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West Seattle Bridge Update; High Point Library Curbside Book Pickup; Crowd Control Weapons Recommendations; Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens’ Youth Rights Ordinance; Rental Assistance Dollars – County Seeking Feedback; Virtual Office Hours; E-mail Volume / No Newsletter Next Two Weeks

West Seattle Bridge Update

On Wednesday the City Council’s Transportation & Utilities Committee voted  to approve legislation sponsored by Councilmember Pedersen and myself to authorize an interfund loan of up to $70 million to fund work on the West Seattle Bridge and related projects during 2020 and 2021. A Full Council vote is scheduled for September 8th, the day after Labor Day.

This is one of three new actions this week to advance critical work on the West Seattle Bridge. The Bridge is a declared emergency and we can’t use regular planning approaches, so I thank both my Council colleagues for recommending financing legislation to Full Council as well as SDOT for moving quickly to hire a designer, as announced this week. I’m eager to implement the third critical action discussed Wednesday – automated traffic enforcement on the low bridge.

The $70 million interfund loan would be borrowed from the City’s cash pool and repaid with a $100 million bond sale in 2021.  Any needed spending above $100 million through 2021 will be supported by a separate interfund loan, to be established, if necessary, sometime in early 2021. The legislation includes an updated Capital Improvement Budget page that lists an additional $30 million in bond proceeds for the 2021 budget, for the $100 million total.

The legislation will fund:

  • Bridge stabilization work
  • Bridge monitoring
  • Repairs and enhancements to the Spokane Street (Lower) Bridge
  • Traffic and mobility mitigation projects including Reconnect West Seattle project
  • Planning and design of a long-term replacement

The Transportation and Utilities Committee also held a briefing on the West Seattle Bridge. Due to COVID and the Council’s work to revise the 2020 budget due to declining tax revenues, this was the first opportunity for the committee to meet in several months. I thank Chair Pedersen for hearing this at the first opportunity.

SDOT has selected a designer for a replacement for the West Seattle Bridge, which will be necessary for all repair or replacement scenarios.

I appreciate SDOT taking this action now, rather than waiting on the decision of whether to proceed with a replacement or a repair. If we pursue a replacement, this decision will save time.

The design team includes 26 total firms, including 11 woman and minority-owned business enterprise companies.

SDOT will propose legislation to the Council soon for automated enforcement on the lower bridge. This is made possible by the years-long effort of Representative Joe Fitzgibbon to change state law in the 2020 state legislative session to allow for camera enforcement in transit lanes. This could begin as soon as this fall, and is authorized as a pilot project through June 2023. Monetary penalties would begin in January 2021.

Once camera enforcement begins, SDOT will have the opportunity to examine traffic patterns on the lower bridge, and may be able to adjust allowed users. Requests continue to come in for additional access, for example businesses and essential workers.

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force also met on Wednesday. Here’s demographic data for the Reconnect West Seattle Mobility Action Plan Survey results:

In South Park, there were 97 paper ballots in other languages, with 63 in Spanish, 27 in Vietnamese, and 3 in Somali.

There are significant community concerns about speeding, and traffic on side streets. Community suggestions include speed calming devices; speeding enforcement and local-only access to neighborhood streets.

Below are additional key themes:

The survey results also include responses about what would help people use buses and the water taxi more often (though it’s important to keep in mind that social distancing due to COVID-19 impacts people’s willingness to use transit). Travel time and frequency of service were the top results for buses; KC Metro will be adding back service in the Admiral neighborhood on buses 55, 56 and 57 on September 19th.

For the water taxi, more parking nearby, more frequent trips, and better bus/shuttle connections were the top results. KC Metro has issued an RFP for a second boat, but outside funding will be needed for a second boat.

SDOT has begun providing access for employer shuttles; KC Metro’s shared employer shuttle program is expanding access for smaller employers.

For biking, there is interest in increasing trips if facilities are improved and if e-bikes are more affordable though weather and time of day limit use.

Below are the most recent traffic volumes, which continue previous trends. The 25% increase over the pre-COVID baseline for the South Park Bridge is higher than previous counts:

Below are the most recent travel time estimates:

Below are the most recent traffic volumes for the lower (Spokane Street) bridge, for August 5 through 13, and since early March:

High Point Library Curbside Book Pickup

The Seattle Public Library system is launching curbside pickup service for library holds, and High Point Library is one of several sites available.  The curbside pickups are currently only available for holds placed before libraries closed on March 13.  If you have holds available for pickup, SPL will contact you by email or phone.

To schedule a curbside pickup, download the myLIBRO app or call 206-386-4190. When you’re on your way, tap the “I’m on My Way” button via the app so the library can gather your materials.  You can also pick up your holds without scheduling in advance. After you receive a notice that your hold is ready to be picked up, come to the branch listed during open hours and wait in the walk-up line.  Either way, bring your library card and a face covering.

Learn more about curbside pickup, including hours of service and directions for the myLIBRO app.  And stay tuned: SPL expects to announce the ability to place new holds soon.

 

Lowman Beach Park Racket Court Design

Seattle Parks & Recreation is hosting a virtual open house on Wednesday, August 26th from 6:30-7:30pm to gather input about the possibility of a new racket court at Lowman Beach Park .  As part of the Lowman Beach Seawall Replacement project, the existing court will be removed.  Learn more about the seawall replacement project and find links to attend the August 26th meeting here.

Free Covid Testing at Chief Sealth Starting 8/28

Starting Friday August 28th, free, walk-up Covid testing will be available at the Chief Sealth High School Athletic Complex in Westwood.  Register online starting on August 26th for testing between 9:30am – 5:30pm, five days a week.  Translation services are offered at all Citywide testing sites and can be requested while registering.

I thank the Seattle Fire Department for continuing to lead testing efforts by administering tests at the Citywide sites. In the early days of the crisis, SFD developed expertise in administering tests through new pilot programs including testing for first responders and Mobile Assessment Teams in long-term care facilities.  My office worked with SFD to make their excess testing capacity available to front-line service providers in an effort to help protect people experiencing homelessness and those who work with them.  You can learn more about SFD’s efforts to provide testing here.

Testing is free at the City of Seattle sites, and clients are not billed, regardless of health insurance status. For those with insurance, UW Medicine will handle the billing of Medicaid, Medicare, or individuals’ private insurance. Under Washington state law, insurance companies cannot charge co-pays for COVID-19 testing. For uninsured clients, UW Medicine will seek reimbursement directly from the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act Relief Fund for the cost of the test.

This community was successful beating back coronavirus in the spring and we can do it again. With the closure of the West Seattle Bridge making it harder to access testing, this additional testing capacity in District 1 will make a real difference. If you suspect that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID, or have been in contact with someone with COVID, please seek testing.

 

Crowd Control Weapons Recommendations

Last Friday the Community Police Commission, the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountably all sent reports to the Council regarding the use of crowd control weapons, as requested in the Council legislation adopted on June 15. At the time of passage, I sponsored an amendment to the bill requesting these reports by August 15th, along with another amendment to submit the legislation to US District Court Judge Robart, who oversees the 2012 Consent Decree. I appreciate the work of these three accountability bodies guiding our policy work related to policing practices and their necessary reform.

Each of the three accountability bodies have slightly different roles and responsibilities as part of the 3-legged stool that comprises our civilian accountability system. Here’s a link to their recommendations, which I’ve invited them to present to my Public Safety and Human Services Committee in September:

The recommendations of the three bodies are different, in line with their responsibilities as accountability bodies; the OPA perspective is informed by its responsibility to evaluate complaints filed; the OIG focuses on structural issues in SPD’s policies as compared to other law enforcement; and the CPC’s perspective focuses in part on the effect of policing policies on the community’s trust.

All three bodies note support for allowing for the use of some less lethal options outside the context of crowd control. Both the OPA and OIG propose re-authorizing the limited use of crowd control devices during crowd control situations when violence is present; the OIG indicates any re-authorization should be accompanied by changes in policy and training to reduce risk of harm to non-violent protestors; the OPA proposes conditions to minimize use.

The legislation was adopted in response to complaints from numerous residents, especially from Capitol Hill, who were deeply upset by the frequent use of tear gas near their homes for over a week. This resulted in, for example, a family fleeing their residence. Because tear gas seeped into their home, their newborn child woke up coughing and foaming at the mouth; they fled the neighborhood out of fear for their child’s life.

There are two court cases affecting the use of crowd control devices. On June 13th, US District Court  approved a temporary restraining order sought by Black Lives Matter and the ACLU limiting the use of crowd control devices in protests; the City agreed to extend the preliminary injunction limiting the use of crowd control devices through September 30th.  On August 10th, in response to a motion of contempt by BLM/ACLU, the City agreed to the expansion of the injunction to further limit the use of chemical irritants or projectiles, and specifically called out a prohibition on use against journalists, legal observers and medics, and specified that declaring a riot does not exempt the city from its obligations under the order.

In a separate case, US District Court Judge Robart approved a temporary restraining order on implementation of the Council’s ordinance that was requested by the US Department of Justice. He requested the three accountability bodies to submit recommendations to him as well; a decision could come as soon as September.

 

Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens’ Youth Rights Ordinance

In mid-July I wrote a blog post about this legislation, before it was brought to Council.  You can read that article here. I cosponsored this legislation with Councilmember Morales after calls from community members and advocates concerned about youth not understanding their rights when interacting with police officers.

The Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens’ Youth Rights Ordinance is named after a teenager who, in 2017, was shot and killed by plainclothes deputies during a misguided King County Sheriff’s Office’s sting operation that wrongly targeted two teens. Dunlap-Gittens’ was a high school senior set to graduate from Federal Way High School. His mother described him as a good son with a big heart, who wanted to be a lawyer and enjoyed writing poetry.

The Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens’ Youth Rights Ordinance requires:

  1. An officer, before any questioning and after administering a Miranda warning to a person 17 years of age or younger, allow the youth to consult with legal counsel in person, by telephone, or by video conference. There are exceptions for information necessary to protect life from an imminent threat.
  2. An officer, prior to requesting consent to search a youth/their property/home/vehicles, allow the youth to consult with legal counsel in person, by telephone, or by video conference.
  3. After consulting with legal counsel, the youth may, or can have a parent, guardian or legal counsel, advise the officer whether they want to exercise their constitutional rights.

The Full Council unanimously passed this legislation on Monday. Children of color are disproportionately contacted by law enforcement, incarcerated, and charged with offenses in King County juvenile court. In 2018, 73.2% of the children charged were children of color and 86.5% of the youth incarcerated between January and September of 2019 were children of color.

I want to thank Mi’Chance’s family for testifying before the Council and for their advocacy which made passage of this ordinance possible.

 

Rental Assistance Dollars – County Seeking Feedback

On Thursday the County announced a plan to spend over $40 million on rental eviction prevention and rental assistance. Landlords must agree to accept 80 percent of the rent or fair market rent, whichever is less, so that public funds can help more households.

  • Large Residential Property Fund ($17.9M)
    To reach the largest number of low-income households as quickly as possible, nearly $18 million is dedicated to a fund that is available to larger residential property managers and landlords with multiple residents needing assistance. Efforts will focus on Low Income Tax Credit properties and properties in the zip codes with the highest unemployment and COVID-19 disease burdens.
  • Individual Household/Small Landlord Fund ($10M)
    Another fund focuses on assisting any individual household that meets the eligibility requirements. Due to expected high demand, tenant selection will occur via a weekly lottery. Potential recipients will submit a form to enter the lottery process, with the first tenants and landlords drawn on September 14, 2020 and weekly thereafter until all funds are spent. Community-based organizations will assist tenants with the application process, and other nonprofit organizations will provide the actual rental assistance.
  • Manufactured Home Park Fund ($2M)
    Specialized assistance and funding is dedicated to help manufactured home park residents, many of whom are Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, including approximately 70 percent Latinx. Similar to the Large Residential Property Fund, non-profit organizations administering the funds will work with park owners to assist households quickly. Community-based organizations will provide residents with language and other assistance, as needed.
  • Eviction Prevention – United Way of King County ($5M)
    Funding is allocated to United Way’s Rental Assistance Program to support households through UWKC’s Home Base program when the state-mandated Eviction Moratorium ends in mid-October, unless the moratorium is extended. If extended, the resources will be reallocated to support the other funds.

The remaining dollars will be spent on outreach and administrative costs. The County is seeking feedback on this proposal, and you can comment here through August 25.

If you are a tenant seeking assistance, please see this link to see if you qualify to receive funds. For small landlords, please see this link.

 

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday August  28, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm 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.

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

  • Friday, September 25, 2020
  • Friday, October 30, 2020
  • Friday, December 18, 2020

 

E-mail Volume / No Newsletter Next Two Weeks

E-mail volume recently has been at an all-time high, with tens of thousands of e-mails coming in. I’m sorry it’s taking longer than usual to get back to everyone.

The City Council is on its summer recess for the next two weeks, and there won’t be any Council meetings during that time. My next update will be in September in a couple of weeks.

 

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