• Search Council Connection



  • Council Photostream



    Archives





COVID-19 Update; King County Metro Service; Census Day; West Seattle Bridge Update

COVID-19 Update

Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order Extended

The Governor has extended his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order until May 4. The order still allows you to get outside and take walks or enjoy your local neighborhood park, as long as you’re practicing proper social distancing.  That means staying at least 6 feet away from others at all times and avoiding groups.

For more information from King County Public Health, you can check out their dashboard here which has information on testing and results, and a clickable map showing the rate of positive test results by zip code and by city.

Council President González, earlier this week, extended the order for the Legislative Department to work remotely through April 24. Given the Governor’s announcement, I expect this to be extended again through May 4.

The Council passed a few new bills in response to COVID-19:

  • Legislation to create a new $5 million grocery voucher program to support low-income families facing food insecurity because of the response to COVID-19. The vouchers will be worth $800 and sent to 6,250 low-income families to purchase food, cleaning supplies, and other household good at any Safeway in Washington. My amendment to the legislation will encourage partnerships with stores in addition to Safeway.
  • Legislation to create a COVID-19 Donation Fund which creates a structure to expedite the receipt of donated private funds prescribed for emergent needs. My amendment to this legislation requires that the reporting on how donated funds are spent includes an accounting across priority uses.
  • A Resolution that requests the Governor impose an immediate moratorium on rent and mortgage payments, and calls on our federal delegation to do the same. Note: there is no rent moratorium in place.

Prohibition on Evictions for Renters, Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Prohibition on Some Foreclosures

Since it’s the beginning of the month, and many people have rent due I want to remind readers that the Mayor, on March 14, issued an emergency order to prohibit residential eviction, and the Council subsequently approved the emergency order. So although there is no rent moratorium in place, there is a prohibition on evictions.  The current eviction moratorium is in place for 60 days. The moratorium says that your landlord “shall not initiate an unlawful detainer action, issue a notice of termination, or otherwise act on any termination notice, including any action or notice related to a rental agreement that has expired or will expire during the effective date of this Emergency Order, unless the tenant’s actions constitute an imminent threat to the health or safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant’s or landlord’s household members.  Further, no late fees or other charges due to late payment of rent shall accrue during the moratorium.”

The Courts are not hearing eviction cases right now so even if your landlord issued an eviction notice in violation of the moratorium, there would be no court to hear the case.  Even if the courts were to resume hearing eviction cases, the moratorium gives you another protection because it states that “It shall be a defense to any eviction action that the eviction of the tenant will occur during the moratorium, unless the eviction action is due to actions by the tenant constituting an imminent threat to the health or safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant’s or landlord’s household members.”

Finally, the Sheriff of King County has also agreed to cease execution of eviction orders during the moratorium.

The City of Seattle has funded about $3.3 million for our own eviction prevention programs. The State also has rent assistance programs.  We are working to update program qualification criteria to allow a. renters with a billing statement as described in this eviction moratorium Q&A to access rental assistance funds (without an eviction notice as previously required).  For information about how to get help with your rent, you can contact 211.

Additionally, this article from the Seattle Times has a lot of great information about how to approach your landlord and discuss possible payment plans.

Finally, if you would like to share your story you can email CD19_rent@seattle.gov or fill out this form.

Finally, evictions for small business commercial tenants and non-profit tenants are prohibited as well and there are protections in place for people with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Homeowners can look up whether their loans are backed by the mortgage companies through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s websites. Fannie Mae’s online form can be found here, and Freddie Mac can be found here.

Looking for ways to help?

Blood supply is low in Seattle, and blood donation centers are open and need your help.  In order to ensure social distancing, you can make an appointment ahead of time.  Find a location and schedule your donation here.

Want to volunteer or find an organization to support?  United Way of King County has a special online COVID-related volunteer clearinghouse.  At this week’s District 1 Community Network meeting, Phil Tavel shared another similar emergency response effort online to connect individual volunteers and community organizations with local needs:  WestSeattleCovidRecovers.  The platform works much like the United Way platform, but is focused on West Seattle.  The United Way Platform is Citywide, but still allows you to search by zip code, to find something close to your home.

King County Metro Service

King County Metro noted earlier this week that bus ridership is down 72%.

With significantly lower ridership during the COVID-19 epidemic, Metro reduced service on most routes on March 23rd.  Metro announced today that they will further reduce service as well on April 6th. This Metro Matters post explains the workforce impacts of COVID-19, and decisions about which routes will continue, and which will be suspended.

Metro has a webpage showing which bus trips are cancelled for each bus route.

Census Day

Wednesday, April 1 was Census Day! If you haven’t already I encourage you to fill our your Census form at www.my2020census.gov. Happening every 10 years, and mandated by our Constitution, the Census has last effects. A complete Census count ensures that we receive our fair share of federal resources for federally funded programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

For more information about Seattle’s efforts to ensure a safe and accurate count, please visit www.seattlecensus.org.

West Seattle Bridge Update

The West Seattle Bridge remains closed, and the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge is open for only emergency vehicles, public transit, freight and access to Harbor Island.

The West Seattle Bridge normally carries 100,000 cars daily, and 17,000 transit riders.

SDOT has said the maximum traffic the lower bridge can handle is 20,000. Normal traffic on the lower bridge is 10,000 vehicles; a traffic count last week showed 15,000.

SDOT has indicated it will be placing better, larger signage in the approach to the bridge about permitted uses; with current signage, it’s difficult for some drivers to see they aren’t permitted until it’s too late.

I have asked about potential enforcement action; SDOT is considering this, though one challenge with enforcement is how to do it without slowing traffic.

Current traffic on Seattle roads is significantly lower than usual. During the last week SDOT has estimated that citywide traffic volumes have been between 33% and 40% of normal. King County Metro is running fewer bus trips than usual. Once traffic increases, there will be more pressure on the lower bridge, as well as on southern access points to the peninsula, the 1st Avenue South Bridge, and the South Park Bridge.

SDOT continues daily inspections of the bridge, and is working on a plan to shore up the bridge before proceeding to repairs. They don’t yet have a timetable for the duration of the closure; earlier this week, they estimated they would know in 3-4 weeks. SDOT has said the closure will not be of short duration.

A number of constituents have asked about what happened on the bridge, and what led to the problems with cracks. The website Seattle City Council Insight, which covers the City Council, has an informative post, What Happened to the West Seattle Bridge?, with background on the design of the bridge, the physics of the bridge, and the location of the cracks.

A question I and others have asked SDOT to examine is about piling work at Terminal 5, which was being done during the last quarter of 2019, and is continuing.

You can sign up for e-mail updates at SDOT’s West Seattle High-Rise Bridge Safety Project website, which includes links to SDOT blog updates. An FAQ has been posted as well.

© 1995-2018 City of Seattle