Department heads coming and going, updates to construction codes, and more for a soggy Monday.
This afternoon the Council unanimously confirmed the appointment of Currie Mayer as the new Director of the Office of Emergency Management. Mayer previously held the same position across the lake in Bellevue.
In other job-change news, Office of Economic Development Director Bobby Lee is heading back to Portland to become Chief of Staff to the Mayor. His successor has not been named. Tomorrow is Lee’s last day at the OED.
Also, Councilmember Mosqueda said that she expects at her committee meeting on February 19th, they might take up the appointment of the new Director of the Office of Labor Standards, Steve Marchese.
This afternoon the Council also gave its final approval to changes in the city’s construction code and energy code, mostly to catch them up with equivalent changes at the state level. Developers are fretting at a change that requires sprinklers in more townhouses, and in the cost of switching away from gas and electric-resistance heat and water heating to heat pumps for larger commercial and multi-family residential buildings. However, Councilmember Lewis wants the changes to apply to even more buildings so as to accelerate the city’s actions to meet its goals to reduce greenhouse emissions. So as not to slow down adoption of the changes in today’s ordinances, Lewis said that he is working on a new bill that will expand the requirements to additional classes of buildings.
This morning several Council members, led by Gonzalez and Herbold, expressed their concerns about the way that the limited vaccines available have been distributed. In particular they raised alarms about racial disparities as well as private organizations that gave special access to rich donors.
Gonzalez said that she is working on a resolution to address the situation, and will be organizing a set of panel discussions in her committee to discuss what is going right and wrong with vaccine distribution. Herbold said that she is meeting with Mayor Durkan tomorrow to discuss the city’s plan for standing up mass vaccination sites — once the supply of vaccines improves.
As of today, Uber and Lyft drivers will be paid 41 cents per minute. One month from now it will jump to 49 cents, followed by 57 cents in April.
Councilmember Pedersen, who chairs the Transportation and Utilities Committee, gave a preview this morning of what his committee will be taking up later this month and into March. He said that at the February 17th committee meeting he intends to take up the city’s transit service agreement with King County Metro, which now has clarity with the overturning of I-976 and the passage of the renewal of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District. In March, his committee will look at a proposed spending plan for the recently-enacted vehicle license fee; Pedersen and Lewis would still like much of the revenues to go to bridge maintenance, but his colleagues might not go along with that.
Pedersen also noted that while traffic collisions in Seattle declined in 2020, traffic fatalities did not — for reasons that are not yet clear. He expects to explore this issue in his committee over the course of the year too.
Councilmember Juarez announced this morning that the Parks Department is currently holding an open house on the plans for the new South Lake Union Community Center, which will be housed in the “Mercer Megablock” development.
Councilmember Lewis let it be known that the city has approved the siting of a new ‘tiny home” village in District 4, and he expects build-out to start imminently.
Council President Gonzalez announced this morning that at her committee meeting next week, the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs will report on their 2020 activities, including both their “rapid response” to the Trump administration’s offenses, and their COVID-related outreach to immigrant and refugee communities.
Gonzalez also said that she is working on a resolution denouncing white supremacy and hate crimes and tasking various city departments to review their internal processes for responding to hate crimes. Herbold reminded her colleagues that Mayor Durkan issued an executive order a year ago “to combat the rise of hate crimes,” but it appears that work on has been suspended due to the COVID pandemic.
Also, Gonzalez noted that this week the regional homeless authority will hold a joint meeting of the governing committee and implementation board to finally vote on selecting a CEO. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 1pm.
Finally, Gonzalez said that last night the Puget Sound Regional Council executive committee gave final approval for $14.4 million in funding towards repair of the West Seattle Bridge.
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