Notes from today’s Council’s meetings

It was a busy day for the Council; here’s what went down.

This afternoon, the City Council lifted restrictions on $30 million allocated for the Mayor’s Equitable Communities Initiative, following on the ECI task force’s recommendations for how the money should be spent.

The Council also approved a funding bill for the “Seattle Rescue Plan 2,” $52.2 million of federal ARPA funding designated to specific programs. The third tranche of the city’s ARPA funding will be allocated in this fall’s deliberations on the 2022 budget.

Also, the Council approved naming the new Northgate pedestrian/bike bridge over I-5 the “John Lewis Memorial Bridge.”

And it authorized the city to sign a lease with Sound Transit for a property in the University District that will be used to site a tiny home village. Councilmember Lewis noted this morning that Sound Transit has identified three other properties that it believes would be appropriate for other tiny home villages, which presents hope that more sites could be set up quickly.

The Council additionally passed a pair of resolutions to beginning the process of setting up a Business Improvement Area for the 15th Avenue E. area in Capitol Hill. Councilmember Morales, who is sponsoring the effort, said this morning that she hopes to run through the entire BIA-formation process before the budget season starts in late September: a public hearing on September 8th, a committee vote on September 21th, and full Council approval on September 27th.

Councilmember Sawant pushed through a resolution this afternoon indicating the Council’s support for funding an affordable housing project proposed by the New Hope Community Development Institute. The resolution calls out an ugly chapter in Seattle’s history, when in 1959 the City Council declared a 340-acre section of the Central Area to be a “blighted area” and authorized an “urban renewal project” with the specific goal of relocating out of the area those deemed problematic or less desirable and moving more white people in. As part of that effort, the city forced the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church to sell property to the city at below-market prices, under threat that the property would be condemned otherwise. The heart of the resolution calls for the city to right this wrong by funding the church’s family housing project. But as is typical with bills from Sawant’s office, it’s poorly written with a hodge-podge of other Sawant pet issues rolled in — including committing to additional taxes on “big business.” Despite the issues with the resolution, the Council approved it 8-0, with no amendments offered to try to clean it up.

Councilmember Mosqueda’s bill lifting the “hazard pay” requirement for Seattle grocery workers was removed from this afternoon’s agenda at Mosqueda’s request and will be held until September 13th. She cited the rise of the delta variant of COVID-19 and the latest guidance from the CDC that masks should be worn indoors as evidence that it would be premature to lift the pay mandate now.

Councilmember Herbold noted that while her committee meeting tomorrow morning will host a discussion of SPD’s proposal for how to spend most of the anticipated $15 million in salary savings this year due to higher than projected attrition, any action taken on those requests will be handled in Mosqueda’s finance committee where the Council is currently working on its midyear supplemental budget ordinance.

This morning Councilmember Lewis previewed his homelessness committee meeting scheduled for this Wednesday afternoon. Officially, there is just one item on the agenda: a panel discussion with representatives from various homeless services providers to discuss ongoing concerns about capacity limits of those providers and whether those limits will become impediments to the expansion of services that the Council has funded. Lewis said that he is also trying to arrange for an additional agenda item: an update from the Human Services Department on some of the issues that arose in their last meeting related to delays in moving Council-funded programs and investments forward this year. Lewis also noted this morning that he has received a commitment from the Mayor’s Office with at least the pre-development and RFQ for the three new tiny home villages that the Council funded earlier this year, despite some confusion as to whether they are fully funded.

Councilmember Mosqueda announced this morning that her next committee meeting will be on August 17th, and will include:

  • a briefing on the city revenue forecast;
  • a possible vote on the midyear supplemental budget ordinance;
  • a vote on a pending bill related to extending deadlines for the MFTE program.

Mosqueda also said that she is scheduling committee meetings from September 10th and 17th in order to wrap up business before the 2022 budget process begins.

Councilmember Sawant announced that she is scheduling two committee meetings for next month: September 21st and September 23rd.

Councilmember Morales mentioned this morning that the Office for Civil Rights is staffing up a new division that will manage the $30 million participatory budgeting program funded by the City Council. The department has launched a new web site with information about the program. SOCR has posted three open positions that it is currently hiring for, to initially staff the division.

Finally, Councilmember Herbold announced this morning that she, the city’s HR department, and the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission have received a whistleblower complaint from a supervisor inside the Office of the Inspector General for Public Safety. SCC Insight will not be reporting on this story due to a conflict of interest, but you are encouraged to read more about the situation at the South Seattle Emerald, which has an in-depth story on the complaint.

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  1. I think the new BIA proposal is for 15th Ave. E. on Capitol Hill, not the University District.

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