Notes from this morning’s Council Briefing

Several interesting notes on legislation being considered this week.

Council President Harrell noted that this afternoon the Council will be voting on a bill extending the deadline for rulemaking on last year’s ordinance to grant Uber drivers the right to unionize. In late July FAS asked for an extension to January, mainly because it couldn’t resolve the issue of who qualifies to vote on representation.  The Council didn’t like delaying it that long, and argued for a November extension instead. But Harrell now concedes that a January extension is justified and that is what will be voted on this afternoon.

Council member Bagshaw thanked everyone who participated in her committee’s hearing last week on the city’s homeless crisis response. She recognizes that she needs to tie in the city’s policy on unsanctioned encampments as well. She and her staff are making the rounds of Council members, city department heads, advocates, and homeless people to “figure out what’s important” as she moved forward the bill introduced last week to rewrite the rules on homeless encampment cleanups. She also noted that the resolution from the Mayor’s office on the East Duwamish Greenbelt Encampments, aka the “Jungle,” is also on the agenda for her committee. And in response to the news this morning that a drunk driver ran over and killed a homeless person in a greenbelt next to an I-5 offramp, Bagshaw said “no one is suggesting that people be allowed to sleep wherever they want to sleep.”

Council member O’Brien said that his Sustainability and Transportation Committee meets this Wednesday at noon, and will be discussion a resolution “charting a bold new course” for the city in electrifying its transportation system. He said the draft resolution makes electrification of the city-owned fleet of vehicles official city policy, signs on to the “half the oil” initiative io cut fossil fuel use 50% by 2035, and sets a goal to make 30% of the vehicles in the city’s fleet electric by 2030. It requests the city come back with an implementation plan in six months, including looking at how to put more charging stations around the city and how people without off-street parking in their homes will charge their cars.

O’Brien’s committee will also take up the Freight Master Plan again, hoping to formally vote it out of committee for full Council approval next week.

Council member Juarez is introducing this afternoon a resolution, co-sponsored by Council member Sawant, supporting the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Juarez took several minutes to make heartfelt remarks about the importance of the Sioux tribe’s fight.

Juarez also noted that her Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Waterfront Committee meets on Friday, and will be considering the Parks Department’s “lengthy” community center strategic plan.

Council member Johnson said his Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee will continue its consideration of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. He also noted that University of Washington has filed paperwork for the update to its Major Institution Master Plan for the Seattle campus, and that will work its way through the Council’s quasi-judicial review process.

Council member Sawant noted her Energy and Environment Committee  meets this week and will take up Seattle City Light’s rate increases. She plans to vote against the rate increase, just as she voted against them in SCL’s strategic plan update earlier this summer.

Sawant also recounted her tour of the current North Precinct police station last Friday, for which she was accompanied by community activists and local media. Noting that after the 1998 floods sump pumps were installed which seem to be controlling further flooding, her conclusion was that there are no emergent problems with the building and no need for a new one to be built. Sawant’s office is organizing a September 22nd rally to continue the push to stop the project.

Council member Herbold’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee meets tomorrow to finish up the secure scheduling ordinance. She mentioned that several Council members have offered additional amendments which will be considered. The CRUEDA committee also meets Friday, and will take up the appointment of Mami Hara as the new Director of Seattle Public Utilities.