As Seattle task force ponders a queer youth homeless shelter on Capitol Hill, LGBTQ community center is back on the table

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Jackie Sandberg (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Having lived on the streets as a queer youth, Jackie Sandberg says she’s all too familiar with the hate crimes inflicted on the city’s disproportionately LGBTQ homeless population. Unfortunately, Sandberg says the situation isn’t much better when she and others seek refuge inside the city’s shelters.

“So much of what holds us back is not having a place where we feel completely safe,” Sandberg said at the recent LGBTQ violence forum at Capitol Hill’s All Pilgrims Church. “A LGBTQ youth shelter is an essential step to saving youth from experiencing the level of hatred and indifference that we currently do.”

Creating a city-funded queer youth shelter in the neighborhood was one of the most concrete ideas to emerge from the forum. The idea was roundly applauded throughout the evening and in her closing remarks, council member Kshama Sawant vowed to fight for city funding to make it happen.

“Often, queer youth experience harassment at shelters,” Sawant told CHS. “It’s a serious enough question that elected officials should be exploring.” Continue reading

15 years, 10 leaders: New East Precinct commander a familiar face — UPDATE: 11

Capt. McDonagh (Image: SPD)

Capt. McDonagh (Image: SPD)

Capt. Paul McDonagh is back in command of the East Precinct. A major shuffle of Seattle Police Department brass is set to be announced with the former commander resuming the post he held for two and a half years into 2009 — the longest tenure of any of the ten different commanders the precinct has seen since 1999.

The Seattle Times was first to report the shuffle which follows Chief Kathleen O’Toole’s overhaul of her command staff earlier this month.

McDonagh replaces Capt. Pierre Davis who took over in early 2014 after his predecessor Capt. Mike Edwards was move out practically mid-CHS interview. If McDonagh takes a page from Edwards and Davis, he’ll likely promise to look into more foot patrols and increase community presence for his officers.

McDonagh’s two and a half years leading the officers patrolling Capitol Hill, the Central District, Madison Valley and Madison Park, Montlake, and parts of First Hill and Eastlake were the most stable period in the precinct’s previous decade. In 2009 as Capt. Jim Dermody took over, CHS reported on the revolving door in the precinct since then-Capt. John Diaz left the command post in 1999:

I interviewed each of the East Precinct commanders around the time each took the reins. They had appropriately positive things to say about their new job, which, if memory serves, in each case represented a promotion and their first posting as a newly-minted captain. But after several such conversations I asked how long a new commander expected to stay on the Hill. Here’s Mike Meehan’s reply from 2004:

“I say this laughingly, but I told my boss that my intention is to stay here until the day I retire. I’ll stay here as long as they allow me to stay. I am very happy to be at the East Precinct.”

Meehan stayed until mid-2005.

A more than 30-year SPD veteran, McDonagh most recently served as O’Toole’s inherited assistant chief of special operations. His most immediate issue in East will be a response to a call from local businesses asking for increased patrols to quell street crime in Pike/Pine and to address ongoing gun violence in the Central District. Yes, he’ll also have Joe Buckets to handle.

Capt. Davis leaves the precinct after just more than a year of leadership. The end of his tenure is clouded by a still-open Office of Professional Accountability investigation into Officer Cynthia Whitlach’s July 2014 arrest at 12th and Pike of William Wingate, a black, 70-year-old veteran walking with a golf club. SPD says the officer was disciplined in the incident with counseling, a course of action that must be formally approved by the chain of command including Capt. Davis who is also black. “The officer who made the arrest received counseling from her supervisor, a course of action that the department believes to be an appropriate resolution,” a SPD statement on the investigation stated. “I have directed East Precinct commander Captain Pierre Davis to prepare a comprehensive report,” a statement from O’Toole read, “to include his assessment of the officer’s performance and any supervisory measures that were taken to address her actions in these incidents.” We do not know if the report has been completed. Capt. Davis is set to return to the Southwest Precinct.

The flurry of changes are likely to make this Thursday’s meeting of the East Precinct Advisory Council a more interesting affair than average whether as a goodbye for Capt. Davis or a welcome back for Capt. McDonagh. Hopefully the transition goes as smoothly for McDonagh as his memorable summer 2009 arrest of a Harvard Market bank robbery suspect in which the man made an easy to spot target covered in dye and trailing smoke behind him as he fled the crime scene.

UPDATE: We forgot one — Capt. Ron Wilson lead the precinct in 2013 before quietly retiring.

Capt. Wilson at a meeting to address crime around Cal Anderson in 2013 (Image: CHS)

Capt. Wilson at a meeting to address crime around Cal Anderson in 2013 (Image: CHS)

City Council Notes | First Hill ‘prototype parks,’ smart meters, ‘No Construction Parking’ signs in Pike/Pine

Walking your cat through the First Hill Public Realm

Walking your cat through the First Hill Public Realm

Here’s a look at this week’s Capitol Hill-centric highlights from the Seattle City Council’s chambers:

  • First Hill Public Realm report: The council’s transportation committee will hear an update on a program to create more public spaces in the densely-packed First Hill neighborhood. CHS reported on the First Hill Public Realm plan earlier this year. Tuesday, representatives from SDOT and Seattle Park will tell council members about what comes next for the initiative — including two “prototype” parks on University St:Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 2.32.35 PM
  • Pedestrian report: Tuesday’s transportation committee meeting will also include a briefing on the latest annual report from the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board. Looking forward, the board report says the body’s focus on 2015 is on the big picture: “The update of the Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP) will occupy a substantial share of the board’s focus and activity in 2015.”
  • Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 2.48.07 PM‘No Construction Parking’ signs: In SDOT’s March update to the council, the report notes a small improvement for residents and businesses pinched by ongoing construction in central Pike/Pine — “To keep parking open for businesses, we collaborated with contractors working on 10th and 11th Ave between E Union and E Pike to manufacture and install ‘No Construction Parking’ signs”
  • Smart meters update: Wednesday’s meeting of the energy committee will include an update on the $94 million program to build an “advanced metering” system in Seattle to replace the outdated manual process used today to determine energy consumption and billing. The council will hear that negotiations for a vendor to build out the system are expected to begin in April and that the current plan calls for residents who might have concerns including privacy or health to be able to opt out of the smart metering program for a yet to be determined fee. Initial meter installations are expected to begin this fall with “mass meter deployment” (run, paranoid residents, run!) by June 2016.Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 2.52.54 PM
  • Another City Council candidate: James Keblas, former head of the city’s film and music office and currently working with Capitol Hill-based creative agency Creature, will run for an at-large seat on the council.
  • Pike Place Market expansion: Monday, the full council approved legislation from committees on a $34 million expansion of Pike Place Market and an ordinance updating the muni code to prohibit eviction of renters from apartments if landowners haven’t registered the property’s units with the Department of Planning and Development. The council also approved a clean-up of Seattle’s “cable communications” ordinance reportedly designed to better recognize changes in technology and address issues of inequity for cable customers:
    The new Code changes are intended to improve competition and customer service by eliminating cable franchise districts in favor of a more flexible provision that opens the entire City to competition. The Code also contains new requirements to ensure equity and build-out service to low-income households, enhanced call answering standards and reporting, and more flexibility and protections for residents and owners living in condos and apartments.

Hey Pike/Pine, any advice for expanding ‘Conservation Districts’ to the rest of Seattle?

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Before his impending retirement from the Seattle City Council, Tom Rasmussen is leading an effort to extend one of his signature pieces of legislation to the rest of Seattle.

We figured that those of you who have lived and loved among the preservation-minded development projects of Pike/Pine might want to give your neighbors across Seattle a little help in sorting out the proposed Neighborhood Conservation District program. Here’s how the new proposal is being positioned:

The purpose of a NCD program is to help neighborhoods keep their unique physical attributes through design guidelines and review.  Under the proposed program the City’s Department of Neighborhoods would review requests of neighborhoods to become a Neighborhood Conservation District and would manage a Neighborhood Conservation District Board which would review development proposals to ensure that they are consistent with the distinctive physical character of a neighborhood.

Continue reading

Seattle lights up plan to ban smoking in parks (again)

Are books next?!? Striped socks?!? Being cool??!? (Image: Michael Guio via Flickr)

Are books next?!? Striped socks?!? Being cool??!? (Image: Michael Guio via Flickr)

Seattle is, again, looking at banning smoking in public parks. And opponents of the proposal are, again, reminding that such a ban is likely to be used as yet another way to harass homeless people without providing solutions for those living outside.

“The proposed new rule would prohibit smoking in all public parks in the city of Seattle,” a statement on the possible ban reads. “This ban would extend the original smoking prohibitions put in place in 2010, which banned ‘smoking, chewing, or other tobacco use…within 25 feet of other park patrons and in play areas, beaches, or playgrounds.'”

What’s the proposed penalty for lighting up in Cal Anderson? “Breaking the rule against smoking would result in a warning, followed by a possible park exclusion for repeated violations,” the parks department statement says. “The rule would not become part of the Seattle Municipal Code.”

A public hearing on the proposal is planned next month:

The Board of Park Commissioners will host a special public hearing on Thursday, April 16, to take comments on a proposed parks-wide smoking ban. The Board of Park Commissioners public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Kenneth R. Bounds Board Room at Seattle Parks and Recreation Headquarters, 100 Dexter Ave. N.

The ban — which sounds like a good idea but really isn’t — is supported by Mayor Ed Murray:

Residents of and visitors to our beautiful city deserve to fully enjoy every amenity our parks have to offer, including fresh air and a clean, sustainable environment. We know the dangers of secondhand smoke, particularly for those with asthma and allergies, and we know that cigarette litter is abundant and harmful to our environment, especially for the wildlife that inhabit it. Waste from cigarettes leach arsenic, cadmium, lead and other toxins into our soil and water streams and damage ecosystems. This ban just makes sense for our community. It is the right thing to do for Seattle.

City Council member and parks committee chair Jean Godden supports the ban — but only if it is fairly enforced. “To ensure equitable enforcement, I’ll be reaching out to the Park Board to request that an evaluation be tied to the new rule,” she said in a statement.

So much for our plan for solving the renter’s pot paradox.

30-member LGBTQ task force will take on Seattle hate crime with focus on Capitol Hill

From the #caphillpsa campaign (Image: Carissa Leeson via Flickr)

From the #caphillpsa campaign (Image: Carissa Leeson via Flickr)

Mayor Ed Murray, a Capitol Hill resident and the first openly gay mayor of Seattle, announced Thursday morning the members of a new task force to address anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in Seattle.

At 30 strong, the group — you’ll find the roster, below represents a mix of community activists, business leaders, and public officials. Capitol Hill is, of course, well represented.

The task force is being formed to “develop recommendations to create a safer environment for LGBT people in Seattle and to specifically address ongoing issues on Capitol Hill.”

“There are still people in this world who believe LGBT people should be denied the most basic human right, the right to live without fear of violence because of who you are or who you love,” Murray says in the statement announcing the new group, below.

Earlier this month, city officials and advocates gathered at a Capitol Hill forum to talk about ways to curb bias crimes. This week, a 25-year-old man said he was attacked in Georgetown in a gay bashing. While there are clearly criminal elements involved in the bias, some like City Council member Kshama Sawant point at problems of economic disparity that underpin hate crime. Meanwhile, in recent counts, officials found LGBTQ youth make up a disproportionately large percentage of the county’s homeless population galvanizing the call for new shelters for young people.

Mayor Ed Murray Names Capitol Hill/LGBT Task Force

Mayor launches task force to address community concerns about issues of public safety for LGBT people on Capitol Hill Continue reading

Mayor rolls out new transit levy proposal alongside busy E Madison

Declaring Seattle’s “mode wars” over, Mayor Ed Murray stood along E Madison Wednesday where an $87 million “Bus Rapid Transit” system is being planned to announce his plan for a nine-year, $900 million transportation levy to help fund Seattle’s slate of planned street, sidewalk, and biking upgrades.

The levy is planned to be presented to Seattle voters on the November ballot. As currently constructed, the city estimates the Move Seattle levy would cost property owners about two times as much as the expiring Bridging the Gap levy:Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 1.18.41 PM

(Image: City of Seattle)

(Image: City of Seattle)

While the menu of projects the city is planning to improve commutes and neighborhood streets would seem an obvious inspiration for strong support for the levy, Murray said planners will begin gathering feedback on the proposal and the mayor cautioned Wednesday that success on the ballot isn’t necessarily a done deal.

“Any time you ask to raise taxes, it’s a hard sell,” Murray said.

Timeline

  • March and April 2015: SDOT will collect public feedback on the draft Transportation Levy to Move Seattle proposal

  • May 2015: After incorporating public feedback, the Mayor will submit the proposal to Seattle City Council

  • By early August 2015: The Seattle City Council will need to submit the proposal to King County for it to be on the ballot this November

You can learn more about the proposal at seattle.gov/LevytoMoveSeattle/ and provide feedback on the levy plan via this online survey. There are also three workshops planned around the city — though none on Capitol Hill:Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 1.23.36 PM

Meanwhile at Pine and Broadway, the Transit Riders Union was working the street to drum up support for the group. The union hasn't yet taken a position on the new levy proposal. (Image: CHS)

Meanwhile at Pine and Broadway, the Transit Riders Union was working the street to drum up support for the group. The union hasn’t yet taken a position on the new levy proposal. (Image: CHS)

Will Seattle’s quest for affordable housing take same path as $15 minimum wage?

Monday's release of the Community Housing Caucus report. These folks will have to speak up -- even more -- to shape Seattle's affordability plan (Image: Alex Garland)

Monday’s release of the Community Housing Caucus report. These folks will have to speak up — even more — to shape Seattle’s affordability plan (Image: Alex Garland)

Mayor Ed Murray says don’t give up on being able to afford a place to live in Seattle and on Capitol Hill. You don’t have to move to Tacoma.

“I don’t think we’ve lost this moment, yet,” Murray said Monday before the process to create an affordable housing plan for Seattle took another step forward that afternoon with the release of a set of recommendations from the Community Housing Caucus, a group of low income housing advocates and legislative wonks. Monday’s report followed a 14-point set of recommendations (posted by the Seattle Times) sent by the developer-focused Coalition for Housing Solutions to Murray’s office earlier this month.

Get ready for some to call it another mess of “Seattle process.” But Murray says his directive to forge an affordable housing plan for Seattle by May 2015 is taking the same route that he charted to change the city’s minimum wage law last year.

If so, it will be interesting to see which of the more radical planks presented by the Caucus Monday will ultimately make it into the recommendations due to Murray in May from his Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee.

Here is a look at 10 of the multitude of ideas presented at the conference sponsored by City Council members Nick Licata and $15/hour champion councilor and District 3 candidate Kshama Sawant. The full report is embedded at the end of this post:

  1. Housing Bond Program: The City of Seattle should issue at least $500 million in long term bonds; staying within the current bond cap for low income housing and housing for homeless families and individuals, at 0-30% and 30%-50% of the area median income. The bonds can be issued in increments over multiple years and take advantage of low interest rates. The housing will be built on city-owned land and private property acquired by nonprofits. Continue reading

City Council Notes | Jayapal endorses Sawant for District 3, Pre-K implementation plan, Council weighs in on U.S. Pacific trade deal

Jayapal celebrates on last November's Election Night (Image: Pramila for State Senate)

Jayapal celebrates on last November’s Election Night (Image: Pramila for State Senate)

Here’s a look at this week’s Capitol Hill-centric highlights from the City Council’s chambers:

  • On Monday, State Sen. Pramila Jayapal announced her endorsement for City Council member Kshama Sawant, who’s running for the Capitol Hill-centered District 3 position this year. In a statement, Jayapal underscored Sawant’s ability to work collaboratively as the three other District 3 candidates have dinged Sawant in various ways for being too adversarial:

“I was proud to work with Kshama to fight for a $15 minimum wage. She combines a principled approach, a willingness to listen, and the ability to move critical legislation that affects our most vulnerable communities,” Jayapal said.

Jayapal is backing a measure in the senate to raise the statewide minimum wage to $12 an hour over four years. She represents the 37th District, which includes Central Area neighborhoods south of Madison St. down to Renton and overlaps with part of Council District 3.

  • Mayor Ed Murray has said that implementing a universal pre-K program in Seattle would be the most important thing he’ll ever do as mayor. Earlier this month the mayor submitted that pre-K plan to Council, where it’s up for a public hearing this week. Last year, voters approved a 4-year levy to offer free pre-K schooling to a quarter of Seattle’s 3- and- 4-year-olds and make subsidies available for the rest. Included in the implementation plan up for consideration is a sliding fee schedule that offers free pre-school for those at or below 300% of the federal poverty line. Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 7.45.23 PMThe Wednesday meeting of the Council’s education committee will feature a presentation by researchers from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as a panel of pre-K experts that will include Dr. Debra Sullivan of Seattle Central College.
  • The City Librarian will present the annual library levy report to city council members on Tuesday. Part of a $2.5 million maintenance budget included safety improvements made to the Captiol Hill branch.
  • Now and then some City Council members like to use their position to weigh in on international issues (remember last year’s flare-up over Sawant’s letter on Gaza?). Council member Mike O’Brien has put forth a resolution to state the council’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement President Barack Obama is quietly hammering out with 11 other Pacific nations. Among the many reasons laid out in the resolution to oppose the TPP, one section argues that the TPP “threatens Seattle’s work force by forcing the U.S to waive ‘Buy American’ or ‘Buy Local’ requirements.” Council members will discuss the resolution during Thursday’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee meeting.

With a pledge to be more than the anti-Sawant, longtime Central District resident Banks wants to lead new District 3

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(Image: Avi Loud via Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle)

The pitch: Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle chief executive officer Pamela Banks presents herself as a homegrown, handshaking alternative to city council District 3 incumbent Kshama Sawant. Where Sawant grandstands, she’ll coordinate; where Sawant lambastes, she’ll collaborate. The fourth candidate to register in District 3, Banks describes herself as a progressive technician who can fine-tune the gears of city machinery, and she says her three decades working for the city and three years at the helm of the Urban League make her the candidate who can get things done.

And she’ll return phone calls.

“In order to be an effective city council person in a district system, you have to be accessible,” Banks told CHS.

“Accessible” is not a word she’d use to describe Sawant, who Banks says was the only council member she wasn’t able to meet with as CEO of the Urban League, a historic black advocacy group. Banks isn’t alone: The Stranger’s Anna Minard wrote back in November about Sawant’s two-week wait time for interviews. CHS has also had trouble getting in touch with Sawant’s camp in the past.

Banks said while she briefly met Sawant face-to-face at two different public events, they’ve yet to have a conversation. “I don’t know her, I don’t know how different we are,” she said. But while she may not know her competition, she does feel that she knows her district. “I’ve lived here [in the CD] for 20+ years, I’ve lived in Seattle for 37 years,” she said. “I have a different frame because I live here and I’ve been embedded in this community.” Continue reading