Notes from today’s Council meetings

Here’s what the Council got up to today.

This afternoon, the Council passed a bill moving SPD’s 911 call center to the newly-created Community Safety and Communications Center. The original version of the bill also would have moved the Parking Enforcement Officers over to the CSCC, but there is still ongoing debate about whether they should move to SDOT instead. The Council amended the bill to leave them in SPD for now, and modified a budget proviso so that SPD will have the resources to continue paying them.  Look for a separate article on this later today.

The Council also passed a bill closing a couple of loopholes in a bill passed last year giving small businesses and nonprofits certain protections from rent increases and evictions.

And it passed an ordinance extending the term of the Director of the Office for Civil Rights an extra year, to December 31, 2022.

Finally, it passed a resolution asking the FAA to transfer its excess property surrounding a radar facility in Discovery Park to the city in order to expand park lands.

You may recall that Councilmembers Sawant and Morales have offered dueling versions of bills to close the so-called “end of lease eviction loophole.” This afternoon, they jointly introduced a new, streamlined version that takes a slightly different approach to achieving the same goal: it extends to tenants on fixed-term leases a “right of first refusal,” where the landlord must offer a renewal to the existing tenant at least 60 days before the end of the lease before offering a lease to a new tenant. The bill still has some issues, including language that allows a tenant to rescind a lease termination agreement in some cases right up until the end of the lease — even if the landlord has already signed a lease with the next tenant. Morales and Sawant are looking to move the bill quickly in order for it to be in effect before the eviction moratorium expires at the end of June; it will be heard in Sawant’s committee tomorrow afternoon, likely voted out of committee, and then come up for final approval next Tuesday.

Separately, Morales and Sawant have called upon Mayor Durkan to extend the eviction moratorium beyond June 30th.

As expected, Councilmember Strauss introduced today a bill extending the moratorium on redevelopment of mobile-home parks another six months. He will hold a public hearing on the bill next week, and then bring it to a final vote on June 7th. See yesterday’s article for a full discussion of the Council’s efforts to preserve the city’s two remaining mobile home parks.

Councilmember Mosqueda announced this morning that her next committee meeting will be on June 4th, at which the committee will take up a bill appropriating the city’s first tranche of federal ARPA relief funding. Mosqueda said that the bill will be introduced next Tuesday, June 1.

This morning, Councilmember Morales let it be known that the city has finally issued contracts and funding for the “street sinks” program: $60,000 to the Clean Hands Collective, and $40,000 to Seattle Makers. It is hoping to move some additional funds into the program to support installation of up to 90 sinks around the city to provide running water to the city’s homeless population as a public health intervention.

A week ago Councilmember Sawant brought forth a letter addressed to the Biden Administration urging the federal government to stop selling arms to Israel in response to its heavy-handed military response in Gaza. Her colleagues wanted more time to review it, and according to Sawant this morning she incorporated all of their suggested edits to try to build consensus.

It apparently didn’t work. This morning she only convinced Councilmembers Mosqueda and Herbold to sign on. Councilmember Strauss was the most vocal opponent, saying that he still had issues with some of the language in the letter (the most recent draft was circulated just this morning). Strauss, who is Jewish, was clearly struggling with conflicting views and feelings as he spoke this morning, and in the end encourage his colleagues to write individual letters rather than trying to author a consensus version. Councilmembers Lewis and Pedersen also declined to sign, and Councilmembers Juarez and Gonzalez were absent. Councilmember Morales, who is also Jewish, had dropped off the call for that part of this morning’s meeting due to a scheduling conflict, but at the close of this afternoon’s Council meeting shared her own thoughts on the ongoing conflict and expressed interest in co-authoring a letter with Strauss “to express our solidarity as Jews.”

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