This week: transportation up front

There’s lots of transportation-related legislation in front of the City Council this week. Plus a few other nuggets as the Council settles down to work.  (UPDATES BELOW)

The Monday morning Council Briefing features a discussion with the Office of Intergovernmental Relations on the ongoing state legislative session in Olympia.

The Monday afternoon full Council meeting has two items: approval of the plans for a new RapidRide line along the Madison corridor, and approval of updates to the city’s transportation master plan. Both of these were discussed in detail in the last Sustainability and Transportation Committee and are expected to be passed by the full Council without controversy.

The Tuesday afternoon Sustainability and Transportation Committee has several new items of legislation, most of which are fairly routine approvals of a pedestrian skybridge or two, redesignation of public lands, acceptances of easements for roadways, fixing the Yesler Way bridge, etc.  But there is also a weightier matter: consideration of what to do with Pronto, the pilot bike-share program that began in 2014 and is losing money. The Council set aside $5,000,000 in the 2016 budget for the program contingent upon the creation and approval of a new business plan, but the request in front of the Council now is to release $1,400,000 of those funds to purchase the program, keep it afloat, and re-launch it next year. While generally a bike-friendly group, it’s unclear how they will receive this proposal. UPDATE: in the morning’s Council Briefing Council member Bagshaw noted that it seems  that “Seattle needs a different kind of bike,” i.e. electric bikes, particularly for anyone trying to travel east-west in the city where the hills are steepest. Since the city’s failure to obtain a federal “tiger grant” to deploy electric bikes last fall is a big reason the program is in its current situation, it is unlikely that it would be easy to move forward in that direction.

Tuesday morning, the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee will hear an update from the Department of Neighborhoods on outreach and engagement efforts related to the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (aka HALA). Their presentation outlines a year-long program of gathering public input and making recommendations for next steps with specific timelines and actions related to initiatives within HALA.

Wednesday morning, the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee will hear a third-trimester 2015 report on the Multi-Family Tax Exemption program, which provides property tax breaks to multi-unit housing sites that rent 20-25% of the units at affordable rates to low-income individuals and families.

Wednesday afternoon, the Education, Equity and Governance Committee meets, and on Thursday the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Waterfront Committee and the Energy and Environment Committee meet. Agendas have not been published for these three.  UPDATE: in the Council Briefing this morning, Council President Harrell said that the Education, Equity and Governance Committee would be considering, and probably voting, on the Mayor’s nomination of Dwane Chappelle as Director of Education; council member Juarez said that the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Waterfront Committee would hear a presentation from the Office of the Waterfront on their 2016 plan; and Council member Sawant’s Energy and Environment Committee would consider the nomination of Larry Weis as CEO of Seattle City Light. On that note, Sawant complained that the Mayor went ahead and appointed Weis as interim CEO starting today rather than waiting for confirmation, despite all reports that the prior interim CEO was performing well.

The Introduction and Referral Calendar for this week contains a number of routine appointments, the legislation being considered by the Sustainability and Transportation Committee discussed above, and an ordinance for consideration by Council member Bagshaw’s Human Services and Public Health Committee which would release the $2,265,000 of emergency funding for addressing the homelessness crisis in the city that was contingent upon the creation of a detailed spending plan (that plan now exists). The next meeting of that committee is Wednesday, February 10 — the same meeting that Council member Bagshaw promised a deeper dive into the City’s practice of cleaning up (or “sweeping”) unauthorized homeless encampments.