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West Seattle Bridge Update; Sound Transit Draft EIS Comment Letter; Letter in Support of SAFE Banking Act; Seattle University 2021 Public Safety Survey, Community Dialogues; April 26 Public Safety and Human Services Committee; Expanding Crisis Behavioral Health Beds and Services; King County Moved to “Medium” Covid Alert Level; Denim Day; PayUp Public Hearing – May 5; May Day Junction-to-Junction Cleanup; Need Help with Your Utility Bills?

West Seattle Bridge Update

The most recent update for the West Seattle Bridge is that the third pour of the specialized concrete is completed. This is the concrete needed to anchor and guide the post-tensioning steel cables that strengthen the concrete in the bridge structure and prevent cracking.

I’ll be sure to include an update when more information is available.

Here is an update from SDOT on construction this weekend:

We are working in several locations in West Seattle this weekend: 

  • On Saturday and Sunday, between 7 AM to 5 PM, we’re updating curb ramps at 16th Ave SW and SW Barton St in the Highland Park neighborhood. We will be working from the parking lanes, but people driving in the area can expect minor delays. 
  • Additionally on Saturday and Sunday, between 7 AM to 5 PM, we’ll be installing traffic signs on southbound SR 99 between S Atlantic S and S Spokane St.  During this work, we’ll need to reduce the two travel lanes to a single lane. People driving southbound on SR 99 may experience delays.   
  • On Sunday between 7 AM to 3:30 PM, we’ll be installing speed bump markings in West Seattle at 12th Avenue SW and SW Kenyon St. We expect minimal traffic impacts and people driving will be able to continue around the work zone in both directions. 

In the South Park neighborhood, the intersection of S Chicago St and 5th Ave S will be closed on Saturday and Sunday from 6 AM to 4 PM for upgrading the main water line under the street. This work is part of the South Park Drainage and Roadway Partnership, which is a project we are working together on with Seattle Public Utilities to improve chronic flooding and drainage issues in South Park.

The construction contractor will maintain access to private properties and 5th Ave S will be reopened during non-working hours. Parking will not be allowed along this section of 5th Ave S and S Chicago St to make room for construction crews and equipment.

Next week: Overnight U-turn closure from SW Spokane St to W Marginal Way

Near the Chelan 5-way intersection, we’re closing the U-turn to W Marginal Way overnight from 10 PM to 5 AM on Wednesday, May 4 and Thursday, May 5 for ongoing West Seattle Bridge maintenance work.

Sound Transit Draft EIS Comment Letter

Yesterday the 90-day public comment period ended for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Sound Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions.

As noted on Sound Transit’s website, the “Draft EIS informs the public, Tribes, agencies and decision makers about the alternatives and potential environmental consequences of building and operating the proposed light rail extensions in the city of Seattle.”

Sound Transit will review the comments, and respond to comments in the Final EIS. The Sound Transit Board will confirm or modify the preferred alternative in the next few months. The timetable below notes the Sound Transit System Expansion Committee will consider public comment in the May meeting, and act to confirm or modify the preferred alternative in June, followed by consideration by the Sound Transit Board.

Here’s the overall timeline for selecting a final alignment:

City executive departments have been conducting a technical review of the Draft EIS, and submitted comments. I submitted comments to the Sound Transit Board specific to West Seattle.

The City Council will hold a first briefing on a City resolution on a preferred alternative for the entire project, from West Seattle to Ballard, in the Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee on May 19. The resolution will be advisory to the Sound Transit Board, with action taken at the Full Council in advance of the Sound Transit Board’s vote.

Letter in Support of SAFE Banking Act

Thirty-seven states, as well as the District of Columbia, have passed some form of recreational or medical cannabis legalization. Medical and recreational sales were estimated to total $25 billion in the United States last year.

However, cannabis businesses in Seattle and throughout the state face a unique difficulty: under federal law they are limited to cash transactions. This has led to an urgent and deadly public safety crisis: cash-only businesses are targets for crime, putting cannabis store employees in danger. In Washington State, at least 80 robberies have occurred so far in 2022, more than the number in 2020 and 2021 combined.

This federal approach is antiquated: it’s time for cannabis businesses to be able to access banking services and use non-cash transactions, for the safety of businesses and employees, and health of businesses.

The SAFE Banking Act is designed to address this and change federal law to allow cannabis businesses to use banking services and non-cash transactions, just like other businesses.

The U.S. House has passed the SAFE Banking Act six times, but the U.S. Senate has yet to act.

I worked with the City’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations to draft a City letter in support of Senate passage. I thank the Mayor and Councilmembers for signing this letter.

The House and Senate have both passed the America COMPETES Act. The House version includes the SAFE Banking Act; the Senate version does not. To reconcile the two versions, some members are meeting as a Conference Committee. The letter is addressed to the Senators on the Conference Committee. I appreciate the leadership of Senator Murray on this issue.

Seattle University 2021 Public Safety Survey, Community Dialogues

The Seattle University Micro-Community Policing Plan (MCPP) Research Team has released the annual 2021 Seattle Public Safety Survey.

In addition, the CMPP Research Team announced they will conduct 2022 virtual community-police dialogues, on Thursday evenings form 5:30 to 7:30, from May 19 through August 25. There will be three for each precinct. The dialogues will provide an overview of the 2021 survey and given community members and police personnel the opportunity to engage in precinct-specific dialogue.

The Micro-Community Policing Plans page has additional information, including links to previous Seattle University surveys dating to 2015.

You can register for the 2022 SPD MCPP Community-Police Dialogues here.

The top 5 public safety concerns in the survey (for both citywide and for the Southwest Precinct) were police capacity, property crime, homelessness, traffic safety, and public safety and community capacity.

The Southwest Precinct Micro-Community areas within District 1 are: Alaska Junction; Alki; Commercial Duwamish; Commercial Harbor Island; Fauntleroy; High Point; Highland Park; Morgan Junction; North Admiral; North Delridge; Pigeon Point; South Delridge; South Park, and Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights.

April 26 Public Safety and Human Services Committee

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee met on April 26th.  As noted below, the committee considered the PayUp legislation, and heard a report on gender-based violence.

The committee heard an appointment to the Community Police Commission; the vote will take place at Full Council.

City Attorney Davison, who took office at the start of 2022, and Criminal Division Chief Walton-Anderson presented on the backlog of criminal cases and the approach her office is taking. Under the City Charter, the City Attorney has authority over criminal prosecutions in the City.

Below is a slide on the backlog, which increased significantly after the arrival of the COVID pandemic in early 2020 to around 5,000.

After the arrival of COVID, Seattle Municipal Court and King County District Court reduced operations, and the King County Jail reduced capacity.

I sent a series of questions to the City Attorney’s Office about the case backlog approach.

The committee also heard a presentation on SPD officer staffing. During the last quarter the number of fully trainer officers went down, though the number of officers in service was up slightly.

There was a discussion on proposals for bonuses. Councilmember Nelson has proposed a resolution to state policy intent; I am proposing a Council Bill that authorizes spending up to $650,000 for moving expenses for new officer hires and for SPD to hire an additional recruiter. The Seattle Department of Human Resources noted SPD has only one recruiter position.

Here’s the Central Staff memo.

Finally, the committee heard a follow-up presentation from Central Staff outlining the potential amendments to CB 120294 (PayUp). You can see the Central Staff memo here.

Expanding Crisis Behavioral Health Beds and Services

I testified in support of a new facility for people in behavioral health crisis at the King County Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee on Wednesday morning. The location will include enhanced shelter, supportive service, and crisis behavioral health services for people who currently sleep outside. Here are my remarks:

As a district representative, I hear regularly from constituents who see neighbors and loved ones pushed to the edge by the shadow pandemic – the two years of fear, grief, isolation, and economic instability that are impacting us all. In response, Seattle City Council increased funding for behavioral health service access by $1M; we expanded mobile crisis teams by $2.5M; and we provided $5M to the County for this new behavioral health facility.  

But as a City Councilmember, I keenly appreciate the County’s leadership in addressing behavioral health. I sponsored a Resolution that acknowledges the shared role that all levels of government have in creating and maintaining a strong behavioral health system; and the recognition that King County is also making new investments in this area.    

As the committee chair with oversight of human services and public health, I will continue to partner with the County to champion expansion of these services.  I thank you for your leadership in these much-needed and life-saving investments.

I’m pleased the legislation passed the committee without amendments, and several County Councilmembers spoke in favor. The full County Council will consider the legislation on May 3rd.

 

King County Moved to “Medium” Covid Alert Level

On Monday, Public Health of Seattle-King County announced that levels of COVID-19 are increasing in our community and have crossed the threshold into the federal Centers for Disease Control’s “Medium” level, akin to a yellow traffic light. Cases are trending up among all ages, but the most cases are occurring in young adults aged 18-29. Dr. Duchin, King County’s Health Officer, says:

Because hospitalizations and deaths remain low, Public Health is not putting any mandates into place at this time. But COVID-19 risk is clearly increasing for individuals and for our community. Public Health recommends we use this information to lower our own risk and those around us by increasing our protection.

To limit spread of COVID-19, they recommend layered prevention measures:

Denim Day

I was proud to present a proclamation declaring April 27th as Seattle Denim Day to members of the Seattle Women’s Commission at Tuesday’s Council meeting. Denim Day was founded to call attention to misconceptions about rape and sexual assault.  It was created after the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction. The justices decided that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.

Denim Day coincided with the Legislative Department’s first official day back in the office (although I missed the official photo while attending an Alliance for Gun Responsibility event, unfortunately!). I’m happy to say that many of us wore jeans in solidarity, and to educate others that there is never an invitation to rape.

I especially appreciate the Seattle Women’s Commission for bringing forward this proclamation every year. This year, Commissioners Tana Yasu, Sarah Liu, and Ophelia Parker accepted the proclamation and shared their reflections. And I want to thank my Council colleagues and staff, advocates, providers, the Human Services Department, and everyone who has worked so hard to ensure survivor and prevention services are well funded by the City of Seattle.

On Tuesday morning, my Public Safety & Human Services committee heard a presentation from the Human Services Department about their investments in gender-based violence. It’s important to recognize the $12 million the City provides annually for batterer intervention, legal assistance, mobile advocacy, flexible client assistance, outreach, education, prevention, shelter and transitional housing.  But it’s not enough and we must do more.

PayUp Public Hearing – May 5

My committee will be holding a public hearing on CB 120294, also known as PayUp. This legislation has been heard in committee a number of times, most recently on April 12 (here is the Central Staff presentation and memo) and April 26 (here’s Central Staff’s memo for possible changes to the legislation).

There is significant public interest in this policy and therefore we’ve scheduled a special meeting to hold a Public Hearing on Thursday, May 5 beginning at 2 p.m.

To testify, please sign-up to receive my committee agendas here and when the agenda is published there will be a link to sign-up to testify.

For additional information about PayUp, please visit our website which goes into detail about the background of the issues, what the proposal is, our stakeholder engagement, and links to current media coverage.

May Day Junction-to-Junction Cleanup

Join your neighbors this Sunday, May 1 between 10am and 1pm in a Junction-to-Junction clean-up on California Avenue.

Additional information and how to sign-up here. There are three meeting locations:

  • Admiral Junction 3000 California Ave SW
  • Alaska Junction SW Alaska St &, California Ave SW
  • Morgan Junction Park 6413 California Ave SW

If you want to participate, but are unable to join this weekend, the city if hosting a Day of Service on May 21st, click here for more information.

Need Help with Your Utility Bills?

Seattle City Light (electricity) and Seattle Public Utilities (water/sewer/garbage) understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for some of their customers to afford utility services. They offer short- and long-term payment plans and bill assistance programs to help you get caught up and stay current on your utility bills.

Learn more online at seattle.gov/UtilityBillHelp or by calling (206) 684-3000 (interpretation services available).

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