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Covid on the Rise Among Unvaccinated; West Seattle Bridge Repair meets 60% Design Threshold; New $150k Loans Available to Small Businesses and Nonprofits; South Park Affordable Housing; Public Safety & Human Services Committee; Police Accountability Reports; PayUp Policy ; Less Lethal Weapons Legislation; Virtual Office Hours

Covid on the Rise Among Unvaccinated

Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting a rise in Covid cases and deaths: from 415 new cases and 6 deaths the week of July 1, to 870 new cases and 12 deaths this week.  Almost all new cases are now among those who have not yet received the vaccination.  74% of eligible King County residents have already found their shot.  Perhaps you can help a friend or family member get vaccinated and protected.

COVID-19 vaccines are new, and it’s normal to for people to have questions about them. The sheer amount of information—and misinformation—about COVID-19 vaccines can be overwhelming to anyone. You can help by listening without judgement and identifying the root of their concerns.  Here’s a helpful guide.

Here’s how to find a vaccination near you:

Big News: West Seattle Bridge Repair Meets 60% Design Threshold/West Seattle Bridge July 14 Community Task Force Update

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on July 14th, and heard updates on the West Seattle Bridge and Reconnect West Seattle projects.

West Seattle Bridge Repair

SDOT has reached the 60% design threshold, and plans to finalize design with Kraemer in October, working toward the schedule to open in mid-2022. SDOT indicated early construction activities will begin in October.

The work done last year to stabilize the bridge was focused on the center span over the Duwamish, between Piers 16 and 17 in the image below. Repair work (what SDOT is calling Phase 2 rehabilitation) will extend to the span of the bridge. Carbon fiber wrapping will be added between Piers 15 and 16, and between piers 17 and 18. Additional post-tensioning will take place as well. Additional work will take place on the center span as well.

Work platforms will be used to access the bridge, similar to the platforms that were visible last year, and removed in December.

Here’s an image showing where carbon fiber wrapping, and post-tensioning steel cables and anchors will be added near Pier 15. Carbon fiber wrapping will be added to the inside as well as the outside of the bridge:

Here’s a side view showing the inside of the box girder, showing where this work will take place.

Here’s the schedule and future milestones:

Rehabilitation work on the Spokane Street (lower) bridge will also include work platforms, and adding internal and external carbon fiber wrap, and epoxy injections.

As noted last week, SDOT will host a virtual public meeting on July 21 on the West Seattle Bridge; here’s their announcement:

JOIN OUR VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING ON JULY 21

The West Seattle High-Rise Bridge (high bridge) is on track to reopen in mid-2022 – join us to hear more about the bridge repair, low bridge access, and travel options around West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley. We’ll provide live captioning in English and interpretation in Spanish, Mandarin, and Vietnamese. A meeting recording will be posted online later with subtitles in Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Khmer, Somali, and Oromo. If you need information in another language or have other accessibility needs, please call: (206) 400-7511, or email WestSeattleBridge@seattle.gov

HOW TO JOIN THE MEETING

On Wednesday, July 21 at 5:30 PM, join us in one of two ways:

Reconnect West Seattle

The second quarter updates for Reconnect West Seattle include implementation of the Home Zone safety projects in Highland Park, South Park and Georgetown:

Work elsewhere on detour routes includes installing safety arrow signs and reflectors on Sylvan Way, and ten radar feedback signs. Paving projects include work on Alaska Street on July 17 and 18 (Saturday and Sunday), and upcoming paving on Roxbury between 24th Ave SW and 25th Ave SW scheduled for July 19th and 20th (Monday and Tuesday).

Projects identified for 2022 are listed below:

I’ve been working with the 16th Ave SW Safety Committee on road safety in the area near South Seattle College and Sanislo Elementary; I appreciate SDOT working with them as well.

West Marginal Way

Traffic has been very high at the intersection of West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way since the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. Work to address this will begin on Saturday, July 17th. Improvements will include adding live video feed to monitor traffic in real time.  Other work will:

  • Remove existing raised traffic islands to create a new northbound lane and shift the southbound left turn lanes farther west to reduce wait times.
  • Update the traffic signal equipment for people of all abilities, which will allow us to make signal adjustments in real-time remotely from our traffic operations center based on what cameras show
  • Install new accessible curb ramps
  • Relocate the bus stop
  • Improve turning movements for vehicles traveling through the intersection to shorten wait times

This blog post notes work hours will be from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day to minimize impacts. A lane closure will take place when the traffic islands are demolished. When completed, the new lane configurations will include new lane markings.

SDOT announced they will hold off on adding a bicycle connection until after the West Seattle Bridge opens. An update is included at their West Marginal Way SW Improvements page, which notes allowing traffic to normalize from current very high levels after the bridge re-opening. I believe holding off until after the bridge re-opens is a good decision.

Here’s the blog post SDOT did about their decision; they note the trail “will complete the all-ages-and-abilities network between South Park and the West Seattle Bridge Trail and beyond, including Alki, the Junction, downtown Seattle, and SODO.”

New $150k Loans Available to Small Businesses and Nonprofits

The Small Business Flex Fund is a new resource to help Washington’s small businesses and nonprofits access the financial support they need to thrive.  Small businesses and nonprofits can borrow up to $150,000 and the money can be spent flexibly, including on payroll, utilities & rent, supplies, marketing & advertising, building improvements or repairs, and other business expenses.  You will be connected to a local, community-based lender who can assist with every step of the application and direct you to additional support services, as well.

Apply now for:

  • flexible working capital loans
  • low interest rates
  • 60- or 72-month repayment timelines

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and will be managed to support the program’s goals.  We recommend applying as soon as possible.

New Affordable Housing Coming to South Park

On Monday, I was thrilled to join my colleagues in approving the City’s purchase of two properties in South Park, with the intention of building 70-120 affordable homes for low-income families.

The Office of Housing is pioneering an innovative approach by acquiring these parcels first, and then partnering with community members to develop a Request for Proposals for affordable housing developers.  The vision for this development includes:

  • 70-120+ family sized units for low-income families
  • Community services on the ground floor
  • Using Community Preference to benefit those most at risk of displacement
  • Activation of 14th Avenue S. corridor with housing and ground floor uses
  • Aiming for highly energy and water efficient, all electric zero carbon building
  • Meets the racial equity outcomes outlined in the Duwamish Valley Action Plan

Affordable housing was one of the seven priority areas identified by community members in the 2018 Duwamish Valley Action Plan.  I want to express my deep appreciation for Maria Ramirez and Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition for their long track record of developing community vision and organizing for affordable housing in South Park and Georgetown, the communities of the Duwamish Valley.

Public Safety & Human Services Committee

On Tuesday, July 13 the Public Safety & Human Services Committee (PSHS) that I chair met. The agenda included:

  • Police accountability agencies semi-annual reports
  • PayUp proposal
  • Less lethal weapons legislation

Police Accountability Agencies’ Semi-Annual Reports

The PSHS committee heard semi-annual updates from the Community Police Commission, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountability, as required by the 2017 Police Accountability ordinance. Here’s a link to their combined presentation.

The Community Police Commission presentation included their new recommendations tracker for the three accountability bodies, which shows the recommendation status, and whether it was implemented:

The CPC engaged the state legislature on numerous police accountability bills, and I worked to incorporate their recommendations into the city’s State Legislative Agenda.

CPC work groups include police practices, behavioral health, community engagement and complainant appeals process. They are engaged in a strategic planning process, and a podcast is in production. Additional information is available at the CPC website, where you can sign up for updates from the CPC.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has been working on a Sentinel Event Review regarding the demonstrations during 2020 and 2021, and community trust around the use of force. The Sentinel Event Review examines roots causes to look for preventative system improvements.

They are working on Phase 1; the slide below notes when large numbers of uses of force and complaints were received:

Recent OIG reports include memos to SPD regarding response to persons in crisis, vehicle pursuit policies, and alternative responses for certain types of minor traffic offenses.

Audits and assessments that are ongoing include an SPD Mask-Wearing Review, an Effectiveness of Discipline Audit, as well as recurring audits of police surveillance. The OIG also reviews OPA classifications, and certifies OPA investigations; they will be adding the certifications to their website.

The Office of Police Accountability provided an annual report earlier, so had a shorter presentation.

In addition to investigating complaints of misconduct, as a result of investigation of complaints the OPA issues Management Action Recommendations (MARs). Recent MARS are noted below, and can be viewed on their website here.

PayUp Policy Proposal

What is PayUp?  Here is a description from Working Washington:

Gig workers in our city — including many people of color, immigrants, workers with disabilities,    LGBTQ workers, and parents — make as little as $2 a job working on apps like DoorDash,

Instacart, and Rover. We can’t afford to wait: now is the time to end these subminimum wages    for the most marginalized workers in our city by passing new laws that raise pay, protect flexibility, and provide transparency.

The gig economy is large and growing larger, all while pay is low and driving lower. A Working      Washington analysis of crowd-sourced data found workers’ effective pay rates after expenses                were $7.66/hour on Instacart, $1.45/hour on DoorDash, and $1.70 per delivery on Postmates.

As the gig economy has grown over the past year while other service-sector employment has shrunk, the growing number of workers desperate for income has enabled companies to drive pay rates further downwards.

Gig workers are calling on the City Council to step in and make the gig economy Pay Up Now by passing new policies that raise pay, protect flexibility, and provide transparency. Gig workers are calling specifically for:

1) Minimum wage + expenses for all time worked, with tips on top
– Establish a pay floor for each job which guarantees gig workers make more than minimum wage after expenses, with tips on top.
– Pay workers for all time worked and all required expenses. Minimum compensation must directly or indirectly account for all time required to complete a job, all miles driven during work time must be compensated

2) Protect flexibility by ensuring gig workers can choose when to work and which jobs to accept:
– Right to reject a given job or a given proportion of jobs without penalty.
– Right to schedule work time without restriction by the hiring entity.
– Right to freedom from direct management control for independent contractors.

3) Provide meaningful transparency for gig workers and customers:
– Up-front information: Companies must provide workers with up-front information that includes estimated time and distance, and a guaranteed minimum of what the job or block of work will pay.
– Clarity about prices and pay rates: Companies must provide workers a regular “pay stub” with information about pay, tips, and expenses, and must provide customers clear information about prices and charge.

4) Addressing unwarranted deactivations: Workers should have the right to be provided the reason why they were deactivated, the right to challenge their deactivation, and the right to be reinstated if there’s no evidence to support deactivation.

I have been meeting weekly since June 9 with stakeholder that include workers, workers advocacy organizations and representatives from the platforms, like UberEats, Instacart, Door Dash, Rover and others.

The PSHS briefing covered the proposal elements from workers and platforms included above, including coverage, pay structure, flexibility, transparency, and deactivation.  Linked here is the presentation.

Less Lethal Weapons Legislation

The Public Safety & Human Services Committee voted 4-1 in favor of the recommendation to send legislation to restrict the use of less lethal weapons to Full Council.

The committee adopted two amendments I proposed. The first brought the right of private action for violation of the less lethal weapons use regulations in line with the updated version of the bill first heard at the June 22 committee meeting. The second amendment clarified that the regulation within the legislation also applied to the use of pepperball launchers of various types.

The Community Police commission wrote to support the legislation, noting . “the bill’s inclusion of clear delineations of when less-lethal weapons can and cannot be used—and limitations on who can use them—is a significant first step in ensuring the safety of community members when they engage in First Amendment protected protests”.  The CPC also noted the “The Commission wishes to note that while we appreciate the improvements the bill would make to Seattle Police Department’s use of crowd control weapons, the Commission wants to ensure that the City Council does not forget that there is more work to be done. This legislation does work toward implementation of some recommendations made by the CPC last fall. However, those CPC’s recommendations identified additional changes necessary to best protect our community’s safety and civil liberties during protests for which we ask the City Council to not stop striving towards.”

Judge Robart, who oversees the Consent Decree, has called a status conference for an update on the Consent Decree, scheduled for August 10th. We do not know if the Less Lethal Weapons bill will be a subject of that status conference, nevertheless, for this reason (just in case informal feedback to the bill is provided at the status conference), I moved that the Full Council consider this legislation only after the status conference takes place.

Though we have received informal feedback from both the DOJ and the Monitor, neither has have conducted their formal review as required under the consent decree. Under paragraph 177 of the Consent Decree, DOJ and the Monitor conduct their formal review after SPD has proposed policy revisions, in this case, revisions that will be based upon the new law. The engagement that we conducted with DOJ and the Monitor about the draft bill was an informal process for us to have a dialogue before Council takes legislative action and before the formal Consent Decree review process takes place.

If the bill becomes law, this is what would happen next:

  • First, SPD would draft policy revisions within 60 days (provided by Section 4 of the bill)
  • Second, DOJ and the Monitor would review the policy revisions (this is when their formal review under the Consent Decree takes place)
  • Third, the Court would review the policy revisions (also required by the Consent Decree)
  • Fourth, if the Court approves the policy revisions, then the revised policies and the substantive provisions of the bill will take effect (provided by Section 5 of the bill)

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday July 30, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, please contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

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