Notes from today’s Council meetings

Here’s what happened in council Chambers today.

Council member Sawant announced that Friday’s meeting of the Select Committee on Homelessness and Housing Affordability will have two agenda items:

  • a discussion of the impacts of “tiny house” villages;
  • an update on the effort to establish regional governance of the homelessness response.

Council member Herbold gave an update on the status of the update to the city’s hate crimes statute that passed out of her committee last week. She said that Office of Civil Rights Director Mariko Lockhart has asked her to delay final passage of the bill so that a racial equity toolkit evaluation can be done on the bill; others in the community have raised the issue as well. Apparently the sticking point is whether hate crimes are disproportionately prosecuted against members of disadvantaged communities (and thus making it easier to allege and prosecute hate crimes would increase the disproportionality of the impact). Herbold said that Lockhart asked for the bill to be paused until at least June 3.

Herbold also announced that her “Lunch and Learn” session scheduled for Wednesday, which will feature a discussion of the “System Failure” report on prolific offenders, will include representatives from the SODO BIA, the Ballard Alliance, and the Pioneer Square Alliance. Here is my review of the “prolific offenders” report from March.

Council member Gonzalez noted that Wednesday morning committee meeting will cover:

  • a possible vote on Bea’s Law, which closes a loophole in the city’s paid leave policy when a child tragically dies shortly after birth;
  • a presentation from the City Attorney’s Office and the Mayor’s Office on the Domestic Violence Intervention Project;
  • an update from the Seattle Municipal Court on the Court Resource Center, and the Court’s work to implement the City Auditor’s recommendations on improving the program;
  • the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs’ work with students and teachers in the Ready to Work program.

Gonzalez also said that she is working with Council member Sawant’s office to schedule a follow-up meeting in her committee regarding the recent surge in gun violence in the Central District. She has learned that multiple city departments will be meeting with community members in the coming weeks, including SDOT; community members had suggested that one particular street had become a known hotspot for gang shoot-outs in part because it is a long, unobstructed road that allows for quick getaways, and hoped that SDOT could modify that street (with speed bumps, traffic circles, and other landscaping) to make it less conducive to drive-by shootings. Gonzalez said that she hopes the city will work with community members to design safety measures before they present to her committee.

This afternoon, the Council approved a long list of first-time appointments and reappointments to the Design Review Board. Most were unanimous; however, Council member Sawant felt that the new appointments left “ordinary people” under-represented on the Board and gave management and developers too much say, so she voted against the three nominees for new appointments who are managers are local businesses: Han Beh, Timothy Carter, and Daniel Maier.