Notes from today’s Council meetings

Here’s what the Council got up to today.

This afternoon, the Council unanimously passed a bill that prohibits rent hikes for commercial properties rented to small businesses, and authorizes installment plans for them to pay back-rent, during the COVID-19 emergency.

It also passed a change to the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy Program that adds another allowed use for levy revenues: emergency childcare programs for essential workers.

Finally, it passed a third bill related to COVID-19 response that suspends deadlines for the Hearing Examiner and lifts some requirements to hold in-person hearings.

Council member Herbold noted this morning that she has asked SFD Chief Harold Skoggins for a report on the impact of the closure of the West Seattle Bridge on fire response to West Seattle. She expects to receive a report by this Friday.

Council member Sawant announced that her office is working to fill eight positions on the Green New Deal Advisory Board. She asked that interested persons send an email to her office with a resume and a one-paragraph description of why they are interested. She explained that the eight positions are allocated to represent specific communities, so interested persons should also identify which position they would like to fill.

Council member Strauss announced that he has delayed for a week the consideration of a bill from the Mayor’s Office that would effectively strip the Design Review Board and the Landmarks Designation Board of their responsibilities during the COVID crisis and allow city staff to make administrative decisions instead. Strauss said that it was being delayed “for some additional consideration.”

Strauss also said this morning that he is working with the Mayor’s Office and Public Health Seattle-King County on a plan to reopen the city’s farmers markets while imposing social-distancing precautions. He said that the public health department has approved the safety plan, and the markets might reopen as soon as this weekend.

Next week is shaping up to be one with a very interesting and important one for the Council. I’m hearing that on Monday the City Budget Office will present its first comprehensive look at what COVID-19 and the response has done to the city’s budget for 2020. Also, Council member Mosqueda’s office has confirmed that the first Budget Committee for the year will be next Wednesday, and it’s expected that the “Amazon Tax” bill will get its first hearing.