Despite Capitol Hill and Central District smash and grabs, East Precinct burglary reports have plunged

Aftermath of a recent break-in at the Hillcrest Market

With reporting by Hannah Saunders

Despite a rise in concern over property crime in the city to end the year, Seattle Police statistics show that either people aren’t reporting the crimes, or a return to more normal patterns and increased emphasis on organized retail theft have put a dent in surging shoplifting and burglary totals in the city and across Capitol Hill and the Central District.

Still, around 100 break-ins are reported every month in the East Precinct, most targeting commercial buildings. And the individual anecdotes are frustrating. A week before Thanksgiving, the manager of Capitol Hill’s Hillcrest Market posted pictures to the CHS Facebook Group showing the aftermath of a break-in that targeted the Summit Ave grocery for thousands of dollars worth of cigarettes. It was the third time in a month the shop had either been ripped off or broken into. Continue reading

Here’s what made it into the Seattle City Council’s final 2023 budget changes — and what did not

The Seattle City Council finalized its changes to the 2023 budget Monday including ending a short-lived experiment by returning the city’s parking enforcement officers to the Seattle Police Department.

CHS reported here on the spending constricted package from council budget chair Teresa Mosqueda who called the spending plan an “anti-austerity” approach to “keeping our community cared for and housed, connected and resilient, and healthy and safe” despite a predicted downturn in city tax revenues.

Mayor Bruce Harrell also saw his plan for a new Unified Care Team that will help maintain “clean and accessible Seattle neighborhoods, parks, and open spaces” including sweeping encampments and clearing tents from public spaces like parks make it through the budget process intact. Continue reading

City Council’s ‘anti-austerity’ budget package: Aiming JumpStart back where it belongs, preserving parking enforcement’s move out of SPD, nuking ShotSpotter, and giving mayor his ‘Unified Care Team’

Teresa Mosqueda with Patty Murray (Image: @TeresaCMosqueda)

With ambitions curtailed by a predicted downturn in city tax revenue and with the impact of a wave of tech layoffs looming, the Seattle City Council’s “rebalancing package” of Mayor Bruce Harrell’s a $1.6 billion 2023 budget proposal is on the table this week with what council budget chair Teresa Mosqueda says is an “anti-austerity” approach “keeping our community cared for and housed, connected and resilient, and healthy and safe.”

The council’s planned changes range from shifting JumpStart tax revenue back to its initial purpose of addressing the city’s resiliency and homelessness crisis including an important cost of living adjustments planned for salaries for workers at human service providers that will nearly double the $15.5 million the mayor was aiming to spend, to a key reorganization decision that will keep parking enforcement resources at the Seattle Department of Transportation, to accounting maneuverings that will slice 200 unfilled positions out of Seattle Police so $29 million of the department’s other priorities can be funded.

Some smaller pet projects, meanwhile, will be cut including an amendment from District 3 Kshama Sawant that targets $2 million for gun detection technology championed by the Harrell administration.

The council’s public hearing on the proposed spending package — and the final opportunity in the weeks-long 2023 budget process — is Tuesday night:

Final Public Hearing — Tuesday, November 15 at 5 PM at City Hall — People wishing to testify can participate online and are encouraged to do so given the ongoing nature of COVID. In-person testimony will be accepted as well.

“There weren’t easy answers in this year’s budget, but there were core values to start from: transparency and accountability, investing in key and core city services for our working families and small businesses, and preventing cliffs in services and avoiding austerity to ensure a resilient economy,” budget chair Mosqueda said in a statement. Continue reading

At African American Advisory Council, gunfire detection tech backers make case for deployment in Seattle

(Image: Shotspotter)

Wednesday’s meeting of the African American Advisory Council (Image: CHS)

In the scheme of things, $1 million among $1.6 billion in spending line items is a drop in the bucket. But the debate over Seattle’s possible implementation of gunfire detection technology has become a flashpoint in the city’s attempts to address a surge in gun violence.

The African American Advisory Council, which advises the Seattle Police Department about crime prevention and public safety concerns, held a meeting this week to discuss the benefits of the ShotSpotter technology.

ShotSpotter uses acoustic sensors to detect and locate gunshots through triangulation. The goal of the tech, which has been around for 25 years and a subject in debate in Seattle for over a decade, is to, ostensibly, improve police response times to incidents of gun violence.

“We have put out so much money to all of these different organizations–millions of dollars for gun violence prevention,” said Victoria Beach, chair of the council, who also said that nothing is being done while Black children are dying. “I’m tired of sitting and talking to mothers who weep.”

But critics have questioned opening a beachhead to such surveillance technology on city streets. And cities like San Antonio and Charlotte illustrate a more direct problem — the technology doesn’t seem to work.

Wednesday’s meeting of the SPD-backed community group usually dedicated to neighborhood crimes and public safety around the Central District and South Seattle comes as the Seattle City Council is weighing some 100 amendments to finalize Mayor Bruce Harrell’s 2023 budget proposal with its steps back on Seattle reforms including spending to create a larger SPD and a controversial new plan for how to redirecting funding from the city’s big business tax from COVID-19 recovery, housing, and the Green New Deal to patching up the city’s general fund. Harrell’s plans also call for nearly $40 million for “clean city, trash mitigation, encampment resolution, and RV remediation initiatives.” The City Council must pull off the balancing act in the face of a newly predicted greater downturn in tax revenue that will make additions a battle and cuts more likely.

In the middle of this, the debate over ShotSpotter has reemerged. Continue reading

Predicted real estate tax slowdown has Seattle City Hall scrambling on 2023 budget

A predicted slowdown in tax collected on the sale of real estate means belt tightening at Seattle City Hall (Image: Seattle.gov)

The Seattle City Council’s process to finalize the city’s budget will be delayed a week and proposed additional spending will face even greater challenges as the latest budget forecasting at City Hall predicts a nearly $80 million revenue shortfall over the next two years over slowdowns in key sectors of the economy.

Budget chair Teresa Mosqueda announced the new forecasts and schedule Wednesday. The city is predicting “a net $64 million decrease in Real Estate Excise Tax revenues,” “a net decrease of $9.4 million in general fund revenues,” and “a net decrease of $4.5 million in revenues from the Sweetened Beverage Tax.”

Mosqueda said the council’s “balancing package” of proposed amendments for the new budget will be delayed a week to Monday, November 14th. Continue reading

Sawant holds her People’s Budget Rally as Seattle City Council readies 100-amendment 2023 budget rebalancing package

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant will hold her annual People’s Budget Rally this weekend as the Seattle City Council prepares to unveil its proposed “balancing package” of proposed changes to Mayor Bruce Harrell’s 2023 spending plan.

“This year, our People’s Budget campaign is fighting to fund free abortion for all paid for by increasing the Amazon Tax, funding for renter organizing, funding for new Tiny House Villages, and raises for human services workers on the front lines of addressing the needs of our homeless neighbors,” the announcement from Sawant’s city council office reads.

Join us at the People’s Budget Rally!
Saturday, November 5th | 2:00 pm
New Hope Baptist Church (124 21st Ave, Seattle WA 98144)

Sawant’s People’s Budget slate of spending proposals typically address some of the most progressive initiatives in the city but rarely find full support in the council’s spending packages.

Budget committee chair Teresa Mosqueda will present the council’s 2023 balancing package Monday. Continue reading

City Council prepares to dig in on 2023 Seattle budget — including hours of public comment

 

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The Seattle City Council will hold its first hearings on the Harrell administration’s 2023 spending proposals Tuesday including hours of expected public testimony.

The first public hearing session is slated to begin Tuesday, October 11th at 5 PM. You can register to be part of public comment remotely via phone or in-person at City Hall. Visit seattle.gov for information about the public comment process.

The session will stretch on for hours. “Budget public hearings last until the final person signed up for comment has spoken,” one councilmember’s message to constituents reads. “If it takes four hours to get there, that’s how long we’ll be listening!”

CHS reported here on the budget proposal from Mayor Bruce Harrell and its steps back on Seattle reforms including spending to create a larger SPD and a controversial new plan for how to redirecting funding from the city’s big business tax from COVID-19 recovery, housing, and the Green New Deal to patching up the city’s general fund. Continue reading

$30M Seattle participatory budgeting effort gears up with staff, workgroups, and a steering committee

 

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As Seattle City Hall tangles over the latest $1.6 billion budget proposal from the mayor’s office, an effort being touted as “the biggest participatory budgeting processes ever in the United States” is taking shape in the city.

The Participatory Budgeting Project is hiring staff and seeking Steering Committee and Working Group members “to shape, launch, and run” the effort.

CHS reported here in April on the selection of BPP — the only candidate organization to step forward for the gig to run the city’s new participatory budgeting process that is hoped to become a component in the city’s annual budget setting debate.

The bid from the national advocacy group was selected for BPP to serve as the third-party administrator on the newly formed effort to shape a $30 million package hoped to address inequity by creating a system of more direct control of community spending in Seattle. Continue reading

Harrell budget proposal steps back on Seattle reforms including larger SPD, new plan for big business tax

Harrell’s budget announcement was made at SDOT’s Charles Street Vehicle Maintenance Facility (Image: City of Seattle)

The Harrell administration’s first budget proposal released Tuesday is a $1.6 billion restatement of the city’s small but nationally followed attempts at shifting its public safety spending. It could also end up leaning heavily on revenues from the city’s controversial — but apparently much needed — payroll tax on its largest employers. In many ways, it is a step back on the progressive reforms introduced during the pandemic.

“After two very long pandemic years, today we stand at a pivotal moment in our city’s history. It’s at this intersection of change and challenge where we know the investments we make in this One Seattle budget proposal can chart Seattle’s course for years to come,” Mayor Bruce Harrell said in his statement on the 2023-2024 budget proposal. “Our guiding principle is how best to meet the urgent needs of our communities and empower our employees to deliver essential services.”

The proposal does include new spending including a plan that would provide around $88 million for the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, a nearly 13% increase.

But the bulk of departments will face cutbacks and belt tightening with economic forecasts projecting an estimated $140 million budget gap.

To help bridge this deficit and larger possible gaps ahead, Harrell Tuesday said he would ask the Seattle City Council to change the rules for the city’s JumpStart payroll tax on its largest employers to allow City Hall to dip into the revenue to patch up Seattle’s general fund. The tax, launched in 2021, was intended to fund pandemic recovery, solutions for homelessness and housing, and Green New Deal initiatives.

The Seattle City Council will now set about restoring some of the proposed cuts, adding new spending, and hammering out a compromise or two with the administration.

“As Budget Chair, I will be working with my council colleagues to finalize the biennial budget that builds towards a Seattle where everyone is housed and cared for, healthy and safe, and supports workers and small businesses for a more equitable and resilient economy,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said in a statement. “We must protect investments in housing and maintain commitments with the workforce that cares for our most vulnerable, increase childcare to support workers and boost our local economy, prioritize climate resilience in programs and infrastructure investments, and stave off cuts to critical programs and city staff.”

Mosqueda’s efforts will include staving off transition of the JumpStart funding from its intended focus on addressing the pandemic, homelessness, and housing crises in the city. Continue reading

With questions over Regional Homelessness Authority and SPD spending, Seattle kicks off 2023 budget process

(Image: City of Seattle)

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and King County Executive Dow Constantine will release details of their proposed 2023 budgets Tuesday with many watching to see how planned funding for the King County Regional Homelessness Authority will measure out.

The new authority charged with organizing the city and county’s response to the ongoing homelessness crisis has asked for a budget of $209 million in 2023. The nearly 75% jump would increase the number of available shelter resources and help cover increased costs from service providers amid rising wages. Continue reading