Notes from Monday’s Council meetings

There was much discussion on last week’s gun violence downtown, plus a debate over resolutions.

Monday afternoon in a poorly-attended full City Council meeting, the Council passed by a 4-1 vote a resolution opposing all forms of oppression around the world. The resolution’s sponsor, Council member, Alex Pedersen, backed off on his original intent (trying to curb the number of resolutions the Council passes on one-off issues taking place elsewhere) after pushback from some of his colleagues, and did his best to reposition it as a “yes and” effort rather than an excuse for not passing a resolution whenever asked to by constituents.

Monday morning at the weekly Council Briefing, several Council members spoke about last week’s gun violence downtown. A sampling of the comments:

  • Council President Pro-tem Herbold thanked all the first responders on the scene, and reiterated the city’s immediate actions to address the area: adding a mobile precinct unit to the area of 3rd and Pike/Pine, adding extra personnel including gang unit detectives, and looking at physical changes to the area to improve safety. Herbold said that she would be reviewing the changes to ensure that the city isn’t sacrificing necessary police resources in other neighborhoods with hotspots that aren’t as visible, such as South Park in her district.
  • Council member Lewis, whose District 7 includes the downtown area, noted that he has never in his life seen a 3rd & Pine different from what we see today. Lewis issues a statement yesteday calling for an SPD “storefront” in the aea, and a sustained presence from the recently-reconstituted Community Service Officer program as a complement to SPD officer presence. Lewis emphasized his belief that a response besed solely on police presence will not reduce the trauma, but it will require public health presence and community organizing as well to effect lasting change. Herbold again noted that she wanted to better understand how SPD decided where to make additional investments such as storefronts, noting that after a shooting in South Park in 2014, there was a call for an “SPD storefront” there that apparently went unheeded. She wants to know what the “formula” is.
  • Council member Strauss offered his thoughts and prayers, then said that thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. He applauded the idea of an SPD storefront downtown, assuming the cost-benefit analysis shows it’s a positive investment.
  • Council member Pedersen emphasized that public safety must be a priority, and that the the city needsmore police officers and more probation officers.  Pedersen, who chairs the transportation committee, also is following up on reports of “surge pricing” by Uber and Lyft during the event last week; he is sending letters to the companies to learn more about what transpired.

This is Council member Herbold’s last week as President Pro-tem; next week Council member Juarez takes over for February.

Council member Lewis announced that he has scheduled a special meeting of his committee on homelessness strategies on to continue consideration of Council member Sawant’s bill expanding permitting of transitional homeless encampments and “tiny home” villages. The meeting will be on February 10th, immediately following the full City Council meeting. Lewis said that they will consider amendments and he hopes they will vote the bill out of committee.

Council member Morales has scheduled a special meeting of her Community Economic Development Committee for February 6th at 5pm, as a follow-up to last Friday’s meeting where several city departments laid out their priorities for 2020. Morales said that at the upcoming meeting she will be inviting community members and organizations to talk about the impact of city policies on their ability to stay in the city and thrivein their communities. She said that the theme for her committee this year is “how we build community wealth.”

Council member Strauss noted that his next committee meeting will be Wednesday February 12th. The agenda will include the reappointment of SDCI Direcctor Nathan Torgelson; a presentation from SDCI in response to last year’s tree resolution; and a rezone application for a property near University Village.