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.

SOS: All D3 candidates to attend forum hosted by Speak out Seattle

Tuesday night will bring a D3 candidate forum to the Central District organized by a group that has drawn criticism but appears to be shaping up as an important player in this summer’s city council races.

The forum, at the Northwest African American Museum Tuesday night, is Speak Out Seattle’s final pre-primary forum after it has hosted a string of forums in other districts in the past months.

All seven candidates currently in the D3 race (Capitol Hill LGBTQIA activist Asukaa Jaxx has withdrawn) will attend the forum, which will be moderated by KIRO 7’s Essex Porter and feature a City of Seattle table with information and a chance for people to fill in or replace their (lost) democracy vouchers.

SOS District 3 Candidate Forum

Among the candidates attending is Zachary DeWolf, who has previously said he wouldn’t attend the debates hosted by Speak Out Seattle. “I’m not really sure that they are completely unbiased and coming to the table in good faith, so my inclination is no,” DeWolf said in April and repeated his position in another interview with journalist Erica C. Barnett.

But he is scheduled to attend Tuesday night.

DeWolf said he talked with the SOS organizers of the forum, who indicated “that they were being misrepresented,” he said. “They communicated to me that they’re interested in solutions, that they’re not for sweeps when there are no resources for people. My understanding from that communication is that they’re not what everybody is saying they are. I don’t have anything else to go off, and I have to take them at their word.”

The local organization, which has opposed drug-consumption sites, the head tax, tiny house villages, and encampments, had come under scrutiny for its views and some shared early connections with Safe Seattle, an online group that has mapped where homeless people live, spread fake news about a beheading in a homeless encampment and posted videos of people in crisis.

DeWolf’s change of heart might signal a larger shift in views on SOS, which seems to have been putting in work to appear less partisan. Continue reading

Inside Seattle’s continued rise in hate crime reports, Capitol Hill and borders of ‘racially diverse’ neighborhoods are hot spots

Non-criminal bias: Incidents that hateful but criminal like yelling a slur, Crimes with bias elements: Crimes with hate elements not solely motivated by bias, Malicious harassment: Crime motivated by bias (Source: City of Seattle Auditor’s report)

If the most important first step in fixing a problem is measuring it, a new report from the city might help Seattle stem the rising tide of hate crime. Meanwhile, a new ordinance might also make it easier to prosecute.

A new report from the Seattle City Auditor’s office shows efforts to encourage people to report bias crime are — sadly — working. In 2018, there were some 521 crimes and incidents involving bias reported in Seattle. That is up 25% over the previous year and up 313% in the five-year period starting 2014.

The rise is terrible but also shows SPD’s relatively small bias crimes unit is making progress in encouraging more people to report the crimes and shaping the department to take bias complaints more seriously.

Tuesday, the Seattle City Council’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee will take up legislation started last summer to change how Seattle prosecutes hate crimes. Continue reading

City Hall looks to Portland to sort out how best to bring scooter shares to Seattle’s streets

When it comes to big city bike share systems, Seattle is a freak. When its hobbled, city-funded docked system was a bust, it pioneered the U.S. rollout of floating bicycle shares from providers like Lime and Jump. Its relatively robust floating system is a rarity. Rarer still, Seattle hasn’t added scooters to its floating fleet.

Mayor Jenny Durkan now says the city is ready to join the wave of cities legalizing scooters to join the shared fleet — but the approach will be lawyerly.

“Seattle was the first city in the country to pilot free-floating bike share – and it’s taken off,” a statement from the mayor on scooter shares reads. “Now, we have a permanent program for companies to operate bike share in Seattle. Up next: let’s try scooters in Seattle. But let’s do it right by promoting safety, requiring fairness for riders and indemnification for the City, focusing on equity, and by building on – not losing – the best of bike share.”

Thursday, chair of the City Council’s transportation and sustainability committee Mike O’Brien is hosting a “Scooter Share Demo, Lunch & Learn” at City Hall. The session will include “a panel presentation of experts in the field who will describe the ways in which scooter share has enhanced mobility in major cities all over the world.”

How can Seattle integrate this transportation option into our city safely and thoughtfully, taking into consideration the needs of all people in our city? The Lunch and Learn aims to answer that question. The presentation will feature panelists from the City of Portland, Multnomah County Health Department and two scooter companies. The luncheon will also look at other cities across the U.S. who have scooter programs implemented, and feature examples of the ways in which scooters provide transportation to residents and tourists nationally and internally.

Continue reading

SCC Insight: Seattle ‘a worst-case scenario for rent control to be introduced’

A view from above Capitol Hill, 2015

With reporting by SCCI Insight

Council member Kshama Sawant has decided that 2019 is the year to push for rent control in Seattle — even though there is still a statewide ban on it. She held a rally in April announcing that she would be introducing rent control legislation to become effective if and when the state lifts its ban, and she invited the Seattle Renters Commission to present in her committee (video here) on why they are recommending that the city implement rent control.

I’m not an economist, not a landlord, nor a renter. But since we’re having this debate, I went to the UW Library and pulled the literature on rent control so I could understand the issues, the studies, and what the experts conclude.  Here is what I found.
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Capitol Hill, Central District don’t make cut in city’s anti-crime ‘Pre-Summer Emphasis Program’ in seven neighborhoods

Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle Police Department announced this week a May-long “Pre-Summer Emphasis Program” to “to improve public safety and address community maintenance needs” to reduce crime concerns in seven neighborhoods across the city. Areas around Capitol Hill and the Central District were not included.

“We have a responsibility to promote the vitality and safety of our neighborhoods and communities. We will continue to advance livability and public safety through data-driven, proactive strategies and listening to community,” Mayor Durkan said in a statement. “We are taking additional immediate steps to not just make communities safer, but to partner with communities on ways we can make neighborhoods cleaner and more vibrant. I will continue to work closely with Chief Best and other members of my cabinet to monitor the impact of these new resources. I am grateful to the community members for their input, and to our SPD officers and other City employees who are helping address these community priorities.”

According to the announcement, SPD has begun focusing on seven areas “based on community input and data analysis” — downtown, 3rd Ave around Pike and Pine, SoDo, South Park, Georgetown, Pioneer Square, Fremont, and Ballard. Continue reading

Seattle’s wins as 2019 session wraps in Olympia: affordable housing, behavioral health, renter rights

It is only May but the legislative session is wrapped up in Olympia. Don’t dwell on how much faster we could get things done with a year-round session. Instead, join Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in celebrating the legislative wins for the city — and join her in a few boos on the “missed opportunities” including missing the boat (again!) on a state capital gains tax, and failing to get the job done on “Block the Box” legislation.

“We needed the state to step up and invest in more affordable housing, behavioral health needs, college access, and fighting climate change. We also needed to end the ban on efforts to remedy systemic discrimination,” Durkan said in a statement released Tuesday. Continue reading

Capitol Hill private school Seattle Academy has plan to partner with parks department on new sports field… in South Park

The private Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences is expanding steadily on Capitol Hill. It could also be at the center of a plan to overhaul the fields and amenities around the South Park Community Center.

Wednesday afternoon, the Seattle City Council’s Civic Development, Public Assets, and Native Communities Committee will consider the proposal from the Seattle Academy and Seattle Parks and Recreation for a $4 million donation to power the creation of a new sports field and lighting as part of a larger overhaul of the South Park facility. Continue reading

With forum and debate season underway, D3 candidates talk homelessness, small biz, and ‘a Green New Deal for ordinary working people’ with some of their youngest constituents

In a Sunday afternoon forum and an early test of their platforms as they speed toward an August primary, four candidates for the Seattle City Council’s District 3 seat — including current council member Kshama Sawant who called for a “a Green New Deal for ordinary working people” — answered questions from some of their youngest constituents on a range of issues from homelessness to small business development.

The event, led by the King County Young Democrats, hosted forums for five of this year’s Council races. The other three D3 candidates were urbanist Logan Bowers, Seattle School Board Director Zachary DeWolf, and public defender Ami Nguyen, while neighborhood activist Pat Murakami and Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce head Egan Orion were not invited to participate due to time constraints.

UPDATE 4/29/2018 9:05 AM: KCYD chair Derek Richards offered this explanation for the invitation decisions:

There are about 57 candidates whom have declared for Seattle City Council, it is literally impossible to have a forum to include all of them and not have the meeting be a 12 hour marathon. With the candidates we had it still took 3.5 hours. It sounds like you are more interested in many of the other great organizations and neighborhood councils that will be hosting district specific candidate forums in the months leading up to the primary vote where you will be able to hear all of their opinions and I would encourage you to attend those.

UPDATE x2: Richards provided some more context on the decision around D3 in a message to CHS:

Since we were fitting 5 different districts in our meeting we had decided 3 candidates per district to keep the forum around 3 hours. For district 3 we did number of individual contributors, which gave us Councilmember Sawant, Logan Bowers and Ami Nguyen. Then the day we were going to send invites Zach DeWolf announced and had 2 city council endorsements and all the school board endorsements so we made an exception for D3 to have 4 candidates. However all candidates are welcome to speak at our endorsements meeting on Sunday May 19th at the WSLC between 5 and 7.

No matter the question, Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative political organization, pivoted to affordable housing concerns and her push for rent control. She repeatedly decried the council for its handling of the head tax and its overall lack of political courage. Answering a question on waste management, the council member called for a large-scale climate overhaul led by Seattle.

“The bottom line that we need, in terms of a Green New Deal for ordinary working people, is a massive public works program to expand transit and affordable housing and, primarily, what we need is social housing,” Sawant said, calling for a tax on big business to fund this publicly-funded and -owned housing proposal. Continue reading