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City Hall and Coronavirus Updates

Friends and Neighbors,

Hello again from our (virtual) District 4 office! As we enter into our office’s 4th week of working from home, I want to extend my sincerest gratitude to all the essential workers in our district who don’t have the ability to work from home during this difficult time. Thank you for risking your safety every day to staff our hospitals, keep our grocery stores stocked, drive our buses, and serve the community during this crucial time.


More Updates on COVID-19 Pandemic and Relief

Announcements from Governor Inslee

Stay Home, Stay Healthy Extended to May 4

Governor Inslee took another critical step to protect the health and safety of our communities and prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The Governor extended the statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order until May 4. The order was first announced on March 23, and bans all gatherings, closes all non-essential businesses unless employees can work from home, and requires all Washingtonians to stay home unless they are engaging in an essential activity. Grocery stores, doctor’s offices and other essential businesses will remain open. People can still participate in activities such as bike rides, gardening, and dog walking — as long as they follow social distancing rules.” To read the Governor’s order (“Proclamation 20-25”), CLICK HERE and for the list of exemptions, CLICK HERE. For good news about expanded unemployment benefits, see below.  For more info from our State government, please visit the Governor’s blog.

This week, Governor Inslee also announced guidance for state and local enforcement of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. The state has created a one-stop online form for reporting businesses potentially violating orders and is providing guidance to local law enforcement on enforcing bans on gatherings of individuals.

Governor Inslee also urged Washington business leaders and manufacturers to consider producing medical equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) to combat the coronavirus.

Help for Hospitals

This week, US Army offered our team a tour of the new field hospital at CenturyLink Field Events Center. The field hospital will provide 200 hospital beds, 72 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and will have three operating rooms. This site will serve non-COVID patients only, which will alleviate the burden on our hospitals and allow them to free up beds elsewhere for COVID patients. It will be entirely staffed by soldiers from the 627th Army Hospital in Fort Carson, Colorado, in addition to soldiers from Joint Base Lewis McChord, who plan to stay in Seattle for at least 60 days.

Our region’s elected officials, including Mayor Jenny Durkan and Governor Jay Inslee, gave a press conference from inside the site earlier this week.

Where to Find the Latest Information

The Seattle City Council continues to update its COVID-19 webpage which includes resources supporting workers, childcare, small businesses, and tenants/landlords.

You can also visit Mayor Jenny Durkan’s centralized COVID-19 webpage, as well as the Mayor’s blog for additional  updates. Additionally, our Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs has been translating and sharing information on COVID-19 in several languages. For links to OIRA’s fact sheets and other translated materials, go to their blog: https://welcoming.seattle.gov/covid-19/

And for the latest from Public Health Seattle-King County you can visit their website to track our region’s response to the virus.

Safety at Home

While we stay home to stay healthy, we know that home is not always a safe place for everyone. For victims of violence or abuse, these new guidelines can mean extended time with an abuser, as confirmed by the Seattle Police Department in a recent Seattle Times article.

If you are experiencing violence in your home and need to locate a Domestic Violence Shelter, call the phone numbers below or dial 2-1-1. And if you’re in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1.

Domestic Violence:

New Beginnings (Seattle/N. King County): 206-522-9472

Sexual Assault:

(KCSARC) wants the community to know they are continuing full operations during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This includes their 24-Hour Resource Line for help and information, as well as therapy, family education, legal advocacy and other supports for survivors and their families. You can also visit www.kcsarc.org/gethelp for more information. All services are available in both English and Spanish.

The stimulus bill passed by our federal government included $45 million for sexual assault services, and $2 million for hotline services. Our office will continue to monitor funds allocated for domestic abuse and sexual assault in the next stimulus package.

Both DV and SA:

  • Peace In the Home Helpline (help available for DV and SA in multiple languages): 1-888-847-7205

Additional Emergency Childcare for Essential Workers

On March 27, Mayor Durkan announced an emergency order to fund child care services for first responders and essential workers. UHeights in our University District also has 35 more spots open for emergency childcare. University Temple Children’s School in partnership with the University Heights Center is working to provide childcare for parents that are on the front lines of the COVID crisis and parents deemed “essential” workers under the Governor’s emergency order.

For resources about child care, please visit the Emergency Child Care page. The link for essential personnel who didn’t get a form directly from their employer is on that page. Here is the form that partners (Seattle Police and Fire Departments, Northwest Healthcare Response Network, employers in pharmacy and grocery, etc) are sending out to their networks/employees.

If you or people you know need childcare, please share this form with them.


Helping University Students with Housing 

While higher education institutions are converting in-person classroom instruction to remote and online instruction, many students will remain in student housing locally. Students may not be able to travel back home (abroad or domestically) due to travel restrictions, may not have permanent homes to return to, or may be concerned about returning to homes where families members at high risk of severe illness may reside. This information provides guidance to student housing managers and students to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Temporary Closure of West Seattle Bridge

(photo provided by SDOT)

The West Seattle Bridge (WSB) carries more traffic than any other Seattle bridge. While minor cracking of structural concrete is common, it calls for increased monitored. Fortunately, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) conducts routine monitoring. Unfortunately, the cracks began to grow larger and the integrity of the bridge became threatened.

While I support the Mayor’s decision to close the bridge for safety, we need SDOT to prioritize fixing it so that people and freight can move along its span again. In addition, my colleagues and I are concerned about SDOT’s slow communication with the City Council about this issue. This article has more details on the engineering assessment of the WSB’s cracks. SDOT’s presentation to the Council on March 30 is here; it summarizes SDOT’s plans for dealing with the closure.

In response to the bridge closure, Councilmember Herbold and I proposed legislation to add the WSB to the City’s “watch list” of capital projects needing heightened oversight by the Council. This action was passed by the Council unanimously (9-0) on March 30. The Council’s resolution can be read here.

Looking forward, I called for a joint Council / SDOT working group to ensure increased scrutiny in the development of repair plans, the mitigation of traffic disruption, and accountability in future budget decisions — which should prioritize basic infrastructure like bridge safety. As chair of the Transportation and Utilities Committee, my focus beyond the WSB crisis will be to ensure that monitoring, maintenance, and safety of all the City’s existing infrastructure is a high priority.

For more details, please view my blog post on the bridge.


Bigger and Better Support for Small Businesses

Good news to keep thousands of workers employed at Seattle small businesses: The most recent stimulus package from the federal government includes forgivable loans for small businesses that retain employees (the new “Paycheck Protection Program”). This is new starting this week and is more generous than the low-interest “disaster loans” from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  To apply for this variety of financial relief on the SBA website, CLICK HERE.

Because relief packages are frequently improved and updated as all levels of government try to respond, you can sign up for SBA updates by CLICKING HERE.

For the Seattle Times article that answers key questions, CLICK HERE:

Here is a great new tool called the #SupportSeattleSmallBiz map, where you can look up restaurants in your area to see if they are offering take out or delivery. It even provides links so you can order online!

If you’re a neighborhood restaurant and you’d like your information added to this map, send an email to supportsmallbiz@seattle.gov

There’s also a Takeout and Delivery Directory published by “Intentionalist” HERE.


Enjoy Arts & Culture from Home

Even as we continue to follow Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, there is still plenty to do and see from the comfort of our own home. Thanks to the partnership of Google and over 2500 museums and galleries, you can stand in some of the most renowned  museums in the world and be “home” in time to make dinner. Consider taking a virtual tour of some of the most renowned art in the world without leaving your couch.

Did you know that our parks are home to over 100 pieces of publicly owned art? Use the City’s interactive map to take a virtual tour of park artwork, and learn about art near you!

Seattle Opera is lending a hand in the effort to produce more masks to help our local medical providers. A small group of costume shop staff will be working at the Opera Center under the direction of Providence Saint Joseph to help ramp up production of masks in our region. BRAVO!


Your City Council

Facilitating Philanthropy: This week I voted to create a COVID-19 Relief Fund that could directly receive philanthropic donations to support our COVID-19 relief efforts. Monies from this fund would be prioritized for:

  • Food assistance
  • Financial assistance to small businesses
  • Assistance with child care costs

Loan guarantees for small businesses or individuals
Rent assistance for small businesses or individuals

  • Operating assistance to cultural or nonprofit organizations
  • Emergency housing and homelessness supports

Increasing Access to Food:  I also voted to allocate $5 million to provide emergency grocery vouchers to 6,250 families who are currently enrolled in City-supported child care programs and food-assistance programs. The $800 vouchers can be used at any Washington state Safeway grocery store. The City is looking into extending this benefit to local grocers, including ones that have union workers.

Fighting Foreclosures: As rent payments are due again this month, I want to reiterate that both residential and small business evictions are banned under the emergency orders in place. In addition, the federal governments stimulus funding can be used to help with rent. One of the missing pieces, however, is the fact that mortgages are still due and there is currently no lasting protection against foreclosure, especially for commercial properties that provide apartment units or the space for small businesses and nonprofits.  That’s why Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda and I drafted a letter (signed by the rest of the City Council) imploring Governor Inslee to use his authority to prevent banks from foreclosing.  To read the letter, please CLICK HERE.

Here’s a key excerpt from our letter to the Governor about foreclosures:

“While we have heard about temporary efforts from some financial institutions to delay foreclosures…we remain concerned that these voluntary efforts are not enforceable, and they do not cover all residential mortgages or commercial properties, including apartment buildings and buildings renting to small businesses. We, the undersigned members of Seattle City Council, respectfully request that you use your authority under State law to order a moratorium on foreclosures and we stand ready to help in any way possible.”


Contacting Our Office and Thank You

As the Chair of the City’s Transportation and Utilities Committee, I created this video to thank everyone at King County Metro for their hard work during this crisis. Thank you.

Even though City Council is not holding meetings in person in order to follow public health guidelines, you can still follow along by listening on your computer or phone here, or listening on your phone by calling 206-684-8566. You can also submit public comment by sending a fax to 206-684-8587, or emailing your comment to council@seattle.gov. Please remember to add “For City Council Meeting” in the comments.

I’m still holding in-district office hours so we can chat by telephone or via Skype. Please continue to sign up through my website or by CLICKING HERE so I can hear your ideas, concerns, and requests.

For previous e-newsletters, visit my blog by CLICKING HERE.

With gratitude — and community fortitude,

 

 

 

Councilmember Alex Pedersen
Seattle City Council, District 4

Email: Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov
Phone: (206) 684-8804
Find It, Fix It

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