This week at the City Council – committee wrap-up

Now that the budget is done, things are getting busy for the City Council again — especially since there is only a month left before the end of several Council members’ terms (and only two weeks before they break for the holidays).This is the newly-elected Council member Gonzalez’s first full week sitting on the Council (she was sworn in at 5pm last Tuesday). Some of the items for the full council are updates to the committee membership to reflect her arrival and former Council member Okamoto’s departure. Council members Licata, Rasmussen, and Godden finish their terms at the end of the year, so all Council members will be in a rush to complete a number of legislative items before committees get all jumbled up and reassigned.

The traditional Monday morning Council briefing has no specific agenda items other than to review items for the afternoon full Council meeting and which committees are meeting this week.

The afternoon full Council meeting will be busier: the Council will be approving the 2016 legislative agenda, approving four historical landmarks and several matters related to construction and development projects, dealing with changes to the Pike Place Market Historical Commission (which was controversial when discussed in committee an hopefully has been sorted out now), and officially updating the Council’s standing committee membership for the remainder of the 2015 term to remove former Council member Okamoto and add new Council member Gonzalez.

Tuesday morning’s meeting of the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Gender Pay Equity Committee should be short. These is one item of substance: approving a Commitment to Gender Pay Equity, committee chair Jean Godden’s signature issue.

Tuesday afternoon the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee meets.The agenda has a few interesting items: the appointment of Nathan Torgelson as Director of the Department of Construction and Inspections; the creation of a Regional Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) Fund with several neighboring counties and cities; a zoning change to allow for expanded medical services in “neighborhood commercial” zones, and an update to marijuana zoning.

The REDI Fund is intended to buy property near existing or future transit stations and hubs for development of affordable housing. The city’s 2015 budget allocated $1 million for this fund, and the ordinance under consideration will allows those funds to slosh over into 2016.

The medical zone change under consideration is aimed at community health providers who serve residents earning under 200% of the poverty level. Under current regulations, medical facilities in neighborhood commercial zones are limited to 10,000 square feet, but apparently this is too small to provide a broad enough range of medical services. The ordinance would raise the limit to 20,000 square feet for community health providers that are not affiliated with major medical institutions.

I’ll write separately about the marijuana zoning changes; for a head start, the presentation due to go before the committee is here.

The rest of the committee agendas for meetings later in the week have not yet been posted. This week’s Introduction and Referral Calendar suggests that the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee will be addressing wage theft, looking at removing obstacles for people with past criminal convictions to re-integrate into society, and appointing members of the Community Police Commission. The Finance and Culture Committee will be doing some end of year budget cleanup, and considering establishing an Arts and Cultural District for the Central Area. Last note: the Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee will discuss at their next meeting making the Seattle P-I globe a historic landmark.

UPDATE: The Housing Affordability, Human Services, and Economic Resiliency Committee’s Thursday meeting has been cancelled.