Things I didn’t write about this week

A lot more happened this week that I didn’t get around to writing about. And on Monday the Mayor will release her proposed 2019-2020 budget. So before everything else fades into obscurity, here’s some quick takes on all the other stuff.

This afternoon, Mayor Durkan announced several steps to address workplace culture issues in city government. She is creating an Office of Employee Ombud to help employees navigate the process of redressing grievances. She is also creating a new investigations unit in the HR Department. And the HR department will be creating new standards and training around discrimination and harassment.

This morning, the Council voted out of committee three items related to Seattle Public Utilities: an update to its water system plan, and adjustments to drainage rates and wastewater rates. Bad news: both are going up significantly over the next few years, mainly due to the costs of the Ship Canal Combined Sewer Overflow capital project. Good news: SPU has been working hard on cutting costs elsewhere, and the final rate adjustments are less than what the Council had previously approved in the utility’s Strategic Plan.

Yesterday, the Council heard the annual report of the Yesler Terrace housing project. The project continues to bring additional housing online, and to bring back in people who were temporarily displaced during demolition of the older buildings and construction of new ones. Also, new parks have recently opened on the grounds.

Wednesday, the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee held a brief discussion of the proposed changes to the city’s tree-protection ordinance, mainly centered around the recommendations of the Urban Forestry Commission. The committee also published an updated memo laying out the key policy questions that need to be answered before the bill can go forward. Committee chair (and ordinance sponsor) Rob Johnson plans to take up the issue again in December, after the budget is done.

In the same meeting, the Council also passed out of committee an update to curb ramp regulations to bring them up to current ADA standards, as well as the South Lake Union Neighborhood  Design Guidelines. Both will come up for final approval on Monday.

Wednesday afternoon, the Finance and Neighborhoods Committee voted to approve a reallocation of funds to cover a $17.4 million cost overrun in Seattle City Light’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure program. SCL is covering it by moving money around internally within the utility’s budget; it isn’t asking the Council to increase its budget. The change will come up for final vote on Monday.

On Tuesday, the Council heard briefings on the city’s freight master plan, bicycle master plan, and pedestrian master plan.

The Council also passed out of committee on Tuesday an ordinance requiring some employers to make certain pre-tax commuter benefits available their employees.

Tuesday morning, the Council also passed out of committee an ordinance updating the procedures through which the executive branch brings surveillance-related technologies to the City Council for approval, and the creation of a new SODO Parking and Business Improvement Area.

Finally, earlier today the Department of Human Services released new data on the performance of its programs in the first six months of 2017. Placements of homeless people into housing are up over the same period of time last year.