Seattle’s increasingly modest plans for new bike projects remain mostly modest despite community feedback — UPDATE

Sadly, the bravest father in Seattle (Image: SDOT)

The result of those spring café-style conversations on Seattle’s increasingly modest plans for new bike projects?

The Seattle Times reports “tweaks” after “backlash from cyclists” but says “construction will remain limited.”

Following outrage from cyclists, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will make some small changes to its near-term plan for building bike lanes and slow streets known as greenways. But those hoping to see a dramatic increase in construction of safe biking infrastructure are likely to be disappointed. In the latest version of its six-year bike work plan released Thursday, city officials added back several bike lanes and greenways they previously cut. But nearly all of the projects being resurrected are identified for early planning work, indicating their construction is still unfunded and could be years away.

The full report from the Times is here.

SDOT’s take on those “tweaks” is here: Continue reading

City Council takes a deeper look at Seattle hate crimes — 6 lessons

“Hate crimes are most frequently directed towards a victim’s race or ethnicity (54%) and sexual orientation (32%)”

The Seattle City Council’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee took a deeper look at the city’s continued rise in reported hate crime earlier this week and the findings show the challenge in stamping out the problem — areas in the city where the incidents occur are some of the busiest, densest, and most racially and culturally diverse. Continue reading

City Council notes: Showbox ‘saved’ some more, Battle of Fort Lawton ends

(Image: Seattle.gov)

It was a busy, pre-summer rush Monday for the Seattle City Council with a flurry of votes on some of the city’s important open issues.

  • The Showbox: Proponents for preserving the 1st Ave building lined up for redevelopment scored another small victory Monday as the council voted 8-1 on an a six-month extension of the temporary expansion of the Pike Place Historic District. Last week, the building also made it through the first round of the city’s landmarks designation process. Unlike many of the council’s few 8-1 votes, the lone holdout was not District 3’s Kshama Sawant who has been a champion of the preservation effort even thought it is stymying potential redevelopment. Instead, interim council member Abel Pacheco was the lone voice on the council saying the need for housing — or, at least, Mandatory Housing Affordability in-lieu payments — outweighed the venue’s value.
  • Fort Lawton: A housing battle that has simmered for 13 years reached a new milestone as the council unanimously approved a plan to create hundreds of units of affordable housing on the site of the former army base in northwest Seattle.
  • Capitol Hill Design Guidelines and rent bidding ban: Also, as expected, the council approved updated design guidelines for Capitol Hill and extended the city’s temporary ban on rent bidding platforms.

Seattle to expand city team in charge of homeless camp clean-ups

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s strategy to address homelessness issues in Seattle will be increasingly focused on sweeps as the city’s team trained clean out encampments is again set to expand.

In Friday’s announcement, Durkan said Seattle’s Navigation Team will grow by four new hires to 38 employees and begin to respond to clean-up and sweep situations seven days a week.

“This crisis requires urgent action and new steps. We will continue to work for holistic solutions and do more to help bring people inside and connect them with services and housing – and we will continue to invest in the strategies we know have an impact, like enhanced shelter and our Navigation Team,” Durkan said in an announcement of the expanded team. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce to shut down as plans for new effort to represent neighborhood business community takes shape

The chamber’s Stars on Broadway effort honored neighborhood nonprofits with holiday stars on the Capitol Hill Station construction wall

Back in the old days of the mid-2000s, the chamber called this old house (no longer) at 10th and Thomas home (Image: CHS)

The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce’s ambitious but thus far unsuccessful effort centered around creating an expanded business organization with the power to assess properties from I-5 to 23rd Ave will end in 2019. The nonprofit organization representing the neighborhood’s business community is suspending operations effective June 2nd, the board announced Thursday.

But a larger organization with a strong track record of effective — and socially progressive — pro-business advocacy is ready to fill the gap.

Louise Chernin, executive director of the Capitol Hill-headquartered Greater Seattle Business Association, tells CHS her organization hopes to step forward to create a new effort under the GSBA wing dedicated to the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It’s a continuation, she says, of work already underway at the GSBA.

“They’ve called us in the last two years because they weren’t getting services,” Chernin said about Capitol Hill shops and restaurants who have been looking for more support in their issues with Seattle City Hall and in Olympia. “I think we’re just going to continue doing what we do but we’ll just be more open about it. We respected the chamber, we wanted them to succeed. We’re hoping this new version, they will succeed.” Continue reading

Meeting will pound out District 3 street and parks improvement ideas for ‘Your Voice, Your Choice’ citizen budgeting

Work to improve safety at the Olive Way offramp from I-5 was part of the 2017 round of projects

Thursday night will bring one of the quirkiest elements of Seattle’s quirk-full citizen budgeting exercise, Your Voice, Your Choice for street and park improvements, district by district, across the city.

If you’re into safe streets and parks and are a patient soul, the District 3 project development meeting used to winnow down community ideas and suggestions is Thursday night, 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the Central District’s Douglass-Truth Branch Library. There, ideas submitted by the public will be filtered and discussed for a final slate to be voted on in September. Continue reading

Seattle set to increase fees on developers who let properties sit empty and go derelict

While it isn’t yet ready to implement more aggressive programs like permitting temporary housing, Seattle will begin stepping up its efforts at encouraging owners with properties lined up for development to either keep the buildings in use or make sure they don’t become neighborhood safety issues with squatters and drug use.

Seattle’s new increased oversight of vacant buildings starts in June: Continue reading

Report behind ‘Seattle is Dying’ effort gets City Council airing

The report at the core of a storm of controversy and the sensational “Seattle is Dying” Sinclair Broadcasting television news reporting efforts got an airing in front of the City Council but, by now, concern over the positions has mostly given way to debate over how to improve and better fund needed services in the city.

Lisa Herbold’s civil rights committee Wednesday heard a presentation on the so-called “System Failure Report,” a study commissioned by Seattle business organizations to bring attention to what they say is a city legal system so dysfunctional that a relatively small core of prolific offenders is allowed to run roughshod and bring misery to the city of 725,000. Continue reading

Durkan’s response to Central District gun violence: ‘a multitude of strategies’ including emphasis patrols, social programs, and a new public safety advisor in the mayor’s office

The mayor touring downtown last week as part of the rollout of her pre-summer, seven-neighborhood emphasis program to ” make neighborhoods safer, cleaner, & more vibrant”

In the wake of last week’s shootout at 21st and Union that left a 19-year-old dead and two more people wounded, Mayor Jenny Durkan has been publicly silent about the reignition of gun violence in the Central District even as she and her office’s representatives appeared at two previously scheduled events this week to talk about crime in Seattle.

But behind the scenes, the mayor’s office says it is taking steps as part of a longterm strategy to make the city safer and to do more to address the factors Durkan says are behind the shooting incidents in the Central District.

First, Durkan is adding a respected senior public safety advisor to her staff.

Second, the mayor is convening a “multiple City department” meeting with community groups and “stakeholders” to identify immediate actions and next steps in the neighborhood as well as provide updates on the investigations.

“We must approach public safety in a holistic manner to most effectively address the root causes of gun violence in our communities,” a letter sent this week by Durkan to “community members and organizations concerned with the recent spate of gun violence” and shared with CHS by a representative from her office reads. Continue reading

Federal judge says Seattle Police ‘out of compliance’ over misconduct and discipline

The judge on point for reform of Seattle Police after Department of Justice findings of bias and improper use of force has taken aim at the department’s new contract with the city’s officers and said Wednesday that the “accountability issues” will need to be solved if federal oversight is to be lifted.

U.S. District Judge Robart is calling on Mayor Jenny Durkan and SPD to “fix deficiencies in the closed-door appeal process for officers who have been fired or disciplined before it can be released from federal oversight,” the Seattle Times reports.

The ruling echoes criticism of the new contract raised by the Community Police Commission last year as the deal was coming together. The commission and critics of the deal said the contract agreement gave up many of the reforms won in the landmark Police Accountability Legislation (PDF) passed by the city council in 2017.

Robart’s opinion opens the likelihood Durkan, the city, and the Seattle Police Guild will need to renegotiate portions of the contract dealing with misconduct and discipline.