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COVID Updates; West Seattle Bridge Updates, April 12; Grants for Shuttered Venues; Food Resources; Apply to Serve on the Green New Deal Oversight Board

Covid Updates: Hospitalizations Increasing, 16+ Can Pre-Register for City Vaccination, Covid Vaccine Is Free, Expanded Medical Care for Undocumented Residents

Hospitalizations Are Steeply Increasing: We are very close to putting the worst of this pandemic behind us, but we’re not in the clear yet. At the moment, the virus is spreading more quickly than we can vaccinate.

Most COVID-19 infections are happening in 18-24-year-olds, followed by 25-49-year-olds. With so many older adults protected through vaccination, the majority of recent hospitalizations have been among 40-69 year-olds, followed by 20-39 year-olds.  See data dashboards for King County here.

The threat is real and remains serious.  Although most people recover, COVID-19 infections can be severe in younger and middle-aged people. It’s important to prevent COVID-19 in all ages, not just among seniors.
We know how to battle coronavirus spread.  We’ve done it before:

  • Limit activities with unvaccinated people from outside your home
  • Avoid crowded indoor spaces
  • Pay attention to improving ventilation in workplaces, businesses and homes, including by opening doors and windows
  • Stay home from work and get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms or were exposed to someone who has tested positive  (free testing locations here)
  • Wear masks when we are in public or at work or school

Neighborhood House Vaccine Clinic:  Last weekend, I was glad to join staff and volunteers at Neighborhood House’s High Point vaccination clinic, and play a small part in vaccinating 800 neighbors.  Huge thanks to the Neighborhood House team for their hard work!

Photo courtesy of Neighborhood House

Pre-Register for City Vaccination:  If you are at least 16, live or work in King County, and would like to receive vaccine from one of the City’s four vaccination sites, you can join the City notification list now, even if you won’t be eligible for vaccine until April 15th.  Sign up here or call (206) 684-2489.
The City-run vaccination sites are:

  • West Seattle, 2801 S.W. Thistle Street, 98126
  • Lumen Field Event Center, 330 South Royal Brougham Way, 98134
  • North Seattle College, 9600 College Way North, 98103
  • Rainier Beach, 8702 Seward Park Avenue South, 98118

Everyone age 16 and older in Washington state will become vaccine-eligible starting on April 15th.  Learn more about current eligibility at Seattle.gov/Vaccine.
You can always find state-approved vaccine providers in District 1 here.



Vaccine Supply:  Last week, the City of Seattle and its partners received over 30,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, which is the largest allocation the City has received in a single week thus far.  At the West Seattle and Rainier Beach sites, Seattle Fire Department expected to administer 14,000 vaccine doses last week.  Public Health – Seattle & King County announced 1 million doses administered last week!

Vaccine supply continues to trail demand, but states are receiving increased vaccine shipments compared to a month ago.

Covid Vaccine Is Always Free:  Dr. Christopher Chen of the Health Care Authority explains in this interview with the Washington State Department of Health:
Q: Is the COVID-19 vaccine 100 percent free?
A: Yes, the vaccine is completely free. No one should have to pay for the vaccine, or any costs associated with it.
Q: Who pays for the vaccine then? Are there any hidden costs?
A: The federal government purchased the vaccine and is covering the costs. Because insurance companies don’t have to pay for the vaccine, there is no charge for patients.  You should not be charged out-of-pocket costs or receive a bill from your provider or from a vaccination clinic. There are very strict laws and expectations about no cost-sharing and no co-pays for COVID-19 vaccine administration.

Expanded Medical Coverage for Undocumented Residents:  Expanded COVID-19 medical coverage is available for WA state residents who are undocumented. Services covered include testing and treatment, medications and supplies, and follow up visits!



West Seattle Bridge Update April 12

Spokane Street (lower) Bridge Access Update

Late last week SDOT announced changes for the use of the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge.

First of all, on weekends the low bridge will remain open to everyone until 8 a.m.  This opens general access from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., three additional hours, on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Many of you have been asking for added hours on weekend mornings and your advocacy has helped to make this change.  Thank you!

Secondly, the number of additional daily trips permitted on the bridge beyond the currently allowed users will double from 450 to 900 trips. This will allow for additional use by retail businesses and restaurant, on-call medical providers and patients receiving life saving medical treatments.

SDOT notes in a blog post  that application forms will be available at the Spokane Street (low bridge) website  by the end of April  for on-call medical workers, retail businesses and restaurants, and rideshare to request access to the low bridge.

Application forms for people traveling to lifesaving medical treatments are available on the website now in several languages. Applications will be processed on a rolling basis.

SDOT lists a couple of key caveats for this additional access. First of all, the additional allowed use may be adjusted based on usage levels. Secondly, the access is for 2021; additional users will be allowed fewer or no trips in 2022, when Terminal 5 opens (the Northwest Seaport Alliance had previously planned to open it during Spring 2021). SDOT will be monitoring the data on usage to guide future adjustments.

These are the new groups eligible for pre-authorized low bridge access:

  • West Seattle residents traveling to and from lifesaving medical treatments (authorization from your medical provider is required; the form will be available soon on low bridge access web page)
  • On-call medical workers (traveling to and from an on-call work shift only)
  • All West Seattle restaurants and retail businesses (limited to urgent trips to pick-up equipment or supplies)
  • Rideshare vehicles (vans, shuttles or official carpools with a state-issued rideshare license plate; this does not include Uber/Lyft)

New users will need to apply, provide a license plate, meet eligibility requirements, and receive approval from SDOT before becoming eligible.

SDOT provided an update about this during the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting on Thursday; below are additional details about the lower bridge and other items.

SDOT notes that since the start of camera enforcement in January, traffic on the lower bridge is down 38%.

Here are the changes SDOT has announced, with a note that maritime/industrial business and Longshoreman access remains the same:

Before changing access, SDOT conducted community outreach, as noted in the slide below:

Here are the goals and objective SDOT has used for access to the lower bridge:

The first new user group includes on-call medical providers and patients receiving life saving medical treatment. For medical providers, applications will be available by the end of April. For patients, applications are now available at SDOT’s Spokane Street Swing Bridge (Low Bridge)  website. On-call medical providers can currently use the declaration of non-responsibility process noted here.

For business users, current access will remain unchanged through May 31.

Starting in June, up to 10 trips per month will be allowed for all West Seattle restaurant and retail businesses, with up to 3 registered license plates per business. The updated application will be available on the project website later in April; users must receive approval from SDOT before use begins in June.
Government use is limited to urgent/unplanned trips for 20+ government agencies. An example is for a downed power line or broken sewer, rather than a planned meeting regarding a permit:

Transit, school buses and freight will not need pre-authorization; employer shuttles and vanpools will need to apply for approval:

The total number of daily trips allowed by additional users will double from 450 to 900. West Seattle businesses, defined as restaurant and retail sectors, will have 225 allowed round trips, up from 35. Maritime businesses and Longshoreman will have the same number as now; medical providers and patients will have 225.

The slide below notes current lower bridge conditions on the left, with the purple section representing space available for additional users. The chart on the right shows potential 2022 conditions when Terminal 5 opens, with very little space available. That’s why SDOT is granting additional access on a temporary basis during 2021.

SDOT notes they will monitor and analyze data to inform the number of trips allowed:

West Seattle Bridge Update

Here’s a brief update about the West Seattle Bridge repair. The next update on schedule and cost estimates will be when SDOT completes 60% design this summer. The stabilization work done on the bridge is performing as expected.

SDOT amended the Request for Proposals to include a Community Workforce Agreement, which requires USDOT approval. A community workforce agreement consists of a project labor agreement that includes a targeted hire provision designed to get low-income workers, including BIPOC workers and women, into construction careers.

Below is information about the federal grant the City is pursuing for funding for the bridge repair. Here’s the link where you can write to US Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to support the funding grant. The deadline is April 15:

Reconnect West Seattle Update

SDOT is planning improvements to the Intersection of West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW to assist with traffic flow. The improvements will remain in place after West Seattle Bridge is repaired. Adding a CCTV camera and fiber option communications will allow for real-time monitoring and adjustments.

SDOT is working on paving projects on detour routes, identified in a December 2020 assessment; work on SW Alaska Street between 26th Ave SW and 38th Ave SW will take place during phases beginning later in April:

Here’s an update on Reconnect West Seattle Home Zone projects in Highland Park, South Park, and Georgetown:

Apply Now: First Come-First Served Grants for Shuttered Venues

Live music venues, museums, movie houses, talent agencies! The Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) will open April 8, and applications are first come-first served.  Questions about the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant? Learn more and apply here, and contact OED’s Nightlife Business Advocate Scott Plusquellec at (206) 256-5152 or Scott.Plusquellec@seattle.gov.

Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal Replacement Project Community Advisory Board

Washington State Ferries (WSF) is seeking members to serve on the Community Advisory Group for the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal Replacement Project.

Applications are open through 5 p.m. on April 23rd. You can apply here. For questions about the application process, please email FauntleroyTermProj@wsdot.wa.gov or call 206-818-3813.

Here’s the WSF announcement:

Today through April 23, we are accepting applications from community members interested in joining a Community Advisory Group (CAG) for the project. The CAG, along with an Executive Leadership Group and Technical Advisory Group, will play a critical role in helping WSF shape plans that address transportation needs while balancing the needs of multiple communities served by and adjacent to the terminal.

The CAG will advise WSF and work collaboratively to generate ideas and provide input on which issues should be addressed in this project. Members also will help identify and provide input about potential alternatives and share ongoing feedback on the broader community engagement process. The CAG will include membership from the three communities served by the “Triangle Route” (Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth) to encourage cross-community dialogue and collaborative solutions.

We are seeking people to apply who live near the ferry terminal, regularly ride the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth ferry route, or have an understanding of the area’s regional transportation, economic, community and environmental issues. We hope you will consider applying for the CAG – APPLY FOR THE COMMUNITY ADVISORY GROUP. Please also share with others who may be interested.

The CAG will meet regularly through the planning phase, expected to last through 2023. Meetings will last a few hours and take place during the day/evening and virtually or in person (once it is safe to do so).

The Executive Leadership Group will include elected officials; I’ve agreed to serve on it.

WSF has posted video of the two community meetings held last month:

They’ve also included a summary of comments from those meetings.

Food Resources: Free Produce for Seniors, Student Meal Changes, Fresh Bucks Retail Applications, and a South Park Success Story

Need help finding food resources for you or your family?  Try this interactive food resources map from the Human Services Department.  You can find the locations of Food Banks, Meals, and Student To-Go Meals, and phone numbers and websites to sign up.



Free Produce for Seniors: The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides $40 worth of vouchers to be used for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets.  You may be eligible to apply if you are:

  • Age 60+ (or age 55+ if you are American Indian/Alaska Native) by June 30
  • Low income.

Learn more and apply here.  If you need help completing your application, contact Community Living Connections at 206-962-8467 or (toll-free) 1-844-348-5464.



Changes to Seattle Public Schools meals starting April 5th:

  • School meal sites will be open earlier; sites will be open Monday-Friday, 10:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
  • Bus routes only will deliver meals on Wednesdays to the same number of routes, route times, and stops.

Student meals are available for all SPS students!  Learn more here, or call (206) 252-0675.

Apply to Accept Fresh Bucks: The Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE) is seeking applications from retailers interested in accepting Fresh Bucks.  In 2021, OSE will invite up to three supermarkets/large grocery stores and up to eight small food retailers to join the Fresh Bucks retailer network. The goal is to increase Fresh Bucks customer access to high-quality and culturally specific produce.  Learn more and apply here.

South Park Neighbors’ Mutual Aid Efforts Highlighted:  Congratulations to the South Park partners whose mutual aid efforts to feed neighbors were recently highlighted in “How a Seattle Neighborhood Confronted Food Insecurity in the Pandemic“ in Yes! Magazine.  This extraordinary organizing effort is keeping families fed and neighbors close during a difficult year.  Thank you to everyone involved.

Photo credit: Monica Perez in Yes! Magazine

Apply to serve on the Green New Deal Oversight Board

The Office of Sustainability & Environment is seeking members to serve on the Green New Deal Advisory Board. You can apply here through April 16th. For more information, questions, or assistance with the application process please contact equityenviro@seattle.gov or call (206) 487-0007.
The Council adopted the Green New Deal for Seattle, which established the Green New Deal Oversight Board.

The Oversight Board will work towards developing a workplan that includes:

  • A definition of what constitutes a policy, program or project that advances a Green New Deal for Seattle
  • Proposals for new policies and programs to advance the Green New Deal for Seattle;
  • Support in planning and implementation of City actions to make Seattle climate-pollution free by 2030;
  • City budget and legislative recommendations;
  • Engagement with departments and existing committees, boards, and commissions.

The Board includes 19 members appointed by the Mayor and Council:

  • Eight positions designated for community representatives directly impacted by racial, economic, and environmental injustices (including two tribal members and two individuals between the ages of 16 and 25 at the time of their appointment).
  • Four positions designated for representatives of labor unions.
  • Three positions designated for representatives of environmental justice organizations.
  • Three positions designated for representatives with experience in greenhouse gas reduction and climate resiliency strategies relevant to cities.
  • One position designated for an individual specializing in workforce training.

Council approved the first four members of the board late last month.

In the 2021 budget the Council funded positions to move forward work related to the Seattle Green New Deal. To facilitate this work, the Council added funding for a Green New Deal advisor position that will work with the Green New Deal  Oversight Committee. In a related action, the Council also added a climate policy advisor, to oversee implementation of the Climate Action Plan and measure progress toward its goals. I co-sponsored both actions.

LSAC Transparency Recommendations

Back in February 2019, I sponsored, and the Council unanimously supported the passage of Resolution 31863. The resolution, among other things, asked the Labor Standards Advisory Commission (LSAC) to develop a work program to assist the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) on the issue of independent contractor misclassification.

Misclassification refers to workers who are employees by law, but are being denied critical benefits, such as paid time off, sick leave, overtime compensation, and often even a minimum wage. This is of significant importance for several reasons including lost revenue to the government, but more importantly the protection of workers and our local labor laws which are only beneficial as long as they apply to workers. The gig economy is the fastest growing labor sector and nearly all of these workers are considered independent contractors which means that our local labor laws do not apply to them.

LSAC immediately got to work and formed a subcommittee which, after deliberation, proposed recommendations to LSAC as a whole. Those recommendations were then adopted and sent to Council in May 2020. These recommendations include requiring those who employ workers that they define as independent contractors (instead of employees) to provide these workers with information so they can understand the terms of their engagement and determine whether those terms have been satisfied. Before a contract is signed, that information, should include:

  • Name, physical address, phone number/email address of hiring entity
  • Rate or rates of pay for the contractor
  • Typical expenses incurred in the course of the work, if any, and which expenses will be paid or reimbursed by the hiring entity
  • Pay basis, and where payment is made on other than an hourly basis, disclosure of the method for determining pay and payment schedule
  • Tip and/or service charge policy

LSAC also recommended that there be certain information disclosed at the time of payment:

  • A description of the work for which payment is being made, whether by description of the project; tasks completed, or hours worked
  • All rate or rates of pay whether paid on hourly, salary, commission, piece rate, project, or combination thereof, or other basis
  • Tip or service charge compensation
  • Pay basis (e.g. hour, shift, day, week, commission) and what hours or work is compensated by which pay basis
  • Gross earnings
  • All deductions, fees, or other charges for that pay period

I want to thank LSAC for their hard work in bringing these recommendations to Council and for taking the time to come present to the Finance & Housing Committee last week.

During this committee meeting we also heard a significant amount of public testimony from independent contractors who are organizing with Working Washington in support of their campaign for a minimum pay standard while also protecting their flexibility as independent contractors and providing transparency with their apps. You may recall the City Council recently passed the Fair Share ordinance for drivers who work for Transportation Network Companies.  We can’t leave behind other workers doing important work and not even, in many cases, receiving a minimum wage.

Good Samaritan Law Expanded

On Wednesday House Bill 1209 , which expands Washington’s Good Samaritan Law, passed through the State Legislature. The bill expands protections so that an individual is “not liable for any act or omission while providing volunteer nonmedical care or assistance at the scene of an emergency or disaster, unless the act or omission rises to the level of gross negligence, or willful or wanton misconduct.”

I want to thank a key advocate and constituent, Cindi Barker, for her hard work in helping get this legislation passed. As reported in the West Seattle Blog, Cindi worked with our local State Representatives Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbons and in turn with the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dan Bronoske. Cindi told the blog: “Even most recently, during the COVID response, some people have held back from volunteering, worried about the liability. So we decided to fix that gap.”

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