Notes from today’s Council meetings

Here’s a rundown of what happened today in Council Chambers.

This afternoon the Council confirmed the reappointment of Glen Lee as the city’s Finance Director.

It also passed several bills updating the budget and Capital Improvement Plan, with a last-minute amendment from Council member Johnson to fund a new sidewalk between the Burke-Gilman Trail and Calvary Cemetery using excess revenues from red-light camera tickets.

The Council also passed two gun safety bills: one that requires gun owners to securely store their firearms, and another that increases the fines for failure to report a lost or stolen gun. I’ll be writing about this separately.

The Council approved the 2019-2024 Seattle City Light Strategic Plan, which includes a significant rate increase over the next six years to compensate for decreasing revenues. The Council request SCL to work with its Customer Review Panel to come up with a new rate plan design, as the current one hasn’t been modified for a long time. Council member Herbold brought forward a last-minute amendment that increased reporting on the utility’s efforts to improve its manager-to-employee ration, requests the utility to look for business efficiencies to reduce rates, and to investigate uniform connection charges and system development fees. Council member Sawant was the sole “no” vote on the resolution approving the Strategic Plan, as she objects to commercial and industrial customers receiving a lower rate than residential customers (though many don’t).

This morning, Council member Sawant announced that tomorrow afternoon her committee will hear a briefing on funding awards from the Equitable Development Initiative.

Council member Juarez noted this morning that on July 13th the proposal for a Waterfront Local Improvement District (LID) officially becomes “pending” when the Hearing Examiner holds his first information-gathering session on the proposal. That means that as far as the City Council is concerned, it becomes a quasi-judicial matter and the Council members cannot have ex-parte communications about it until they take their final vote this fall. Council member Bagshaw, who up until recently was precluded from any participation in discussion of the LID because of a conflict of interest (but has been released from that restriction), is participating in a conversation on the LID this Thursday evening at Olive 8.

Council member Juarez also let her colleagues know that she has sent a letter to local healthcare providers regarding their policies on access to healthcare services for members of the LGBTQ community, and particularly for transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. She is concerned about a recent trend in using the First Amendment, i.e. “hiding behind free speech,” to shield overt discrimination in not providing healthcare to these individuals. She also wants more information on availability of insurance coverage for LGBTQ individuals, and how Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement works (or doesn’t) for them. So far she has received responses to her letter from several organizations, including Polyclinic, Country Doctor Community Health Centers, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Virginia Mason. Juarez included published guidance from the state Insurance Commissioner and the City of Seattle with her letter.

Council member Johnson said this morning that at his next committee meeting next week they will begin consideration of an update to University of Washington’s Major Institution Master Plan — another quasi-judicial matter.

Council member Gonzalez announced that at her Wednesday morning committee meeting they plan to vote on four appointments to the Community Police Commission, and discuss SPD’s recent evaluation of its micro-community policing plans.

Council member Mosqueda said that at her July 19th committee meting she hopes to vote her proposed domestic workers’ bill of rights out of committee. She also said that she is scheduling an extra meeting for July 26th; that meeting’s agenda will include a briefing on Seattle City Light’s eternal audit.

Council member O’Brien is scheduling a special meeting of his committee for July 18th at noon. At that meeting, they will take up a resolution regarding bicycle infrastructure in the center city area, including a detailed plan for when and where protected bike lanes will be built out.