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West Seattle Bridge Update April 22; Reminder: April 28 Deadline for Sound Transit Draft EIS Comments; SPD Use of Force Data; Get Involved – Planning for the Next 6 Years of Seattle Parks Investments; Approving the King County Regional Homelessness Authority’s (KCRHA) Proposed 2023 Budget; Resources to Cope With Stress; South Park Neighborhood Center Landmark Designation; SFD Protection Class 1 Rating; Virtual Office Hours

West Seattle Bridge Update April 22

West Seattle Bridge Repair

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on Thursday, April 21st. There were two updates regarding the specialized concrete needed to anchor and guide the post-tensioned steel cables.

First, there was a second pour of this concrete earlier this week. Secondly, the next pour is scheduled for next week. There are six sections of the bridge that need concrete poured, so next week’s pour will complete three of the needed six pours.

The image below shows how concrete is pumped to the interior of the bridge, passing through small holes in the bridge deck.

The concrete must cure for 28 days, to ensure it has the strength to withstand millions of pounds of pressure.

Here is the update SDOT provided regarding schedule:

Availability from the three concrete providers with approved designs for the specialized concrete is key. Concrete plants are not yet operating at full strength, and there is significant competition from both other public and private projects. Both the contractor and SDOT are actively seeking to attain the concrete needed as soon as possible.

SDOT noted that they will share the reopening date approximately a month before reopening to traffic. The slide notes that following construction completion, SDOT will test the bridge for strength and resiliency – this test is expected to last about two weeks.

Other tasks needed for reopening the bridge include restoring lighting; replacing overhead signs; replacing 60+ concrete panels on the west side end of the bridge; and installing a concrete overlay on the Fauntleroy Expressway.

Spokane Street (Low) Bridge repair work

Work is proceeding on the repair of the Spokane Street (low) bridge as well. Work platforms will be used for epoxy injections and carbon-fiber wrapping, similar to the West Seattle Bridge.

Reconnect West Seattle

Here is the status of the 2022 Reconnect West Seattle projects:

An update on upcoming projects is below; there are some projects awaiting regular concrete:

SDOT staff noted citywide traffic is around 10-15% below 2019 levels, before the closure of the bridge and arrival of the COVID pandemic. Traffic volumes in March were 20% below 2019 levels, compared to 31% in 2021, and 38% in 2020, when the pandemic was arriving in Seattle. They noted that on some Saturday’s traffic has been higher than pre-pandemic levels.

 

Reminder: April 28 Deadline for Sound Transit Draft EIS Comments

Thursday, April 28 is the deadline to comment on the Sound Transit Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail project. To comment you can click on the “Comment now” button at the top of the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions webpage.

After the end of the public comment period, the Sound Transit Board will decide which options will be studied in the Final EIS that will be published in 2023. Mayor Harrell and Council President Juarez represent Seattle on the Board.

The City Council Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee heard a briefing from City Executive staff about the Draft EIS, and a related briefing from Sound Transit Staff.

City departments will be providing a comment letter to Sound Transit on the Draft EIS, and the City Executive staff presentation includes information about this. It analyzes questions such as compliance with City Codes, and whether the Draft EIS adequately identifies and mitigates impacts, meaningfully compares alternatives, analyzes impacts to BIPOC communities and proposes mitigation to further the joint Sound Transit/City Racial Equity Toolkit outcomes.

The presentation notes the Executive will transmit a resolution expressing the City’s preferences for Sound Transit’s Preferred Alternative for the Ballard West Seattle project for consideration by the City Council in May/June.

During the discussion, I noted the need for additional analysis to ensure good connections with bus service, and potential displacement in Delridge, especially regarding BIPOC communities and small businesses that were impacted by construction of the H Line.

The staff presentation noted that the City discourages scope reductions that don’t bring commensurate benefit to the system and riders. I thanked the Executive staff for this position, one I hear frequently from West Seattle residents.

There was a second presentation from Sound Transit, on a process approved by the ST Board in 2021 for a “realignment plan,” to address the funding gap that Sound Transit staff estimates at $1.8 billion, due to a rise in real estate and construction costs. While this process is separate from the Draft EIS, it could intersect, depending on the direction the Board chooses to take.

The Board identified two potential approaches to address the identified funding gap.

The first is to delay the Smith Cove to Ballard portion of the project by two years, from 2037 to 2039. This would have an impact to West Seattle riders; currently the West Seattle portion is scheduled to open in 2032, with transfers at SODO needed for the first five years until the Ballard line opens. However, if the Ballard portion is delayed, transfers would be necessary for an additional two years.

The second approach is to consider cuts to the project to reduce costs. There are two potential West Seattle reductions. First, for the elevated alternative to Fauntleroy, shifting the station location at Fauntleroy and Alaska to the east, so that it wouldn’t impact hundreds of residences. This option would result in an elevated line on Fauntleroy Boulevard and is not compatible with the Junction tunnel.

The second option is to eliminate the Avalon station.

I noted that I’d heard a variety of perspectives in West Seattle about the Avalon station. Some emphasize the development on and around Avalon and think it’s important to keep this station, whereas others are OK with removing it, but only if it results in some benefit to the West Seattle community, such as a longer tunnel.

I further noted that a key point of the Racial Equity Toolkit is the importance of ensuring access from lower-income BIPOC communities to the south. While a number of those communities would access the line via Delridge, the High Point community (and others) would be most likely to access the line via the Avalon station at or by 35th Avenue SW. So, eliminating this station would require a clear plan for providing timely access from High Point and adjacent communities on that corridor.

The Avalon station is estimated to have 1,200 daily riders, a relatively low number. Sound Transit’s analysis said ridership would not change without this station; I asked why, and they noted most riders would access the Junction station, as it is relatively close by, and the stations have relatively similar “walksheds.”

I also reiterated a broader point made in a letter to Sound Transit during the scoping process a few years ago:

“An elevated alignment through the heart of the West Seattle Junction Urban Village, and through a built neighborhood in the Youngstown area of North Delridge, would be unique to this line and unprecedented for light rail in Seattle.”

Here’s a link to the 14 pages in the Draft EIS Executive Summary that cover West Seattle.

 

SPD Use of Force Data

Last week, the Police Monitor and the Community Police Commission held a community outreach meeting on the use of force by Seattle police officers. The Monitor released a preliminary assessment on the use of force in advance of the meeting.   There is one preliminary assessment dedicated to each consent decree assessment area of Crisis Intervention, Stops and Detentions, and Use of Force.  These are referred to as “preliminary assessments” because the Monitor wants to share with the public and get feedback prior to the monitoring team making recommendations in the future as to whether SPD has reach “full and effective compliance” with the Decree.

The Monitor’s preliminary assessment, which examined use of force data from 2019 through 2021, showed that use of force is down overall.   SPD’s use of force declined 33% between 2015 and 2019 and almost 50% between 2015 and 2021.  However, it also stated that “SPD officers did not report subject race for 32% of use of force subjects between 2019 and 2021. This is concerning and complicates SPD’s capacity to conduct comprehensive analyses of uses of force across demographic groups.”

I wrote to Chief Diaz expressing my concern about this finding in the Monitor’s Preliminary Assessment

Last Friday the Chief’s office replied (and posted on the SPD blotter) that this is not an issue created because officers are declining to include the required demographic information, but rather an issue that resulted from a “mapping error” between the source system for force reporting (IAPro) and the Data Analytics Platform, which powers the public data source, which resulted in certain subject demographic data not loading properly into DAP and thus reporting as “non specified” in the public data set.

In other words, SPD is responding that the source system data is accurate and complete, but the extract, transfer and load failed on the specific data field that captures race.

The department has alerted both the Monitoring Team and US Department of Justice about this issue and has provided the Monitor with direct access to the source system (IAPro) to verify the resolution.  They report that they expect the data gaps in the preliminary assessment to be resolved before the report is finalized.

SPD noted “The inherent risk of this type of error will be virtually eliminated once we complete the integration of use of force reporting into Mark43 (thus unifying the two records management systems) later this year.”  The integration of force reporting into Mark43 is the $1 million project that was funded by the Council last fall in the 2022 budget

SPD noted the number of “unknowns” will be significantly reduced when the mapping error is fixed.

I have followed up to ask for further clarification on the time period involved in the mapping error; a review of use of force reports from previous years showed significantly lower levels listed as “unknown” in previous years for race; for example 12% in 2014 and 2015.  The Monitor reports: “The use of “unknown” as a racial category has increased substantially and steadily almost every year since 2015 until a decrease in 2021. As the “unknown” category began to increase in 2015, the portion of uses of force with Black or other minority subjects decreased, until an increase in 2021 as “unknown” subjects decreased…. The percentage of uses of force on a subject of unknown race more than doubled from 12% in 2014 and 2015 to 28% in 2021.” 

It is unclear if the data mapping issue, once resolved, will reduce the “unknowns” reported over several years, or only for 2020.  Accepting that there will always be anomalies, I am interested to know what occurs when individual Use of Force forms are reviewed and found to be incomplete, how SPD insures complete data is reported, what supervisors do when it is not, and how the department seeks to correct omissions as they are identified.

Here’s a link to SPD’s public SPD Use of Force Data page.

 

Get Involved – Planning for the Next 6 Years of Seattle Parks Investments

Seattle Parks & Recreation is planning for the next 6 years of investments, and your voice is needed.  In 2014, voters in the City of Seattle approved Proposition 1, which created the Seattle Park District. Property taxes collected by the Seattle Park District provide funding for City parks and recreation including maintaining parklands and facilities, operating community centers and recreation programs, and developing new neighborhood parks on previously acquired sites.

Get Involved:  Three proposed funding packages are available for public review and input:

  • Enhancing Access and Services: proposal here, survey here
  • Restoring Clean, Safe & Welcoming Parks and Facilities: proposal here, survey here
  • Investing for the Future: proposal here, survey here

Surveys are open until May 12th.  A public hearing on the Board of Parks and Recreation Commission’s (BPRC) funding recommendation will be held on Thursday, May 12 at 6:30 pm. More information will be available closer to the date at: https://www.seattle.gov/board-of-parks-and-recreation-commissioners

District 1: My Council colleagues and I will review and weigh in on the BPRC’s funding recommendations this summer and fall.  The draft calendar for our work is below.  My priorities will include ensuring that the three District 1 landbanked sites (48th & Charlestown Park Development, Morgan Junction Park Addition, and West Seattle Junction Park Addition), where work was suspended due to the pandemic, are prioritized for completion in the new cycle.

Proposed Schedule for Council deliberations:

You can read more about the Seattle Park District here, and the six-year plan here.

Approving the King County Regional Homelessness Authority’s (KCRHA) Proposed 2023 Budget

At yesterday’s meeting of the KCRHA Governing Committee, I called for a special May meeting to discuss and vote on the proposed 2023 budget.  My fellow Governing Committee members approved my request, and I appreciate that the Authority has already reached out to schedule the meeting.

I wrote last month about the importance of a public review and discussion of the proposed budget before it is submitted to the City and County on June 1st.  Governing Committee approval is required by the City and County’s Interlocal Agreement establishing the KCRHA; and I truly believe it’s in the best interest of the KCRHA as well.

Governing Committee members who understand and approve the details of what the Authority is requesting will be better advocates in championing those investments before our own bodies – such as the Council’s fall budget process.

In its startup year, the Authority is also working on a required 5-year plan, which will include proposed budgets through 2028.  This plan will build on the National Innovation Service (NIS) report and Regional Action Framework, and help set the Authority’s medium-term vision for helping people leave homelessness behind in our community.  I look forward to reviewing the 5-year plan at the September meeting.

Resources to Cope With Stress

If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed with stress, sadness, worry or grief, remember it’s okay to ask for help. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. Check out King County’s Community Mental Health Resource Guide to learn about what’s available, get emotional support 24/7, or connect to a counselor.

 

South Park Neighborhood Center Landmark Designation

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, the South Park Neighborhood Center – also known as the former Fire Station 26 – was nominated as a city landmark. The Landmarks Preservation Board met on April 6 where they voted to declare the building as a landmark. You can see the nomination packet here. You can find all the Board’s agenda and minutes here when they are uploaded.

 

SFD Protection Class 1 Rating

It was announced late last week that the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) will become the first department in Washington to receive a Protection Class 1 rating from the Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau (WSRB). This rating puts SFD in the top 1% of fire districts in the nation and confirms what we’ve known for years – the SFD is among the most effective fire departments in the nation. Now, their amazing work will extend even further, saving Seattleites and our small businesses money that can go back into our community.

That the Seattle Fire Department has been able to accomplish this feat while simultaneously serving the City of Seattle during a pandemic, with their traditional firefighting live saving responsibilities, their expansion of Health One, and also standing up testing and vaccine services for our communities is truly awe-inspiring.

The Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau ratings are across criteria including water supply, fire department, emergency communications and fire safety control, so thanks are also extended to Finance and Administrative Services for fleet management and to Seattle Public Utilities for their fire hydrants management.

Beginning in July property owners can contact their insurance companies to see if their premium will upon renewal. Congratulations to Chief Scoggins, Local 27, and the entire department on this impressive achievement.

 

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday, April 29, 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) to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

Here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours which will continue as virtual office hours until indicated otherwise. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, May 27, 2022
  • Friday, June 24, 2022
  • Friday, July 29, 2022
  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022
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