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District 1 Town Hall on Sept 30; West Seattle Bridge Update Sept 25; OPA Protest Findings; Big Bucks for Food Delivery Drivers; 2021 Budget Process and Timelines; Free Family Meals; Diaper Need Awareness Week; 2020 Rebalanced Budget

District 1 Town Hall: Public Safety and West Seattle Bridge, September 30th

On September 30, I will co-host a District 1 Town Hall on public safety and the West Seattle Bridge, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

SPD Chief Diaz and SW Precinct Captain Grossman will be attending, along with SDOT Director Zimbabwe. There will also be a representative from LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) to talk about the expansion of the program to the SW Precinct.

The first hour will be on public safety, and the second hour will be on the West Seattle Bridge. There will be plenty of time for questions on each topic.

You can RVSP below; later in the day Tuesday we’ll e-mail information to the RSVP list about how to participate in the Q&A, and view the town hall.

 

West Seattle Bridge Update September 25

We are approaching the decision point for whether the replace or repair the West Seattle Bridge.

Cost/Benefit Analysis

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on Wednesday, and continued its discussion about the cost/benefit analysis “attributes” that will inform the decision. The task force is scheduled to meet on October 7th, and will receive “rough order of magnitude costs” and other data from the cost/benefit analysis that will be used to develop the cost estimate. A decision from the Mayor is expected on October 21st, along with a presentation on the final cost/benefit analysis findings.

Below are the 10 attributes, and the ”units of measure” that will be used to quantify cost estimates:

Maintenance and Operations:

  • Inspection requirements (frequency, level of effort (high/medium/low)
  • Intelligent transpiration system required (yes/no)
  • Structural health monitoring systems required (yes/no, if so how many)
  • Painting/UV protection required (yes/no)

Constructability

  • Schedule impacts (duration of project)
  • Complexity (standard or complex construction?)
  • Specialty contractors and equipment (required, if so how many?0
  • Utility relocations (minor/average/major)
  • In-water work (amount needed)
  • Demolition (amount and complexity required)
  • Poor soil conditions (is substantial foundation work required?)
  • Staging/laydown area required (is the required footprint minimal, average, or major?)

Environmental

  • Noise and vibration (will pile driving be required?)
  • Duwamish Waterway (timing and duration of in-water work, proximity of construction ground disturbance to shoreline)
  • Section 4(f) resources (use of parks, trails, open space, wildlife refuges, etc)
  • Emissions (tons of greenhouse gases)
  • Wildlife impacts (timing and duration of construction during falcon/Great Blue Heron breeding season)

Equity

  • Duration of bridge closure (years of closure starting 1/2021)
  • Incremental vehicle miles traveled (through marginalized communities)
  • Incremental vehicle travel (crossing the Duwamish Waterway)
  • Incremental travel time (during construction, through marginalized communities)
  • Number of construction events/community disruption (in 75 year timeframe)

Forward Compatibility

  • Future roadway configuration (maintain a minimum of existing configuration)
  • Accommodate light rail (yes/no)

Funding Opportunities

  • Project eligibility (eligible for funding, number of funding sources)
  • Funding revenue general potential (historical experience)
  • Stability of funding source
  • Timing for availability
  • Administrative requirements (whether structure is in place)
  • Legal authority
  • Income and racial equality

Business and Workforce Impacts

  • Bridge closure impacts
  • Direct/indirect economic impacts and industry from construction
  • Economic and workforce impacts
  • Temporary construction easements (number/duration)
  • Utility interruption (number of times project will impact utilities)
  • Access impacts to local properties
  • Industrial and maritime industry impacts (quantitative and qualitative)

Mobility Impacts

  • Travel time (during construction)
  • Travel distance
  • Non-vehicle trips (during construction)
  • Regional mobility impacts
  • Safety (on detour routes)

Multi-modal Impacts

  • Increase transit service during construction
  • Bicycle traffic accommodation (high/medium low)
  • Pedestrian traffic accommodation (high/medium low)
  • Emergency access (response time increase during construction
  • Freight mobility (high/medium low)

Seismic/Safety

  • Seismic hazard levels (100 year, 210 year, and 975 year periods)
  • Operational classification post design earthquake service ((100 year, 210 year, and 975 year periods)
  • In-ground hinging permitted (yes/no)
  • Ventifcation excitations considered (yes/no)
  • Seismic compliance established (year)

Here’s how the attributes will be weighed:

West Marginal Way

SDOT presented six potential projects for West Marginal Way, which has seen significant increases in traffic since the March 23rd closure of the West Seattle Bridge. SDOT is proposing six projects, with funding from the $70 million approved by the Council.

One project is an interim and permanent crossing signal at the Duwamish Longhouse. I proposed funding for this in the 2020 budget, and the Council adopted $500,000 to get the project started; planning and design has continued during 2020.

This will fully fund the project, which was the top priority of the District 1 Community Network for the 2020 budget, and received strong community support. An interim signal is proposed for late summer 2021, with a permanent signal in 2022 (timing will depend on railroad permitting).

A second project is improvements at the Highland Park Way/West Marginal intersection, to reduce wait times at this intersection which has seen traffic increases of over 100%:

Other projects include radar feedback signs by the end of 2020; a west side sidewalk connection to the Longhouse (my March 6 newsletter noted this area in a walk organized by the Duwamish); a Duwamish Trail connection, and freight mobility improvements (which would involve e.g. reducing southbound lane capacity to 1 lane between the bridge and the Longhouse); while SDOT notes 80% of drivers use the middle lane, some members of the task force expressed concern about this (SDOT’s schedule lists late  summer 2021); the decision to repair or replace, and the timeline, will be helpful to know in the context of these changes.

Camera enforcement legislation

On Tuesday, the Council is scheduled to vote on legislation to allow camera enforcement of the prohibition on driving in transit lanes. Under state law, only warnings can be issued during 2020.

SDOT has indicated that uses of and access to the lower bridge can be reconsidered after camera enforcement begins.  SDOT has developed a subcommittee consisting of members of the Community Task Force to make recommendations for changes to lower level bridge access policies.

Traffic volumes

The most recent traffic volumes continue existing trends of high traffic volumes on West Marginal and Highland Park Way?

Below are the most recent travel times:


OPA Reports First Set of Findings re: Protests

The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) has received 19,000 complaints about police conduct since May 30ths regarding demonstrations, resulting in a total of 118 cases.

OPA has a Demonstration Complaint Dashboard to track the 118 cases. It shows the steps in  investigations, from 0% to issuing findings at 100% completion.

It is updated every two weeks, most recently on September 18th; the next update is scheduled for October 2nd.

Last week the Office of Police Accountability released a first set of findings after completing five investigations (a link to a PDF of the release is here).

Two of five cases so far have sustained findings, meaning OPA found that a violation had occurred.  In one of the 2 cases, use of force (an officer’s knee on an individual’s neck during an arrest) was found to be improper and inconsistent with SPD policy and training and the officer made statements that violated SPD’s professionalism policy.  This case is currently before Interim Chief Diaz to determine discipline to be imposed.  In the second case with a sustained finding OPA found that the officer behaved in an unprofessional way in violation of SPD policy

Many people contacted OPA to file a complaint about the child who experienced pepper spray.  This case was one the completed investigations this week with a finding of “not sustained.”  OPA found:  “OPA’s review of bystander and body-worn video found that the boy was not individually targeted. He and his father moved towards a protester who had grabbed an officer’s baton and was pushing into the police line. An SPD supervisor used pepper spray to move the protester back. In response, the protester ducked, causing the pepper spray to inadvertently affect the boy and his father. OPA deemed the use of pepper spray on the protester consistent with policy based on the protester’s actions. While the impact to the boy was an unfortunate result, he was not visible on the video at the time of the pepper spraying and therefore could not have been seen by the supervisor.”

Results of those cases are listed on the complaint dashbaoard.

Big Bucks for Food Delivery Drivers

You may remember that over the summer, the Seattle City Council passed legislation I sponsored, with Councilmember Andrew Lewis, to require premium pay to compensate drivers for the costs of maintaining vehicles in accordance with best health practices, including hazard pay for doing essential work that puts themselves in harm’s way. I wrote about it at the time here.

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards, after workers filed complaints, got an agreement with some Food Delivery Network companies for back pay and interest.  Now, $361,950 is due from gig companies like DoorDash and Postmates.

Thanks to this enforcement, thousands of impacted drivers will receive the money they’re owed.

Learn more about Seattle gig workers’ rights to hazard pay and sick leave here.

This Week in the Budget: 2021 Budget Process and Timelines

The City Council will soon begin consideration of the 2021 budget; the Council will meet as the Budget Committee, which includes all nine members. Here’s the timeline and process as it stands:

September 29: In accordance with state law, the Mayor will deliver to the City Council a proposed budget for 2021.

From September 30-October 2nd: the City Budget Office will provide an overview of the proposed budget, and selected departments will provide additional details on their proposed budget. Here’s the schedule:

9/30: Morning session: City Budget Office overview; afternoon session: Dept. of Education & Early Learning Office of Sustainability & Environment, Office of Economic Development

10/1: Morning session: Seattle Police Department; afternoon: Community Safety, Municipal Court

10/2: Morning session: Citywide homelessness response, Office of Housing; afternoon: Transportation, Parks

October 6th: first public hearing, 5:30 p.m.

October 8th: deadline at 5 p.m. for Issue Identification; Councilmembers can identify issues for the Budget Deliberations and Issue Identification sessions beginning on October 15; these can be questions, high-level proposals, or specific proposals

October 15-21: Budget Deliberations and Issue Identification; Council Central Staff will review the proposed budget and identify potential issues; issues identified by Councilmembers will also be included

October 22nd: 5 p.m. deadline for Council Budget Actions and Statements of Legislative Intent (SLIs) beginning on October 28th; with three sponsors, and specific dollar amounts of potential cut or budget addition identified

October 27th: second public hearing at 5:30 p.m.

October 28-30th: Council Budget Actions and SLIs presented to the Council Budget Committee and Public

November 10: Budget Committee Chair presents proposed Balancing Package

November 12: 5 p.m. deadline for amendments to the Chair’s Balancing Package, and must be self-balancing

November 18-19 Budget Committee votes on Chair’s Balancing Package and amendments

November 23: Committee vote during the morning session of the Budget Committee; Full Council adoption at the regular 2 p.m. meeting

You can sign up here to receive Budget Committee agendas by e-mail.

Free Family Meals through Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools are offering free meals for students’ families on Mondays through Fridays. To get more information, visit www.seattleschools.org/resources/student_meals or call 206-252-0675

Two meal programs are available for students and their families:

  • Student Meals by Bus provides prepared cold, meals available via eight bus routes, including Madison 3408 in District 1.
  • SPS School Sites provides sack breakfast and lunch meals prepared by SPS; and reheat-able meals prepared by FareStart. Meals are available Monday – Friday, 11:15am – 1:15pm for students, parents and guardians.  Food is available at 40 schools around the City, including these in District 1:
    • Madison Middle School
    • Boren STEM K-8 School
    • Arbor Heights Elementary School
    • Concord International Elementary School
    • Roxhill Elementary School
    • Highland Park Elementary School
    • Denny International Middle School
    • Chief Sealth International High School

Diaper Need Awareness Week

As Chair of the committee with oversight of human services, on Monday I presented a proclamation to representatives of WestSide Baby, signed by all 9 Councilmembers and the Mayor, proclaiming September 21-27 to be Diaper Need Awareness Week in the city of Seattle.  I thank my colleagues and the Mayor for their support of this national effort.

Diaper need is a lack of a sufficient supply of diapers to keep a baby clean, dry and healthy.  This proclamation is part of a national effort to bring attention to a health issue that affects 1 in 3 families in the United States.  Low-income families pay up to 14% of their entire income just for disposable diapers. WestSide Baby estimates a healthy supply of diapers for a newborn costs approximately $75-$100 per month – much too costly for many families making the minimum wage.

In King County, a 2017 survey showed 23% of families found it difficult to afford diapers. Black families, Indigenous families, and families of color (BIPOC) are disproportionately impacted by diaper need in the Seattle area; 61% of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander families and 42% of Black and African-American families are struggling to afford diapers.

WestSide Baby is a District 1 nonprofit that meets the need for diapers among families across our city.  Last year, West Side Baby distributed 1.5 million diapers to Seattle families. In just the first 6 months of this year, they’ve already distributed over 1.1 million diapers already. COVID, and the socio-economic effects of the pandemic, have severely amplified the need.

To help meet the increased need, West Side Baby is collecting donations of diapers and wipes right now.  You can participate in one of two ways:

  • Online, through its wish list at: ly/diapersforallbabies
  • Dropping items off directly at its White Center Hub, 10002 14th Ave SW, on Wednesdays from 10am-2pm or at its South Lake Union Branch, 435 8th Avenue N, on Mondays from 10am-2pm. Unopened boxes of diapers only at this time.

A diaper drive is a great way to show support during Diaper Need Awareness Week.  You can learn more about meeting diaper need at westsidebaby.org/diaper-need.

2020 Rebalanced Budget

At a Special Council meeting on Tuesday September 22nd, I joined most of my colleagues in overriding the Mayor’s veto of Council’s approved 2020 rebalancing budget.  My vote was not taken lightly. I had participated in conversations about an alternate bill, in the hopes of coming to agreement with the Executive. However, the Executive’s offer did not make either the important investments nor targeted, strategic changes to the 2020 budget that Council made through CB 119825.

The alternative bill short-changed community members and organizations who have the expertise we need to build community safety, by proposing a mere $3.5 million investment instead of the $17 million Council had appropriated.  The $2 million the Mayor proposed for investment in violence prevention and crisis intervention is wholly inadequate to the need, given the increase in gun violence that Seattle is experiencing. With the veto, Council appropriates the full $17 million:

  • $4 million to scale up gun-violence intervention and prevention that is necessary for true community safety efforts like the work of BIPOC led organizations like Community Passageways, Urban Family, SE Safety Network Hub Boys & Girls Club, and the Alive & Free Program – YMCA.
  • $10 million to grow the capacity of organizations that respond to 911 crisis calls; provide support beyond crisis intervention to criminalized populations; and interrupt and prevent violence.
  • $3 million for a community-led research process that will help build true community safety and launch a true participatory budget process, that offers a place at the table for everyone who has a stake in the outcome: community members who have been driving the work on community safety, kids, the undocumented, folks experiencing homelessness, the business community and others.

Council can’t force the Mayor to spend these dollars. But I plea with her to do so.

Further, the alternative bill took off the table any and all of the targeted reductions of 100 FTEs in the Seattle Police Department.  Specifically, the 2020 rebalancing package called for 38 FTE reductions, suggested from specific specialty units, that will take several months to bargain and implement.    Of the 38 FTE reductions, there are already 15 vacancies in these units, meaning the reductions will only result in – again, only after being successfully bargained – the net loss of 23 officers across these six specialty units.

The vetoed bill also included a 32 FTE general patrol reductions; I was surprised to learn that this also was off the table for compromise considering the list of 24 officers kept on the “Brady List” by the King County Prosecutor and City Attorney’s Office.  I hope, moving forward, the Executive will support efforts to seek out of order layoffs for these officers who, because of their record of dishonesty, racial bias, criminal charges, and convictions cannot fulfill their obligations as police officers.  Prosecutors are unwilling to file charges on arrests they make because defense attorneys can impeach their testimony.

While the Executive indicates they are open to changes in the Navigation Team operations that will result in more community safety, fewer encampment removals, and better services for people living unsheltered, they were unwilling to commit to putting their new approach in writing.  The Council’s approved budget increases the City’s investment in contracted providers who will do outreach and engagement with people living in encampments and focus on encampment locations that the City identifies as high hazard locations or obstructions of the public right of way.  I hope the Executive will act quickly to expand existing contracts with these providers.

I maintain my optimism that Council and the Mayor can turn the page on this and forge a path forward together in 2021 budget discussions.  I, and the City of Seattle, are indebted to the tens of thousands of people who have participated in this discussion by writing, calling, providing comment, and marching day after day.  This is the beginning of the conversation and the investment of $3 million by this Council to begin a participatory budget process, which was upheld this week, will ensure a true community process that redefines community safety. I will work to ensure that process centers Black and Brown communities who have been, and continue to be, most affected by our current system. To the business community who is asking to also be at the table, Participatory Budgeting is designed for everyone to participate, including you.

Junction Reuse and Recycle with Shredding

Do you have an old appliance, clothing, electronics or other hard to get rid of household goods? The annual Reuse, Recycle, and Shredding event is, while delayed a little this year, is coming up on Saturday, the 26th where you can recycle and reuse many difficult to dispose-of items for free! Masks are required.

When: Saturday, September 26 between 9am and 1pm

Where: West Seattle Junction Parking Lot located on the corner of SW Oregon and 42nd Ave SW.

Accepted Items Include:

  • Styrofoam
  • Household batteries
  • Fluorescent tubes and bulbs
  • Small electronics
  • Paper for shredding (limit 4 boxes) – you CAN bring confidential documents – thanks Junction Windermere
  • Clothing & linens
  • Household goods (for reuse – in good condition)
  • Small appliances (non-freon)

For additional information and to see a list of items NOT accepted please go here: http://wsjunction.org/blog/junctionresuerecycle2020/

Alki Point Stay Healthy Street

Many constituents have reached out to me regarding the Alki Point “Stay Healthy Street.” Stay Healthy Streets and Keep it Moving Streets were launched in April and May of this year by the Seattle Department of Transportation.  These are car-free streets selected to increase outdoor exercise opportunities for people to bike and walk in the road for areas with limited open space options, low car ownership and routes connecting people to essential services and food take out. Local traffic is still allowed on the streets.

The vast majority of people contacting me are very interested in making this area a permanent “Keep it Moving Street” which would result in roads being closed to through traffic. Neighbors have surveyed users of the Stay Healthy Street over the last few months. You can see some of their results in the graph below.

To support their efforts, I wrote a letter to SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe asking him two things:

  1. That SDOT expedite the analysis that the street meets the Greenway criteria and officially designate Alki Point as a Neighborhood Greenway.
  2. That SDOT allow the community process to fully run its course before opening up the street and in doing so, maintain the Alki Point Stay Healthy Street.

This week I received a response back from Director Zimbabwe. In short, SDOT is considering five possible outcomes for Alki Point:

  1. Return to previous street operation
  2. Convert to a neighborhood greenway, changes would include:
    1. Stop signs at intersecting streets will be added where they currently operate as neighborhood yield intersections (64th Ave SW, Point Pl SW, 64th Pl SW, 64th Ave SW)
    2. Additional traffic calming so that spacing of speed humps and raised crosswalks is approximately every 300 feet. Approximately 3-4 speed humps or speed cushions would be added.
    3. Connectivity to the citywide bicycle network would be enhanced through the addition of sharrow pavement markings and wayfinding signs.
  3. Upgrade to a permanent Stay Healthy Street, changes would include:
    1. All of the neighborhood greenway enhancements listed above
    2. Street Closed and Stay Healthy Street signs at every intersection with durable materials
  4. Upgrade neighborhood greenway with additional space for walking adjacent to beachside curb.
    1. All of the neighborhood greenway enhancements listed above
    2. Removal of parking and delineation (tuff curb and post) of additional space for walking adjacent to the existing sidewalk adjacent to the beach
    3. Increased space for walking would be adjacent to park beach only, not continuous where buildings are between roadway and beach.
  5. Convert street to operate as one-way northbound for vehicles, providing shared walking and biking space adjacent to beachside sidewalk
    1. Delineation of a continuous shared walking and biking space adjacent to the existing beachside curb (8’ to 15’ wide)
    2. Continuous shared walking and biking space would connect from the existing Alki Trail to the end of the Alki Point Keep Moving Street.
    3. Adjustment of the roadway to operate as one way northbound for vehicles, preserving parking primarily adjacent to east/south curbs.

Director Zimbabwe promised to maintain the Keep it Moving Street designation for Alki Point until the community engagement process concludes and there is a final determination regarding a permanent configuration.

I support the continued efforts of constituents advocating for a permanent Stay Healthy Street.

SMC/Vera Report Update

In early July this year I wrote about a report released by the Vera Institute of Justice to Municipal Court Probation Services on Strategies for Improving Policies and Practices. The report was commissioned in 2019 by the Court to evaluate the Courts Probation Services.

Last week, in response to these Vera Report recommendations, presiding Judge Willie Gregory issued a new administrative order to require Personal Recognizance Release for nearly all non DUI/DV defendants. The Bail Reform Working Group work from 2018 reviewed new pretrial strategies and helped laid the foundation for these new policies.  I wrote in September 2018 about Bail Reform.  Related to this, the Court has also announced that they will decrease their 2021 probation budget by 25% and, rather than relying on probation services for cases that do not require it, they will instead “collaborate with organizations to build a community-based intervention where judges can refer individuals to obtain critical support and services.” This has been a change that community has called on for years, notably the Budget for Justice in 2018.  Under state law, Domestic Violence Cases and DUI cases will still require probation supervision.

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights also recently released a report titled An Analysis of Court Imposed Monetary Sanctions in Seattle Municipal Courts, 2000-2017.  The report details the disproportionate impact of legal financial obligations on people of color in Seattle. My committee heard this report on Tuesday, presented by Drs. Alexes Harris and Frank Edwards.  On Wednesday, the Seattle Municipal Court judges announced that they would “eliminate all discretionary fines and fees imposed in criminal cases, representing one step in a court-wide commitment to lessen barriers and increase equity in the legal system.” Probation and records check fees can be $600 and $240 fees per person. More than 1,000 individuals per year are expected to be helped by these changes.

Finally, you might have heard that Community Court is starting up again.  We had a Community Court many years ago that was begun under former City Attorney Tom Carr.  It was suspended in part because criminal justice reform advocates were very critical of the model adopted by Seattle at the time. Community Court participants had to waive their constitutional rights to trial in order to participate in Community Court.  The new Community Court provides pretrial justice for participating individuals to be immediately released from custody and connected to community-based services while maintaining their constitutional trial rights.  In addition, criminal history is not a barrier to program entry.

These are big steps forward in Seattle Municipal Court reform. I want to thank the judges for their actions and for their commitment to re-evaluating our systems and ensuring better outcomes for historically disadvantaged and low-income communities.

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