Notes from today’s Council meetings

Here’s what the City Council got up to today.

This afternoon, the Council approved Seattle City Light’s updated strategic plan along with a five-year rate path that attempts to keep average annual increases to around 3%. The Council passed it unanimously, though Councilmember Sawant reiterated her objections to the utility charging a lower per-unit charge to its highest-volume customers than to residential customers.

The Council also unanimously approved the city’s acquisition of two parcels of land in South Park for the Office of Housing to redevelop into affordable housing.

This morning, Councilmember Lewis announced that the next meeting of his Homelessness Strategies and Investments Committee will be on July 28th. The agenda will include Lewis’s bill setting up a method for private citizens and businesses to make philanthropic donations to the city in support of its homelessness response efforts, as well as a report from the Human Services Department on its efforts this year to increase the amount of emergency shelter and “rapid rehousing” resources.

This morning Councilmember Morales said that she recently met with the Office of Economic Development interim Director Pamela Banks, who informed her that  OED will not be moving forward to create a film commission right now as the department’s efforts are focused on the city’s post-COVID economic recovery.

Morales also noted that there has been a delay in moving forward with the creation of a 15th Avenue Business Improvement Area. Her original plan was to take up the proposal in her July committee meeting, though she said that it might get bumped to her August meeting and require a special committee meeting in September to wrap it up.

Morales also said that she has been receiving calls from constituents about the Parks Department’s decision to close the Seward Beach park this summer due to their inability to hire lifeguards. She believes that will be a problem, particularly given the extra-hot weather this summer, as it will not deter people from swimming at the beach anyway and simply increase the risk of someone getting hurt or drowning. She is following up with the Parks Department.

Finally, Morales highlighters the “Welcome Back” event happening at Hing Hay Park this coming Saturday and Sunday, July 17-18, from 11am until 7pm.

Councilmember Mosqueda reminded us that the Office of Labor Standards’ comment period on its draft rules for implementing the TNC driver minimum wage ordinance is open until Wednesday, July 14th, at 5pm.

Councilmember Juarez passed on an announcement from the Parks Department that the annual Big Day of Play will be Saturday, August 21, from 1-4pm at Rainier Playfield.

This morning Councilmember Sawant continued her allegation that Council President Gonzalez and Councilmember Herbold are needlessly delaying the introduction of her bill to decriminalize psychedelic drugs in Seattle, saying that the activists from Decriminalize Nature are “frustrated with the delay” and that Herbold’s office is not returning her staff’s calls. Herbold responded this morning by saying that she told Sawant’s staff that she is waiting for the Overdose Emergency and Innovative Task Force to finish its work and provide recommendations, as the Council asked it to do in a letter sent last month. Until she receives those recommendations, Herbold said that the legislation is not “ripe” for consideration. Sawant disagreed, arguing that the legislation is ready to move forward now. Council President Gonzalez, who ultimately controls when legislation is formally introduced on the weekly Introduction and Referral Calendar (IRC), said that she continues to defer to Herbold, who chairs the public safety committee. Gonzalez noted that Sawant can move to amend the IRC during the Monday afternoon Council meeting if she can amass a majority of Council members to support her, and this morning it sounded like Sawant might try exactly that this afternoon, but in the end she declined to do so without comment.

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