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COVID Updates: Mask Up Indoors, Vaccines to Students // SW Delridge Encampment Update // Small Biz & Nonprofit Relief // Earthquake Webinar Series

West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Update 

Bridge Repair Remains on Schedule for mid-2022 completion 

Last week the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met for the 19th time since the closure of the West Seattle Bridge.  

The most important update is that the repair of the West Seattle Bridge remains on schedule for mid-2022 completion (June 30th). SDOT staff indicated that currently they could be a few days, or up to a week, ahead of schedule. 

The latest key schedule milestone is the hiring of a contractor to carry out the repairs of the West Seattle Bridge. On Wednesday, SDOT announced the selection o Kraemer North America. They had the best-scoring proposal based on technical merit, total price, and interview. They were selected from three finalists that were interviewed. Their contract will also include work to rehabilitate the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge.  

Hiring the contractor now is an important step in keeping the schedule on track. SDOT is using the GCCM (General Contractor/Construction Manager Manager) construction method. In GCCM, the contractor is involved in the design, to ensure constructability, and prevent unnecessary schedule delays and expensive contract change orders.  

Hiring now allows the construction contractor to participate in design work moving toward the milestone of 60% design in July. The traditional approach is to complete design first, then bid for a contractor. That takes more time.  

The stabilization of the bridge was completed in late 2020, and stopped the growth of cracks on the bridge; it is performing as expected. Design work for a repair has been proceeding since thenthe Technical Advisory Panel expressed confidence a repair could last 30-40 years. 

The next steps for keeping the project on schedule are listed below 

An issue constituents have asked me about is the visibility of repairs to the bridge.  

Most repairs will be done inside the girders, to strengthen the bridge with high-tension steel cables. This prevents cracking of the bridge. 10 miles of taut steel cable went installed inside the bridge during stabilization. 

During stabilization work, a platform was built below the bridge that allowed work crews to safety access the exterior of the bridge to add carbon fiber wrapping and epoxy. The platform was removed after stabilization was completed.  

Another question that comes up is whether the bridge can be opened for use by emergency vehicles, or other traffic.  

SDOT notes each end of the bridge is locked for safety, and while stabilized, the bridge is not at a level where it can accommodate traffic without risking additional cracking:  

Low bridge access update 

SDOT has now approved 60 users to access the lower bridge who are  receiving lifesaving medical treatments. They are also processing over 600 applications for bridge use. You can apply here if you are an eligible user:  

  • 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) 
  • People traveling to and from lifesaving medical treatments (authorization from your medical provider required) via West Seattle; includes driving to treatments via the Fauntleroy Ferry. 

If you need assistance in completing the application or have questions, you can call (206) 400-7511 and leave a voicemail or email WestSeattleBridge@seattle.gov. Provide your name, contact info and language need and someone will return your call. 

Up to 10 roundtrips per month are available to qualifying businesses:  

Additional information about low bridge access is below:  

 

SDOT is monitoring relevant data, including bridge volumes, number of violations, and issues such as how long it takes traffic flow to recover from bridge openings. Daily and monthly permitted trips could be adjusted upwards or downwards based on use of the low bridge.  

Below is a comparison of monthly traffic volumes citywide compared to pre-COVID levels. At the beginning of  the pandemic in Seattle, the left of the chart shows March and April 2020 with a significant drop compared to 2019. 

At the right of the chart, monthly volumes are compared to 2019, since 2020 volumes are within the COVID period. April 2021 volumes were 28% lower than 2019, compared to April 2020 volumes, which were 60% below 2019 levels.  

It’s likely this trend will continue as vaccinations proceed and more re-opening takes place. KC Metro ridership reports lag compared to traffic data, but ridership is increasing as well.  

Work to implement traffic and pedestrian safety Home Zone projects continues in Highland Park, South Park and Georgetown: 

 

 

Here’s a link to the most recent traffic and travel time data, through the week ending May 14. Traffic volumes remain very high at the Highland Park Way and West Marginal Way intersection compared to pre-COVID levels.  

(Note: the Spokane St bridge was out of service on Wednesday, 5/12 from approximately 3:30-5:30 AM. This likely accounts for the dip in total daily bridge volumes for that day). 

 

Covid UpdatesMask Up IndoorsHow to Get Vaccinated; In-Language Vaccine Helplines; Vaccinations for Schoolkids 

Mask Up Indoors in King County  On Thursday, King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin issued a new Directive concerning masks.  Everyone age 5 and over – regardless of vaccination status –  must wear masks while inside places that are open to the public, such as grocery stores and restaurants:   

Everyone 5-years of age and older in King County should continue to wear a face covering within indoor public spaces (including retail, grocery stores, government buildings, and other businesses and places where members of the public can enter freely), unless a state-approved method is used to assure that all people allowed inside have been fully vaccinated. Everyone in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, schools, public transportation, and certain health care settings, including doctor’s offices, long-term care, and hospitals must also wear a well-fitted mask. 

You can read Dr. Duchin’s answers to frequent questions about the Directive here.   

The Directive will remain in effect until 70% or more of King County residents 16 years of age and older are fully vaccinated – expected in late June.   

Last week, Governor Inslee announced we are working toward a statewide reopening date of June 30th.  It could be even earlier If 70% or more of Washingtonians over the age of 16 initiate vaccination before then.  Let’s mask up and vaccinate – the end is in sight! 

How to Get Vaccinated:  Vaccination is now available for everyone 12 years old and over!  If you’re still looking for your first or second dose, try this: 

You can also visit the City’s mass vaccination sites – including the West Seattle site at 2801 SW Thistle – with or without an appointment.  Learn more at www.Seattle.gov/Vaccine, or call the Customer Service Bureau at (206) 684-2489. 

In-Language Vaccine Helplines:  Community-based organizations are operating COVID-19 Vaccine Community Helplines for immigrant and refugee residents who are limited English proficient and/or have limited access to the Internet.  Available languages:  

Amharic  |  አምሃሪ  Arabic  |  عربى  Cantonese Chinese  |  廣東話 
Korean  |  한국어  Mandarin Chinese  |  普通话  Somali  |  Soomaali 
Spanish  |  Español  Tigrinya  |  ትግርኛ  Vietnamese  |  Tiếng Việt 

 

Vaccines for Schoolkids:  Seattle Fire Department is offering vaccination clinics for schoolkids, with a goal of vaccinating all students 12 and older before the school year ends:  

  • If your student attends an SPS middle or high school, or a charter school, SFD will offer in-school vaccinations during the school week. More information here. 
  • If your student attends a private school, they can attend pop-up vaccination clinics SFD is hosting at private schools across Seattle. More information here   
  • Next Wednesday, May 26th, they’ll be in District 1 at Holy Family Bilingual Catholic School (9615 20th Ave SW, WA 98106) from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  Learn more here. 
  • If neither of the above opportunities work for your family, you can walk into our family-focused clinics at the Lumen Field Event Center tomorrow, May 19, and Saturday, May 22, or the family-focused pop-up clinic at Franklin High School on May 22. More information here. 

SW Delridge Encampment Update 

Over the past several months, I have been in communication with a number of concerned residents, business owners, and workers about an encampment obstructing the sidewalks on SW Delridge near 16th.  As of this week, most residents have accepted referrals into safe shelters from CoLEAD, or agreed to move their tents.   SPU has worked to clear away debris and arrange for the sidewalk to be cleaned.   

This positive outcome is the result of many people and teams working together, including homeless outreach workers with REACH, who provided survival items, referrals to services, and built relationships with encampment residents and local business owners; Seattle Public Utilities, who provided weekly trash collection services at my request starting in early March; NeighborCare, who sent nurses to the site; local business owners, who provided meals, purchased sharps disposal containers and contracted for augmented garbage pick up at their own expense, were willing to work towards a positive outcome for encampment residents as well as address their own concerns; and HOPE team-contracted outreach workers, who provided several shelter referrals early on.  I deeply appreciate all their efforts. 

Though the City had posted the encampment for removal, as reported by PublicCola last week, a “new outbreak of an unspecified gastrointestinal illness temporarily halted a planned sweep at a homeless encampment near White Center this week, after King County Public Health recommended strongly against uprooting people with severe symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. 

In my own inquiries about the outcomes of city contracted outreach providers working with the City’s HOPE team, I also received concerning reports that there is a lack of clear communication from the City’s HOPE Team about shelter referrals, and it is difficult to get encampment residents prioritized for safe shelter.  The key to successful outreach is the ability to provide safe shelter referrals and build relationships and trust over time.   

In light of these problems placing people prioritized for help by outreach workers into indoor alternatives that the City gatekeeps, and in the hope of avoiding an encampment removal when people had nowhere to go, I began to work with CoLEAD, bringing a new level of resources to the encampment residents reportedly not previously available with HOPE team engagement.  CoLEAD provides intensive outreach, services, and housing to people living unsheltered who have historically been contacted by police and often arrested and taken to jail for crimes of poverty and criminalization of substance use and homelessness.   

 The key to successful outreach is the ability to build relationships and trust and provide safe shelter referrals.  The HOPE team is a new approach to encampment management that I negotiated last year along with Councilmembers Lewis and Morales; the Mayor’s Office; and homelessness outreach providers, which focuses on problem-solving in order to achieve:  

  • fewer encampment removals;  
  • more voluntary compliance and good neighbor activities to address hazards and concerns;  
  • improved health and safety for people living in encampments, their housed neighbors, and people who work nearby.  

This example of the HOPE team South Delridge encampment demonstrates that we need to ensure that City-contracted outreach workers who are paired with the City’s HOPE team have access to precious housing resources controlled by the City.  I will continue my work with City departments to ensure that shelter referral priorities can be better executed.    

Council Adopts Bridge/Transportation Infrastructure Amendments 

Last week the City Council approved legislation that directs SDOT to provide the Council with a list of transportation projects by September 30 that could be funded by $100 million in bond financing in 2022, with a minimum of 75% devoted to bridge maintenance or repair. Funding would be provided by the existing $20 vehicle license fee.  

This follows from the City Auditor’s report on the condition of Seattle’s bridges released in September, which noted the inadequacy of maintenance funding for the long-term health of the bridges we depend on in Seattle.  

On April 23, I joined Councilmembers Pedersen, Lewis and Mosqueda in co-sponsoring a proposal for $100 million in bonds for multimodal bridges and other transportation infrastructure needs by leveraging the new $20 vehicle license fee, with at least 75% dedicated to bridges. The amendment was adopted in the Transportation and Utilities Committee, with Councilmember Juarez joining as a co-sponsor.  

This schedule allows for consideration during the 2022 budget process, working toward a 2022 bond sale. The Council generally approves a bond sale in November for the following year. Last year the Council approved $212 million in bonds for 2021 that included $100 million for the West Seattle Bridge.   

At the May 5 committee meeting an amendment from Councilmember Strauss was adopted. The above language remains (i.e. at least 75% toward bridges), with an additional sentence  noting the project list should include schedule and when bonds would be necessary.   

The Strauss amendment removed a non-enforceable recital expressing intent to dedicate 75% to bridge funding. While that isn’t ideal, recitals are statements of intent only. By contrast, the direction to SDOT to provide a project list at least  75% for bridge funding is not optional—it is clear direction, and needed for a bond sale.  

That amendment resulted in a unanimous Council vote in support of the amendment.  An earlier proposal I co-sponsored to dedicate vehicle license funds to bridge maintenance was voted down by a 5-4 vote, so passage wasn’t 100% assured. Getting the list for consideration during the budget process that begins in September is what’s most critical.  

A bond sale requires three things: 1) a funding source; 2) a project list and 3) a Council vote in support. . 

Last year’s bond sale legislation, includes a project list. The fiscal note includes the projects and funding sources; both are needed for bond sales. Projects identified in the bond sale legislation would need to be incorporated into the 2022 city budget—which requires six votes to pass.  

The Council will be receiving a project list, and has identified funding, so everything needed for a bond sale that was in place from the previous amendment remains in place heading in to the budget process.  My commitment to a bond sale remains. 

In 2021, recommendations of the stakeholder committee would be funded, with resources going to  Sidewalk Safety Repair, Vision Zero, ADA spot improvements, and Major Maintenance of Capital Structures. 

SPD Budget Bill 

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee voted on the Seattle Police Department budget bill described in earlier newsletters on March 26 and February 26 

After the committee passed amendments on March 23rd, further action was delayed, as the Monitor overseeing the Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice had asked SPD a series of questions. After SPD replied, the Monitor expressed interest in ensuring funding would be available for training and patrol, and in funding levels for SPD.  

Consequently, I proposed an additional amendment that was adopted by a 3-2 vote at the May 11 committee meeting. It recognizes salary savings and funds from released provisos can be used for patrol and training, items the Monitor identified as important. The amendment releases an additional $2.5 million in funding to SPD, for a total of $7.5 million from funds that are held in provisos that SPD otherwise would not be authorized to spend. Provisos are budget actions the Council takes that prohibit spending by a department (but don’t technically remove the funds from the department budget). Council Central Staff estimates potential salary savings from vacant positions, could be as high as $13 million. 

From amendments adopted on March 23rd, the bill would reduce the SPD budget by $2.8 million, directing $800,000 toward police-related spending such as evidence storage (as recommended by the Inspector General), public disclosure (as recommended by City Auditor), and crisis responders in the Human Services Department.  It also directs $2 million to the participatory budgeting process to fund recommended priorities including crisis response alternatives, violence interruption, harm reduction proposals, and community-based emergency services. 

Additional amendments on March 23rd  funded $5.4 million in priorities SPD identified to ameliorate in the staffing shortage in a March 9 presentation I invited them to give to the committee. Funds would go for civilian positions, such as Community Service Officers and Crime Prevention Coordinators, and technology investments.  

The main bill was voted out of committee, though with two “yes” votes and three “no” votes. As such it goes to the Full Council with a “do not pass” recommendation.  

If this bill is not approved by the Council, the result will be that $7.5 million in 2021 funds will be  unavailable to SPD; the additional spending to ameliorate the officer staffing shortage will not be approved, funding to address the City Auditor’s recommendations relating to SPD public disclosure requests, and funding to address the Office of the Inspector General’s recommendations for additional evidence storage capacity will not be authorized, and no new additional funds will be authorized for participatory budgeting.  

I have shared the details of the legislation with the Monitor. 

May is Older Americans Month and Better Hearing Month 

Last Friday, I was honored to present two proclamations to members of the King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, declaring May to be Older Americans Month and Better Hearing Month.   

I’ve been particularly concerned about the unique impact of the coronavirus on older residents over the past year.  I’ve heard from those who are struggling with the isolation required to combat the pandemic, and the mental health impacts of that isolation and fear.  Overnight, so much of our world moved online – from finding a vaccine appointment to checking out library items to Zoom visits with family and friends.  That’s not easy to access for many older residents, for a whole host of reasons.   It takes special care to make sure that older residents are not left out and left behind during the pandemic.   

Thanks to the King County Advisory Council, and to everyone who works to call attention to hearing loss, and to make our community a better place for older residents.  You can learn more about hearing loss here.   

Small Business & Nonprofit Relief:  Culturally Relevant Technical Assistance; May 31st Deadline for PPP; $10M for Arts and Nonprofits 

Culturally Relevant Technical Assistance:  Is your small business or nonprofit looking for help 

  • Finding and applying for resources, whether you are open or closed? 
  • Accessing translation assistance? 
  • Navigating local, state and federal resources? 
  • Planning for recovery and safe re-opening? 

If “yes”, please click here to find a Commerce Small Business Resiliency Network member organization for free assistance.  They are trusted community messengers who provide culturally relevant assistance for business owners and organizations affected by COVID-19. 

 

PPP Application Deadline May 31:  The federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) offers forgivable loans to small businesses impacted by COVID. The application deadline is May 31. Need help applying? Contact the Office of Economic Development at 206-684-8090 or OED@seattle.gov. Bilingual assistance is available! 

Learn about the PPP and other state and federal relief programs for small businesses and nonprofits here.   

$10M for Arts & Nonprofits:  Apply now for $10 million in grants to help community organizations across the state that have been impacted by the pandemic. The Nonprofit Community Relief grant program focuses on arts, culture, science and heritage nonprofits, as well as organizations whose primary mission is to serve veterans, neighborhood organizations and sports and recreation programs for adults and/or children.  Learn more and apply here  

Earthquake Response Webinar Series 

The Seattle Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is hosting a series of webinars focused on the City’s earthquake response plans and has asked that this information be shared.  

The first webinar will be held on May 27and will be a high level overview of how the City prioritizes and coordinates during response to a major earthquake. The four subsequent webinars will occur from June through September and will dive deeper into individual areas of the response including firefighting, mass care, and utility and transportation restoration. Each webinar will also highlight how individual and neighborhood preparedness efforts tie into the overall response.  

All webinars are open to the public and will include captioning in Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. All sessions will include a Q&A session at the end, and will be recorded and posted to the Seattle OEM YouTube channelRegistration is not required, but participants can register to receive a confirmation email, calendar appointment, and event reminders. View the full schedule on OEM’s events calendar or see session information below. 

 

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