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West Seattle Bridge Update; Reminder: March 30 West Seattle-Specific Sound Transit Public Hearing; Libraries Adding Operating Hours – Masks Encouraged; Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update; Andover Area Update; 3rd/Pine Bus Stop Temporary Closure; South Park Neighborhood Center Landmarks Board Nomination; Industrial Maritime Engagement in South Park; Vision Zero Signs; Apply to Become an Affordable Home Owner

West Seattle Bridge Update

Earlier this week—March 23rd—marked just over two years since the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. I want to take a moment to acknowledge how difficult this has been for residents and businesses on the peninsula and Duwamish communities.  Getting the bridge open as soon as possible remains a high priority for all of us.

Concrete

The need to obtain the specialized concrete that can hold more than 20 million pounds of force and sustain that strength for decades, has been the key issue impacting the schedule.

The return of concrete mixer drivers to work at some companies has provided an opportunity to source concrete needed to guide and anchor steel cables needed for the West Seattle Bridge repair. I appreciate the willingness of concrete mixer drivers to return to work, despite the strike not being resolved.

Of the companies that mixer drivers have resumed work at, only Cadman can provide the specialized concrete required for the bridge. In mid-week, SDOT let me know that the next step was to receive a concrete mix design from Cadman, which will need to be certified by the Materials Lab at SPU.

The concrete mix design was received yesterday from Cadman and it is now  at the Materials Lab (at Seattle Public Utilities) for certification.  I checked with SPU about the certifications process, and how long it might take.

Regarding the process, the Materials Lab “receives a package of proposed concrete mixes from our Contractor.  In that package are proposed concrete mix proportions, certifications, material test results and product information that Materials Laboratory staff compares with the City of Seattle Standard Specifications, as well as project specific specifications, to determine if the proposed mix(es) are compliant and suitable for the proposed purpose.  There are several possible outcomes of this review, from outright rejection to unconditional acceptance. It is not uncommon to return the submittal and ask for more information before final disposition of the proposed mix(es) is made.  Concrete mixes are not approved until the SPU Materials Laboratory is comfortable that they comply with all applicable standards and that they can be mixed, transported and placed to achieve project design criteria and provide lasting service.”

The Materials Lab noted they received the proposed concrete mix design late yesterday.  They helpfully noted the need to expedite review.  They have let me know that they expect to have the review for the proposed mix done in fairly short order.  I appreciate their recognition of the importance of this project and willingness to prioritize this work.

They also emphasized they are working with the project structural engineer in the review for concurrence.

Reconnect West Seattle Updates

Here are a few updates on Reconnect West Seattle projects.

SDOT has installed traffic monitoring cameras at the 2nd Ave SW and Highland Park Way SW intersection and the West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW intersection.

They will use these cameras to monitor how traffic is flowing on the detour routes so that they can make signal timing changes as needed.

SDOT provided the following update on Home Zone projects:

In the next few months, we’re building several Home Zone projects in West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley. Exact timing of these projects depends on our SDOT crew availability and weather conditions. Neighbors living near these projects are being notified of the upcoming work.

Here are a few upcoming projects used to help slow down traffic and make conditions safer for people walking, biking, and rolling:

  • 9th Ave SW, S Trenton St, S Henderson St, 14th Ave SW, and 6th Ave S: Adding vegetation, installing drainage, and building concrete curbs throughout the South Park Home Zone.
  • 16th Ave SW and SW Myrtle St: Installing new flashing beacons at one of the existing crosswalks. The crosswalks and parking lines will also be repainted (note: installation is planned for this weekend)
  • 16th Ave SW between SW Cambridge St and SW Roxbury St: Repainting center lines, parking lane lines, and bike lane lines for the whole block. New painted curb bulbs will also be installed on either side of the existing mid-block crosswalk.
  • 16th Ave SW near South Seattle Community College: Installing radar speed signs for southbound traffic at 16th Ave SW and SW Findlay St and northbound traffic at 16th Ave SW and SW Morgan St. Pavement markings and traffic signage will also be updated along the corridor.

 

Reminder: March 30 West Seattle-Specific Sound Transit Public Hearing

Sound Transit will be holding a West Seattle/Duwamish crossing-focused virtual public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail project.

The public hearing is on March 30th, starting at 5:30 p.m.

You can add this meeting to your calendar, and find the zoom link for the meeting at the “Get Involved” tab of Sound Transit’s project webpage.

Here’s a link to the 14 pages in the Draft EIS Executive Summary that cover the three segments for West Seattle: 1) Duwamish crossing; 2) Delridge (which includes both the Delridge and Avalon Stations); and 3) West Seattle Junction. This includes the alternatives shown on maps; cost estimates; impacts; charts showing the height of stations and elevated guideways; and some visual simulations.

You can also provide written comments on the “Comment Now” tab of the project webpage; the public comment period is open through April 28.

You can view presentations and videos of the West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group on the “Advisory Groups” tab.

After completion of the Draft EIS public comment period, the Sound Transit Board will select options to be analyzed in the Final EIS.

 

Libraries Adding Operating Hours; Masks Encouraged

Additional Hours:  Starting Wednesday, Seattle Public Libraries announced they will add back some operating hours, after a winter of reductions driven by staffing shortages.  Tom Fay, Chief Librarian of The Seattle Public Library said, “This is another step toward our return to pre-pandemic levels of operation. We also look forward to offering some additional hours in the coming months, fulfilling the promise we made to Seattle residents when they generously supported the 2019 Library Levy.”

D1 branches will be open these hours, starting Wednesday, March 30.  Changes from the current schedule are highlighted.

Masks Encouraged:  As of Saturday, March 12, Library visitors are strongly encouraged, but no longer required, to wear masks while inside Library buildings. To protect the most vulnerable patrons and staff, Library staff will continue to wear masks, and offer free masks to patrons at dispensers in each Library.

Any Library patron can request curbside service for pickup of your holds.  Just call the branch’s phone number (find it here) to let staff know you have arrived and need assistance with your holds’ pickup.

 

Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update

The Public Safety and Human Committee met on March 22nd to consider several topics; updates are included below.

First, the committee voted to affirm the process the Mayor is following for selecting a permanent director to the Office of Police Accountability, which investigates allegations of misconduct. Under the 2017 accountability ordinance, the Mayor appoints the OPA Director, subject to Council confirmation. June 30 is the date listed for the Mayor to nominate from among three finalists recommended by a search committee. The 2017 accountability legislation requires one quarter of the search committee members to be Community Police Commission commissioners.

Secondly, Police Chief Diaz presented the SPD 2022 Strategic Plan. The plan includes a high-level description of the approach SPD is taking on crime, gun violence, reform, technology and data, recruitment and other issues.

Next, the committee voted to approve $3 million in UASI (Urban Areas Security Initiative) grants; SPD manages receipt of the grants, though the funds go to several local jurisdictions. As the staff memo notes, “Project funding decisions are made through a collaborative process involving multiple public safety emergency response agencies located throughout Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties.”

I proposed an amendment the committee adopted noting that any equipment purchased with these funds by SPD is subject to SMC 14.18, the City’s surveillance technology law.

Finally, the Office of Emergency Management also presented their 2021 Race and Social Justice Initiative Report.  Some of their accomplishments include:

  • Realigning staffing for equitable engagement
  • Planning policy codified engagement practices
  • Pilot focus groups
  • Equity Analysis of earthquake impacts
  • Afghani community outreach (which is important because of the increased number of refugees after the US withdrawal)
  • Low barrier application process for partner organizations, and
  • Seismic retrofit of the Bremer apartment

 

Andover Area Update

Many constituents have written to me over the years and more recently as well regarding the several RVs located on SW Andover next to Nucor and the West Seattle Health Club.   A shooting this week highlights the need for additional efforts to address this location. Fortunately, the victim is in stable condition and a suspect is in custody.

Before I get into how I have been trying to address the issues at this location, I need to explain the legal context.  While the City had not been enforcing the 72-hour parking law at all during the COVID pandemic, it is important to note that the decision to limit enforcement of this law towards people living in their vehicles predates the COVID19 moratorium. Even before the enactment of the 72-hour parking law moratorium in response to COVID19 and CDC guidance, SPD had been using discretion, and generally only enforcing the law against people living in their vehicles after outreach and referral efforts, and generally focused on areas specifically selected for the RV remediation program.

This Seattle Times article explains why.  This Washington State Supreme Court case places legal limits on how the City enforces parking laws against individuals living in their vehicles.  This court’s ruling in this lawsuit is the reason why SPD so carefully uses its discretion, rather than simply towing every vehicle in violation of the law.

I have repeatedly advocated for city action at the Andover location, both under the previous administration, and I, in January, confirmed that the new administration was aware of the Andover neighbors’ concerns. On February 9, I met with the Mayors’ Office, SPU, the City Attorney, and SDOT to discuss how SDOT is mostly maintaining the moratorium on enforcement of the 72 hours parking ordinance, and only enforcing as relates to abandoned vehicles. Additionally, in a recent article about RVs in Ballard SDOT was quoted:

“SDOT parking enforcement is continuing to focus on clearing abandoned and unoccupied vehicles,” said press secretary Ethan Bergerson. “SDOT at this time is not impounding vehicles which are occupied by people refusing to relocate.”

The City of Seattle did conduct a clean-up for the area with the SPU RV Remediation program between November 30 and Friday, December 3. At that time, SPU collected 7,600 pounds of debris during their efforts.

Last week I again reached out to Mayor Harrell’s office to follow up on our February meeting about the Andover location and was told last week that: “On 3/3 SPU conducted a site assessment of the Andover location and it is currently ranked high enough for a Remediation next month.” Just like the SDOT quote above about the RV’s in Ballard, the Mayor’s office told me that the planned remediation next month for Andover does not include enforcement of the 72-hour parking ordinance. Additionally, the Mayor’s Office let me know that SDOT is developing a policy for enforcing – when appropriate – the 72-hour parking ordinance for vehicles being used as residences and doing so in a way that addresses the limitations created by the State Supreme Court decision referenced above.

Finally, it’s important to include that last year I helped obtain funding for a “safe lot,” a location for RVs to park. The funding wasn’t implemented by the previous Mayor.  The King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) now has jurisdiction for homelessness response in both the City of Seattle and throughout King County.   Consequently, the safe lot funding that I championed was transferred from the City of Seattle to the KCRHA.  In January, KCRHA voted on their budget which included the City’s funding for RV Storage and RV Safe Lots. The Request for Proposal will be released this month for almost $2 million, you can see an overview of that here. KCRHA has convened a vehicle residency workgroup that is working on solutions for vehicle residents across a lot of specific subplans, you can see that presentation here.

In addition to regularly calling SPU for garbage pick-ups, RV remediation visits, and septic pump outs, and regularly asking Southwest Precinct Captain Rivera for increased SPD patrols in the area, I repeatedly emphasize to the Executive that the neighbors in this area have had a significant number of RVs as neighbors for 3 years now and deserve some additional attention to address the community impacts.

3rd / Pine Bus Stop Temporary Closure

King County Metro announced the temporary closure of a bus stop at 3rd Avenue and Pine Downtown. The announcement notes:

“In partnership with the City of Seattle’s public safety efforts, the northbound bus stop at Third Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle will temporarily close April 2, and bus service will shift one block south, near Third and Pike.

The stop (No. 578) serves routes 15, 125, and RapidRide C, D and E Lines. Riders for all affected routes will be able to board a bus or exit at the new stop (No. 575), located on Third Avenue just south of Pike Street next to the Ross Dress for Less store (301 Pike St.), until further notice.

The temporary stop relocation is part of efforts by the City of Seattle to enhance public safety in the area.”

 

South Park Neighborhood Center Landmarks Board Nomination

The Landmarks Preservation Board met earlier this month and voted to nominate the South Park Neighborhood Center, also known as the former Fire Station 26, as a city landmark. You can see the nomination packet here. The Board will make a final decision about whether to designate the building as a landmark at a future meeting.

 

Industrial Maritime Engagement in South Park

The City of Seattle is studying options to updating zoning for industrial areas with potential changes to shape new buildings and activities within industrial areas. For additional information about the City’s Industrial and Maritime strategies go here.

The South Park meeting is in-person on Tuesday the 29th starting at 6pm at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S). Below is a list of engagement meetings in other areas throughout Seattle.


Vision Zero Signs

SDOT has announced they will be installing signs at 13 intersections to promote pedestrian safety, as part of the Vision Zero program, by encouraging drivers to stop for pedestrians.

The signs note the percent of drivers who stop for pedestrians at the intersection, as required under state law.

The first signs were installed in West Seattle at 34th Ave SW and SW Morgan, and at Sylvan Way SW and SW Sylvan Heights Drive.

SDOT’s announcement notes this is based on a traffic safety approach used in St Paul, Minnesota, that found signs doubled the number of drivers who stopped for pedestrians at those intersections.

 

Apply to Become an Affordable Home Owner

Applications are now open to purchase affordable townhomes on 15th Avenue SW in Delridge, offered by Habitat for Humanity-King County to anyone making less than 80% area median income, which is about $82,000 for a family of three.

  • For 2-bedroom homes, the housing payments will be between $1,550.00 – $2,200.00.
  • For 3-bedroom homes, payments will be between $1,850.00 – $2,500.00.
  • Homes will be resale restricted to provide permanent affordability.
  • Must be willing to partner and complete sweat equity hours.
  • Must meet lender requirements and secure financing to meet minimum mortgage amount.

Learn more and apply here.

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