West Seattle Bridge Update
Yesterday we got great news: the construction contractor completed the final pour of structural concrete inside the West Seattle Bridge!
SDOT’s announcement notes they:
“…still expect to reopen the bridge in mid-2022 and can now work with our construction contractor to finalize the sequence of the remaining work…This week’s deliveries involved concrete trucks making back-to-back pours. Our construction contractor poured 15 truckloads of concrete in two days, more than half of the 245 cubic yards of structural concrete needed for the entire project.”
I am so grateful that the concrete drivers put aside their contract dispute to enable projects like the West Seattle Bridge to move forward again. They accepted the offer of the concrete suppliers to return to work as a “leap of faith” and “in hopes that a continuation of bargaining will produce an Agreement once and for all.”
I know many people are going to write in response to this newsletter in order to ask what day the bridge is opening. The next meeting of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force is scheduled for June 9th and SDOT says that they will make an update on timeline then.
Visit with RV Residents at SW Andover
On Monday I led a group, including Regional Homelessness Authority Director Marc Dones and Councilmember Mosqueda, to meet residents of a longstanding RV community in my district. We were joined by outreach and mutual aid workers who have been working with the residents. Neighbors of the encampment have also met with me in my office hours to discuss their concerns.
The City has announced its intention to begin enforcing the 72-hour parking rule, which has been suspended since the CDC guidance related to limiting COVID19 transmission. I wanted to learn how to help RV residents prepare for being required to move their homes for the first time in several years. On Wednesday, we met with the Mayor’s Office to discuss planned enforcement of the 72-hour parking rule at Andover and confirmed that it is their goal is to get as much compliance as possible or to offer services to those whose vehicles are not operable prior to June 16th.
My takeaway from the visit is that many residents need free or low-cost repairs right away, so that RV owners can comply when required to move to a new location. In the short term, we should also bring in public health services to address environmental concerns as well as healthcare needs. And we need dumpsters, as well as case management. One woman I spoke with had her ID stolen, and it’s been impossible to replace without a fixed address, phone, or reliable email.
In the long term, we must build safe lots and store RVs, to make it easier for folks to take a chance on moving into housing. One thing I’ve learned is that RV residents are a different group, with different needs, from other folks experiencing homelessness. They quite literally already have a home, and they are unlikely to leave that behind for a shelter, where they wouldn’t have space to store their belongings or put a lock on their door.
The Regional Homelessness Authority (RHA) currently has a Request for Proposals available for up to $1.9M for RV safe lots. This has been a longstanding priority of mine, and I’m thrilled that the funds that Council has provided are finally making their way out to meet the needs of RV residents. RHA 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. We need more, but this is an essential first step.
Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update
On Tuesday May 24th the Public Safety and Human Services Committee that I chair met.
The first item on the agenda was a draft version of a bill that addresses a technical issue from the 2017 accountability ordinance, which didn’t address how complaints that name the Chief of Police should be addressed. This gap has led to lack of clarity about how to proceed with some previous complaints.
I became aware of this issue earlier this year, and reached out the Mayor’s Office, the Inspector General, and OPA to chart a path forward to address this, and establish a clear, fair process with as much consensus as possible. As noted in the recitals, there were three complaints against the former Chief in 2020, that lingered for some time until Mayor Harrell’s office forwarded the complaints to an external agency for investigation. Moving forward, it’s important for public trust to have a clear process to resolve these types of complaints.
The legislation will be up for potential consideration at the June 14th meeting. Here’s the Central Staff Memo.
The second item on the agenda was a neighborhood business districts public safety presentation.
The Mayor’s office has begun important work to address issues in neighborhood business districts with a neighborhood-based approach along with the LEAD program. The Mayor’s Office indicated this approach will be expanded to other neighborhood business districts in coming months; office has discussed this with the Mayor’s Office and SW Precinct Captain regarding, for example, the West Seattle Junction.
In addition, some representatives of those business districts have developed a community safety proposal to support neighborhood business districts, which I invited them to share with the committee. The safety investments proposal focuses on non-officer options. It is based on the example of the North Precinct, and recommends a more neighborhood-focused approach, rather than the traditional precinct-based approach. Elements include a dedicated Mayor’s Office role, the creation of community safety hub coordinators, high-visibility civilian-staffed walking patrol, crisis response, and behavioral health outreach.
You can watch the presentations and discussion at the Seattle Channel meeting video.
Mental Health Awareness Month
On Tuesday, I presented a proclamation declaring May to be Mental Health Awareness Month to Lauren Simonds and Alice Nicols of National Alliance on Mental Illness – Washington, and Erin Romanuk, Student Support Services Supervisor at Seattle Public Schools. The proclamation recognizes that with early and effective treatment, people with lived experience of mental illness get better, live in recovery, lead fulfilling and empowered lives, and provide invaluable knowledge of how to improve and transform systems of care.
I am passionate about addressing the “shadow pandemic” – the crisis in mental health that is impacting us all, brought about by the past two years of grief, fear, and isolation. Last year, Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency due to the mental and behavioral health of Washington’s kids. Last December, the nation’s Surgeon General followed suit.
The Council has stepped up to provide City resources to meet the growing need. That includes my budget action to provide $1M to expand mental health support for Seattle students and residents; and increasing services for people in behavioral health crisis with a $5M down payment on a new facility, and continued expansion of the Mobile Crisis Team.
For anyone who is struggling right now, NAMI-Seattle offers free, online support groups, and connections to crisis lines and other resources. Call the 24/7 Crisis Line hotline at (866) 427-4747, or 711 for WA Relay. You can call anytime you need to talk with someone.
One Seattle Day of Service
Last weekend, Team Herbold volunteered at the White Center Food Bank for Mayor Harrell’s One Seattle Day of Service. We spent the sunny morning gardening and deep cleaning food crates. The food bank served 83,702 individuals from the Delridge area last year. I’m grateful to all the community members who have worked at this location to increase food accessibility for their neighbors.
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PayUp Passes out of Committee
On Tuesday my committee once again took up CB 120294, also known as PayUp. Nearly a year ago, on June 9, 2021, we held our first stakeholder meeting to begin the work necessary to develop this proposal. Since that time, we held a dozen large format stakeholder meetings. Those meetings have included representatives from DoorDash, Uber Eats, Task Rabbit, Rover, Instacart, GoPuff, Shipt, Seattle Restaurants United, workers, and worker advocacy groups such as Drive Forward, Working Washington, and the Nation Employment Law Project.
After the conclusion of those large format stakeholder meetings, we continued to meet with stakeholders as the legislation developed. The amendments considered and voted on by the PSHS committee were a direct result of those continued meetings.
This is the third time we’ve heard the introduced bill, CB 120294, in committee, but the sixth time we’ve we have met in PSHS committee to discuss the PayUp policy package.
Council Central Staff walked the committee through 16 amendments. The three most impactful amendments passed were amendment 2, 3 and 11.
- Amendment 2, sponsored by Councilmember Pedersen, defines Marketplace network companies as those that are “primarily engaged” in prescheduled offers and whose workers set their own rates.
- Amendment 3, also sponsored by Councilmember Pedersen, exempts marketplace network companies and their workers from the protections of this legislation entirely.
The passage of these amendments mean that thousands of workers who are on Rover, TaskRabbit, etc will be exempt from the minimum standards. And for companies like TaskRabbit – who do both prescheduled and on demand work – even their workers’ on-demand work will be exempt.
- Amendment 11, which I sponsored, requires network companies to create a fraud policy before taking an adverse action against a worker. Reportedly, bots are being used to create accounts and misuse the platform in order to defraud the network companies.
While I am disappointed that marketplace network companies, and therefore their workers, will not receive the protections afforded in this legislation, I don’t want that to minimize the huge accomplishment of the passage of CB 120294 by the committee with a unanimous vote in favor with one abstention. There are tens of thousands of delivery workers in the city and this legislation will ensure payment of minimum wage plus expenses with a per-minute and per-mile floor for the engaged time necessary to perform each offer.
This legislation is supported by Seattle Restaurant United, a coalition of more than 240 small restaurant owners and operators. Organizations such as the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance support this legislation because they are fighting to keep people from falling into homelessness. Other organizations like OneAmerica, Puget Sound Sage, Somali Community Services, Al Noor Islamic Community Center, El Centro de la Raza, Casa Latina, Asian Counseling and Referral Service, National Domestic Workers Alliance, the National Employment Law Project, SEIU 775, SEIU 6, and the Transit Riders Union also support this legislation.
The legislation was recommended unanimously by the Committee, and will be voted on this Tuesday, May 31.