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Gun Violence Awareness Day; New South Delridge Farmers’ Market Starts June 12; Critical Support for Residents in Proposed Seattle Rescue Plan; West Seattle Bridge Detour Route Traffic Volumes/Travel Times; SPD Budget Vote; COVID Update: Last Chance to Get Vaccinated at 2801 SW Thistle; Renters’ Rights Forum – June 8, 5:30pm

Gun Violence Awareness Day Proclamation

June 4 is the observance of the 7th National Gun Violence Awareness Day.  The Wear Orange campaign begins the weekend of June 4th – 6th, 2021.  The Greater Seattle Moms Demand Action joined the City Council meeting this week to receive a proclamation in recognition.

Orange is the color chosen because it is a bright, bold color that demands to be seen, it is what hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves from harm, and it is considered a universal color of caution.  Here’s more of the tragic background on the origins of Wear Orange campaign:

Orange is the color that Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore in her honor after she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15 – just one week after performing at President Obama’s second inaugural parade in 2013. After her death, her friends started to Wear Orange to raise awareness about gun violence. And what started with a group of friends on the South Side of Chicago has turned into a nationwide movement to honor the 100 lives cut short and the hundreds more injured by gun violence every day – and to demand action.  Orange expresses our collective hope as a nation– hope for a future free from gun violence, where our movie theaters, our concerts, our places of worship, and our schools are free from gun violence.

In Seattle we ended 2020 with 421 reported incidents of shots fired (up from 332 in 2019, an increase of 89 incidents, a 27% increase).

  • We had 301 incidents of shots fired (evidence/eye witness) in 2020 compared to 235 in 2019 (an increase of 66 incidents, a 28% increase)
  • We had 97 non-fatal injury shooting incidents in 2020 compared to 79 in 2019 (an increase of 18 incidents, a 23% increase)
  • We had 23 fatal shooting incidents in 2020 compared to 18 in 2019 (an increase of 5 incidents, a 28% increase)

“Subduing the pandemic, increasing confidence in the police and justice system, and implementing proven anti-violence strategies will be necessary to achieve a durable peace.” — The National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice

On Feb. 1, the commission reported increased violent and property offense rates for 39 cities, including Seattle. The report notes rising crime is cause for alarm but not panic.  The commission reports the pandemic may have placed “individuals under physical, mental, emotional and financial stress” and strained “institutions that respond to violent offenses,” including “community-based groups that productively engage and depend heavily on proactive outreach to at-risk people and places.”

I look forward to an update from the Human Services Department on the Community Safety Capacity Building Request for Proposals soon – representing $12 million in investments to build capacity for community-based groups that do this work to make our communities safer.

Many thanks and much appreciation to Moms Demand Action and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility for their tireless work promoting common sense gun safety laws, like those passed in this year’s State Legislative Session, such as SB 5038, to prohibit the open carry of firearms at public demonstrations local City of Seattle laws adopted to limit gun violence, including requirements to report theft and loss of firearms, taxes on retail sales of firearms and ammunition and regulations for the safe storage of firearms.

New South Delridge Farmers’ Market Starts June 12

I am excited to announce the new monthly farmers’ market in South Delridge opening beginning June 12th.

The farmers’ market will be at Hope Academy, at 9421 18th Avenue SW, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every second Saturday from June through November.

You can find information about participating vendors, becoming a vendor, volunteering and the schedule at the South Delridge Farmers’ Market website.

A goal of the market is small-business development; the majority of vendors are people of color.

 

Critical Support for Residents in Proposed Seattle Rescue Plan

Today, I joined my fellow Councilmembers in considering legislation appropriating $128 million in federal funding to support Seattle residents in building back better from the Covid pandemic.  I am especially heartened by the investments dedicated to trauma-informed, community well-being services in the Seattle Rescue Plan.

Families are struggling to meet the basic needs of their children and  keep food on the table.  Survivors of violence have been cut off from their network of support and crisis services.  A year of isolation and insecurity has taken its toll on the mental health of us all.  This is the “Shadow Pandemic,” with restricted movement, social isolation, and economic insecurity increasing our vulnerability to violence and self-harm.

The proposed “Seattle Rescue Plan” (Council Bills 120093 and 120094) supports investment in distinct categories, including:

  • $1.5 million to address senior isolation and other impacts of the pandemic on older residents, as part of a $7.4 million investment in seniors expected from the state later this summer. Loneliness and social isolation bring increased risk for chronic health problems including dementia (64% increase), stroke (32% increase), and coronary artery disease (29% increase). Social isolation has also been linked to increases in emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and nursing home placements.  A survey of 897 older people sheltering at home during the pandemic found that the prevalence of elder abuse was approximately one of five—an 83.6% increase compared with prevalence estimates before the pandemic.
  • $600,000 for investments in mental health and behavioral health services for individuals, youth, and families. It has been said that “COVID has been like gasoline poured on an already raging fire.” Depression rates have tripled. At the end of 2020, Public Health recorded 42 overdose deaths in a two-week period, the highest number ever documented in King County.  Research indicates a record 1 in 4 people under 30 seriously contemplated taking their own lives during COVID.
  • $600,000 for programs and services for gender-based violence response An April 2020 survey of local organizations addressing gender-based violence showed 56% experienced an increase in the numbers of survivors seeking help, with the severity and complexity of survivors’ needs increasing.  The number of sexual assault survivors requesting help in Seattle has jumped 25% in the past year, and requests for legal advocacy have jumped 33%.  Meanwhile, federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding that supports these services has been cut.
  • $225,000 for diaper distribution to address soaring diaper need. Diaper need is even more closely linked to depression in new moms than hunger.  Diapers cost $80 to $100 per month, and 16% of Seattle families struggle to afford them overall, including 42% of BIPOC families.  Federal assistance programs like SNAP and WIC don’t cover them.    The National Diaper Bank Network reports an 86% increase in the number of diapers distributed to children and families during the pandemic, and they projected that nearly 40% more children are being served by their diaper banks.
  • $690,000 to support restaurants preparing free meals to those in need, while supporting local farms and producers and building long-term local supply chain relationships. Food insecurity has more than doubled during the pandemic; 30% of King County households experienced hunger in the past year, and the impact is even larger among communities of color.

The Rescue Plan also includes $25 million in direct cash assistance prioritized for those disproportionately impacted by the COVID public health crisis.  Families and individuals struggling to survive know best how to put cash assistance to use to get through the end of the pandemic.

We must make these critical investments in services that will directly help the families and individuals hit hardest by COVID, so that not just the City but also its residents can build back better.  Over the next two weeks, Councilmembers will consider amendments to the legislation, which will be discussed at the next Finance & Housing committee meeting on June 15th.  You can sign up to receive the agenda here.

West Seattle Bridge Detour Route Traffic Volumes/Travel Times

Here are the most recent traffic volumes and travel times for District 1 and adjacent areas. Traffic volumes continue to be very high at the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and West Marginal Way, and higher than pre-COVID levels on the South Park and Bridge and WSDOT’s First Avenue South Bridge.

 

SPD Budget Vote

On Monday the Council voted on legislation regarding the SPD budget noted in earlier newsletters. The legislation did not pass; below is my statement about the vote on Council Bill 119981:

“The origins of CB 119981 are in response to a late addition to the 2020 budget. This late 2020 budget increase came after, in August 2020, the Council adopted Resolution 31962, which stated in part that ‘The City Council will not support any budget amendments to increase the SPD’s budget to offset overtime expenditures above the funds budgeted in 2020 or 2021.’

“This bill was about accountability, not about a number. I am disappointed that this Council today didn’t vote to support the objective of this bill which was to exercise fiscal oversight of the Seattle Police Department while simultaneously funding important public safety investments in areas where there was broad agreement and heeding the authority of the Consent Decree in these matters where the court is suggesting our actions overlap with Consent Decree obligations.

“We are also missing a chance to fund staffing for public disclosure response positions, as recommended by the City Auditor in his 2015 report on Police or funding for evidence storage in the Department of Finance and Administrative Services as recommended by the Office of the Inspector General.

“Above all, today’s vote is significant in that there will be no accountability over the SPD budget for overtime spending to police protests in 2020. Over the summer and fall budget cycles, the Council listened to people calling for a 50% cut to the SPD budget as well as people who opposed it, and we demonstrated that we can listen to multiple voices in our City and compromise to meet our objective to redefine public safety in our city.  This ability to listen to multiple voices is critical to change moving forward.

“With today’s vote we are allowing both those who don’t want us to exercise oversight of SPD’s budget as well as those who advocate for an all or nothing approach to revert us back to the status quo.”

 

COVID Update:  Last Chance to Get Vaccinated at 2801 SW Thistle

If you’re still looking for your first or second Covid vaccine shot, head to the City-run vaccination site at 2801 SW Thistle by June 9th.  You can make an appointment in advance, or just show up anytime Monday through Saturday between 9am and 4pm.  The last shot will be given at this site at 4pm on June 9th!

After June 9th, you’ll still have plenty of options to get vaccinated – so don’t fear if you miss out at the SW Thistle site!

  • The City will continue to operate its drive-through vaccination site in SoDo throughout the summer. Just head to 3820 6th Ave S, Seattle 98108, open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Monday to Saturday.
  • This map has links to authorized vaccine providers in District 1 – click through to discover if they have vaccination available.
  • Or try texting:

All students who need either their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are welcome at Seattle Public Schools’ vaccine clinics this June!  Parental consent for minors is required. Learn more at bit.ly/tcsvax.

Governor Jay Inslee just announced a lottery of incentive prizes for vaccinated Washingtonians.  No action needed to be eligible – just get your shots!

 

Renters’ Rights Forum – June 8, 5:30pm

Without additional action to extend the eviction moratorium, at the end of this month, June 30, the eviction moratorium is slated to come to an end. It is crucial to know your rights as a renter and the resources available to assist you.

Five commissions – Immigrant and Refugee Commission, Human Rights Commission, Disability Commission, Women’s Commission, and LGBTQ+ Commission are hosting a forum to help ensure renters understand their rights and options.

ASL interpreters will be available in-person and virtually. In-person attendance is limited, so register here as soon as possible.

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