The East Precinct wall has come down (but now there’s a big fence)

With May Day passed and a large security fence now erected around the building, city crews worked at removing the East Precinct’s cement block wall Tuesday after nine months of the barricade at 12th and Pine.

CHS reported here on SPD’s announcement last month that it was beginning the process of taking down the protective cement wall added around the 12th and Pine building in the wake of CHOP. Continue reading

With signs of a ‘plateau,’ Washington pauses COVID-19 reopening rollbacks meaning Seattle can stay in Phase 3 — for now

Faced with the prospect of his largest county sliding back, ongoing concerns about economic impacts, and with the prospect that the current wave of COVID-19 spread may be plateauing, Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday announced a two-week pause in the state’s phased system of reopening.

The state process was set for its regular evaluation Tuesday that would have recorded King County as being well over the thresholds for its current Phase 3 status.

“The decision was made in consultation with the Department of Health, and reflects current data suggesting Washington’s fourth wave has hit a plateau,” the announcement from Inslee’s Olympia office reads. Continue reading

After pulling out of 15th Ave E, QFC makes ‘Q Fresh’ investment in battle for Central Seattle grocery customers

Germany’s Infarm has partnered with QFC on hydroponic sales cases (Image: Infarm)

Though QFC has bailed on Capitol Hill’s 15th Ave E as part of its beef with the Seattle City Council, the chain’s parent company continues to invest in the neighborhood with a new produce project planned for the busy Harvard Market store at Broadway and Pike.

The “Q Fresh” project will overhaul a portion of the store’s deli area and reconfigure its entire produce section, according to construction permits.

The $200,000 construction project inside the Pike and Broadway store follows parent company Kroger’s shutdown of the neighborhood’s 15th Ave E store as part of two closures in Seattle over the city’s $4 an hour COVID-19 hazard pay. Continue reading

The Recall Sawant battle begins — in mailboxes across Capitol Hill and the Central District

The effort to recall Capitol Hill’s socialist representative on the Seattle City Council is depending on the ultimate civil service — the United States Post Office.

“We want people to get others to sign the petitions,” Henry Bridger, campaign manager and chair of the Recall Sawant campaign, tells CHS.

According to campaign filings with the city, the recall campaign spent $8,511.22 in March on postage for 44,805 pieces of mail as the foundation for a postal campaign to gather enough District 3 signatures across Capitol Hill, the Central District, First Hill, and surrounding neighborhoods to put the Kshama Sawant recall question on the ballot.

The campaign’s strategy during ongoing COVID-19 restrictions? Hit as many D3 addresses as possible and encourage supporters to return the petitions with signatures gathered from family, friends, and neighbors. Recall proponents have 180 days to gather a little over 10,000 signatures — or 25% of the nearly 43,000 votes cast in her November 2019 race — in District 3 to put the issue on the ballot.

CHS reported here on the court wrangling that finally cleared the way in April for signature gathering to begin.

The Kshama Solidarity campaign, meanwhile, is also limited by the pandemic, banking on a campaign of undermining trust in the recall backers and calling in the big guns for political support. Its latest announcement is UFCW Local 21, the “largest private sector union in Washington,” endorsing the campaign to support the Socialist Alternative leader. Continue reading

Public hearing Tuesday night on how to spend Seattle’s $239M boost from the American Rescue Plan Act

Tuesday night will bring a public hearing with the Seattle City Council as it sorts out how best to put $239 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to work helping the city emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.

Finance and Housing Committee
Tuesday, May 4, 2021 — 5:30 PM
Special Meeting – Public Hearing
Remote Meeting. Call 253-215-8782; Meeting ID: 586 416 9164; or Seattle Channel online.

The Finance and Housing Committee will conduct a remote public hearing to solicit public comment on the allocation of the expected federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The hearing begins at 5:30 p.m. and will continue until all those remotely present to provide public comment have participated. Those wishing to provide public comment must sign up online at
http://www.seattle.gov/council/committees/public-comment. Individual comments will be limited to two minutes or less. If you are unable to attend the remote meeting, please submit written comments to Councilmember Mosqueda at
Teresa.Mosqueda@seattle.gov.

CHS reported here on a March resolution from the council listing out a long roster of priorities for the federal aid including nine priorities:

• Vaccines and testing
• Food assistance
• Homelessness and housing services (including rental assistance)
• Immigrant and refugee support
• Child care
• Small businesses, worker assistance, and workforce recovery
• Community wellbeing
• Transportation
• Revenue replacement and financial resilience

The council says the resolution was based on principles first shaped during its efforts to shape the 2020 COVID-relief bill and the JumpStart Seattle spending plan, “centering the need to begin pivoting the City’s efforts from acute emergency relief to long-term economic and community recovery as well as the potential to leverage other local, state, and federal programs and partners.”


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Organizers making plans for safe in-person Pride celebration on Capitol Hill later in summer

It won’t happen next month but organizers are making plans for a large in-person summer 2021 Pride event on Capitol Hill.

“If it can be done safely, we will be doing it,” PrideFest head Egan Orion tells CHS.

As Seattle’s annual June Pride parade and festivities are already set to be online only again next month as the pandemic continues to slow, work is underway to bring together a safe festival around Broadway and Cal Anderson — even if it means waiting for later in summer.

“We’re working closely with the city on those plans and if all goes well, we expect to be one of the only non-sports festivals that will take place this year,” Orion said. “It will be a two day event, all on Capitol Hill.” Continue reading

Progress in Olympia? Police reform, ‘cap and invest,’ voting rights, and a Juneteenth holiday

What has changed after a year of protest, and pandemic isn’t always clear. Seattle’s steps toward increased spending on social and community programs and efforts to reduce its policing budget are moving are moving forward — but more slowly than many who marched have called for. But there is change. This year was possibly one of the most consequential in Olympia in recent history. Progressive politics dominated the Legislature, and a host of wish list policies, some which had been stalled for years, have been placed on the governor’s desk. “We experienced first-hand the real cries of frustration of a lot of people about the police and how they have interacted with our communities,” Democratic Sen. Jamie Pedersen, the chair of his chamber’s Law and Justice Committee,said during a town hall on the 2021 session with his fellow electeds representing Capitol Hill and the state’s 43rd District.

Here is a look at what legislators pushed forward for Washington in 2021. Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to take action on many of the bills Monday afternoon (PDF).

“The Communist Party Newspaper, New World, published articles attacking racial restrictive covenants in 1948” — Racial Restrictive Covenants: Enforcing Neighborhood Segregation in Seattle

EQUITY
In something that might matter to hill homeowners, the state has planned a review of property titles with an eye toward removing unlawful racial property restrictions. (HB 1335) The practice of adding title restrictions that forbade selling properties to people of color (commonly known as redlining) was rampant in Seattle, and on Capitol Hill in particular, forcing most of Seattle’s black population into the Central District, while Asians were routed to what is now called the International District. Though such covenants are no longer legal and cannot be enforced, some may still exist on title documents. The bill directs the University of Washington and Eastern Washington University to comb through property records looking for such restrictions, and then inform the property owners of such restrictions. It also provides methods for removing the language from property titles. The bill won’t do anything to stop rampant gentrification, but removing racist language from the public record isn’t a bad thing.

Juneteenth will officially be recognized as a state holiday. (HB 1016) The holiday, to be observed on June 19, marks the end of slavery in the United States. Continue reading

City makes $150K available for Seattle ‘community-driven’ mutual aid efforts

(Image: SPU)

The money is coming late in the COVID-19 crisis but Seattle Public Utilities is moving forward with a funding opportunity to power community “mutual aid” efforts.

SPU is describing the program as “a one-time funding opportunity” for community groups or projects “that make hygiene resources more accessible to the public, reduce illegal dumping and litter, and avoid the wasting of food and other materials.”

  • Innovation Area 1: Waste prevention solutions focused on food and other materials. Examples include sharing, reusing repairing, and repurposing.
  • Innovation Area 2: Hand hygiene and water access solutions, which may include options for accessing safe drinking water, for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Continue reading

Seattle May Day 2021: Multiple arrests on Capitol Hill and a smaller workers rights march under pandemic restrictions — UPDATE: Overnight unrest

(Image from the Capitol Hill Seattle Facebook Group showing SPD making arrests on E Olive Way)

Seattle’s May Day march for workers and immigrant rights was a much smaller event in 2021 due to the pandemic

Multiple arrests on Capitol Hill and as protesters gathered late in the day in Cal Anderson Park overshadowed Seattle’s annual May Day march for worker and immigrant rights.

UPDATE: SPD says 14 people were arrested as of 7 PM Saturday night. Additional arrests were made in continuing unrest overnight.

CHS reported here on the 2021 march that stepped off from the Central District around noon Saturday in an effort organizers said was part of a push for worker rights along with “Health Care, Inclusive Immigration Reform, Public Safety Reform, Homelessness, Housing and Jobs.” “For us to make considerable gains we must ensure the right to organize,” organizers from El Comite wrote.

A few hundred people were part of the main march — a much smaller crowd under continuing pandemic restrictions. Meanwhile, the day was also busy with several other marches and demonstrations crossing the city and Capitol Hill including a protest calling for the end of war atrocities in the Tigray region of Ethiopia where a conflict continues to grow and groups of antifa protesters.

The city said Friday “unrestricted events” like marches can’t adequately be controlled for the number of participants and social distancing so it did not issue permits and was not officially closing streets or providing planned Seattle Police “First Amendment support” for May Day demonstrations but a spokesperson said City Hall is aware of “multiple events” planned to take place over the weekend.

Protests away from the march remain a concern for city officials and large global chains that are frequently targeted like Starbucks and Nike after past clashes spiraled into riots as police moved in on crowds over property damage and to clear streets. The city has been mostly quiet following the large march in recent years. But in 2016, clashes in downtown, Belltown, Pioneer Square marred the day while 2015 marked the last time May Day protests, property damage, and Seattle Police crowd control efforts were centered on Capitol Hill.

Saturday, a anti-capitalist and anti-cop group dressed in “black bloc” marched on Broadway and became embroiled with law enforcement just before 2 PM after a large contingent of police responded and moved on the crowd outside the E Olive Way Starbucks following reports of property damage. Continue reading

‘There is no going back to normal’ — Annual workers rights march returns for Seattle May Day 2021

Seattle May Day marchers in 2018. The city has had a run of mostly peaceful May Days focused on workers rights and immigration

Officially, the City of Seattle isn’t issuing permits for marches and rallies due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions but organizers of the annual May Day march here say they will again take to the streets Saturday.

“Join us on May 1st as we take the message to the streets that ‘there is no going back to normal!,'” organizers from El Comité write.

The city says “unrestricted events” like marches can’t adequately be controlled for the number of participants and social distancing so it isn’t issuing permits and officially closing streets or providing planned Seattle Police “First Amendment support” but a spokesperson says City Hall is aware of “multiple events” planned to take place over the weekend including Saturday’s march.

The 2021 May 1st march is being planned to begin at noon outside Iglesia de Santa María at 20th Ave S and Weller. The traditional step off point at St. Mary’s Church this year will begin a march through the city that organizers say will remind people of the need to organize for civil rights even through the struggles of unrest and pandemic in the past year:

As workers, we have entered 2021 with eyes wide open after having witnessed the murder of George Floyd, the caging of children in our southern border and the most massive racist outpouring since the civil war. Asian communities along with Native, Black, Latinx, and Immigrants have suffered brutal and cowardly attacks. 2020 has exposed that the nature of the present system needs to change. Health Care, Inclusive Immigration Reform, Public Safety Reform, Homelessness, Housing and Jobs must be a priority. Yet, for us to make considerable gains we must ensure the right to organize!

May Day and its place in pro labor and workers rights marches and protest has remained a major annual event in the city with El Comite’s efforts at the center of the day. Continue reading