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West Seattle Bridge: May 15 Update; Ferries’ Letter Update; COVID-19 Updates; City Consent Decree Filing; Virtual Office Hours

West Seattle Bridge: May 15 Update

SDOT announced they have completed installing intelligent monitoring systems to assess the condition of the West Seattle Bridge. This equipment includes movement sensors, crack monitors and cameras from Pier 15 to Pier 18. SDOT notes this will:

  • “Keep us informed on how the bridge reacts to environmental changes, bridge stabilization measures, temporary shoring, and potential future repairs.
  • Give us a better indication of bridge distress that could warn of impending failure.
  • Guide us to a decision about the technical feasibility of repair or replacement.”

Movement sensors throughout piers 15 and 18 will measure expansion and contraction at the expansion joints. Deck monitors, which were activated and have been recording data since late April, measure vertical and lateral bridge movements in real time.

New crack monitors will complement the current crack monitoring equipment installed in 2014, which could measure the width of cracks in four specific locations on the bridge.

Monitoring cameras near the center span will record visible crack growth, and provide quick visual verification if sensors indicate excessive movement.

SDOT notes, “The new intelligent monitoring system is already ‘talking’ to us and telling us that there is some potential for failure. What we don’t yet know is how great that potential is. The new system will help us better determine that.”

I appreciate SDOT’s candor. SDOT indicates that after a few weeks’ worth of data, they will have a clearer sense of the stability of the bridge, what work can be done.

Traffic Updates

SDOT has installed additional traffic cameras on Roxbury on 15th, 16th, and 35th, and on 35th at Barton, Holden, and Morgan. You can view the camera feeds on SDOT’s camera page by clicking on the camera icons on the map. Areas with more than one camera in close proximity have a + sign on the camera; when you click on the camera image, you can click “next” to see the other camera (e.g. 15th/Roxbury and 16th Roxbury).

Traffic levels continue to be high in the most recent counts on West Marginal, and are up slightly on the South Park Bridge, Roxbury and 15th, 35th and Raymond, and on East Marginal Way and 1st Avenue South. Citywide traffic levels are around 50% of normal volume.

SDOT has installed three dynamic message signs displaying travel route times via West Marginal Way SW, at SW Admiral @ 34th St SW; at Fauntleroy Way SW @ SW 38th Street; and at 35th Ave SW @ SW Snoqualmie Street.

SDOT is coordinating with King County Metro on paving work on SW Roxbury St between 16th Ave SW and 18th Ave SW; they plan to do the paving later this month.

SDOT is working on neighborhood-based traffic management plans to prepare for the significantly higher levels we can expect. Draft plans for the neighborhoods that will see increased traffic off the peninsula (e.g. South Park, Highland Park/South Delridge/Riverview/Roxhill, as well as SODO and Georgetown) will be released for public comment and further work with the community in early June; SDOT has met with a number of community groups and committed to further meetings to discussing the draft plans. SDOT is considering public suggestions. You can send ideas to SDOT directly at 684-ROAD@seattle.gov. I’m happy to pass on suggestions as well.

Ferries’ Letter Update

Washington State Ferries replied to my letter requesting they consider re-directing some of the ferry traffic from Vashon and/or Southworth, that usually travels to the Fauntleroy ferry dock, to Downtown Seattle instead; and that they consider trips from Fauntleroy to Downtown. Numerous constituents have written to suggest this.

Ferries replied they are “working with transportation agencies and stakeholders from across the city of Seattle and King County to better understand this dynamic situation, and together we are analyzing a variety of options to address this challenge.”

I appreciate Ferries’ reply, and commitment to work with the City, and analyze options.

Ferries also noted challenges related to their terminals include the limited capacity at Fauntleroy; the reconstruction of Colman Dock through 2023, reducing the number of operating slips from 3 to 2; potential impact to Seattle/Bremerton and Seattle/Bainbridge routes and those communities; the number of ferries they have available; and public input requirements for any schedule changes.

Ferries also notes that their most recent origin-destination study showed 60% of passengers aren’t heading downtown or points north (which is why my request was to “directing some of the traffic between Vashon and/or Southworth to Downtown Seattle”).

COVID-19 Updates

Welcoming YouthCare to the Neighborhood

Last Friday, a number of young people experiencing homelessness became temporary District 1 residents, moving into the Southwest Teen Life Center.  YouthCare’s usual shelter building didn’t offer enough space for residents to safely shelter in place during the day, when residents would generally leave for education or work, but were suddenly required to stay indoors. YouthCare worked quickly to find alternate locations, and the young people themselves helped make the decision to move to the Southwest Teen Life Center.

My office has been in contact with our new neighbors during their transition.  The new space requires some changes to their usual program, and we have been helping ensure they are able to keep their clients safe and well-fed in their new home.  Please join me in welcoming these young people to our community!

Starting Monday, Wear a Face Covering When You Leave the House

Starting on Monday, May 18th, Seattle & King County Public Health issued a countywide health directive instructing residents to wear cloth face coverings in confined public spaces – indoors and out.  Specifically, cloth face coverings should be worn while indoors (except for at home), and outdoors in places where maintaining six feet of physical distance is difficult.

You don’t need to buy a cloth face covering – they can easily be made at home with any piece of cotton fabric.  The Centers for Disease Control has these step-by-step instructions on how to make a cloth face covering.

This effort is critical to slowing the spread of #COVID19 in our community. Learn more, including individuals who may be exempted from the order: kingcounty.gov/masks

Additional Emergency Services for District 1

One of my first actions after learning about the closure of the West Seattle Bridge was to request what additional emergency services would be placed in District 1 to ensure the health and safety of my constituents. In 2010 when the Spokane Street Viaduct was closed the Seattle Fire Department added another fire truck to the area to ensure adequate coverage.

Last Friday the City announced the addition of another ladder fire truck with four firefighters-EMTs to be located at Station 37 (SW Holden St and 35th Ave), and another medic unit with two paramedics at Station 26 (South Park). I am grateful that Fire Chief Scoggins placed these new resources in District 1 to help ensure our safety.

Alki Stay Healthy Streets Extended

Alki’s Stay Healthy Streets segment has been extended – see the map below.  In District 1, Stay Healthy Streets are also available in Delridge/Highland Park and High Point.

Stay Healthy Streets are neighborhood greenways that are closed to thru-traffic so people can bike and walk in the road. Local traffic is still allowed on the streets.

Curbside Pick-Up Zones for Retail

As retail stores begin reopening in the coming weeks, look for Curbside Pick-Up Zones!  Starting today, the Seattle Department of Transportation will install temporary curbside priority pick-up zones to support safe, easy, and critical access to Seattle retail businesses that are open for curbside pick-up.  Look for these signs.

Under Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Washington plan, retail businesses can now open for curbside pick-up orders only.  Curbside pick-up zones are special, temporary 15-minute loading zones to support those retail businesses, similar to restaurant pick-up zones.  The 15-minute time limit gives people a chance to quickly and safely pick up purchases, while ensuring frequent parking turnover so the locations remain reliably available for wide use.

To request a curbside priority pick up zone, contact SDOT at 206.684.ROAD or 684-ROAD@seattle.gov and provide your business name, address and contact information.  SDOT will review requested locations to make sure a new zone will fit within the nearby curb regulations. Generally, they will install one new zone per block, so it may need to be located where it can serve several stores on the block. Curbside Priority Pick-Up Zone signs are not assigned to specific businesses, and can be used among several businesses along the block.

City Consent Decree Filing

Earlier this month the City Attorney filed a motion  to terminate the 2-year Sustainment Plan for the Consent Decree between the City of Seattle and the US Department of Justice.

During Phase I of the Consent Decree, the Monitor conducted  ten assessments over three years, which led to new reforms at the Seattle Police Department. The reports included use of force, supervision, crisis intervention, stops, search and seizure, and community confidence.

In January 2018, based on the Monitor’s assessments, the Court found that the City achieved full and effective compliance with the Consent Decree’s Phase I requirements. The Court then approved the two-year Phase II Sustainment Plan, whereby the Court continues to monitor compliance.

The gains in implementing the Consent Decree regarding, for example, lowering use of force and enhancing accountability came about because of the actions the department–especially police officers– so I thank them for their work for public safety and constitutional policing.  Although the Monitor has said: “Seattle has come to be seen as a national model on how to address fundamental issues relating to use of force, stops and detentions, and bias-free policing” and there has been a 60% reduction in the use of serious force, it is important to me that the City recognize in its filing the continued racial disparity in use of force.   For 2019, 22% of total incidences of use of force were for black men, significantly higher than Seattle’s population of black men, and shown on SPD’s use of force dashboard, which includes use of force data. As part of reforms, SPD now has significantly more online data.

As relates to racial disparity in the use of force, the filing says the following:

“The City is not satisfied with simply meeting Consent Decree requirements in this area. SPD has explained, ‘[a]s is reflected in statistics nationwide, racial disparity is of significant ongoing concern, and is an important issue that requires continued discussion and analysis within the limited role of law enforcement but also beyond.’ SPD’s Use of Force Annual Rept. (Dkt. 605- 1) at 9. To that end, SPD has ‘committed to continuing these avenues of inquiry into where disparity is occurring in its interactions with the public, and what the possible causes of that disparity are.’ Disparity Review Pt. II (Dkt. 600-1) at 26.”

The filing leaves one important issue for a later filing: concerns raised by Judge Robart in his May, 2019 Order about accountability and discipline, in which he agreed with concerns raised by the Community Police Commission, and ruled the city was out of full and effective compliance on accountability and officer discipline, and would need to regain compliance. The city’s filing notes the plan to file a subsequent motion by August 1 to address these issues.

It’s important to remember that this process was begun by community groups in 2010, who sent a letter to the US Department of Justice in response to their letter, the US DOJ released findings in 2011 of a “pattern or practice” of unconstitutional use of force within the Seattle Police Department. The City and the DOJ entered in to a consent decree in 2012. Included in this was an oversight role by a federal monitor.

As a result of reforms, the City now has a three-pronged accountability structure. The City’s filing notes the City:

“created a powerful Office of Inspector General for Public Safety (OIG) to “ensure the fairness and integrity of the police system as a whole” and “oversee ongoing fidelity to organizational reforms implemented” by SPD under the Consent Decree.

The City established the Community Police Commission (CPC) as a permanent body and broadened its authority to encompass advocacy and engagement related to police-community relations, SPD policies and practices, and police oversight.

The City also increased the effectiveness of the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) to further strengthen mechanisms for holding officers accountable, including by bolstering its independence and improving the investigations process.”

As Chair of the Council’s committee overseeing public safety, I regularly meet with and consult with these three accountability agencies.

The City’s press release includes additional background noted below:

  • SPD has reduced the incidence of serious force by officers by 60 percent and virtually all uses of force now meet constitutional requirements, demonstrating that there is no longer a pattern or practice of excessive force.
  • SPD has become a national leader in crisis response training and its rate of using force in crisis incidents is extraordinarily low.
  • SPD does not engage in the “no suspicion” stop-and-frisk tactics decried in other jurisdictions, and the legality of its stops and frisks does not vary by race.
  • SPD and the Community Police Commission have collaborated to design and implement high quality implicit bias training and to study the sources and effects of racial disparity in policing.
  • SPD overhauled its patrol staffing and supervision to ensure that all patrol officers have a consistent, highly trained supervisor.
  • The Office of Police Accountability conducts thorough, complete investigations and has adopted key recommendations from the Monitor and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday May 29, I will be hosting virtual office hours to comply with the extended Stay Home, Stay Healthy order from Governor Inslee. They will begin at 3pm and go until 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, you will need to contact my schedule Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time. We will be using Skype for Business, and you can either utilize the application or the dial-in number.

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, June 26, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, July 31, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, August 21, 2020
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, September 25, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, October 30, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, December 18, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
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