notes from today’s Council meetings

Hazard pay for grocery workers lives on, and more.

This afternoon the Council approved a bill authorizing SDOT to charge higher fees for on-street parking — initially up to $8 per hour — in the vicinity of Seattle Center during large events.

It also approved a designation of face recognition technology as “surveillance technology” for the purposes of the city’s regulations on surveillance technology (I suppose this means that city officials will be turning off “Face ID” on their iPhones). Councilmember Herbold, the sponsor of the bill, said that she disagreed with the OPA’s recent decision that facial recognition technology wasn’t definitively regulated by the ordinance, but she was bringing forth the bill to remove any doubt.

One bill on the agenda for this afternoon, which would have lifted the $4 per hour “hazard pay” requirement for grocery workers, was postponed until August 9. Councilmember Herbold, who requested the hold on behalf of Councilmember Mosqueda (who was out sick today), said that the change was in light of the new guidance from King County Public Health recommending that we continue to wear masks in indoor public spaces given the surging Delta variant of COVID-19. Councilmember Sawant supported the hold, but went on to say that she believes it’s premature to discuss lifting the hazard pay requirement; we should expect her to be a “no” vote in two weeks when the bill comes up again.

Councilmember Strauss reported that the agenda for his Land Use and Neighborhoods committee meeting Wednesday morning will include:

  • the 2022 Comprehensive Plan amendment annual docketing resolution, which lists the possible amendments up for consideration next summer (allowing time for city departments to study them and make recommendations);
  • a public hearing on a potential 2021 amendment to the Comprehensive Plan that would rename “single family” zones to “neighborhood residential”;
  • a briefing on a bill that would temporarily loosen use regulations for street-level commercial real estate, to boost downtown economic recovery;
  • a bill amending the tree protection regulations for the Yesler Terrace housing development project.

Councilmember Lewis’ Homelessness Strategies and Investments committee meets Wednesday afternoon. Lewis said this morning that the agenda would include:

  • a status update on the city’s progress in opening up about 1,600 new shelter spaces this year;
  • a bill creating a fund that can accept private contributions to support the city’s homelessness response.

Councilmember Mosqueda’s next Finance and Housing Committee meeting will be on August 3. At that meeting, the Council will take up the mid-year 2021 supplemental budget ordinance.

Councilmember Sawant’s Sustainability and Renters Rights Committee meeting scheduled for tomorrow will be rescheduled for mid-September, in addition to Sawant’s regularly-scheduled September meeting.

Councilmember Juarez announced this morning that she will be circulating a draft bill to create an indigenous advisory committee for the city.

Juarez, who sits on the Sound Transit board, also announced that next week a compromise Sound Transit realignment plan will be unveiled.

There was much talk this morning among the Councilmembers about the gun violence in the city over the weekend. She quoted SPD Chief Adrian Diaz in saying, “people armed with guns are preying on our community.” Herbold also highlighted several public-safety-related announcements from last week, including a $2 million investment in the regional Peacekeepers program (which Herbold is looking to front-load in the latter half of 2020), the delivery of $10.4 million in community public-safety investments, and a new specialized 911 “Triage 1” unit that could free up SPD officers from fielding 911 calls that don’t require an armed police response.

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