Lowell Elementary S Path remains ‘temporarily closed’ as officials weigh options

img_9619A self-imposed deadline for Seattle Department of Transportation officials to sort out a plan with Seattle Public Schools for what happens next to the “S Path,” the curving public sidewalk between Federal and 11th Ave E that has been fenced off since the start of adjacent Lowell Elementary’s school year, has come and gone.

SDOT’s Genesee Adkins, chief of staff for the department, tells CHS that city representative have met with schools officials and heard the district’s requirements for reopening the route to the public right of way:

We met with the school district a little more than a week ago to understand what they want to do going forward. Now we’re working internally at the city to see how quickly we can make some of those options happen on the ground. I know I’m not giving you too much specificity, but we’re still in flux at this moment. We had hoped to have a long-term solution identified by the end of November, and I don’t think we’ll be too far off of that, but I’m afraid we’re not quite there yet today.

CHS reached out to the school district to learn more about its requirements. A SPS spokesperson said district representatives met on Friday to discuss proposals but we haven’t yet heard back on specifics. Clearly, they have bigger issues to sort out.

Lowell Elementary serves children from across Central Seattle and is home to the district’s program for medically fragile students. Parents said they have been cleaning up garbage and dangerous needles from addicts and homeless campers left along the path for months. Adkins said that the situation had reached an “acute” level and the closure to start the school year was the only prudent course of action to take while longer term solutions were addressed.

City officials met with community members and school parents this fall to hear from some their concerns about the path’s dangers and other’s their desire to restore the public route near the school.

Seattle’s ‘sanctuary city’ status can’t protect immigrants against the feds — but it’s a start

City of Blinding Lights

On Thanksgiving, Mayor Ed Murray signed an executive order reaffirming policies including a 2003 ordinance prohibiting city officers or employees to ask people about immigration statuses.

But city policies, orders and the label “sanctuary city” don’t put immigrants in Seattle in a protected bubble, which is why Matt Adams, legal director at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, doesn’t use the term “sanctuary city.”

“This place doesn’t protect you from our current federal immigration laws,” he said, adding that he still feels it is important for city leaders to do what they can to support all community members.

The city supports its immigrants by not reporting them to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Seattle Police Department exists to serve and protects all community members, he said.

“Some cities and police departments go out of their way to spend their resources to enforce immigration laws,” Adams said. Immigrants then become afraid to work with police or be witnesses. Continue reading

Seattle’s Democracy Voucher Program opens for local 2017 campaigns

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-7-09-23-amNow that the 2016 election cycle is over, it’s time for Seattleites to start thinking about the local election in 2017.

On Thursday, the Democracy Voucher Program opened for Seattle residents apply for four $25 democracy vouchers to give to candidates running for Seattle City Council or city attorney next year.

“Seattle is the first city in the nation to put democracy vouchers in the hands of its residents,” Wayne Barnett, executive director of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission said. “The goal is to give all of our city’s residents a greater say in our democracy.”

Registered voters in Seattle will automatically receive $100 in vouchers in the mail after January 3rd. Seattle residents who are at least 18 and are either a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or a lawful permanent resident can apply for vouchers here.

Voters can immediately start giving the vouchers to qualifying campaigns for the November election. The new program means Seattle’s first publicly financed election season is about to begin. In his announcement of an exploratory campaign for a possible run for a citywide seat on the City Council, housing advocate Jon Grant cited the vouchers as part of his decision to run.  Continue reading

In 2017, RPZ 32 will fill in Capitol Hill ‘restricted parking zone’ puzzle

The last major swath of Capitol Hill where curbsides are not protected for area residents with a “restricted parking zone” is coming into the the City of Seattle’s fold.

RPZ 32 will be rolled out by mid-2017 covering the blocks between Belmont and E Olive Way below Broadway to the edges of the I-5 Shores. The Seattle Department of Transportation announced the decision earlier this month following a public feedback process this fall:

Zone 32 signs will be installed on the green blocks in mid-2017. Residents in the gray area will receive a letter with instructions for obtaining a Zone 32 permit. The pink blocks will move from Zone 15 to Zone 32. Residents on these blocks will receive further communication about this change. Continue reading

Seattle mayor signs 7-point Thanksgiving ‘sanctuary city’ order

(Image: City of Seattle)

(Image: City of Seattle)

Mayor Ed Murray chose the Thanksgiving holiday — a celebration of immigration, depending on how you look at it — to sign a new executive order making a stand for Seattle as a sanctuary city:

Today, Mayor Ed Murray signed an Executive Order reaffirming Seattle as a welcoming city. The order states that City employees will not ask about the status of residents and all City services will be available to all residents, and it creates an Inclusive and Equitable City Cabinet that will coordinate City efforts to protect the civil liberties and civil rights of Seattle residents. Additionally, the City will set aside $250,000 to address the needs of unauthorized immigrant students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools and their families.

“Except for our Native Peoples, we are all from someplace else, and we are strong because of our diversity,” Murray said in a statement on the act announced Thursday. “It is my commitment that Seattle will remain a welcoming city, not a place where children and their families live in fear.” Continue reading

In quest for diversity, Seattle now has a Community Involvement Commission

By Prince Wang, UW News Lab / Special to CHS

The Seattle City Council this week finalized its cut of connection with district councils and the City Neighborhood Council. The approved ordinance severs ties with a longstanding system of neighborhood governance with proponents saying the move will further the city’s goals of increasing participation of underrepresented groups with local government through a Community Involvement Commission.

“I think the core motivation is to create broader involvement and more inclusiveness in people talking with and dialoguing with city government,” said the City Council’s Tim Burgess, a sponsor of the ordinance.

Seattle is currently divided into 13 districts, each with its own district council made up of local members in the community that discuss problems and areas of concern in their community and also lead the way on vetting certain proposals and grant applications. The City Neighborhood Council is composed of elected officials from every district council. Continue reading

Seattle’s ‘efficient’ budget rounds out with $29M affordability bond, $12M for homeless, 72 new cops

In the shadow of worries about possible cuts to federal aid to his city, Mayor Ed Murray will sign Seattle’s more than $5 billion 2017-2018 budget Tuesday after rounds of changes and tweaks by the City Council.

The council voted on the budget plan Monday. As has been her wont, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant was the sole council member to vote against the spending package pounded out over the past month in City Hall.

“Today I rejected another biz-as-usual budget, while celebrating power of movements & our #Build1000Homes Coalition’s $29M #housing victory!,” read Sawant’s tweet on the vote. The Socialist Alternative councilor credited her Build 1,000 Homes coalition in the push for the addition of a $29 million affordable housing bond to next year’s budget plan.

“For everyone out there that wonders if it is possible to fight Trump and his racist, sexist, right wing agenda, you should take heart from victories such as these,” Sawant’s message read.

The mayor’s office, meanwhile, called the plan “a vision for Seattle focused on equity, safety, affordability, innovation, and good governance.” Continue reading

After hitting Council roadblock, Seattle cap on move-in fees back in motion

Tenant advocates are calling for supporters at City Hall Tuesday morning as the City Council takes up a proposal to cap move-in fees in Seattle that was one of the rare pieces of Seattle legislation to be kicked back by a full vote of the council after committee approval.

Under the measure from District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, landlords could only charge tenants the first full month’s rent upon move-in and would need to allow tenants to pay the security deposit, non-refundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent in installments. According to an example provided by Sawant, a tenant moving into an $1,800 a month unit today could pay $5,600 to sign the lease. Under her proposal, the same tenant would only have to pay $2,400 to move-in as other upfront costs would be spread out over six months. Continue reading

Plan for $29 million Seattle affordable housing bond approved

Herbold

Herbold

The Seattle City Council Wednesday finalized its proposed changes to the city’s 2017-2018 budget including District 1 representative Lisa Herbold’s $29 million plan to build hundreds of units of affordable housing through a bond and shuffling of funds from the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Seattle Police Department’s North Precinct project.

“We are in a homelessness state of emergency,” Herbold said in a statement on Wednesday’s approval. “We need to build today to meet the need. Building today is less expensive than building at future costs, and these funds will continue to benefit the community for the entire period of the bond payment under their 50+ year regulatory agreement. When the City issues bonds to finance capital needs we gain the ability to deliver projects faster and enjoy their benefits sooner.” Continue reading

A call for more — and more community-aware — cops following Capitol Hill shooting

Seattle Police want people on Capitol Hill concerned about Sunday’s shooting at 13th and Olive to know that the department’s investigation of gun violence can be methodical but that the issues are known, the crime problems are being addressed, and detectives are working to make sure there is eventual justice.

SPD spokesperson Sergeant Sean Whitcomb said the department’s detectives are “actively tracking this investigation” and that gang units are “aware of recent incidents in the city” including a recent string of shootings across Capitol Hill and the Central District. According to the latest SPD statistical report on city crime for November, gunfire incidents continue to plague East Precinct and South Precinct despite a continued drop in overall crime across the city.

seastat_2016nov9_shots Continue reading

District 3 rep Sawant says torrent of hate follows call for Inauguration Day strike

Sawant, left, with newly elected 7th District Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal -- another Seattle woman seen as the anti-Trump

Sawant, left, with newly elected 7th District Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal — another Seattle woman seen as the anti-Trump

The office of Seattle District 3 representative Kshama Sawant representing Capitol Hill and Central Seattle neighborhoods has received a flurry of hate messages threatening the council member following her call for a general strike to disrupt the January 20th Inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. Here is Q13 Fox on the threats:

A spokesperson for Councilwoman Kshama Sawant said the office has been inundated with racist messages and threats of violence following remarks Sawant gave during a post-Election Day press conference at Seattle City Hall on Nov. 9.

Sawant first called for the strike during a City Hall rally the day after the election. Continue reading

No, really, seriously, for real, what did you think of the Pike People Street? — UPDATE: December art walk edition

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The Seattle Department of Transportation is asking you — one more time — what you thought of the Pike People Street pilot tests. CHS reported on the first of the new pilot runs in October as a revival of the late night format went off without a hitch. A daytime Hilloween edition followed.

You can now weigh in for your feedback to be “folded into the lessons learned from 2015 and direct conversations with organizations and individuals in the neighborhood.”

Have fun with question 13! And you know what to say for 11, yes? Continue reading