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West Seattle Bridge Update; Citywide hiring SLI response; Design Commission April 7 meeting on Duwamish crossing and Delridge station; Call for musicians at WS art walks; HSD’s new Farm to Table RFP; SCL looking for feedback on an RV charging station proposal for Morgan Junction; SDOT seeking advisory board members, deadline extended to April 10

West Seattle Bridge Concrete Update

The work to attain the specialized concrete needed for the guiding and anchoring the steel cables for the West Seattle Bridge has continued this week.

The most recent update is that, on Monday, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Materials Laboratory approved the concrete mix design, a necessary step before concrete can be delivered.  Kraemer, the West Seattle Bridge repair contractor, is now trying to schedule deliveries from Cadman.   When the concrete is delivered, the SPU Materials Lab will be on site testing and taking samples to assure SDOT that the quality of the delivered concrete is up to standard and suitable for the task.

SDOT has announced it will be carrying out several road projects over the weekend, as follows:

On Saturday, we’ll be working in several locations. 

  • Updating curb ramps on 45th Ave SW and SW Admiral Way. We may need to shift travel lanes slightly to complete this work, but the street will still be accessible to traffic.   
  • Making several pavement updates on 16th Ave SW in the Highland Park neighborhood, including such as:
    • Installing crosswalks at 16th Ave SW and SW Myrtle St
    • Installing pavement markings and crosswalks on 16th Ave SW between Cambridge St and Roxbury St
    • Restoring the pavement markings at 16th Ave SW and SW Barton St
  • Restoring pavement markings on West Marginal Way between 2nd Ave SW and Highland Park Way. We’ll also be installing reflectors on West Marginal Way to help with visibility on rainy days. This work will take multiple weekends to complete.
  • Installing a speed hump and completing remaining construction activities on SW Webster St between 12th Ave SW and 15th Ave SW in Highland Park where we built a natural drainage system earlier this month. Traffic will still be allowed in both directions.
  • Replacing overhead signs on West Marginal Way as it approaches the Chelan 5-way intersection and on the Fauntleroy Expressway just before the West Seattle Bridge onramp.

Citywide Hiring SLI Request

Last week, the Executive delivered a report the Council requested during the budget process on Citywide hiring incentives.  I raised this issue during 2022 budget discussions.

The report notes several positions across departments that are critical to city business needs and are challenging to fill, including but not limited to police officers and 911 dispatchers, as Council suspected when requesting the report. The report notes:

“The following positions were listed as critical to City business needs and challenging to fill:

Carpenter; HVAC Technicians; Plumber; Skilled Trades; Truck Drivers; Cashiers; Recreation Attendants; Electrical Inspectors; IT Programmer; Public Safety Auditor; Sr. Civil Engineer; Veterinarian; Police Officers; 911 Dispatchers.”

The report says that hiring incentives have both potential benefits and drawbacks. It notes that while hiring bonuses can be successful in producing a clear benefit, it may have only limited impact on employee retention, and can affect morale of existing employees (I observed this in meeting with 911 dispatchers). The report emphasizes the importance of competitive wages, supportive work conditions, and career opportunities for employee retention:

“Signing bonuses for newly hired external talent can negatively impact employee morale. Employees promoted internally or already working in the job can feel undervalued and unappreciated when their financial package does not match what external recruits receive. The potential for breaking trust is greater now, with many of the current City employees in identified hard-to-fill jobs working on the front line during the pandemic.”

The report notes, regarding incentives offered late in 2021,

“The Seattle Police Department (SPD) did not experience an increase in hiring since implementing a hiring incentive into their process in October 2021. The Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC), however, did see an increase in candidates entering the hiring process since the implementation of an incentive in October 2021.”

The report also notes “The issue of whether SPD has seen benefits from incentives is incredibly difficult to conclude because the incentives have been offered and removed several times.”

In 2019 SPD completed a Recruitment and Retention Report as recruitment had begun to be more difficult during years prior to 2019.  The report focused on four initiatives: consistent engagement throughout the hiring process; speeding up the background check process needed for officers; flexible testing (the report noted only 30-35% of candidates who apply completed the entry-level exam); and what it called a “Seattle Sampler” of enhancing relationships with the Seattle community.

The Council has funded a number of these initiatives, and recently the Public Safety and Human Services Committee held a briefing with Chief Diaz’ initiative, Before the Badge training, to implement the recommendation for enhancing links with the community for officers before they enter the state academy.

The report notes, regarding bonuses the Council authorized earlier that year, “Approximately 18% of SPD applicants (20% among applicants of color and 19% among female-identifying applicants) cited the incentive as an “important factor” in their decision to apply with those who more recently started exploring a career in policing showing a more pronounced effect.”  That’s a small percentage of applicants that say the bonus was important to their decision to apply.  Further it includes no information about whether more people applied when the bonus program was in effect for a year.

A final evaluation of the incentive program was due to the Council in April 2020 but was never completed due to the COVID pandemic.

Chief Diaz has explained that a one-size fits all bonus for all SPD recruits may not be the right fix.  Instead, a way forward might be to allow city funds to be used when newly hired officers from other jurisdictions need to relocate to Seattle.   Officers who relocate to Seattle are often coming from departments in cities that offer significantly lower salaries than Seattle.  Those officers sometimes do not have enough personal savings for moving expenses. Chief Diaz has suggested that being able to offer relocation costs can be particularly helpful for recruiting officers of color working from smaller jurisdictions, who may find that they have better opportunities working in a large city like Seattle.

It’s noteworthy that the City of Seattle pays relocation costs for some employees, usually department heads relocating from other places.  Extending this to police officers and other city positions identified in the SLI report as “critical to City business needs and challenging to fill” is a path forward that I could support.

More discussion will take place during coming weeks.

Design Commission Meeting on Sound Transit Delridge/Duwamish crossing

On April 7, the Seattle Design Commission will review the West Seattle portion of Sound Transit’s light rail project. The review will be of the guideway portion in Delridge and the crossing over the Duwamish.

Here’s a link to the meeting agenda, which includes links to make a comment to the Design Commission, or for accessing the online meeting.

Call For Musicians at West Seattle Junction Art Walks

The West Seattle Junction Association plans to present several performances by musicians in the heart of the West Seattle Junction to take place during the Junction’s Second Thursday Art Walks, beginning this summer.  Apply here to be considered for performing for 90 minutes at an Art of Music event (6:00 pm to 7:45 pm with one 15-minute break at the midway point).  All locations are in West Seattle.

Musicians/bands chosen to perform for The Art of Music will receive a payment of at least $150 and can set out a tip jar, business cards, self-promotional fliers, and CDs for sale.  Applications will be accepted until performers are hired for all the 2022 events; the earlier your application, the more events for which you can be considered. Apply Here.

Funding Opportunity: Farm to Table Food

This week, the City’s Human Services Department (HSD) announced that $839,815 will be available for organizations and farmers interested in food equity for Seattle Preschool Programs, serving low-income children and families.  The Farm to Table Support Services Request For Proposals (RFP) will invest in healthy, local, sustainable, culturally relevant food access and education in approximately 50 Seattle Preschool Programs across the city, serving 2,000 young people aged three to five. There are two program components:

  • Nutrition Education: Increase education on healthy, nutritious, and culturally relevant foods for children, families, and staff in Seattle Preschool Programs
  • Farm to Family Food Bags: Increase access and consumption of fresh and local produce to Seattle Preschool Program children, families, and staff by providing take-home Farm to Family Food Bags

HSD hopes to invest in food that is culturally relevant; sourced from Washington State farmers; and sourced from farms owned and operated by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) farmers and business owners, immigrants and refugees, and women.

Initial funding will be for the period of January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023.  Applications are due May 3rd.  Learn more here.

Morgan Junction EV Charging Station Proposal

Seattle City Light (SCL) owned property at 4118 SW Morgan Street is being considered for an electric vehicle (EV) charging station with up to eight chargers. The project would include new trees, landscaping, paved areas, and fencing.

If built, anyone with an electric vehicle will be able to use the charging station for a fee which is designed to pay for electricity and the cost of the station. Construction could begin as soon as the 4th quarter of this year and take approximately three months to complete.

SCL also notes:

“Many of the existing trees are dying or in poor health. Because the contamination requiring removal extends throughout most of their roots, the existing trees will not likely survive after the environmental cleanup, even with the contractor using best practices for tree preservation to remove the contaminated soil. City Light will therefore remove the trees on the property to ensure that all contamination is cleaned and allow for the construction of the charging station and new tree and vegetation plantings.

As part of the charging station project, City Light will plant replacement trees at the property to provide healthy, long-term greenery for the neighborhood. Crews will replace each removed tree with two new trees, per City of Seattle Executive Order 03-05. The utility will plant some replacement trees at other locations because of the limited space at the former substation property.

To improve the property’s appearance, City Light proposes to remove the existing chain link fence and replace it with a decorative fence along the alley and around the planned transformer at the eastern edge of the property. Shrubs are proposed for the north and south parts of the property to beautify and provide a visual barrier. Crews will plant native groundcover in non-paved areas. Where possible, City Light will use vegetation that offers local ecological benefits, such as for pollinator species”

You can fill out the survey here to provide your feedback through April 22.

SDOT Seeks Advisory Board Members; Deadline Extended to April 10

SDOT is seeking applications to serve on several of the department’s advisory boards, including the Pedestrian, Freight and Transit advisory boards, the Levy to Move Seattle Oversight Committee and the School Traffic Safety Committee.

You can apply for any of the boards listed below on the City Clerk’s website.  More information, including links to the individual board pages, is posted here on the SDOT blog.

They have extended the deadline to apply to April 10.

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