Mayor, officials weigh in on historic FCC votes

Today, after the FCC voted in favor of net neutrality and municipal broadband choices, Mayor Ed Murray, Councilmember Bruce Harrell and Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller issued the following statements:

“I applaud the FCC for passing the strongest net neutrality rules in Internet history, a vital decision for not only entrepreneurs, but for the future of our democracy. High-quality, high-speed Internet is essential to an open society and I thank the FCC for allowing municipalities to make local choices about how to increase competition for high-speed Internet that is appropriate for their cities.”
— Mayor Ed Murray

“This is a historic moment in preserving and protecting our right to a fast, inclusive and open Internet. The Internet is now a necessity, giving everyone a voice, access to education, and opportunity in our economy. Today’s ruling ensures a tech startup or a small business are able to compete on equal footing with larger companies by prohibiting paid prioritization and throttling of content and services.”
— Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee

“Although the decision of the FCC directly affects Tennessee and North Carolina, it sends a resounding message nationally that local choice is vital for next-generation Internet adoption. Local government knows the needs of our residents and businesses best and local officials are directly accountable to their constituents, which is why this decision is so important. It’s critical for communities to have the ability to choose the best way to provide high-quality Internet for its public. Competition benefits all members in a community and similar to any other market, high-speed broadband Internet is frequently better and cheaper when communities have choices about how that Internet service is provided. The City of Seattle commissioned a study in November to explore creation of a municipal broadband internet utility in Seattle. We look forward to receiving the results of this study in April.”
— Michael Mattmiller, Seattle’s Chief Technology Officer

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Mayor Murray unveils next steps for the arena

Arena timelineToday, we are posting a timeline for the arena permit process which illustrates the major milestones before a final decision is made by the City.

“Last month, I asked City departments to provide more insight into the permit process for the proposed arena in Sodo,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “This is a complex process spanning several years, but I want the public informed about how the process will unfold.”

State law requires that any project of this size must be thoroughly evaluated for all potential impacts through a public process, which includes analysis of traffic impacts, pedestrian safety and parking before being approved. Consistent with this requirement, the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was published on August 15, 2013.

The final EIS will be completed and published May 7, 2015.

The FEIS will include responses to comments on the draft EIS, the potential impacts of the various project alternatives and options for how to address those impacts. Evaluating a project of this size and all the potential impacts it may have on traffic (such as the possible removal or relocation of public streets), freight movement, pedestrian safety and parking requires an extensive review and analysis.

A project that involves a street vacation also requires the additional Design Commission and City Council processes after the final EIS is completed.

Since the arena proposal involves the closure of a street segment (Occidental Avenue South), it must also be reviewed by the Seattle Design Commission through the street vacation process. The Commission’s review includes assessing the function of the street system and how the street vacation impacts the remaining streets in the area. The Design Commission also evaluates the public benefits in exchange for the street closure. The Commission then provides feedback to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), which informs SDOT’s formal recommendation to City Council on whether or not to approve the street vacation. The Design Commission’s review and SDOT’s review should be done no later than the end of August 2015.

The City Council will then hold a public hearing and will deliberate at one or more meetings before making a decision. Street vacation decisions go to the City Council’s Transportation Committee and then to Full Council for a final decision.

If the City Council grants the street vacation request, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) will then publish the Master Use Permit decision for the arena, including mitigation of the impacts noted within the FEIS. Based on previous timelines for projects of this scope, the final decision for the Master Use Permit should be published in early 2016 – specifically no later than March of that year.

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Harold Scoggins nominated as Seattle Fire Chief

Scoggins

Today, Mayor Murray nominated Harold Scoggins as the next Chief of the Seattle Fire Department.

“As Seattle grows rapidly over the next 20 years, our fire service must continue to evolve to serve the city’s public safety needs,” said Murray. “Our department saves lives every day and our Medic One program remains a national leader in paramedic training for our fire fighters. Chief Scoggins has an outstanding track record and brings the right kind of experience to Seattle.”

Scoggins comes to the Seattle Fire Department from Glendale, CA. He joined the Glendale Fire Department 25 years ago as a fire fighter and rose through the ranks, serving at every level of the department. He was named chief in Glendale in 2008.

“I am honored to serve as the Fire Chief for the City of Seattle,” said Scoggins. “I look forward to working with the men and women of Seattle Fire Department to set its course for the future. My family and I are also very excited about the community and all it has to offer.”

The department currently has 80 vacancies. The mayor is directing Chief Scoggins to intensify recruitment of a diverse workforce of fire fighters, as well as ensure proper succession planning at lieutenant, captain and senior leadership positions in the department.

The Seattle Fire Department’s percentage of women fire fighters is 8.4 percent, which exceeds the national average of 3.4 percent, and the mayor is urging continued focus on the recruitment of qualified women.

“I look forward to working with Chief Scoggins, who will lead the best group of firefighters in the country – protecting us daily and providing emergency care that keeps us all safe,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee. “One critical aspect for the new Chief will be to complete implementation of the five-year strategic plan completed in 2012, setting goals for developing leadership abilities of Fire Department employees at all levels, helping employees develop and improve, health and safety, ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce, fostering community outreach and partnerships, and maintaining equipment and technology critical to the department.”

The Seattle Fire Department has more than 1,100 employees and an annual budget of $178 million. Fire fighters at 33 stations serve 640,000 residents and respond to more than 88,000 alarms each year.

Today, more than 80 percent of fire emergency responses are medical in nature, a trend that is expected to grow. In January, the department added a new aid unit downtown with 10 additional firefighters. The mayor is expecting further recommendations regarding the department’s structure from the new chief.

Scoggins served for five years as a fire fighter in the U.S. Air Force before joining the Glendale Fire Department in 1989. He was promoted to Fire Engineer in 1996, Fire Captain in 1998 and Battalion Chief in 2003. In that position, he was responsible for recruitment, hiring and training of the department’s fire fighters. In 2007, he was appointed Deputy Fire Chief, before being named Chief of the Glendale Fire Department a year later.

Scoggins is a past-president of the Los Angeles Area Fire Chief’s Association. He taught Fire Science as an adjunct professor at Mt. San Antonio College and El Camino College. He has served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, and is an active community volunteer.

Scoggins earned his associate’s degree in Fire Technology from Glendale Community College in 1994, a B.S. in Fire Administration from California State University Los Angeles in 1996 and a Master of Public Administration from California State University Long Beach in 2007.

Scoggins replaces Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean, who retired at the end of 2014 after a decade at the helm. Interim Chief Michael Walsh, who first joined the department in 1971, stepped in to fill the role for the first part of 2015.

“I certainly welcome Chief Scoggins as the new chief of the Fire Department,” said Interim Fire Chief Michael Walsh. “We pledge our full support to ensure a smooth transition.”

“We are looking forward to working with our new fire chief,” said Kenny Stuart, President of Seattle Fire Fighters Union, Local 27. “Seattle fire fighters need strong, high-quality leadership to meet the increasing challenges in today’s modern fire service, including increased call volume, a growing city, significant training demands and the constant threat of cancer and heart attacks for fire fighters.”

Chief Scoggins’ first day at the department will be April 1. He will be paid an annual salary of $205,000.

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City Adopts Privacy Principles to Protect the Public

City Council unanimously approved a resolution on Monday to provide a framework for dealing with current and future technologies that impact privacy. This is a major step with the adoption of six privacy principles guiding the actions the City will take when collecting and using information from the public. The Council also established an August 2015 reporting deadline for City departments to create a “Privacy Toolkit,” a package of actionable privacy standards to enable City departments to comply with the adopted privacy principles.

“This clear support by the Council underscores the city’s leadership in protecting the privacy of those who use City services,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This is a solid first step in our comprehensive framework to reinforce public trust, even as we continue to invest in new technologies.”

“We want to assure the public we are implementing policies to ensure the security and protection of your personal information,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee. “Seattle’s Privacy Initiative is working to strike that right balance between protecting your personal information, providing services and being transparent with the public.”

“The Privacy Principles adopted today are an important benchmark in Seattle’s innovative Digital Privacy Initiative, the first of its kind among major cities in the United States,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “In our increasingly digital age, these principles serve as a guide for our work in local government in order to help build and maintain trust with the people we represent.”

Already at the direction of Mayor Ed Murray, a City-wide team representing several departments has been examining best practices relating to data collection, use and disposal. A Privacy Advisory Committee met several times since the Initiative kicked off in November 2014, comprised of academics, practitioners, lawyers and community advocates, to provide outside expertise and advice to the City’s effort. Both groups helped create today’s approved privacy principles, which relate to the City’s collection, protection, use, retention, sharing and disposal of personal information.

View the approved Privacy Principles here. More information about the Seattle Privacy Initiative is available here.

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Murray applauds Council approval of affordable housing tax exemption change

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement upon the passage of an extension of the Multifamily Tax Exemption for developers of small apartments proposed by the Mayor’s Office:

“The council’s approval of changes to the Multifamily Tax Exemption program represents a smart improvement to a tool that helps private developers include below-market rate apartments in their projects. I’m pleased that after weeks of hard work by my office, the Office of Housing and the Council, today’s action will encourage the production of more affordable units in Seattle.”

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Murray, Godden announce Paid Parental Leave program for City of Seattle employees

Paid Parental Leave

Today, Mayor Murray and Councilmember Jean Godden announced a new paid parental leave benefit for City of Seattle employees.

Murray and Godden will introduce legislation that will provide employees access to four weeks per year of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a minor child or children. This leave would be in addition to other paid accrued leave available to City employees, such as vacation and sick leave. This benefit will be available to all regular employees six months after their hire date consistent with the City’s Family Medical Leave policy. Implementation of this new policy will be negotiated with our Labor partners, many of whom have already demonstrated their support for this benefit.

“The United States is only developed nation in the world without a statutory right to paid parental leave,” Murray said. “The City of Seattle is proud to not only lead the region by adding a four week benefit for City employees, but I hope this is yet another way Seattle leads the nation.”

“Providing paid time off for working parents to care for a new child allows time to create and strengthen bonds between the child and parents easing the transition to a larger family,” Murray said.

“Paid parental leave is good for our workers, good for our children and good for our economy. It is an important step towards creating a workplace which supports all employees, especially women, and is fundamental to the gender equity policies that Seattle– and the nation — have long needed,” said Councilmember Godden, Chair of the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries, and Gender Pay Equity Committee.

In implementing a Paid Parental Leave policy, the City of Seattle continues its history of leading the region and nation for employee benefits. The Mayor’s first executive order was to raise the minimum wage for City of Seattle employees to $15.00 per hour. The City was among the first employers in the region to offer domestic partnership benefits. Beginning in 2004, the City recognized marriage for same-gender employees well before Washington State recognized marriage between two women or two men. The City passed a paid sick leave ordinance in 2012 requiring most employers to offer their employees paid sick leave.

Based on the number of new parents in 2011 and 2012, the new Paid Parental Leave could cost the City up to $1.35 million annually. Legislation will be drafted in the next few weeks, and the City will continue to work with the labor organizations who represent City employees to implement this benefit. More information is available on our Frequently Asked Questions document.

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Seattle’s sixth parklet opens in Uptown; More parklets and ‘streateries’ sidewalk cafes coming

parket

Today, the City of Seattle announced the launch of the next phase of the Parklet Program at the opening of Seattle’s sixth parklet in the Uptown neighborhood. These small public spaces along city streets will be coming to more neighborhoods, and the city will begin partnering with restaurants to launch a new type of sidewalk cafe called “streateries” in Seattle.

Mayor Murray joined members of the Uptown Alliance, KEXP, SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) and neighborhood residents to celebrate the opening of a new public space next to SIFF Cinema. A former parking spot, the Uptown parklet features colorful seating and fencing, a mini library and bike parking. Hosted by the Uptown Alliance, the parklet was funded by private donations and will be maintained by the community.

“Neighbors love parklets because they contribute to a vibrant, active street scene,” said Murray. “We look forward to seeing more of these community gathering spots throughout the city.”

During Seattle’s 18-month Pilot Parklet Program managed by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) the public response to parklets, as well as the department’s evaluation of these spaces, indicates overwhelming support for the program. As of today, the program will transition out of its pilot phase and into a permanent, ongoing initiative. The City will be accepting new applications for parklets through March 20.

Murray also announced a new Streateries pilot program that will be managed by SDOT. Streateries are like parklets except the sponsoring restaurant or bar can operate the space as a sidewalk café, providing space exclusively for their customers during their open hours of business. When the bar or restaurant is closed, the space will function as a parklet, open to everyone.

“Many restaurants want to open a sidewalk café, but just don’t have enough sidewalk to do it,” said Murray. “This new concept will support neighborhood businesses and add another interesting element to our street scene.”

SDOT will approve applications for up to 15 streateries under the pilot program. The sponsoring businesses will construct and maintain the area, and provide table service during their open hours. Applications for streateries are also due on March 20.

“Our Parklet Program has enhanced public space in Seattle by successfully partnering with the private sector,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “Through our pilot Streateries Program, we will explore another potential partnership tool for supporting neighborhoods and their business districts.”

More information about the Parklet Program and the Streateries Pilot Program, including a new handbook with detailed information about the application process, is available at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/parklets.htm.

The public is encouraged to share their comments on the program by emailing parklets@seattle.gov or writing to:  Seattle Department of Transportation, Attn: Public Space Management Program, PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA 98124-4996.

Press event video:

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Mayor Murray seeking board members for Seattle Fire Code Advisory Board

Mayor Murray is seeking board members for the Seattle Fire Code Advisory Board to represent major institutions (including hospitals and universities), or manufacturing/warehousing, or the services industry (including nightclubs, entertainment, and retail).  Board members are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council. They advise the City on updates and revisions to the fire code and have played a crucial role in ensuring it works for those who live, visit and conduct business in Seattle. This is a rewarding professional role and we look forward to hearing from you.

To apply, please send your resume and a cover letter indicating why you would like to join the Board by March 20, 2015, to Karen Grove in the Seattle Fire Marshal’s Office at karen.grove@seattle.gov or 206-386-1451, or visit the Fire Code Advisory Board website.

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Mayor Murray nominates Catherine Lester as Director of HSD

Catherine Lester

Mayor Murray today nominated Catherine Lester as Director of the Seattle Human Services Department.

Lester, who has a long career working in human and social services is currently HSD’s Deputy Director, and will take over for John Okamoto, who Mayor Murray appointed as acting director in 2014.

“Catherine is a committed leader and innovative thinker, and we are lucky to have her,” Murray said. “Her leadership will be effective in getting our resources to the people who need them most in our community – those who are homeless, youth looking for summer jobs and survivors of domestic violence.”

“I am excited to serve as the leader of the Human Services Department.  I am humbled by the commitment and passion demonstrated day in and day out by both the staff in this department, and the network of local service providers,” Lester said.

“The question is not whether or not we can afford to invest in our most vulnerable neighbors and communities; it is whether we can afford not to.  I look forward to continuing to partner with staff and providers to make sure that everyone in Seattle can enjoy the quality of life we all desire,” she said.

“Catherine is the perfect choice to lead this Department. She has been the architect and driver of the Department’s efforts to be results and data-driven – getting the most out of our public investments focused on disparities,” said acting director John Okamoto.

“Catherine understands and knows our robust network of service providers.   She is nationally recognized for her work, and she has the confidence of the employees of the Department.  I am very pleased to hand over leadership to her,” Okamoto said.

Okamoto will remain at HSD as a special projects consultant, assisting with the transition and providing strategic guidance over several projects, including the homeless investment analysis.

Lester previously served as Acting Director of HSD from 2013-2014 during the transition between the Mayoral administrations, and was also Deputy Director of HSD between 2011-2013. Prior to coming to Seattle, she was Director of Cuyahoga Tapestry System of Care at Cuyahoga County’s Office of Health and Human Services in Ohio. Through her leadership in this role, child welfare recidivism improved and a new Continuous Quality Improvement process was implemented to maximize performance-based contracting for the county. Lester has a Master’s of Science degree in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Ryerson University. She is also a 2013-2014 Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Families Fellow, a nationally-recognized leadership development program focused on systemic changes to improve the lives of children and families in the United States.

HSD’s mission is to provide assistance to some of the most vulnerable individuals living in the city so that children, youth, and families can thrive. HSD will invest nearly $37 million this year on services and programs to help prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless as well as to help people who are homeless find stability and permanent housing. This year’s One Night Count saw a 21% increase of unsheltered homeless people in Seattle compared to last year, and under Lester’s leadership, Mayor Murray has set expectations for HSD to focus on data-driven and outcomes-based efforts to better align the city’s homelessness investments with innovative principles such as housing first and rapid re-housing strategies.

“As Seattle continues its generous investment in our community, it is important that our dollars produce outcomes for the clients of our many government, religious and non-profit programs,” Murray said.

The Seattle Human Services Department is one of the largest contributors to Seattle’s safety net, and provides $99 million in funding through 522 contracts to nearly 200 agencies that support Seattle’s most vulnerable residents each year.

HSD has an annual budget of $129 million and 320 full-time employees. Catherine will start effective Feb. 18, and her salary will be $151,000 per year.

Video of the press conference

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Murray salutes Councilmember Clark

Mayor Murray today issued the following statement after Councilmember Sally Clark announced that she will not run for re-election:                             

Clark2014_thumb“Councilmember Clark is the best kind policymaker, a leader who will dig deep into issues to bring clarity to the opaque. She often plays the role of pathfinder, helping find the common ground to move legislation forward. She has a long history as an effective leader in the LGBT community and has served Seattle for years in many roles in City government. As a strong advocate for neighborhoods, she has helped create vibrant communities where families thrive. This coming year, we will implement solutions to make housing more affordable in Seattle and I know her leadership will be a key element of our success. On a personal note, I’m going to miss her sharp wit, which brings the right note of levity at the perfect moment in a long meeting.”

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