. Two weeks ago we were in the Fremont neighborhood. Before the pandemic hit, we had planned to be in Upper Fremont/ Phinney this week and Crown Hill later this month. We look forward to rescheduling these walks as soon as possible. Please reach out to my office if you’d like to be included!
Dave Page, the Cobbler, is the Sole of Fremont and is famous around the globe for repairing hiking boots. When you google, “cobbler” his name appears which explains why he hasn’t needed to advertise in 25 years! My family has had countless boots repaired here over the years and it was a pleasure to chat with him about doing international business in Fremont.
Ophelia’s Books, has an amazing selection and is still using “Underground Fremont” which is similar to “Underground Seattle” in Pioneer Square. Jill who owns Ophelia’s Books spoke to me about the importance of reliable transit and housing her employees can afford. During our conversation we realized we were longtime neighbors living a few doors down from one another – Seattle is still a small town in many ways!
The street entrance for Dusty Strings can be easy to miss and when you descend the stairs into “Underground Fremont” you find a labyrinth of studio space for lessons, practice space, instrument repair, a show room for many different types of instruments, and even a small concert space for quarterly concerts. Morgan also spoke to me about the importance of transit reliability because parking in Fremont is difficult. His customers are often people waiting for their late bus. We are working in my office to address transit reliability because we know you can’t rely on the bus if it doesn’t have a consistent travel time or frequency. If you have not explored Dusty Strings, you must go (once the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order is reduced).
My next stop was Schilling Cider House where I met with Sarah, who is a life long Seattleite and has concerns for her employees being able to afford to live in the city, parking availability in Fremont, and a specific concern for pedestrian crossings at the south end of the Fremont Bridge. In our conversation we realized we had been taught by the same teacher growing up – another small town moment!
One of my last stops was at with Ted who owns and operates the restaurant, Swell. We talked about the ups and downs of doing business in the city, as he cares for his team and focuses on creating benefits for the community and city. It is hard when it feels like there is not a holistic view from the City when issuing different fees and requirements including signage fees, licenses, and patio fees as just a few examples. Making sure our fees are right-sized and thought out is important to me, and is an issue I have raised many times in my first two months in office. These walking tours are an important way for me to hear from the people who make District 6 interesting, unique, and the place we all love. Before COVID-19 we were hosting walking tours every two weeks. I look forward to returning to walk and talk in your neighborhood as soon as possible. Small businesses are an essential fabric of our community. If you or a small business you know needs assistance navigating available resources please email me and my staff Peter Nguyen.
Metro Route 40: Opportunity for Public Feedback
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) wants to hear from you! If you haven’t yet, please take the Route 40 survey so that SDOT can learn about how you can get around and identify which speed and reliability improvements matter most to you. You can find out more information on the project here.
Market Street Construction Update
The construction on Market Street in Ballard has taken longer than anticipated due to a number of variables. I have had the pleasure of working with local business owners and the Seattle Department of Transportation to address concerns on project scope, delivery, and schedule. These businesses at the west end of Market Street were the first and are the last to be impacted by construction. Walking the construction site with SDOT, I was able to voice concerns and receive feedback on ways that we can improve the project moving forward.
My commitment to hosting district office hours every week continues! With the current public health situation, I will be hosting telephone district office hours. If you would like to speak with me or staff during this time please sign up online here. Please note: In order to respect constituents’ time, everyone requesting a meeting during office hours will need to schedule ahead of time.
UPDATE: Block the Box Legislation Passed!
I am pleased to announce that the Block the Box Legislation (HB 1793 and SB 5789) that I testified in support of, passed! As I’ve said, Blocking the Box violations occur hundreds of times per day in downtown Seattle, causing congestion, hurting transit reliability, and making our streets dangerous for vulnerable road users. This legislation will help us move people through our downtown core by allowing cameras to detect drivers in intersections, crosswalks, transit-only lanes, or restricted lanes so that traffic can flow more efficiently and get you where you need to go! If you want to know more about why this legislation is important, take a look at this video from Rooted in Rights.
Meeting Rescheduled: Green Lake Community Center and Evans Pool Renovation
The Green Lake Community Center and Evans Pool is one of the oldest community centers in our city. In order to extend its usable life, the center and pool are scheduled for renovations between May and October 2020. This project will replace the boilers and air handling system, install pool pump improvements, make electrical repairs, level the gym floor, and more. The work is necessary to extend the life of the building another ten years while Seattle Parks and Recreation design a new facility. The first outreach meeting for the project has been rescheduled to April 15th at the Green Lake Community Center and will focus on site options for the new center. More information from the Department of Parks and Recreation can be found here.
Please never hesitate to reach out to me or my team. We are here to serve you. Best,