City Council Notes | #blockthebunker compromise, secure scheduling hearing, blast balls

Here’s the latest from City Hall:Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 8.43.04 PM

  • #blockthebunker: It won’t feel like much of a compromise to the activists who temporarily shut down Monday’s full City Council meeting but the final vote to endorse the construction of a new North Precinct headquarters for SPD but the approved resolution will give the Block the Bunker movement another chance to downsize the project this fall. In a 7-1 vote, the Council voted on a resolution that puts off one major element for this fall’s budget discussion: how much can SPD spend on the project? Notably absent: District 3 rep Kshama Sawant who is traveling and out of the country — and, yes, opposes the project.
  • Secure scheduling hearing: The Council will hold a special evening session Tuesday night on the effort to pass secure scheduling legislation in Seattle.
    The Council’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development & Arts Committee, chaired by Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park), will hold a public hearing this Tuesday evening to take comments on the proposed Secure Scheduling legislation, intended to address schedule predictability and flexibility for workers and employers. Sign-up sheets for public comment will be available at 5:30 p.m.
    The proposal would, among other regulations:

    ·         provide workers with two weeks advance notice of their work schedule;

    ·         provide workers with a good faith estimate of their work hours at time of hire;

    ·         provide part time workers access to more hours;

    ·         restrict scheduling workers with less than 10 hours between work shifts, unless they request it;

    ·         provide half-time pay to workers when they are required to be available but then are not called in to work

  • Mandatory Housing Affordability: Also passed by the full Council this week was the residential housing component of the Mandatory Housing Affordability legislation. Mandatory Housing Affordability — part of Seattle’s “Grand Bargain” — will link the creation of affordable housing with market-rate development by requiring all new multifamily buildings to make 5-8% of their units affordable to those making 60% of the area median income — or require developers to pay into an affordable housing fund. “Far too many families and residents are either spending too much on housing or leaving Seattle altogether,” Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement on the vote. “When I convened the HALA committee in 2014, I asked affordable housing advocates and stakeholders to find comprehensive and balanced solutions to our housing affordability crisis—the mandatory affordability program does this by utilizing residential development to create 6,000 affordable homes in Seattle over the next decade. Thank you to City Council for passing this historic measure ensuring that as Seattle grows, we do so equitable and affordably.”
  • Blast balls: The Council was brief Monday morning on “Crowd Management Policies and Procedures” by a set of SPD reps on hand to discuss the department’s response to large protests like May Day and the use of controversial tactics like blast balls. Council’s Mike O’Brien asked if, perhaps, SPD should “consider suspending use” of the blast devices until a policy is created and approved. One SPD official on hand responded quickly, saying the devices are “a very successful tool” where the “allegations of injury” are more appealing than the risks presented by alternatives including gas. In 2015, CHS reported on complaints around the use of blast balls in crowd control at that year’s May Day protest. In the wake of the complaints, officials Monday said SPD officers are being trained to deploy the explosives “primarily to open areas” and, for example, cited three examples during the 2016 May Day protest response when officers decided “not to deploy” the balls and, instead, threw them into the alley. Among the many benefits cited by SPD officials Monday: Blast balls “interrupt the thinking” of troublemakers in large crowds. In addition to asking about possibly suspending the use of the devices, O’Brien also said he was concerned about the possible targeting of media during protest responses by SPD and the use of bicycles in crowd control. The SPD official called the tactic “a bicycle fence line push maneuver” and said the goal is to never have them “come into contact with people.”
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