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Great News for D1 in the Vacant Building Monitoring Program Report; West Seattle Bridge Update December 4; South Park Bridge Overnight Closures on December 9th, 10th; A New Way to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 in Washington: Your Smartphone; Open Enrollment for Affordable Healthcare Ends December 15th – Assistance Available; ST3

Great News for D1 in the Vacant Building Monitoring Program Report

I last wrote about this program in June 2019. As a quick refresher, this program requires monthly inspections for vacant buildings, which (1) have received three notices of violation, (2) are located on a lot for which a master use permit or building permit application has been filed, or (3) are included on a list maintained by the police or fire departments of vacant buildings that have generated large numbers of calls for dispatch and take away resources for public safety.

Vacant buildings are a major issue in the city and especially in District 1. That’s why I worked for years to revamp the Vacant Building Monitoring Program.  Before the new program launched in 2019, D1 had the most vacant building complaint cases of any District in the city with 95 cases in 2018, yet, D1 had the least number of buildings in the old monitoring program, with only two properties being checked on a quarterly basis.  Monitoring is important because when a vacant building is regularly monitored by Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI), inspectors can make sure that the building is boarded up and maintained in accordance with the vacant building standards.

See here:  https://www.seattle.gov/DPD/Publications/CAM/cam605.pdf

We just received the first status report on the program. Under the new program, there are currently 486 vacant properties being monitored across the City, and 77 of those vacant properties are in D1.  This is a huge improvement over only 2 vacant buildings in District 1 being monitored before the passage of the new program!

Between June 2019 and September 2020, SDCI inspected 1,804 properties. Sites that were issued Notices of Violation or failed to meet building and yard standards were revisited, and SDCI completed 3,142 follow-up inspection.

Further, the program is designed to be self-sufficient.  The fees that are collected is revenue that is used to pay for inspections. The cleanup and closure work is billed to property owners if the City has to do that work, in instances that the owners fail to do it. Expenditures are on track as projected for 2020.

West Seattle Bridge Update December 4

Community Task Force Updates

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met earlier this week to hear updates from SDOT and discuss next steps.

SDOT is continuing stabilization work on the bridge, which is expected to be completed later this month. These images show continuing stabilization work, to add carbon fiber wrap to the bridge exterior, and the floor of the girder on the inside of the bridge:

SDOT’s next steps for repair include monitoring stabilization work through a period of colder weather; completing a study that models how likely other parts of the bridge are to need future repairs before the bridge is eventually replaced; adding more post-tensioning work and carbon fiber wrap to the other bridge spans; installing additional instrumentation to monitor the new bridge strengthening; and reviewing the seismic condition of the Pier 18 foundation. SDOT’s timetable lists design, permitting and construction planning for repair to occur fall 2020 through summer 2021, with construction in fall 2021 and early 2022, with the bridge opening to traffic at a date to be determined in 2022. I will continue to advocate that we look for more ways to  move the timeline forward.

In this spirit, SDOT announced they plan to use the General Contract/Construction Manager project delivery method (GC/CM). This will mean bringing on a contractor earlier in the process, specifically during design and construction planning.  Doing so can result in both schedule and cost savings.

Below please find the updated overall schedule for bridge and related work. There is a new timetable for the evaluation of alternatives for future replacement (often called the “Type, Size and Location” study). Previously, SDOT was proceeding on an accelerated 3 month schedule.  Now that a repair has been chosen, SDOT will be implementing a standard one year timeline for the study of alternatives for eventual replacement.

Reconnect West Seattle

Here’s a summary of work done to implement Reconnect West Seattle projects:

Here’s a project status map, showing projects by year of completion.

Next steps include continuing work on detour-route traffic mitigation, and implementation of the Home Zones safety project in Highland Park, South Park and Georgetown, with the timeline listed below for work with the community:

On West Marginal, a temporary signal and crossing is planned for next year;  a timetable is listed below for consideration of additional projects:

As SDOT implements elements of the Reconnect West Seattle Plan, COVID reopening/recovery timelines will need to be considered for investments.

South Park Bridge Overnight Closures on December 9th, 10th

Six and a half years after it opened, the South Park Bridge is getting its first full mechanical/electrical inspection. King County Road Services announced  that the bridge will close for that inspection on two nights in December – Wednesday, December 9th, and Thursday, December 10th, 10:30 pm to 6 am both nights. The main detour those nights will be the nearby 1st Avenue South Bridge. The West Seattle low bridge also will be open to all traffic as usual for all but the last hour of those windows.

A New Way to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 in Washington: Your Smartphone

Seattle is facing the third wave of COVID-19 cases – the most dangerous phase.  We’ve had nearly 11,000 cases of COVID since the pandemic began – and 34% of those cases occurred in November alone.  Hospitalizations have reached the same levels as March and April, and both the number of hospitalizations and deaths continue to increase.

Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced the launch of WA Notify, a simple, anonymous exposure notification tool to help stop the spread of COVID-19 using your Android or iPhone.  WA Notify will alert you if you spent time near another WA Notify user who later tests positive for COVID-19.   WA Notify uses privacy-preserving technology jointly developed by Google and Apple and works without collecting or revealing any location or personal data.

How do I add WA Notify to my phone?

You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by adding WA Notify to your phone today. Studies show that the more people who use it, the more effective it is.  Several states including Virginia, New York and Colorado are using similar technology, as are Ireland, Canada and Germany.  More than 1 million Washingtonians are already using it.  Read more about WA Notify here.

We’re all tired, but our doctors, nurses, and essential workers are at greater risk than ever as hospitals are on the verge of being overwhelmed.  If we all do our part, we can reverse this trajectory and protect our community’s health and our economy.

Open Enrollment for Affordable Healthcare Ends December 15th – Assistance Available

The 2019 Open Enrollment period for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act ends on Dec. 15.  Public Health—Seattle & King County is taking extra steps to assist people who are unsure about how to sign up or how to choose from the many options.

How to get help in King County:

  • Online: Coverage is Here King County website: Answers to basic questions, plus locations and dates for in-person assistance
  • Online: Washington Healthplanfinder website and app: It’s easy to browse specific options, compare pricing, and see whether a key provider or prescription is covered
  • Phone: King County hotline for health access: 800-756-5437
  • Phone: Washington Healthplanfinder: 855-923-4633 (extended evening hours Dec. 11-15)
  • Enrollment Centers: These sites are open daily (in addition to special events listed on the website), to help people enroll.
    • Public Health-Seattle Metro Service Center, 201 S. Jackson, Seattle 98104 (Mon.-Thurs 8:30-4:30 and some Fridays and Saturdays, please check schedule)
    • Public Health-Federal Way Enrollment Center, 1640 S. 318th P, Suite B, Federal Way 98003 (Mon.-Thurs. 8:30-5:00; for weekend hours, please check website)

There are nine special enrollment events scheduled between now and 12/15 in King County.  Health insurance specialists, called Navigators, will be at the following locations.  You can schedule an appointment ahead of time at www.kingcounty.gov/outreach, or just show up for first-come, first-served appointments.

In King County, consumers can choose plans from six insurance companies.  More than half of all customers qualify for an immediate tax credit, which lowers the monthly price for insurance. Many others qualify for Washington Apple Health, which is free and available year-round.

For those who enroll before the 11:59pm deadline on Dec. 15, insurance coverage will start on Jan. 1, 2020.  For those eligible for Washington Apple Health, enrollment is available year-round.

 

New Small Business Grants Available, Applications Due December 11th

Small businesses struggling to survive the impact of COVID-19 can apply now for up to $20,000 in a new round of $50 million in state Working Washington grants. Priority is focused on businesses with annual revenues of $5 million or less in 2019 and those most impacted by the recent public health measures, as well as businesses in sectors that have experienced significant, cumulative impacts. Examples include full-service restaurants, fitness centers, bowling alleys and music and event venues.

Grants can be used only to cover expenses or costs incurred due to COVID-19 and that were necessary to continue business operations.  Certain nonprofits may also be eligible if they have a primary business activity that falls into a similar high-impact category, for example a nonprofit full-service restaurant or nonprofit music venue.

Information and applications for this third round of Working Washington Business Grants are available at www.commerce.wa.gov/bizgrants. Business owners who have questions about the grants can email bizgrants@commerce.wa.gov or call (360) 725-5003.

Commerce encourages businesses to apply by December 11.  The Seattle Office of Economic Development is offering technical support to small businesses who are applying. For assistance, email oed@seattle.gov or call 206-684-8090. In-language assistance available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Amharic, and Somali.

ST3 Online Open House

Sound Transit recently launched a new online open house about the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project to share information about the project in advance of the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS), now projected for mid-2021. The purpose of the online open house is to provide as much information as possible now, well in advance of the release of the Draft EIS.

The informational online open house features an overview of the environmental review process along with detailed maps, elevation profiles and descriptions of each alternative currently being studied. Additionally, there are new maps for each proposed station and cross-sections for all elevated stations, along with information about how people could walk, roll, bike, or take transit to potential station locations.

The site is mobile and e-reader friendly and also translated into Spanish, Vietnamese, Simplified and Traditional Chinese: ESPAÑOL | TIẾNG VIỆT | 正體字/繁體字 | 简化字 .

After the Draft EIS is published, anticipated in mid-2021, Sound Transit will launch a public comment period to ask for feedback about the routes and stations and their potential effects.

You can select tabs for more information about  Environmental Review, Alternatives and Stations. Here are links to the West Seattle station alternatives: Delridge, Avalon, and the Alaska Junction

The Environmental Review section notes:

COVID-19 has significantly impacted Sound Transit’s long-term funding projections, causing uncertainties about project delivery dates. In 2021, the Sound Transit Board will continue a realignment process to determine the degree to which plans and timelines for voter-approved projects need to change.

In recent months, COVID-19 has also impacted Sound Transit’s work with partners to advance WSBLE environmental review work. Until the Board makes realignment decisions in 2021, WSBLE project materials will continue to reflect the original project schedule with the exception of incorporating the recent impacts to the environmental review timeline. These changes include moving the completion dates from 2030 to 2031 for West Seattle and from 2035 to 2036 for Ballard. Schedules are based on limited design and engineering at this phase of project development. Opening dates are subject to further changes under the realignment process.

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