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West Seattle Bridge Update, October 3; District 1 Town Hall; This Week in the Budget; Grant Funding Available – Due 10/19; A New Proposal to Combat Rising Overdose Deaths in King County; Need Help With Child Care Costs?; Construction to Begin at Duwamish Waterway Park; Fare Share Legislation; Virtual Office Hours; Sidewalk Maintenance Report

West Seattle Bridge Update, October 3

Automated Camera Enforcement Legislation

On Monday the City Council adopted legislation that will allow for automated camera enforcement on the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge.

This was made possible by the action of the state legislature earlier this year under the leadership of Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, a long-standing effort the city has supported.

The state legislation allows for enforcement of transit lanes infractions and blocking the box. The state legislation authorized a pilot program through June 30, 2023.

Under the state law, only warning notices are allowed in 2020; fines of up to $75 starting in 2021, and half the funds would go to a state fund, and remaining funds may only be used for equitable access transportation improvements and mobility for persons with disabilities.

SDOT has indicated that uses of and access to the Spokane Street “lower” bridge can be reconsidered after camera enforcement begins, and resulting traffic patterns are reviewed.  SDOT has developed a subcommittee consisting of members of the Community Task Force to make recommendations for changes to lower level bridge access policies.

Currently, general access is allowed on the lower bridge from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., for school buses, and a limited number of employer shuttles, vanpools of essential workers, West Seattle businesses, and  Longshoreman. I’ve advocated for additional uses when possible, and recommended a resident of the northern portion of the peninsula be included in the subcommittee. I continue to hear requests  from for example residents, health care workers, businesses and residents.

 

Categories of Risk in the Cost/Benefit Analysis

In the cost/benefit analysis SDOT is doing on whether to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge, one of the elements being considered is risk. There are three main categories they have identified: schedule, stakeholder/public, and technical.

Schedule risks can include delays in attaining funding, necessary permits, impacts of other projects, and discovery of new information. Here’s how they compare potential risks for repair and replacement:

Stakeholder/public risks include lack of support for repair or replace decisions or for future design alternatives. SDOT sees this applying for both repair and replacement:

 

Technical risks include accurately predicating how the bridge will respond to stabilization measures, and working with requirements of other agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Coast Guard, and accurately predicting which standards will apply. For example, the Coast Guard’s interest in a replacement providing adequate clearance for maritime vessels, and the FAA’s interest in not interfering with aviation.

On October 7, SDOT will present to the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force “rough order of magnitude” costs based on the cost/benefit analysis, and on October 21, a final cost/benefit evaluation, as well as a decision from the Mayor on whether to repair or replace the bridge

Traffic Data

The most recent traffic report is below, with high volumes continuing on West Marginal and Highland Park Way SW:

Here are the most recent travel times:

District 1 Town Hall

Thanks to everyone who participated in the September 30th District 1 Town Hall on public safety and the West Seattle Bridge. We had just over 530 attendees, and 88 questions.

Thanks as well to Police Chief Diaz and SW Precinct Captain Grossman for their participation, and the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) team for presenting the news about their expansion into the SW Precinct, and to SDOT for their update on the West Seattle Bridge. Thanks also for Brian Callanan of the Seattle Channel for hosting.

 

You can view the town hall on YouTube here.

This Week in the Budget

On September 29th, the Mayor proposed a 2021 budget for the City of Seattle. You can view it and the proposed 2021-2016 Capital Improvement Plan at the City Budget webpage.

The  Budget Committee began meeting the following day to hear presentations from the City Budget Office, and City Departments on the 30th, 1st, and 2nd.

Here’s a link to the presentations:

September 30:

October 1:

October 2:

You can view or download the full Select Budget Committee meeting calendar here.  Sign up to receive Select Budget Committee agendas by email here.

Public comment will occur at every Select Budget Committee meeting.  In addition, there will be public hearings on October 6 at 5:30 p.m. and October 27 at 5:30 p.m. You can register to give comment on this page. The signup form is available two hours before each session begins.

The second key event next week will be the deadline on October 8 at 5 p.m. for Councilmembers to send in “Form A” requests for Issue Identification discussions scheduled for October 15, 16, 20 and 21.

Grant Funding Available  – Due 10/19

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is seeking applications for the 2020 Collaborative Grantmaking: Community Alternatives to Incarceration and Policing Request for Proposal (RFP). This RFP will provide funding for organizations and coalitions to develop alternatives to and address the harm created by incarceration, policing, and other parts of the criminal legal and immigration systems. A total of $1 million will be available to fund two to four proposals.

This funding is the result of community advocacy by groups including, Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) and Budget for Justice (BFJ), for investments in alternatives to incarceration. It also builds on the work and advocacy of organizations and coalitions like Youth Undoing Institutional Racism, No New Youth Jail, EPIC, the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, and European Dissent, who called upon our local leaders to support a vision free of incarceration and led to the passing of Council Resolution 31614 in 2015.

Learn more and apply here.

A New Proposal to Combat Rising Overdose Deaths in King County

At a 9/22/2020 meeting of the Public Safety & Human Services committee, which I chair, a representative of Public Health – Seattle & King County presented data on the steady increase of overdose deaths in our county since 2011:

He noted that the biggest increase is in overdose deaths of individuals with multiple drugs in their system.  In particular, there has been a drastic increase in two drugs implicated in overdose deaths: methamphetamine and fentanyl.  You can watch the presentation here; the Public Health data begins at the 2:07’ mark.

In 2016, the Mayors of Seattle, Auburn, and Renton convened the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force, bringing together a wide range of experts across multiple disciplines to recommend immediate actions to confront the epidemic. You can read the full report and recommendations here.

Community Health Engagement Locations were one of the Task Force’s recommendations; they are one type of Supervised Consumption Site or Service (also known as SCS).  There are about 100 safe-consumption sites (SCS) in other parts of the world, and there have been no deaths at any of these sites over the 30-year history of these sites operating.  Regarding the research base on Supervised Consumption, the Task Force found:

“Published studies support the effectiveness of the services provided at SCSs in reducing drug-related health risks and overdose mortality for individuals utilizing the SCSs.

“Research of established SCSs also did not reveal an increase in criminal activity or negative impacts on the communities following the implementation of SCSs in those areas.”

In 2018, City Council passed a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) that requested the Human Services Department (HSD) perform an assessment of the project, including a full cost estimate, scope, siting recommendation and necessary capital improvements.  You can review that assessment here.  As a separate action, City Council approved $1.3 million in the case that the assessment showed a positive, clear path forward. These dollars were not spent in 2018 and were carried over into 2019, when Council added an additional $100,000.

For 2020, Council approved a budget that included the carried-forward $1.4 million for CHEL facilities.  Earlier this summer, as part of the 2020 rebalancing package, I sponsored and Council unanimously voted to restore the additional $100,000, which had been errantly omitted from the carry forward ordinance.

Despite Council’s work to appropriate these funds, and broad public support of the approach, the City and County have not moved forward with creating CHEL facilities.  The $1.4 million appropriated remains unspent despite the continuing rise in overdose deaths.

The Public Defender Association and ACLU-WA have developed a new approach to supervised consumption that does not rely on establishing a specific new facility to provide supervised consumption services.  Instead, it focuses on providing services in locations that are already serving individuals.

At the 9/22/2020 Public Safety & Human Services committee meeting, Council members heard a presentation on this new approach, which does not require building or siting a new facility.  You can read the Supervised Consumption Services description here and review the presentation slide deck here.  You can watch a video of the committee presentation here; it starts at the 2:06’ mark.  Public Health – Seattle & King County participated in the presentation and stated that this new approach is in alignment with the 2016 Task Force original recommendations.

I have shared this new Supervised Consumption Services model with Human Services Interim Director Johnson and requested his review of the proposal; and requested a legal review of this new approach from the City Attorney’s Office.  I am exploring whether dollars that Council appropriated for a CHEL facility pilot could be used for this new approach.

Need Help With Child Care Costs?

To apply

Construction to Begin at Duwamish Waterway Park

Seattle Parks and Recreation will begin construction of the Duwamish Waterway Park Improvements at 7900 10th Ave S in South Park in October 2020. SPR purchased the 1.3-acre site from King County after a community-led process to make the property a permanent neighborhood riverfront park. Working with the Seattle Parks Foundation, the Friends of Duwamish Waterway Park raised over $1 million for park improvements and catalyzed the renovation effort.

The community vision provides significant improvements to the park to make it a healthy and welcoming space for families, young people, and seniors. The final design provides more welcoming park entries and includes:

  • an improved perimeter pathway with a series of interpretive artwork boulders that enhance the river view with messages relating to the community and area history;
  • an all-ages accessible playground including a climbing structure and zip line as well as boulders, logs, and benches; and
  • new park furnishings with accessible picnic tables, barbecues, drinking fountain and foot wash, additional benches, and bike racks.

Awarding the construction contract for park improvements is expected in late September 2020, with construction starting in late October 2020 and completed in summer 2021.

For more information please contact Jessica Michalak, Capital Projects Coordinator, Seattle Parks and Recreation, at Jessica.michalak@seattle.gov or 206-470-9147 or visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/about-us/current-projects/duwamish-waterway-park-activation.

Fare Share Legislation

On Monday the Council unanimously passed Council Bill 119876 which will, in addition to establishing minimum compensation standards, establish notice, posting, and data requirements for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). As I’ve written about before this legislation is the capstone to the Fare Share plan which began in last year’s budget conversations where the City implemented a small fee of $0.51 per ride to support affordable housing near transit, the Center City Connector, and to establish an independent non-profit Driver Resolution Center.

This legislation was built on a months long process where the City connected with stakeholders including over 11,000 drivers, and included a study by researchers James Parrott and Michael Reich which found that drivers are making an average of $9.73 an hour after expenses are taken into account.

TNC drivers are hired as independent contractors, but they do not set their rate, which is controlled by the company for whom they drive. CB 119876 helps bring drivers up to Seattle’s minimum wage and compensates them for expenses they incur as independent contractors such as vehicle cleanings (especially important with the current public health emergency), vehicle maintenance, gas, and cell phone and plan.

CB 119876 also includes transparency requirements for both passengers and drivers, and requires the Office of Labor Standards to coordinate a study on the impacts of the legislation. This legislation will go into effect on January 1, 2021.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday October 23, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and go until 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm. These office hours are being rescheduled from October 30 due to a Budget Committee meeting scheduled all day.

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, December 18, 2020

Sidewalk Maintenance Report

Last year the Council adopted Resolution 31908 I sponsored, requesting SDOT develop policy options for maintenance of sidewalks. The committee presentation before the vote noted how hazardous uneven sidewalks can be for wheelchair users, and for vision impaired persons.

SDOT completed the report earlier this year: Policy Recommendations for Sidewalk Repair in Seattle, developed with the Evans School at the UW.

Here’s a memo from SDOT summarizing the findings and recommendations.

The report notes Seattle has over 2,300 miles of sidewalks, with a total replacement value of $5.6 billion (in 2015 dollars), and estimates the current repair and replacement obstruction removal need as between $500 million and $1.3 billion. Funding varies from year to year for sidewalk maintenance, in the range of $1.5 to $5 million per year.

With limited funding, SDOT has prioritized installing shims and bevels to address trip hazards. A bevel is when the uplifted edge of a sidewalk is cut off with a concreate saw; a shim is when a wedge of asphalt is applied to the top of the sidewalk to mitigate the uplifted edge.

The report notes that sidewalk repair in Seattle is generally held to be the responsibility of property owners.

Key findings include:

  • Sidewalk construction in Seattle has historically been privately financed through Local Improvement Districts or through redevelopment of adjacent parcels. The City has never had adequate funding or a workable enforcement mechanism to manage ongoing sidewalk repair after initial sidewalk construction.
  • Property owners are often unaware of their sidewalk maintenance responsibility and trip/fall liability exposure. Even when aware, the sidewalk repair cost usually exceeds the incentive for private property owners to make the necessary repairs. In addition, current permitting processes and external contractor procurement can be complex and difficult to navigate for a typical property owner.
  • Cities in North America typically take one of two primary approaches to sidewalk maintenance:
    • City-managed repairs with a dedicated funding source (e.g. Boston; Vancouver, BC)
    • Property owner repair responsibility with City-led enforcement (e.g. Seattle, Denver)
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how critical safe sidewalks are for everyone to be able to walk and roll around Seattle to access basic services and maintain physical and mental health.

Key recommendations are:

  1. Implement a citywide 5-year sidewalk shim/bevel plan as a first step to mitigate existing sidewalk uplifts and other deficiencies that can create accessibility barriers or trip/fall risks. This would require an additional $3 – $4 million per year, on top of the current annual sidewalk shim/bevel budget (which is a subset of the aforementioned SDOT sidewalk maintenance budget).
  2. Increase property owner awareness and education about sidewalk responsibilities, through citywide mailers, a social media campaign, and sidewalk contractor resources for property owners
  3. Simplify the sidewalk repair permitting process, through online permitting portal implementation and more upfront repair guidance at the time a warning notice is issued
  4. Institute an income-based cost-sharing program for lower-income property owners
  5. Implement clearer enforcement methods, including amending existing RCW and SMC sections that require Council approval to enforce sidewalk repair liens on non-compliant property owners
  6. Seek increased and stable funding for long-term maintenance of Seattle’s existing and growing sidewalk network

A map of work that could be done for the first recommendation if funded is below:

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