Notes from today’s Council meetings

It was a busy day; the Council members (and particularly Council member O’Brien) are pushing through several items in advance of their August recess.

This afternoon, the Council voted to approve:

  • three gifts to the Parks Department;
  • an ordinance updating the city’s criminal code to match the state’s with regard to handling DNA evidence;
  • a street vacation and property easement swap with Children’s Hospital;
  • adoption of an updated Commute Trip Reduction Strategic Plan;
  • a resolution expressing concern with the Navy’s testing and training program in coastal waters for fear of the effects on the orcas.

This morning, Council President Harrell announced that he is looking to schedule a veto-override vote next Monday on the ordinance restricting uses of Sweetened Beverage Tax revenues beginning in January 2020. Mayor Durkan vetoed the bill late last week, after it passed the Council with a 7-1 vote (Pacheco was the only “no” vote; Juarez was absent). Harrell called it a “complete waste of time” to go through the exercise of the Mayor vetoing the legislation and the Council overriding the veto, since it originally passed by a veto-proof margin. He, along with Council members O’Brien and Gonzalez renewed their criticism of the “rhetoric” and “false narrative” from the Mayor’s Office and city departments about the effect the bill will have on human-services providers’ contracts.

Council member Juarez announced that her legislation directing certain actions to address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls is nearly done, and she hopes to distribute it by the end of the week.

Juarez also plugged her annual “Live in D5” event, this Saturday from 1-4pm at the Hubbard Homestead Park behind the Northgate Target. She said there would be live music and a petting zoo again, a Native American food truck from the Tulalip Nation, and booths from community organizations and city departments.


Council member Bagshaw noted that she is holding a special meeting of her Finance and Neighborhoods committee this Friday to vote on the five pending supplemental budget ordinances; she expects the Council to take a final vote on them next Monday, before they recess.

Council member Mosqueda previewed her next committee meeting, on August 15th, which will begin at 9am. On the agenda:

  • a new solar program at Seattle City Light for midsize companies;
  •  an ordinance authorizing Seattle City Light to join the western Energy Imbalance Market;
  • discussion and amendments to the hotel workers legislation. She noted that the ACLU had sent a letter to her office on June 24th raising some concerns, and her office has prepared amendments to address them.

Council member Gonzalez, in providing context to a pair of items on this afternoon’s agenda related to SPD’s gathering of intelligence, noted that the city’s ordinance regulating that area was written in 1979 and hasn’t been updated since then — despite large changes in how intelligence-related information is gathered, kept, and used. Gonzalez said that an update is being planned for next year.

Council member O’Brien has three meetings of his Sustainability and Transportation Committee over the next two weeks, and gave his colleagues a roadmap of the topics to be covered at each:

Tomorrow afternoon’s meeting will cover:

  • a possible vote on a Green New Deal resolution;
  • a briefing from SDOT on the Transportation Equity Program;
  • the ordinance approving $9 million of funding for the next phase of planning for the Center City Connector streetcar. He noted that the Mayor has asked for the Council to pass it next Monday before it recesses to city staff can get the planning work underway. O’Brien has asked the Council’s staff to walk through the finances of the project at tomorrow’s committee meeting, including how much has been spent to-date, what is currently allocated that could be re-allocated if the project doesn’t move forward, the status of partner and federal grant money, and what the budget gap is. Council member Herbold has expressed vocal opposition to the streetcar project; Bagshaw said this morning that she supports moving the design and engineering work forward, but has concerns about the operational costs, the gap in capital funding, and the impacts on the system for freight mobility downtown (and vice versa).
  • a briefing on transportation impact fees (TIFs), continuing work that former Council member Tom Rasmussen began several years ago. Earlier this year, the Council approved a list of transportation projects that could be funded by TIF dollars, but the SEPA analysis of that project list was challenged and the Council is awaiting a ruling from the Hearing Examiner on that challenge. The ruling is expected in the next two weeks.

This Friday’s meeting will cover:

  • A presentation from the MASS Coalition, which O’Brien said is asking for a transportation package.
  • An ordinance requiring that major street paving projects undertaken by SDOT  comply with and include protected bike lanes in the city’s Bicycle Master Plan.
  • A resolution related to expanding on-street bike parking.
  •  A discussion on red-light camera revenues. Under a previous policy, 20% of the revenues went to school safety projects, but the Council has suspended that rule for two years. O’Brien wants to discuss whether to reinstate the 20% rule.

Next Friday’s meeting will include a briefing on the sale of the Mercer Megablock, which the Mayor’s Office is expected to announce this week. O’Brien said that he has been briefed on part of the plan and he said “it looks very promising.” He said that he will be scheduling another discussion in early September, setting up the Council’s authorization for the city to proceed and conclude negotiations, with the city then wrapping up the deal in late 2019 or early 2020. Council member Mosqueda noted that she has been urging the city’s negotiators to include childcare in the plan, given that there are only four child care facilities in that neighborhood.