Seattle Sound Transit board members propose improvements to ST3 package

Sound Transit Board members Mayor Ed Murray and City Councilmember Rob Johnson introduced amendments to the Sound Transit 3 (ST3) plan during today’s Board meeting in conjunction with other board members around the region.  The amendments effectively expand light rail and other transit services throughout the region.

“These changes are big wins for West Seattle, Ballard, and the neighborhoods near Graham Street and North 130th Street,” said Mayor Murray. “The public told us we need more light rail connections and we want them sooner. This expanded service and shorter timelines will help Seattle grow more sustainably and affordably.”

“As a daily transit rider, I’m proud to have worked with my fellow board members to deliver more transit to Seattle residents in a faster timeline than originally proposed – all while incorporating important public feedback on lines in West Seattle and Ballard, and infill stations at Graham Street, Boeing Access Road, and N 130th Street,” said Johnson, who also chairs the City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning committee.

Murray and Johnson, joined by King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, put forward changes today that are consistent with the stated priorities of the City of Seattle:

  • Fully grade- separated light rail to West Seattle and Ballard three years sooner than the initial plan;
  • Improve access to existing or previous planned routes with new stations at Graham Street, Boeing Access Road, and N. 130th Street; and,
  • Address immediate transit needs with investments in the RapidRide C and D Lines and Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit.

“Today’s decision to expedite the Graham Street Station by five years demonstrates our commitment to social equity and investments in District 2,” said Council President Bruce Harrell, District 2 (South Seattle). “The station will serve approximately 81% of minorities living within half-a-mile of the station. This will significantly enhance access for our seniors, walkability and transit use. I am thankful for the support the community has shown for this project. If it wasn’t for them this wouldn’t have been possible.”

“ST3 is a once in-a-generation opportunity we must not take lightly,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, District 7 (Pioneer Square to Magnolia).  “Our Ballard, Magnolia and Queen Anne neighbors deserve a grade-separated alignment to keep cars, freight, transit and commuters predictably moving.”

“As a city-wide representative and West Seattle resident I am incredibly pleased with the accelerated timelines, commitment to city-wide stations and the expanded service of Rapidride lines in the interim,” said Councilmember M. Lorena González, Position 9 (Citywide).

“I’m thrilled that Sound Transit has found a way to reduce the projected timeline by 3 years to deliver light rail to WS. Additional funding for near-term C line improvements is also a welcome improvement,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold, District 1 (West Seattle).

“With full grade separation and an accelerated timeline to Ballard, I am happy to see that the ST3 package reflects what I’m hearing from Ballard, Crown Hill, Fremont, Greenwood, Green Lake and Phinney Ridge,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, District 6 (Northwest Seattle). “The draft plan remains flexible enough that if our communities continue to be united, I am confident we can make significant improvements even after the passage of ST3, in the years to come.”

The Sound Transit Board is scheduled to adopt these and other sub-area amendments at special meeting Thursday, June 2nd, and send a complete package to voters on June 23rd.  More information about Sound Transit is available online: soundtransit.org

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Mayor returns from trade mission to China and Japan

Trade mission to China & Japan

Mayor Ed Murray participated in a trade and cultural mission to China and Japan this month. The mission was part of an ongoing effort to encourage more foreign direct investment in Seattle, expand economic opportunities for local companies, and establish international partnerships. Murray joined the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Washington State China Relations Council, the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, the Port of Seattle, the University of Washington, and other local business on this trade mission to promote Seattle as a global hub for trade and innovation.

Seattle has deep cultural connections to China and Japan, and is home to thriving Chinese and Japanese communities. This trade and cultural mission reaffirms Seattle’s commitment to expanding economic opportunity and continuing cultural and educational exchanges between our countries.

Highlights from China:

  • Seattle and the City of Hangzhou signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support the promotion of technology and innovation, e-commerce, trade, economic development and life sciences. At this ceremony, Amazon China also signed an MOU with Hangzhou that will promote new opportunities for Seattle-based e-commerce companies in China.
  • Mayor Murray announced the signing of an MOU to support biomedical research and the establishment of a joint institute between the University of Washington School of Medicine and Shenzhen-based BGI, one of the world’s largest genomics organizations.
  • Mayor Murray joined Xiamen Airlines in announcing new non-stop service from Shenzhen to Seattle starting in September 2016. This new service is the result of work by the City and Port of Seattle to increase travel between the two economic hubs.
  • China’s largest residential property developer, China Vanke, announced that it will invest in a residential tower in Seattle’s downtown. This is the company’s first investment in Washington state.

Highlights from Japan

  • Mayor Murray spoke to more than 200 Japanese business leaders to promote investment and trade in Seattle at an event hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.
  • Mayor Murray committed to stronger business partnerships with Keidanren, Japan’s largest and most influential economic organization, and the Japan Association of Travel Agents.
  • Mayor Murray joined Starbucks Japan CEO Jun Sekine and Kobe Mayor Kizo Hisamoto to announce the opening of a flagship Starbucks store in Kobe’s Meriken Park. The new flagship store commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Kobe-Seattle Sister City relationship and the 50th anniversary of the Kobe-Seattle Sister Port relationship.
  • Mayor Murray visited Kobe’s Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution to discuss emergency preparedness and earthquake-grade building codes.
  • Mayor Murray and the First Gentleman met with Ms. Kanako Otsuji, Japan’s first and only openly gay member of the House of Councilors of the National Diet, and Shibuya Mayor Ken Hasebe, who led the passage of “partnership certificates” as a means to recognize same-sex marriage, to discuss LGBTQ rights and issues.

Photos from Mayor Murray’s trip available here.

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Seattle selected to join 100 Resilient Cities Network

Mayor Ed Murray welcomed Seattle’s selection into a global network of cities building urban resilience as part of the 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC). Through the partnership, Seattle will soon hire its first-ever Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), to lead the city’s efforts to build a citywide Resilience Strategy – with support from 100RC on its creation and implementation.

Selection for the 100RC Network was highly competitive. Seattle was one of only 37 cities chosen from more than 325 applicants on the basis of their willingness, ability, and need to prepare for future challenges.

“We are honored to be selected to join this important network of cities from across the globe and we look forward to partnering with 100 Resilient Cities to develop creative solutions to some of our biggest challenges including natural disasters, climate change, and inequity,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This funding, partnership, and global network will help us address the disproportionate risks for Seattle’s communities of color and residents with lower incomes, a key action of our Equity & Environmental Initiative.”

With the number of people living in urban areas rapidly increasing, the 100RC Network was established by The Rockefeller Foundation to help cities prepare for the impacts of urbanization, globalization, and climate change. As a member of the 100RC Network, Seattle will gain access to tools, funding, technical expertise, and other resources to help our city meet the challenges of the 21st century.

As part of the 100RC Network, Seattle will be eligible to receive grant funding to hire a CRO, who will lead the citywide resilience-building process. In the coming months, Mayor Murray, along with his Offices of Sustainability & Environment, Policy & Innovation, and Emergency Management, will work with stakeholders to identify and appoint the City’s Chief Resilience Officer.

“We are so proud to welcome Seattle to 100 Resilient Cities,” 100RC President Michael Berkowitz said. “We selected Seattle because of its leaders’ commitment to resilience building and the innovative and proactive way they’ve been thinking about the challenges the city faces. We’re excited to get to work.”

“For us, a resilient city has good emergency response and meets its citizens’ needs,” Berkowitz continued. “It has diverse economies and takes care of both its built and natural infrastructure. It has effective leadership, empowered stakeholders, and an integrated planning system. All of those things are essential for a resilient city.”

About 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation

100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a Resilience Strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit: www.100ResilientCities.org.

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Seattle City Light downtown power outage update

At 11:30 a.m., a significant power outage impacted about 60 percent of downtown Seattle. Seattle City Light was able to restore power to all customers by approximately 12:30 p.m.

“Thanks to the quick work of City Light crews, power was restored to downtown within about an hour,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Seattle police officers responded to manage traffic on downtown streets, and firefighters responded to calls from people stuck in elevators. Thankfully, there were no significant injuries as a result of this incident.”

Seattle City Light experienced a substation breaker operation at the Massachusetts Substation around 11:30 a.m. As a result, power was also lost at the Union Substation that also serves downtown. Seattle City Light estimates 12,000 meters lost power. Power was restored to the Massachusetts Substation by approximately 12:10 p.m. and the Union Substation by around 12:30 p.m.

Seattle City Light continues to investigate the cause of the power outage.

“City Light is forming a review team to find out what took place with today’s outage,” said Larry Weis, Seattle City Light GM/CEO. “We are committed to delivering safe and reliable power to our customers.”

The power outage knocked out building lights, traffic signals and shut down service in the Downtown Transit Tunnel. Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers were deployed to direct traffic at affected intersections. SPD received no reports of significant collisions during the incident. Downtown traffic conditions have now returned to normal.

The Seattle Fire Department (SFD) responded to 15 elevator rescues in downtown buildings.

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2016 Mayor’s Film Award Winner Announced

Mayor Ed Murray announced the 2016 recipient of the 11th annual Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film, Washington Filmworks. The award recognizes an individual or entity for exceptional work that has significantly contributed to the growth, advancement and reputation of Seattle as a filmmaking city.

“The incredible staff of Washington Filmworks dedicates their time every day to ensuring Seattle and our state are competitive locations for film productions,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “Thanks to their efforts, Seattle’s film community continues to create jobs and support our local economy.”

Washington Filmworks is the non-profit organization that manages the state film and production incentive programs. Its mission is to create economic development opportunities by building and enhancing the competitiveness, profile and sustainability of Washington’s film industry. The organization creates possibilities for local and national filmmakers, offering comprehensive production support as well as financial incentives.

“Seattle faces significant competition for film work from our neighbors to the north and south, yet Washington Filmworks works tirelessly to ensure our city and Washington State are competitive,” Kate Becker, Director of the Office of Film + Music + Special Events said.

“While Washington Filmworks is best known for offering financial assistance and production support, we are most proud of our partnership with the statewide creative community and our role in helping to build careers and make Seattle and Washington State a place for film now and in the future. We share this award with our local cast and crew, who’s passion and talent inspire the work we do every day,” said Amy Lillard, Executive Director of Washington Filmworks.

The Seattle film industry representative on the Nomination and Selection Committee chose to award Washington Filmworks this year rather than a filmmaker because of the incredible amount of energy the organization exhibited this year to support the industry.

Amy Lillard will accept the award on behalf of Washington Filmworks tonight at Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)’s Opening Night Gala at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.

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Murray praises new federal overtime rules

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after the Obama Administration issued a new rule extending overtime protections:

“Thanks to the Obama Administration, more than 75,000 additional workers all across Washington will be eligible for overtime. These workers are entitled to fair compensation for their long hours, and this new rule is a big step in the right direction. In Seattle, we adopted a $15-per-hour minimum wage, and this move at the federal level is another important piece to address income inequality and support working families.”

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City, State to begin implementing next steps for I-5 and East Duwamish Greenbelt

Mayor Ed Murray and Governor Jay Inslee are initiating next steps to improve public safety and public health in the area under I-5 and in the East Duwamish Greenbelt along the freeway in South Seattle.

“Seattle and the State of Washington will work together to address decades-old safety and public health issues under I-5,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Through a combination of outreach and services, as well as better access for first responders, we hope to transition those currently living in tents under the freeway into stable shelter, while supporting public safety in the area.”

“This is a person-centered approach with the necessary supports to shift people into more stable housing,” Inslee said. “I am pleased that the city of Seattle, King County, and the state are working together to assist those in need. The issues with the I-5 green belt are symptomatic of larger problems that we are working on with communities and partners around the state to alleviate homelessness for children, veterans, low-income workers and those with substance abuse or mental health issues.”

The City and State will take steps to: (1) transition people living in unsanctioned encampments under the freeway with meaningful offers of shelter and services; (2) clean up major health hazards, including human waste and garbage, and remove overgrown brush and other fire hazards; (3) improve access to the area for first responders and maintenance workers; and (4) engage a design consultant to make recommendations for deterring entry in dangerous locations and provide positive activation of other public areas.

Outreach teams from Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission will work for several weeks to build relationships with current occupants and offer outreach with offers of shelter and individualized services: case management, addiction treatment, housing assistance, food assistance and medical services. Mission will not be accepting funds from the City or State for outreach activities, but those contacted will have access to publicly funded shelter space, motel vouchers and travel assistance, as appropriate.

“We are encouraged to see the City and State address one of the most problematic areas in our community and look forward to partnering with them in this work,” said Jeff Lilley, president of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.  “We know many of these people by name and their unique situations. Whether someone struggles with mental illness, is in need of recovery services, qualifies for veteran’s aid, or has other challenges, we will connect them to social service providers who can best offer the help they need.”

After people have left the unsanctioned encampments, public health hazards, debris, overgrown brush, and fire hazards under the freeway will be removed by Departments of Transportation (WSDOT) and Corrections (DOC). Seattle Parks and Recreation will remove overgrown vegetation and debris from the greenbelt hillside above the freeway.

WSDOT will enhance and maintain the existing gravel roads that run alongside the freeway to improve access by first responders, maintenance workers and outreach teams.

Washington State’s 2016 Supplemental Transportation Budget allocated $1 million which will be used in all steps of the plan. Funding for outreach and services, as well as removing overgrown brush from the greenbelt, will be absorbed within existing City funding in 2016.

The City of Seattle will hire an independent consultant to engage the Seattle City Council and a diverse group of stakeholders within local government and the community to identify and recommend options for access management and future uses. The goal of access management is to allow maintenance crews and law enforcement to better serve the area, not to create an impenetrable barrier or fence. The consultant will also identify and recommend potential long-term activation strategies in areas where the space under the interstate allows for alternate uses. The state, county and city will review the final report and jointly agree on a path forward.

Seattle will spend nearly $50 million this year providing outreach, services and shelter for those experiencing homelessness, including $7 million approved following the mayor’s declaration of a State of Emergency.

On January 26, 2016, five people were shot and three killed under the freeway. A joint assessment of the area was led by Seattle Fire Chief Harold D. Scoggins. Participating agencies from the City of Seattle, King County and the State of Washington included WSDOT, Seattle Human Services Department, Public Health – Seattle & King County and other partners.

 

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Mayor Murray announces economic partnership with Hangzhou

Mayor Ed Murray  announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Seattle and the City of Hangzhou to support the promotion of technology and innovation, e-commerce, trade, economic development and life sciences.

The agreement between Seattle and Hangzhou will help companies like Amazon expand business opportunities in Hangzhou and other cities in China. It was announced during a trade mission by a delegation of Seattle-area businesses and representatives from the Washington State China Relations Council to Hangzhou.

“The Cities of Hangzhou and Seattle have evolved into global technology hubs and are home to the world’s leading e-commerce companies,” Murray said. “Through this agreement, we can focus on our shared interests and create new opportunities for economic growth and innovation that benefit both of our cities.”

Today’s agreement is one of several announced during Murray’s five-day trade mission to China. Murray was joined in Hangzhou by representatives from Amazon, Blue Nile, Costco, and the University of Washington. The visit to Hangzhou was organized by the Washington State China Relations Council. Photos of today’s signing ceremony are available here.

“These agreements not only create new economic opportunities but also strong bonds between people in both cities,” said Kristi Heim, president of the Washington State China Relations Council. “This visit to Hangzhou has raised the profile of Seattle as a leading center for innovation with great companies and institutions. We are thrilled to support this new channel for cross-border business and city-to-city collaboration.”

The trade mission is part of an ongoing effort to encourage more foreign direct investment in Seattle, expand economic opportunities for local companies, and establish international partnerships. Murray also joined the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce for visits to the cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. In Shenzhen, Murray and delegation members met with government officials and business representatives during a Seattle Day Forum. Highlights include:

  • China Vanke Co. announced its first investment in Seattle: Vanke, China’s largest real-estate developer, announced a partnership with developer Laconia on a 43-story tower planned for construction at 600 Wall Street.
  • Agreement with City of Shenzhen on medical research: Murray and Seattle trade representatives met with their Chinese counterparts in the City of Shenzhen, culminating in the signing of collaborative biomedical research agreements between the City of Seattle and Shenzhen and the University of Washington and genomics firm BGI.
  • Xiamen Airlines to offer direct service between Seattle and Shenzhen: The City of Seattle, Port of Seattle and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce announced the first U.S. service by China’s Xiamen (pronounced sha’-mun) Airlines for direct connections to Xiamen and Shenzhen with Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, beginning September 26, 2016.
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Mayor Murray statement on Obama Administration action on gender identity and school restrooms

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement on the Obama Administration actions to support transgender students’ use of school restrooms consistent with their gender identity:

“Schools should be a place where everyone is welcome, and one’s mind is free to learn and grow. Students should never live in fear because they happen to be transgender. I applaud President Obama for his continued leadership on transgender issues.”

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City to explore other options for Civic Square project

Mayor Ed Murray announced that the City will be exploring other options for the future of the Civic Square project.

In March, Triad Development, the firm under contract since 2007 to complete the project, requested that it be allowed to transfer its interest to Touchstone. The City allowed 60 days for Touchstone to refine details of the project and line up investors. Touchstone worked diligently to identify the right mix of office, residential and commercial space that would make the building, as designed, pencil out, but ultimately was unable to do so.

“Since the initial deal was made in 2007 and the design approved in 2008 – by a previous administration in a very different real estate market – a number of potential investors have studied the project with first Triad and now Touchstone,” said Mayor Murray. “I appreciate Touchstone’s efforts over the last two months. Unfortunately, no parties have been willing to commit capital to finance the project. As we look forward, we will need to diligently assess whether the project as designed is viable or whether adjustments are needed.”

Under the original agreement with Triad, the project included a mixed-use office and residential tower with retail space. The City would have owned and maintained a public plaza. The site of the former Public Safety Building directly west of Seattle City Hall is currently vacant.

“As the City explores its options for moving forward, we will not be publicly discussing contract issues,” said Fred Podesta, Finance and Administrative Services Director.

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