‘We can move our secure perimeter’ — 12th Ave’s new Children and Family Justice Center designed for hopes of a shrinking youth jail population

With colors, murals, game tables, and art that make the new facility feel like a cross between a new high school and juvenile hall, King County is showing off its new Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center on 12th Ave.

It is also designed, officials say, to slowly transform.

“As we move toward zero youth detention, how we can repurpose space?” one official said during a tour of the new facility’s detention area. “As our population decreases,” she said in the middle of one of the center’s living halls designed to look like dorms but secured for incarceration with electronic locks and state of the art surveillance systems, “we can move our secure perimeter.” Continue reading

Proposal would allow a $121M King County tax on big businesses to pay for housing, homelessness

Sawant made the Tax Amazon movement the centerpiece of her inauguration and start of a third term. A state proposal would open the door to a tax on “big business” at the county level.

As the rumble has started again for a tax on large employers in Seattle, Capitol Hill’s State Representative in Olympia has proposed a bill that could take the push for revenue to support housing and homelessness services to a new level.

Rep. Nicole Macri is co-sponsoring a bill that would allow King County “to impose an excise tax on business.”

The state proposal would actually open up the option to any county with a population over 2 million — right now, that would be King County.

“The thing I am interested in is something that will allow for more of a regional approach on addressing homelessness, housing and behavioral health needs than what the current authority allows,” Macri told Crosscut about the proposed legislation.

Fellow 43rd District Rep. Frank Chopp is also a co-sponsor.

The Seattle Times reports that Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine support the bill.

Durkan and Constantine said the tax could raise $121 million per year “for housing, homelessness, public safety, and behavioral health services across the region.” Continue reading

Zahilay to chair King County Council’s Law & Justice committee

Capitol Hill’s newly sworn-in King County Council representative Girmay Zahilay will chair the body’s Law and Justice committee.

The council sorted out its 2020 committee assignments in votes Wednesday. The council also unanimously elected former Bellevue mayor Claudia Balducci as its chair.

Zahilay took his oath of office prior to Wednesday’s vote in his first day of meetings on the council. He was sworn-in during a ceremony in December at Franklin High School.

CHS reported here on the race between Zahilay and incumbent Larry Gossett for the civil rights icon’s seat on the council in which the political upstart achieved a solid victory.

Zahilay, who was born in Sudan after his parents fled Ethiopia in the 1980s and arrived in Seattle as a refugee when he was three, grew up in Holly Park and Rainier Vista and graduated from Franklin before going on to Stanford University and law school. He then worked in Washington D.C. and New York City before returning to Seattle to be an attorney for Perkins Coie.

Zahilay now represents District 2 representing the Central District, Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, the Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Skyway, the University District, Fremont, Ravenna, and Laurelhurst.


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With Seattle approval, King County Regional Homelessness Authority will take shape in 2020

The Seattle City Council, with strings attached, approved its part of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority Monday paving the way for the effort to launch next year.

CHS reported last week on an ordinance shaped by the council to enable the city to pull out portions of its planned $73 million in funding for the $132 million new county authority hoped to reorganize how homelessness services are planned and deployed across the county. Continue reading

King County Council vote another stop on making RapidRide G a 2022 reality

The King County Council’s Mobility and Environment Committee is expected to vote Tuesday afternoon on final approval for the alignment of RapidRide G on Madison connecting downtown to Madison Valley through First Hill and Capitol Hill.

The vote will make official the county’s RapidRide program for the planned “bus rapid transit” project expected to begin construction in mid to late 2020 and create a new east-west Metro route along Madison between 1st Ave and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

CHS reported on the project this summer as it moved into the “90%” design phase and decisions were being finalized on features and changes along the $120 million, 2.3 mile, 10-station route including what planners hope are improved crossings for pedestrians and the major decision to focus on a new diesel-hybrid bus fleet for the line.

Pending approval of federal funding that will cover about half of the costs, the start of construction is slated to start next year with service starting late in 2022.

Officials hope for solutions beyond Seattle from King County Regional Homelessness Authority

It has been a caveat on nearly every major Seattle effort to combat homelessness. The problem, many contend, is regional. Wednesday, the City of Seattle and King County rolled out the plan to try to address the crisis at a higher level.

County Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Jenny Durkan announced legislation Wednesday that will create a new regional authority overseeing “a unified response to homelessness.” Continue reading

For the first time in more than a decade, Gossett faces challenge to represent CD, Capitol Hill on King County Council

Girmay Zahilay, left, is set to challenge King County Council veteran Larry Gossett for the District 2 seat representing the Central District and Capitol Hill.

While much of CHS’s attention on Election 2019 has been focused on the race for the District 3 seat on the Seattle City Council, for the first time in more than a decade, a competitive race is shaping up for the District 2 seat on the King County Council as a young upstart flush with cash challenges a Washington civil rights icon first elected to the council in 1993.

Larry Gossett, former council chair and longtime incumbent, will have a competitor to remain on the council for the first time in 14 years with South Seattle lawyer and nonprofit leader Girmay Zahilay mounting a serious challenge.

The county needs to “target the equitable development of educational opportunities for all our kids, but with a particular focus on low-income and minority kids who are being left further and further behind,” Gossett said. Continue reading

King County moves ahead with plan to pay for your ballot stamps

(Image: King County)

In an effort to buttress sagging turnout — especially among populations most likely to be disenfranchised by voting barriers — the King County Council voted Monday to move forward with prepaid postage for 2018 elections in the county:

King County Elections Director Julie Wise cites two successful pilots conducted last year, the unwavering support of councilmembers and the overall community need for the approval of this request as proof that prepaid postage works and is supported by all as a means towards stronger voter participation.

“I am grateful to the Council for their unwavering support in giving me the tools I need to continue removing barriers for our voters,” said Director Wise. “Prepaid postage along with our ballot drop boxes makes it easy for everyone to exercise their civic right to vote.”

The postage decision joins the county’s ballot drop boxes added in 2016 to locations including Broadway in front of Seattle Central across from E Howell as part of a King County-wide effort to increase turnout. In 2011, Washington shifted to all-mail elections but the percentage of eligible voters participating in midterm elections fell below 40%.

The decision would make $381,000 available to fund the free postage for King County voters. Gov. Jay Inslee is considering an emergency request by Secretary of State Kim Wyman for $2 million to fund prepaid postage for mail-in ballots statewide this year.

Capitol Hill cat cafe credited with helping boost King County pet adoption

A sleepy moment inside Neko

King County says it has been able to boost its pet adoption rate to 92% thanks to partnerships with pet stores and a new trend of cat-focused businesses — including Capitol Hill’s Neko Cafe.

The adoption rate has risen from a sad 51% in 2003, the county reports.

“The latest milestone is the result of several strategies, including partnering with cafes and pet stores to make it easier to adopt cats, starting a new dog playgroup to help staff and volunteers better assess a dog’s behavior, revamping the volunteer program, and significantly increasing the number of pets that are licensed,” a King County announcement on the happy numbers reads. Continue reading

No New Youth Jail protesters shut down 12th Ave work site

With reporting by Alex Garland

Activists seeking a halt on construction of the new King County’s Children and Family Justice Center brought their protest to the work site Monday morning.

The construction site protest blocked work entrances at the 12th and Alder site and marked what organizers said was the beginning of a “People’s Moratorium on construction at the site.”

“We have fought this fight on many fronts -– in the courts, in county and city council chambers, in the press, and on the streets,” one activist said in a statement posted by a coalition opposing the new facility. “At every point, the county has refused to listen, so today, we’re stopping the construction with our bodies.”

The announcement did not describe the group’s plans for continuing to block the work site gates. Some protesters were chained together. Inside the fences, some work continued. Police were at the site and monitoring the situation with more units being dispatched in the area. Continue reading