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West Seattle Bridge Update; PayUp Legislation Introduced; Sound Transit Community Advisory Group Meeting April 12; Capital Projects Watch List: South Park Street Drainage; Chinatown/International District walk; City Hall Park Land Transfer; Mayor Begins Police Chief Search Process; Monitor/CPC Outreach meeting on Use of Force April 12; Thanks to Our Tireless Public Health Professionals; Covid Boosters, Test to Treat, and Covid.Gov

West Seattle Bridge Update

Concrete work began on the West Seattle Bridge on Tuesday morning.  The first pours were for expansion joints on the bridge deck, as part of the major maintenance work on the bridge.

SDOT’s statement notes:

“Following the expansion joint concrete pours, we’ll then pour concrete inside the bridge for the improved post-tensioning system that will provide additional strength for the repaired bridge. These bridge repairs require 245 cubic yards – or about 30 truckloads of specialized concrete. Once the concrete structures are done, they’ll be capable of holding more than 20 million pounds of force for decades to come.

While we’re encouraged that our construction crews have begun the concrete work delayed by the strike, we now need to see how the deliveries will go and manage the pours for the next month or so. After the pours are done and the work inspected, we’ll be able to revisit the project schedule and share an update about the timing of the reopening, originally scheduled for mid-2022.”

SDOT noted they will be doing the following construction in West Seattle this weekend:

We’re planning to complete several projects this weekend. We expect to begin work as early as 7 AM and be done by 4:30 PM on Saturday and Sunday. We anticipate minimal impacts to travelers, but please navigate with caution through work zones and follow directions from signs and flaggers.

On Saturday, we’ll be updating curb ramps at 16th Ave SW and SW Barton St in the Highland Park neighborhood. On Sunday, we will be updating curb ramps at 45th Ave SW and Admiral Way SW in the North Admiral neighborhood. Parking will be limited in these areas during this work. People walking and biking in the area will be detoured to the other sides of the intersection for crossing. 

In the North Delridge area, we’ll be installing foundations for future radar speed signs on 16th Ave SW between SW Morgan St and SW Findlay St on Saturday and Sunday. The parking lane will be blocked as we complete this work, however we do not anticipate disrupting traffic or impacting people walking and biking in the area.

 

PayUp Legislation Introduced

I have, for years, worked to support workers in the city of Seattle. Locally we have increased protections for employees including Wage Theft protections, Paid Sick & Safe Time, Fair Chance Employment protections, Schedule Scheduling, Hotel Employee protections, and a strong minimum wage. All of these protections are being undermined because they do not protect workers in one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy: app-based work.  App-based workers, or “gig workers,” aren’t considered employees and many do not have protections like the minimum wage.  40,000 workers in Seattle are app-based workers.

In March 2020, when the pandemic became real for us in Seattle and Washington, tens of thousands of workers stayed home.  Many continue to stay home to this day. Meanwhile, on-demand and marketplace workers have continued to show up. That’s why, in June 2020, the Council passed premium pay for app-based workers. This premium pay is tied to the additional work and hazardous conditions these workers found themselves in the pandemic. This premium pay is the only guaranteed compensation these workers get, and it will eventually be lifted when the public health emergency is lifted.  App-based workers need a long-term solution that comprehensively addresses the concerns they have and their subminimum wage earnings.

We began conversations with stakeholders last June and, as of April 2022, there have been 12 large stakeholder meetings which have included companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Rover, Instacart, and others.  Independent contractors who work for those companies also participated and shared their experiences with us. We continue to still have smaller meetings to hear and address concerns from individual companies to ensure that the final policy is one that will work for the businesses, but also provide the necessary pay and protections for their workers.

There has been a lot of reporting on the introduction of this policy, but I was particularly struck by this story reported by Ruby de Luna at KUOW:

“West Seattle orders are not that great. Especially because the West Seattle Bridge is closed — and Grubhub will not acknowledge that the West Seattle Bridge is closed. So, your mileage, it’s not going to be correct; your time is not going to be correct. And as you’re going to West Seattle, you’re going to be constantly getting these messages. And I forget what the exact wording of the message says, but the gist of it is: “Hey, you’re going the wrong way,” and, “You’re late. Please correct that.” But as everyone knows, you can’t go over the bridge, because it’s closed. You have to go all the way around.

“I called Grubhub and demanded that they pay me for the mileage and the time, make the mileage and time adjustment. And then I reminded them also that the West Seattle Bridge was closed and to please fix it. They told me the same thing that they tell me every single time — that they will have the information that I gave them, they will escalate it up to the next person and somebody will be in contact with me. I think, the West Seattle Bridge has been closed, what, three years now? Nobody’s ever contacted me.”

While app-based workers sometimes make below minimum wage or even lose money on this work, the companies are reporting unprecedented growth and billions in revenue:

There are six issues areas that are slated to comprise the PayUp policy proposal:

  1. Minimum Payment, Transparency and Flexibility
  2. Restroom Access
  3. Anti-Discrimination
  4. Background Checks
  5. Deactivation
  6. Advisory Board

The first bill is sponsored by Councilmember Andrew Lewis and I.  It was unveiled this week and it addresses minimum payment, transparency, and flexibility:

  • Minimum Payment – Ensuring app-based workers earn the minimum wage plus expenses.
  • Transparency – Providing app-based workers with the information they need to make informed choices about which offers to accept, and to ensure they will be paid minimum wage for jobs they perform. The legislation also provides transparency to customers on the nature of charges, including amounts paid to workers vs money retained by the company.
  • Flexibility – Protecting workers’ flexibility, including the right to freely choose jobs and hours.

The bill will be heard in the Public Safety and Human Services Committee on April 12, as well as on April 26, and May 10 where we hope to pass final amendments before sending to Full Council.

For additional information about the policy proposal, Councilmember Lewis and I published a website about PayUp that further explains the policy proposal, stakeholder engagement, committee discussions, and includes links to media coverage and frequently asked questions.  You can watch the full press conference on the introduction of the bill here.

 

Sound Transit Community Advisory Group Meeting April 12

The West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group to Sound Transit will meet on April 12 from 5-7 p.m.

The topic of the meeting is listed as “Draft EIS, Potential Costs Savings, Refinements.” You can access information about the meeting on the “Advisory Groups” tab on Sound Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard light rail website.

Here’s where you can view the meeting live.

Information about Community Advisory Group meetings for Interbay/Ballard, Downtown, and CID/SODO are available at the Advisory Group tab at the project website.

 

Capital Projects Watch List: South Park Street Drainage

The Finance and Housing Committee approved a resolution to establish a Watch List of large, complex, discrete capital projects that will require quarterly monitoring reports for the 2022 calendar year. This requirement derives from legislation I sponsored several years ago to establish enhanced oversight, after several capital project cost overruns.

The resolution includes the “South Park Stormwater Program” listed in Seattle Public Utilities. This project is to install a pump station to control flooding in South Park.

There is however a related project in SDOT called the “SPU Drainage Partnership—South Park”. The SDOT 2022-2027 Capital Improvement Program notes, regarding the pump station, “However, that alone will not control flooding. Many streets in the area are in poor condition and don’t have a street drainage collection system. This funding allows SPU and SDOT to partner to install the needed collection systems and repair the deteriorated roads.”

To ensure the SDOT portion of the project is also included in this enhanced review, I sponsored an Amendment to add this SDOT project to the Watch List.

 

Chinatown/International District Walk

Last Saturday night last, I joined the weekly public safety walk in the Chinatown International District.  CID Community Watch was started in June 2020 by Matthew Toles, shortly after vandals smashed their way through several businesses in the Chinatown/International District during protests against racism and police brutality.

Volunteers from the group started patrolling the neighborhood, hoping their visibility would make the neighborhood less of a target for crime or unsafe behavior.  They recently received a grant to teach self-defense workshops for seniors and situational awareness. The workshops will begin in April.

I enjoyed talking to these community members and thanking them for doing their part to promote community safety, every Saturday night rain or shine, for almost two years.  They hand out water, food, and check on the well-being of people living unsheltered in the CID, going tent to tent all along Jackson.  They have resolved conflicts that could otherwise turn into violence and they have provided life-saving assistance to their neighbors.  I know that they are also excited the SPD has a new officer, assigned to the King Sector (CID), who is Chinese American and speaks three dialects of Chinese:  Mandarin, Taishanese, and Cantonese.

 

City Hall Park Land Transfer

At the end of last year, then-Mayor Durkan proposed a transfer of land between the City and King County.  King County would receive City Hall Park, an important and rare open space in south downtown, and the City would receive thirteen much smaller properties scattered around the City, including three properties in South Park, and two in West Seattle.  You can find a list of the properties  here.

At Wednesday’s Public Assets & Homelessness committee meeting, Council began its deliberations on the proposed transfer by hearing from representatives from King County, the Mayor’s Office, Seattle Parks & Recreation, and advocates for the park’s neighbors including Seattle Parks Foundation and Alliance for Pioneer Square.   You can watch the discussion here, starting at about 24’.

There are several questions I’ll be raising as Council considers the legislation to transfer the land.

  • Preserving Park Use: For hundreds of downtown residents, City Hall Park is their local green and open space, and the only significant size park in the area. Just like any other neighborhood, we must safeguard their access to local park and open space.
  • Activating the Park: King County employees have expressed safety concerns about the park, which they must navigate to access their workplace. Simply transferring ownership of the park will do nothing to address these concerns.  Instead, we must collaborate with partners to activate the park.  It’s been done to great success in Occidental Park and others, and we should replicate that model for City Hall Park.  There is a park design to facilitate necessary changes to the park as well, championed by former City Councilmember Bagshaw.
  • The Spirit of I-42: The ordinance adopting Initiative 42 requires that the City, in exchange for park property, must receive “land or a facility of equivalent or better size, value, location and usefulness in the vicinity, serving the same community and the same park purposes.” Some of the 13 properties proposed for the swap are less than 300 square feet; and they are scattered throughout the city as far away as Ballard and Wedgwood.  I am concerned about setting a poor precedent if we supersede those requirements.
  • District 1 Impact: I’d like to better understand the condition and intended use for the thirteen properties proposed to exchange for City Hall Park – and particularly, the five in District 1, below. The property on S Rose Street is adjacent to South Park Plaza, currently under development with significant community involvement, and appears to offer Duwamish River access.  I want to ensure communities can weigh in on these properties before they are transferred for parks use.

1239 S Rose Street, #218500-0895, 17,268 sf

Cesar Chavez Park – 2 properties, 700 S Cloverdale St, #788360-3130, 7,980 sf

W Duwamish GB – SW Othello, #211520-0100, 3,030 sf

Duwamish Head GB – SW Walker St, #915160-0735, 291 sf

 

Mayor Begins Police Chief Search Process

Mayor Harrell has announced the first steps in the search for a permanent police chief in Seattle.

The position of Chief of Police is one of the most important in City government. This is underscored by the unique requirement in the City Charter that the Chief be chosen from among the three highest ranking candidates in a competitive examination. I thank Mayor Harrell for committing to public outreach to help inform his decision on making this appointment, and for noting this Charter requirement in his announcement as well.

 

Monitor/CPC Outreach Meeting on Use of Force April 12

The Consent Decree Monitor and the Community Police Commission will hold a community engagement meeting on the Use of Force preliminary assessment published by the monitor.

You can sign in for the meeting here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the webinar.

Here’s a link to the Monitor’s Preliminary Assessment: Use of Force page. That site includes the Use of Force Preliminary Assessment  and a Community Feedback Form, where you can provide written comments to the following questions:

  • Based on this assessment data and insights, what specific ideas do you have to improve Use of Force in Seattle?
  • Based on the assessment data and insights, what research or advocacy on Use of Force should the Seattle Community Police Commission pursue in 2022?
  • Based on this assessment data and insights, what Use of Force policy and practice areas, if any, should the Federal Monitor oversee implementation on in 2022?

The goal of these Community Engagement Sessions is to inform the public on the overall progress of the Consent Decree, to get the Community’s direct input on what comes next in Seattle in police reform and how the City proceeds after the Consent Decree.

 

Thanks to Our Tireless Public Health Professionals

This week is National Public Health Week, a time to celebrate the dedicated people working to improve public health across the country and here in King County.  We’re all familiar with the difficult, life-saving work that public health employees have been doing to combat Covid over the past two years.  Because of their efforts, Seattle and King County have led the nation in reducing caseloads and deaths.

Here in King County, they’ve also continued ongoing work to improve health and wellness, leading efforts as varied as:

  • equitable wastewater planning
  • reducing tuberculosis by identifying latent infections
  • parent-child health programs to ensure healthy pregnancies and babies
  • improving access to healthy food
  • promoting medications to suppress HIV; and
  • combatting overdose deaths by lowering the barriers to medication-assisted treatment.

For all this, they have earned our deep gratitude, and I send my personal thanks to our tireless Public Health workers.

 

Covid Boosters, Test to Treat, and Covid.Gov

Covid Boosters: Everyone age 50 or older is now eligible for a 2nd Covid booster shot – along with everyone age 12 and up who is immunocompromised.  If you are eligible, you can get the second booster at least four months after your first booster. COVID-19 vaccine is free and no insurance required at this time at King County’s vaccination sites.

Enter your zip code in Washington’s Vaccine Locator tool or check King County’s Getting Vaccinated page to find a vaccination site near you.

One-Stop “Test To Treat” Clinics:  The federal government has launched “Test To Treat,” a new way to quickly access free lifesaving treatment for COVID-19.  All in one place, you can get tested for Covid – and if you’re positive and eligible for treatment – and receive and fill an appropriate prescription from a qualified health care provider. If you got a positive test result from an at-home test or another testing site, you can also use a Test to Treat location to receive a prescription from a qualified health care provider and treatment on the spot, if eligible.  Learn more and find a location near you at Test To Treat (hhs.gov).

Covid.Gov:  COVID.gov is a new one-stop shop website to help all people in the U.S. gain even better access to lifesaving tools like vaccines, tests, treatments, and masks, as well as get the latest updates on COVID-19 in their area.  Check it out for free masks, tests, and other resources.

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