Conquering COVID, Financial Relief, and District 4 updates



June 24, 2021

Friends and Neighbors,

Happy Pride Month and Happy Juneteenth!

This month’s newsletter features a Seattle milestone to conquer COVID; financial relief for those who need it the most; updates on public safety; news from my Committee on Transportation, Utilities, and Technology; the re-opening of libraries, farmers markets, and small businesses in District 4; and more!

Hot temperatures are expected this weekend. For ways to stay cool, CLICK HERE and HERE for advice from the City and Public Health and CLICK HERE for advice from the Seattle Times.

Before diving into our June newsletter, here’s some background on last week’s Juneteenth holiday. With a bill recently signed into law by President Joe Biden, June 19 is finally enshrined as a national day to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. For photos of last week’s local events that carried on the Juneteenth tradition here in Seattle, CLICK HERE. To get a head start on next year’s celebrations, check out the extensive activities featured by the South Seattle Emerald (CLICK HERE). For Christine Emba’s thought-provoking Op Ed with context for the holiday, CLICK HERE. On June 19, I visited the Northwest African American Museum / Jimi Hendrix Park in the Central District and heard inspirational stories from several owners of microbusinesses including Kayla and Mawande, creators of K+M Homemade Skincare.


DISTRICT 4

We Did It!  Seattle #1 in Nation for Conquering COVID With Over 70% Fully Vaccinated

Seattle Firefighters show me their vaccine pop-up clinic on June 2 at Santos Place in Magnuson Park. In addition to coordinating with King County Public Health to provide vaccinations to vulnerable residents at retirement homes and other housing for seniors, our city government, led by our Firefighters/emergency medical technicians, has sponsored pop-up clinics in several neighborhoods such as Magnuson Park, the University District, and Wallingford. (Please see our COVID section of this newsletter for more info.)

Now hiring for summer jobs at Seattle Parks and Recreation

Our District 4 is blessed with many parks including Gas Works Park, Maple Leaf Reservoir Park, Magnuson Park, and Ravenna Park. As Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) gears up for summer, we’re planning to open some outdoor programs at beaches, sprayparks, wading pools, and day camps. One of the biggest barriers to opening sites, however, is insufficient staffing. SPR needs lifeguards, camp counselors, recreation attendants, parks maintenance laborers, and more. People interested in summer employment are encouraged to apply for available positions, and to pass this information on to family and friends too.

To see all current available SPR jobs, CLICK HERE.

Access to parks and open spaces is essential for our physical and mental health and so parks are going to be very busy this summer. Read more abut SPR’s reopening activities by CLICKING HERE.

 

University District Library Reopened June 24

Our public library in the University District on Roosevelt Way NE and NE 50th Street has re-opened!  While the partial reopening for in-building use is just for Thursdays and Sundays, call the University Branch for the latest details at 206-684-4063. Additional library branches will reopen after June 30. Due to state restrictions, Seattle Public Libraries (SPL) will operate at 50 percent capacity, and services will be limited to holds pick‐up, browsing parts of the collection, basic information service, seating, and technology access (personal computers, Wi‐Fi, rapid charging, and printing/copying/scanning).  For the curbside pick-up times at the Northeast Branch on 35th Ave NE (currently Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday), call 206-684-7539.  To learn more about SPL’s reopening, CLICK HERE. For the locations and hours of all library branches, CLICK HERE.

 

Congratulations to Roosevelt High School’s Jazz Band for earning 7 awards at this year’s 26th annual Essentially Ellington Jazz Festival

The Essentially Ellington Festival celebrates the music of Duke Ellington and other classic jazz composers and has been open to bands west of the Mississippi for decades. Roosevelt High’s Jazz Band has made the finals 21 out of the last 23 years and has won the competition four times! You can hear the award-winning Roosevelt High Jazz Band at THIS LINK or you can see the band live this coming December for their annual Jazz Nutcracker performances. For more info, CLICK HERE.

Wallingford Farmers Market Reopened June 9

Councilmember Pedersen showing up to the first Wallingford Farmers Market of 2021. Meridian Playground behind the historic Good Shepherd Center was popping with passels of people and fantastic fresh foods. To be fair to the other flavors, he can neither confirm nor deny his endorsement of the “Zesty Lime” popsicle.

The Wallingford Farmers Market re-opened June 9, 2021 with a flood of energized neighbors and will stay open every Wednesday evening from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. through the end of September. This is in addition to the University District Farmers Market which is year-round (every Saturday morning). CLICK HERE to read more on Wallyhood and HERE to sign up for the Wallyhood newsletter. They recently asked me some questions about affordable housing and homelessness and you can read my answers HERE.

Tiny Home Village Still Coming Soon in U District/Sound Transit Survey for Future

We still plan to open a new Tiny Home Village called “Rosie’s” in the University District this summer at Roosevelt Way NE and NE 45th Street. Originally, we had hoped the Sound Transit agency, our city government departments, and the nonprofit Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) could quickly open the new Tiny Home Village in early July, but the opening date is moved to August. We think it was prudent to set an ambitious schedule for opening it with the knowledge it might hit some delays, rather than setting a far-away deadline. My office will continue to work with all parties to provide this vital non-congregate shelter and case management as soon as we can.  To join the effort, contact LIHI at tinyhouses@lihi.org to: (1) donate tiny house building materials, (2) donate supplies or meals to a village, (3) volunteer with your specific skillset and interests.

After the Tiny Home Village, Sound Transit will develop the site (18,000 square feet) and they want to hear from YOU and your ideas! You can take their 10-question survey by CLICKING HERE.  Then scroll down and click on “Please take our survey by July 5th.” The survey is available in several languages. (Sound Transit is also mailing a postcard to neighbors in the area to seek feedback about the future of this site.) Note: Sound Transit is simply looking ahead and asking for input on what kinds of “transit-oriented development” to construct at this site around the Year 2024; in other words the Tiny Home Village will be at this location first.

15th Avenue NE Construction Updates

Work on the 15th Ave NE paving project continues and there will be a few upcoming traffic impacts:

  • June 25-28 and July 9-12, eastbound and westbound traffic at 15th Ave NE and NE 75th and 80th Streets will be restricted. Detours will be in place for people walking, biking, rolling, and driving.
  • Temporary detours will be in place in the coming weeks around 15th Ave NE and NE Ravenna Blvd.
  • Detours will be in place in the coming weeks on the west side of 15th Ave NE between NE 62nd and 63rd

SDOT is hosting monthly virtual office hours on the fourth Thursday of each month between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. For more information, CLICK HERE.

 

ICYMI: Watch the Recording of our District 4 Town Hall

In case you missed our District 4 Town Hall on May 11, you may view it by CLICKING HERE. Professional staff from our Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) generously joined the conversation to share how the City addresses encampments and homelessness outreach.  Thank you, HSD, for working hard on the constantly shifting direction and policy you are receiving from City Hall and the transition of many elements to the new Regional Homelessness Authority so we can finally apply regional solutions to this regional problem. I also answered several questions from constituents regarding transportation, public safety, and land use issues.


TRANSPORTATION AND UTILITIES COMMITTEE

Internet Access Financial Help

One of the benefits of chairing a Committee that contains the departments focusing on infrastructure is the opportunity to cross-pollinate positive programs. For example, Seattle City Light generously agreed to include this informational insert to all SCL ratepayers about a federal program that helps our Seattle IT Department implement Internet for All: the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

Scam Alert: Beware Scammers Posing as Seattle City Light Seeking Financial Info

Be aware of scams by those posing as Seattle City Light.  Please know that City Light will never call you to pay your bill “immediately” over the phone, by email, or in person at your door. There have been some calls like this, so please do not give your personal or financial information to phone callers. For information on the recent spate of scam calls, you can CLICK HERE.

 

Seattle Department of Transportation Presentation on Vision Zero

Councilmember Pedersen visiting a Seattle Department of Transportation crew installing pedestrian safety improvements earlier in June as part of citywide goals to reduce fatalities and major injuries from traffic collisions.

We know we have much more work to do to meet Seattle’s “Vision Zero” safety goals. While crashes in 2020 decreased compared to 2019, the reduction in fatalities was disturbingly minimal, considering the decrease in vehicles on the road and SDOT’s ongoing work to improve traffic safety. Thank you to SDOT Director Zimbabwe and his team for joining us earlier this month to share more about this effort. In particular, the data show we should focus on making Aurora Ave N (State Route 99) and Rainier Ave S safer. CLICK HERE to review the presentation.

 

Sound Transit Attends Our Committee to Discuss Upcoming Light Rail Stations

The CEO of Sound Transit and his team generously presented to our Committee on  what they call their re-alignment” process for their new transit projects. The Sound Transit Board has 18 members and, while only two are from our city government, our Mayor and Councilmember Debora Juarez are strong and tireless advocates for Seattle and the region.

I share the stance of many in Seattle that the Sound Transit Board should delay any drastic decisions on realignment until the rapidly changing revenues and costs become more clear. Our City Council and its residents and businesses are big supporters of transit, as evidenced most recently by our renewal of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District last year despite the economic recession. We are also excited about the opening this October of three new light rail stations in Northeast Seattle funded by the Sound Transit 2 measure approved by voters in 2008. The ambitious next step is implementation of the Sound Transit 3 expansion, approved by the region’s voters in 2016. Seattle voters were instrumental in making possible the funding for Sound Transit 3 and so we want to make sure it delivers on its promises for Seattle. This includes light rail stations to West Seattle which will impact the Port of Seattle, stations to Ballard which will impact South Lake Union and Seattle Center, additional stations for South Seattle (S Graham Street) and Northeast Seattle (NE 130th Street), and connections important to the entire region in the International District.

I plan to invite Sound Transit to return to our committee later this year to update us on the complex Environmental Impact Statement process.  The EIS is an appropriate platform to raise other issues important to us such as the need for thoughtful input from neighbors and other stakeholders to ensure excellent access to stations and integration in our communities. Let’s deliver a positive experience for transit riders as we encourage more people to move from gasoline-fueled cars to carbon-friendly transit as much as possible to meet our ambitious goals to address the crisis of climate change.

To see Sound Transit’s June 16 presentation, CLICK HERE.

Northgate Pedestrian/Bike Bridge Installed

This gleaming new pedestrian/bike bridge connects the neighborhoods of North Seattle College to the vital Northgate Transit Station on the eastern side of I-5. The new light rail station opens here (and in Roosevelt and in the U District) October 2.  This new bridge is in District 5, represented by Debora Juárez, who worked with many bridge supporters to help secure the funding for this vital connection. Councilmember Juárez has expressed enthusiasm for naming the new bridge after national civil rights leader and longtime member of Congress John Lewis who recently passed away. A defining moment of the legendary “Conscience of Congress” is Lewis’s historic crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965 when State troopers violently attacked Lewis and other marchers. John Lewis’s 2017 book “Across that Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America” is an inspiration to a new generation of leaders. To listen to a clip, CLICK HERE.

Ship Canal Water Quality Project: Making Progress on Time and on Budget

Both Wallyhood and my Committee provided an update on this massive public works environmental endeavor: the Ship Canal Water Quality Project stretching from Wallingford to Ballard. For the link to the June 11, 2021 Wallyhood article, CLICK HERE. For the June 16, 2021 presentation to my Transportation & Utilities Committee, CLICK HERE. For details about this mega project on my blog, CLICK HERE.

Two New Light Rail Stations and Bus Service Changes, October 2021

We previously announced the changes King County Metro will be making to bus routes in Northeast Seattle October 2021 with the opening of the two light rail stations (University District on Brooklyn Ave and Roosevelt on NE 65th Street). To assist other transit riders in Northeast Seattle, we have upgraded our blog post with user-friendly information for transit riders including easier access to info on each bus route:  CLICK HERE.


PUBLIC SAFETY

Honoring Our City Government Colleague Lexi Harris

On June 13, 2021, our fellow city government colleague Officer Alexandra B Harris was driving home after finishing her shift when she came upon a multi-vehicle collision on Interstate 5, near South Forest Street.

Committed to the City of Seattle’s values of community caretaking, Officer Harris pulled over to check on the people involved in the collision. While outside her vehicle, another passing motorist struck and killed her.

Officer Harris—known as Lexi by her friends and colleagues— grew up in North Seattle and came from a family dedicated to public service in Washington State.  Lexi leaves behind a tight-knit family, including her fiancé and his daughters.

“Officer Harris embodied everything the Seattle Police Department is working to become,” said Chief Adrian Diaz. “Her dedication to the people of this city is an example to every member of our department, and all those who will come after her.”

 

Hiring a Crime Prevention Coordinator for our North Precinct – Finally!

After continually advocating for this crime prevention position to be filled again, SPD finally posted the job announcement!  If you are interested or know someone who might be interested in serving our North Precinct as a Crime Prevention Coordinator, CLICK HERE.

The North Precinct is the largest of all 5 police precincts in Seattle and needs at least this one position to assist residents and small business with crime prevention and personal safety tips. According to the job posting, the position “closes” for applicants June 29, so that SPD can get someone into the job as soon as possible.  I attended the presentation by the Crime Prevention Coordinator at the Eastlake Community Council June 16 and it was very informative. (Eastlake is part of the “West Precinct” which includes downtown Seattle.)

CB 119981 Did Not Pass

I had previously shared my concerns with Council Bill 119981 and, thankfully, it failed by a vote of 3 to 6. I appreciate the hard work of the sponsors in trying to craft a compromise, but I believe it was not appropriate to cut more from our first responders at this time (as I explain below). Councilmembers who voted against the bill had various reasons for voting NO, as explained in an article by SCC Insight: CLICK HERE. Here are my reasons:

Councilmember Alex Pedersen’s Statement on City Council Rejecting Council Bill 119981 on June 1, 2021:

“I’ve worked hard to be clear and consistent for my constituents: at this time, I cannot support additional cuts to public safety until effective alternatives are in place. This Council Bill is complex but, at the end of the day, it continues to reduce resources from our police department at a time when we are seeing record-breaking attrition of officers, so I will be voting No. I believe it’s premature to label the loss of police officers through attrition as budgetary “savings” that can be immediately scooped away and spent elsewhere. The record-breaking attrition of officers is alarming and response times to priority 911 calls are too long. By the end of the year, I want to be sure the department has the funds it needs to hire more crime prevention officers, to retain good officers, to ramp up recruitment of diverse and progressive officers, to implement the federal consent decree and heed the warnings of the federal judge and his monitor, to increase training, and to return experienced officers to their community policing work instead of working overtime on patrol. Yes, let’s lift the budget provisos to free up some of the dollars, but not by cutting more with the other hand.

“While I believe the intentions of the sponsors of the bill were positive, this bill has become a distraction since its conception six months ago. Despite the hard work of the Committee Chair to craft a compromise and the well-intentioned amendments, I believe this bill not only sends an unproductive and negative message to the remaining city government workers in the public safety field who are already stretched thin, but also steals time and attention away from the most impactful task at hand for justice and reform — and that’s revamping the unjust, inflexible, and expensive contract with the Seattle Police Officers Guild.

Let’s get back to supporting the work of our Labor Relations Policy Committee (LPRC), so they can revise the police contract in a way that is positive for the community, for the officers, for the budget, and for sustainable and systemic justice. Thank you.”


CONQUERING COVID AND
BUILDING BACK BETTER

The “Seattle Rescue Plan” Includes Investments for Addressing Homelessness, Small Business Recovery, and Internet for All

On Monday, I was happy to vote in favor of our “Seattle Rescue Plan” to invest another batch of relief and recovery funds from our federal government — in this case, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). I want to thank our Mayor Jenny Durkan, Council President Gonzalez, and Budget Chair Mosqueda for collaborating on this package so that we can get the money out the door quickly.

  • Homelessness: The largest investment in the plan is for the priorities of homelessness and affordable housing– almost $50 million.
  • Recovery: Our plan dedicates over $23 million to assisting small businesses and community organizations, which have been some of the hardest-hit by the pandemic’s economic impacts.
  • Internet for All: The pandemic reinforced the need to prioritize bridging the gaps in digital equity for Seattleites, and our plan modestly boosts investments in our Internet for All Action Plan — though we need to do much more for technology in our Fall budget process for 2022.

This “Seattle Rescue Plan” is for the rest of 2021. City Council will be undertaking our usual process for the $1.6 billion General Fund budget 2022 this fall. In addition, we will be receiving another $120 million from the federal government’s ARPA package to appropriate for 2022.

I want to thank Councilmember Morales for inviting a national expert from the Brookings Institution as well as local stakeholders  to her Community Economic Development Committee. For their presentations, CLICK HERE. A theme from Brookings was for the city to have a more focused and strategic economic development strategy.  Specifically, we need to connect current Seattle residents to the well-paying jobs already here and to concentrate our economic development efforts not on just any business but on those employers and industries with the best potential  to grow the number of well-paying jobs. This not only helps those promising local employers by reducing their recruitment costs, but also provides more and better job opportunities to the people who already call Seattle home so they are not displaced.

For my Op Ed on an Inclusive Economic Recovery as published in the Seattle Times, CLICK HERE.

 

Moratorium on Evictions Extended Again

Announced by the Mayor’s Office June 18, 2021: “As state and county funds for rental assistance are distributed in the coming weeks, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced today that she is extending the residential and commercial eviction moratoria [from June 30] through September 30, 2021, through Executive Order 2021-06. The order will also modify additional COVID-related relief measures related to utility assistance. This marks the fifth extension of the eviction moratoria as part of the COVID-19 civil emergency since March 14, 2020.“

“…Throughout the pandemic, city-funded rental and housing assistance total approximately $75 million for tenants, landlords, and city-funded affordable housing providers, in addition to State and County resources.”

As the Mayor stated, “While we continue to be in a state of emergency, this three-month extension will ensure we can provide the cash rental assistance and housing support that is critical to stabilizing the community as we reopen.”

For the Mayor’s full announcement, CLICK HERE.

For my votes on recent residential landlord-tenant regulations, CLICK HERE.

 

Seattle First City in U.S. to Achieve 70% Vaccination Goal!

From Mayor’s June 9, 2021 press release:

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced that Seattle is the first major American city to fully vaccinate 70 percent of its residents 12 years-old and older. Seattle has surpassed the City of San Francisco which had been leading the country in vaccinations and the State of Vermont which is leading all states in vaccination rates. Seattle also exceeded Governor Inslee’s goal in vaccinating 70 percent of 16 and older residents and President Biden’s goal in vaccinating 70 percent of adults who are 18 or older….

“When we launched our vaccination effort earlier this year, I said that I wanted to Seattle to become the first major American city to fully vaccinate 70 percent of its residents. Today, I am incredibly proud that we have reached that goal,” said Mayor Durkan….

City and countywide, COVID-19 case rates and COVID-related deaths are falling. Seattle continues to have the lowest cases, hospitalizations, and deaths of every major city. Countywide, an estimated 95 percent of all new cases are in individuals who have not started their vaccine series….

Now that Seattle has reached a level of community protection needed to keep the majority of our residents safe from COVID-19, the City and its partners will begin to launch new efforts to throughout the summer to support Seattle’s reopening and recovery. ..Residents who have not yet completed the vaccination process can still get vaccinated at the Lumen Field Event Center (closes end of day June 12), Rainier Beach Vaccination Hub (closes end of day June 23), and the SODO Testing and Vaccination Site, which will remain in operation well into summer. In addition, the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) Mobile Vaccination Teams will continue to host pop-up vaccination clinics in neighborhoods throughout Seattle. Residents can also visit https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov/ to find a provider near them.

For more information, including how to get vaccinated today, visit the City’s vaccination website at www.seattle.gov/vaccine. The site contains vaccination information in seven languages, and in-language assistance is also available over the phone.

Please continue to follow all public health guidance, including indoor masking for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and visit this website from Public Health – Seattle & King County for more information.

City Council will Reconsider Grocery Worker Hazard Pay in July

When City Council passed temporary hazard pay for grocery store workers of an additional $4/hour in January, there were tentative plans for reconsidering the ordinance based on public health indicators in a few months. The original Council Bill stated, “City Council intends to consider modifying or eliminating hazard pay requirements after four or months of implementation and review of the current health, safety, and economic risks of frontline work during the COVID-19 emergency.”  I’m pleased to report that the Finance Committee, chaired by Councilmember Mosqueda, followed through and hosted a panel to revisit the ordinance earlier this month.

Based primarily on safety data and the experiences of grocery workers, the committee determined that it is time to consider ending hazard pay. I want to thank the ordinance’s sponsor Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, representatives of the employers (grocery store owners), and the grocery workers union UFCW Local 21 for taking the time to have an in-depth discussion. CLICK HERE to take a look at the presentation from Seattle-King County Public Health.

Councilmember Mosqueda plans to have legislation to sunset hazard pay in the Finance Committee on July 9, 2021.

Regarding the beloved QFC store that the Cincinnati-based Kroger Company decided to close in the Wedgwood neighborhood at 35th Ave NE and NE 85th Street, I continue to encourage grocers to expand to that location.

Unemployment Relief Requirements Return

State officials announced that Washingtonians collecting unemployment benefits will again be required to actively search for work to keep those benefits, starting July 4.

Gov. Jay Inslee had temporarily suspended the job-search requirement last spring.

“With the economy recovering, the job search requirement is going back into effect,” the Employment Security Department (ESD) noted on its unemployment website. “This means you will be required to look for work and document at least three approved job search activities each week in order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits.’”

For ESD’s website, CLICK HERE. For the City of Seattle’s COVID relief programs, CLICK HERE.


WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

City Council Meetings on the Internet

Listening: Even though City Council is not currently holding meetings in person in order to follow public health guidelines, you can still follow along by listening on your computer or phone by CLICKING HERE. You can also listen on your phone by calling 253-215-8782.

Commenting: You can also submit public comment by sending an e-mail to me at Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov or to all 9 Councilmembers at council@seattle.gov. Please remember to add “For City Council Meeting” in the comments. Now you can also phone into the meeting to speak directly to the Council live. For the instructions on how to register and call in, CLICK HERE. Sign up begins two hours prior to the meeting start time.

Virtual Meetings with Your Councilmember Pedersen

I continue to schedule virtual in-district office hours, so we can chat by telephone or via Skype. Please continue to sign up through my website or by CLICKING HERE so I can hear your ideas, concerns, and requests. You can also just send an e-mail to alex.pedersen@seattle.gov.  We plan to restart in-person office hours Friday afternoons in September.

For previous e-newsletters, visit my blog by CLICKING HERE.

We are getting through this together, Seattle!

With gratitude,

 

 

 

Councilmember Alex Pedersen
Seattle City Council, District 4

Email: Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov
Find It, Fix It

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