Seattle invests $22 million in affordable housing

Seattle invests $22 million in affordable housing

Today, Mayor Murray announced $22 million for the development and preservation of affordable housing in Seattle. The long-term loans through the Office of Housing will support the City’s priorities of reducing homelessness, supporting transit-oriented development and providing options for families of all incomes to live in Seattle.

“Through our partnerships with the non-profit community, we are building a better reality for hundreds of families and individuals,” said Murray. “Today we’re taking another step to reduce homelessness that is a biting reality on our sidewalks and we’re making families’ dreams of affordable homes come true.”

The $22 million announced today will be loaned to housing developers to build and preserve rent- and income-restricted apartments affordable to our city’s low-income residents:

  • Mercy Othello Plaza: Mercy Housing’s project at the Othello light rail station will house 108 low-income families in a mix of units, including 62 two and three bedroom apartments. ($8.5 million in City funding)
  • 7th and Cherry: Plymouth Housing Group will provide 77 homes for chronically homeless individuals with on-site supportive services. ($7.3 million in City funding)
  • University Commons: Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) will build homes for 48 low-income and homeless neighbors, including 20 units designated for homeless young adults. ($3.2 million in City funding)
  • Lyon Building: DESC will provide much needed safety and health improvements to this historic building which currently houses 64 formerly homeless individuals. ($1.7 million in City funding)
  • Aloha Inn: Catholic Housing Services will make vital improvements to the building as well as critical health renovations to this transitional housing building, which has capacity for 66 homeless individuals. ($1.3 million in City funding)
University Commons

University Commons: Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) will build homes for 48 low-income and homeless neighbors, including 20 units designated for homeless young adults. The project is receiving $3.2 million in City funding.

“By creating 363 new homes, this investment will improve the lives of families, individuals and young adults across our City,” said Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark. “Today we celebrate these new homes, while we continue to work on additional tools and to plan for affordability.”

“In the 30 years since the passage of the first housing bond, the Office of Housing has invested more than $400 million in the creation and preservation of nearly 12,000 units of affordable housing,” stated Steve Walker, director of the Office of Housing. “The 363 apartments we are investing in today ensure affordability for at least 50 years. This is a huge win not just for today, but for future generations.”

The investments announced today come primarily from the Seattle Housing Levy ($14.4 million), with additional funds coming from payments to the City through the Incentive Zoning Program ($3.8 million) and federal and other City funds ($4.2 million). City funds for these projects are leveraged with state, federal and private investments to create the greatest impact possible.

“The City is not only a funder, but an amazing partner to ensure that nonprofit organizations like ours can continue to provide homes for our community’s most vulnerable populations,” stated Sharon Lee, executive director of LIHI. “Everyone deserves a stable and affordable home, and University Commons will now be a part of that vision. We are also thrilled to include new space for the University District Food Bank in our project.”

“We want to keep Seattle a place where families of all incomes can thrive, said Bill Rumpf, President of Mercy Housing Northwest.  “Mercy Othello Plaza will provide affordable housing for more than 100 families, and the location near light rail provides great access to jobs and educational opportunities.”

“Few people in our community take housing for granted anymore, but for over 2,000 people in Seattle just having a roof over their head is a dream,” stated Paul Lambros, director of Plymouth Housing Group. “The new 7th and Cherry building will provide homes for 77 of your neighbors that have been chronically homeless, giving them the stability they deserve.”

The Seattle Office of Housing provides support to low-income residents in Seattle through rental housing preservation and production, home buyer assistance, free weatherization services and home repair loans. For more information: www.seattle.gov/housing.

Mayor signs city budget

Mayor signs 2015 budget

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement when he signed the City of Seattle’s 2015-2016 budget today:

“I’m pleased to sign this city budget. While no budget can be perfect given our limited resources, this effort is the result of a collaborative process with the City Council. When I sent the council my budget, I knew they would make meaningful improvements to my proposal. I appreciate the thoughtful approach councilmembers have taken this year.

This budget makes a significant investment in public safety, providing funding for new officers to augment community policing efforts and a new aid car to respond to health emergencies.

We’re funding our new Office of Labor Standards that will protect workers and enforce our city’s progressive wage and benefit rules. And our new Priority Hire program will provide more opportunities for area residents to enter a career in the trades as they work on public construction projects.

Our transportation budget does more to focus on delivering more of what city residents expect: street paving, sidewalks and bike routes. Voters stepped up in November to invest in transit, and we will work with Metro to address overcrowding and delays on bus routes throughout the city.

I believe that the Seattle Preschool Program, implemented through our new Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning, will literally change the lives of hundreds and soon thousands of kids all across this city. We are working collaboratively with Seattle Public Schools and diverse community representatives to develop our implementation plan, which we will deliver to the council in February.

This budget makes compassionate investments in human services for victims of domestic violence, people living on our streets and those struggling with hunger. We will continue to look at how we can continue to address these immediate needs while finding pathways out of poverty, homelessness and violence.

Moving forward, we will continue to implement my vision for performance management of our city’s services. Seattle residents want to know that we are measuring outcomes, getting value for our investments and making data-driven decisions that improve our programs.

Mayor’s Office circulates draft medical marijuana ordinance

After extensive conversations with medical marijuana dispensaries, patient advocates, health care providers and community interests, Mayor Ed Murray’s Office of Policy and Innovation has drafted a proposed ordinance that would govern the production and sale of medical marijuana products in the City of Seattle.

“We want to strike the balance of protecting patients, ensuring access to medical marijuana and responding to concerns about the location and density of dispensaries,” said Murray. “We know the state legislature will be considering bills this session, but in the absence of a state framework, Seattle must act.”

The state Liquor Control Board (LCB) regulates the production and sale of recreational marijuana, but there are not similar regulations for medical marijuana. Even if the legislature addresses the disparity in the 2015 legislative session, a new system regulating medical marijuana is unlikely to be in place until 2016.

Councilmember Nick Licata, who spoke at last week’s Medical Marijuana Symposium added, “I look forward to reviewing the Mayor’s proposed ordinance and working with patients, industry representatives, and community members to pass legislation that addresses concerns being addressed to my office.”

Dispensaries and patients continue to express concerns that without a more solid regulatory framework, the city’s medical marijuana patients and providers remain at risk for stepped-up federal law enforcement.

In the draft ordinance announced today, the Mayor’s Office is proposing a regulatory license for medical marijuana collective gardens and processors. The license requires a criminal background check for operators. Collective gardens would be required to validate authorizations for medical marijuana with the issuing health care provider. The license also requires testing of marijuana for THC levels, molds, pesticides and other impurities.

The ordinance would require dispensaries to be 500 feet from child care centers, schools, parks and similar facilities. To avoid concentration of dispensaries, collective gardens with storefronts must also be 1000 feet from other storefront collective gardens.

Only collective gardens with storefront locations would be allowed to offer delivery services to qualifying patients. To protect unintended use by juveniles, marijuana edibles would face packaging restrictions that prevent the use of cartoon characters or mimic known brands.

Collective gardens with a limited membership and no storefront would also be subject to the regulatory license. These operations, however, would not be subject to the same zoning or testing requirements as collective gardens with storefronts.

All recreational marijuana businesses licensed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board would be required to obtain a regulatory license. However, no new regulations will pertain to these operations as they are already highly regulated.

Penalties for violations of the ordinance could include license suspension or revocation, and fines from $500 to $2000 for repeat violations within a one year period. Distributing marijuana to minors and adults without valid authorization would incur heavy civil penalties. In addition, there will be penalties for operating as a collective garden or processor without a regulatory license.

“The City of Seattle has always been forward-looking on this issue. I applaud the city on its efforts and this proposed ordinance is definitely step in the right direction — a step towards regulation,” said John Davis of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics.

Mayor Ed Murray has directed his staff to continue to reach out to community interests to refine this draft in the coming days. Written comments can be submitted at www.seattle.gov/mayor.

Murray intends to send a proposed ordinance to the City Council by the end of the year.

Mayor Murray Pardons Tofurky and Challenges City Council to Food Drive

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Pardons Tofurky

Today Mayor Murray pardoned Braeburn the Tofurky and challenged the Seattle City Council to a food drive.

“I, Mayor Murray, pardon Braeburn the Tofurky,” the mayor proclaimed in the atrium of Seattle City Hall.

Braeburn the Tofurky will live out its natural life at the Rainier Valley Food Bank, the beneficiary of the food drive between Seattle City Council and the Mayor’s Office. Braeburn will be joined by his understudy, Honeycrisp.

The Mayor’s and City Council’s offices have until December 12, 2014 to collect non-perishable donations.  The team that collects the most food shall have doughnuts delivered by the losing team by either Mayor Murray or Council President Tim Burgess.

Braeburn and Honeycrisp were named after popular Washington State apples.

 

Mayor Ed Murray: Zoo is Making the Right Decision to Find a New Home for the Elephants

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement about the Woodland Park Zoo’s decision to find a new home for the elephants:

The zoo board is making the right decision to find a new home for Woodland Park’s elephants, one with more habitat and an interesting social environment. I know this was not an easy decision for the zoo’s senior leaders and the dedicated staff who care for these animals. My concern remains that we must find the best possible facility for Chai and Bamboo, and I believe this decision is a step in the right direction.

 

Seattle charts path to September launch of Preschool Program

Seattle Preschool Program implementation

Mayor Murray, joined by Councilmember Tim Burgess and Superintendent Larry Nyland, today announced the path forward for Seattle’s new voter-approved public preschool program. A blueprint for implementing the program will be delivered to the City Council by February 23rd, and the first cohort of three- and four-year-olds will enter classrooms in September.

“Voters recognized that a stronger educational system in Seattle depends on quality preschool that prepares children for success in elementary school,” said Murray. “The program we’re developing will support equity across the city and set its sights on reducing the dramatic opportunity gap between students of color and white kids that persists in Seattle schools.”

The Seattle Preschool Program will be developed using best educational practices. Research shows that age appropriate preschool leads to better outcomes in 4th grade reading and in high school graduation rates. In one study, Chicago children who attended a pre-k program were 29 percent more likely to graduate from high school than their peers who did not have quality preschool.

“This high-quality program will deliver small class sizes; play-based, research-based and age-appropriate instruction; and more support, training and compensation for preschool teachers,” said Council President Tim Burgess. “We focus on quality because only quality preschool delivers long-term results for all our littlest learners.”

A dramatic opportunity gap between white students and students of color persists in Seattle – a 30% gap in reading achievement and 36% gap in math, according to statistics released by Seattle Public Schools this week. African-American students continue to be expelled or suspended at four times the rate of white and Asian students. And Native American kids are nearly three times as likely to be enrolled in special education services.

The Seattle Preschool Program will be developed in collaboration with Seattle Public Schools. The aim is to create a smooth transition from preschool to elementary, as teachers communicate about children’s progress and needs as they transition to kindergarten.

“We look forward to working with our partners from the City of Seattle to increase access to quality preschool programs,” said Dr. Larry Nyland, Seattle Public Schools interim superintendent. “The city’s collaborative approach with the District and community is appreciated as we support school readiness with our youngest learners.”

Today, Murray named Erin Okuno, Executive Director, Southeast Seattle Education Coalition, and Kevin Washington, Chair of the Board of Directors, Thrive By Five, as co-chairs of an advisory group that will help develop the program. The group will be made up of pre-school educators, parents, K-12 and higher education representatives, labor and community leaders to be named in coming days.

Seattle residents are invited to six meetings to provide feedback on several elements of the program:

Family Engagement
Sat, Nov. 22, 2014 – 10am to 12:30pm
Langston Hughes
104 17th Ave S, Seattle
Curriculum
Sat, Dec. 6, 2014 – 10am to 12:30pm
Youngstown
4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle
Dual Language Programs
Sat, Nov. 22, 2014 – 2pm to 4:30pm
Langston Hughes
104 17th Ave S, Seattle
Teacher Training & Coaching
Sat, Dec. 6, 2014 – 2pm to 4:30pm
Youngstown
4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle
Teacher Pathways to Certification
Tue, Dec. 2, 2014 – 6pm to 8:30pm
New Holly
7054 32nd Ave S, Seattle
Provider Contracting & Enrollment
Wed, Dec. 10, 2014 – 3pm to 5:30pm
Phinney Center
6532 Phinney Ave N, Seattle

For more information, visit www.seattle.gov/education.

Mayor Murray announces symposium on medical marijuana, law enforcement

Medical Marijuana SymposiumRegulation of medical marijuana businesses in Seattle and in jurisdictions across the state remains an unsettled question, generating increasing fears among patients and business owners about the potential for stepped-up federal law enforcement.

The City of Seattle will hold a public symposium on Nov. 20 at City Hall for those concerned about access to safe medical marijuana and the location of marijuana-related businesses in the city.

Mayor Ed Murray has been working with community interests and the City Council on legislation to increase protections for medical marijuana patients and establish a common-sense regulatory framework to govern where and how these businesses operate in Seattle. The mayor plans to transmit a draft ordinance to the council by the end of the year.

“We are still looking to Olympia to enact broad medical marijuana reform next session, but we need to take action here in Seattle to address immediate concerns of patients, businesses and neighbors,” said Murray. “Even if the state acts, we know implementation could stretch into 2016. We don’t want patients and businesses waiting in limbo, even as they face increasing legal risks.”

Next week’s symposium will feature panel discussions on a range of issues where medical marijuana businesses face a much more uncertain regulatory landscape than recreational marijuana operations governed by the state’s Liquor Control Board, including:

  • Testing of marijuana products for purity and strength
  • Best practices for manufacturing marijuana-infused products
  • Packaging and labeling requirements
  • The location of dispensaries and collective gardens

The event will also feature a broader discussion of the disproportionate impact that marijuana criminal statutes and law enforcement have on youth and people of color.

The panels will feature patient advocates and medical providers, marijuana business representatives, testing providers, community representatives and city agency leaders. The symposium will be convened by Patricia Lally, Director of the Office of Civil Rights, who will offer introductory remarks.

The symposium will be held in the Bertha Knight Landes Room at City Hall on Thursday, Nov. 20 from 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The public are encouraged to attend and ask questions of the panelists. Those unable to attend may submit questions through the Mayor’s website: www.seattle.gov/mayor.

Murray announces funding for Duwamish River community projects

Mayor Murray today announced $250,000 in awards for nine local micro-projects along the Duwamish River as a result of the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund. The projects, while small in scale, will work to advance the environmental quality of the area and public health of people living near the river.

“The City of Seattle is honored to support these community-based projects,” said Murray. “This funding will benefit the people and businesses along the Duwamish River. We selected projects that support the quality of life in neighborhoods affected by the cleanup.”

The awards are:

  • $15,000 to the South Park Area Redevelopment Committee and South Park Senior Citizens to develop more stable food sources for the Senior Center Meal Program.
  • $21,000 to Duwamish Tribal Services to educate tribal members on harvesting, preparation and cultural practices surrounding traditional foods.
  • $10,000 to the Duwamish Rowing Club to support opportunities to make rowing on the Duwamish River a part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • $39,000 to Urban Systems Design to implement a job training program that increases green infrastructure and open spaces in the Duwamish Valley.
  • $29,000 to Just Health Action to work with Vietnamese fishers on alternatives to fishing in the Duwamish River that supports food security and their spiritual and cultural beliefs.
  • $12,500 to Feet First to work with community members on improving access for pedestrians in neighborhoods near the river.
  • $61,500 to the Washington State Dept. of Veterans Affairs for a tree-planting pilot project that will support jobs for veterans and increase tree canopy along the river.
  • $22,000 to the Georgetown Arts & Cultural Center to establish a community garden that will improve access to fresh and healthy food.
  • $40,000 to the Friends of 8th Avenue South Trail to improve safety and connectivity of the Duwamish Bikeway.

A review team representing neighborhoods along the Duwamish River, as well as public health and environmental advocates, scored 16 submitted projects seeking more than $378,000 from the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund.

Mayor, Executive, Council celebrate transit, announce bus service agreement

Metro bus service agreement

The day after voters approved the largest expansion of bus service in Seattle since the Great Recession, Mayor Ed Murray, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen celebrated the victory and announced the framework of an agreement on transit funding and service delivery between Seattle and King County.

“As the fastest growing city in America, these investments are a huge step forward,” said Murray. “With this accountability agreement with the county, Seattle residents will know that they are getting value for their investment in Metro service.”

“The message from voters is clear: Seattle riders value Metro Transit, and with this vote, Metro will have the means to deliver more transit for the people of Seattle,” said Constantine, who in May created the program for cities to purchase bus service through Community Mobility Contracts.

The funding approved by voters will make key routes in Seattle less crowded, more reliable, and more convenient. A full service plan will be made available in the spring. As expanded service rolls out in June and September of 2015, Metro will:

  • Add new buses to all 16 Seattle routes that are chronically overcrowded
  • Fix the schedules of all 48 routes that are chronically unreliable
  • Add frequency to 28 high-demand routes

“With these investments Seattle will have the best bus service in the history of our city,” said Rasmussen. “I’m grateful to the voters for approving this much needed expansion and can’t wait for the new service to start.”

Today, the City of Seattle and King County announced the elements of a proposed Community Mobility Contract to govern Seattle’s investment in bus service improvements and ensure accountability. The agreement will be submitted for approval to the City and County Councils by the end of the year.

The proposed agreement will:

  • Require robust ridership and performance data reporting by Metro
  • Allow independent third-party audits of Metro’s cost allocation process and service data
  • Reduce City responsibility for county administrative overhead
  • Credit Seattle for higher fare box revenue produced on city trolleybus routes
  • Pay only the annual share of new buses required for increased service
  • Protect against supplanting

A new operating reserve fund will reduce the likelihood of cuts in service in Seattle if system revenues fall as a result a future economic downturn. Each year, $3.5 million will be added to the fund for future needs.

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s new Transit Division will provide additional oversight to ensure that Seattle’s investments are supporting improved service on the city’s highest-priority routes.

In October, SDOT began rolling out a series of other transit-related investments that will help speed bus riders to their destinations. The city is making additional infrastructure investments to support the efficiency of the system, including:

  • New bus lanes and extended bus lane hours;
  • More red-painted transit lanes to help educate car drivers;
  • New bus-only signals and signal upgrades;
  • Real-time arrival information so that riders can plan their journeys.

“I don’t have a car, so I depend on transit to go shopping, get to the doctor and visit friends and family,” said Marci Carpenter, a transit advocate and frequent bus rider.  “Nobody likes to wait in the rain for a bus only to have it pass you by because it’s overcrowded. For me, more frequent, reliable bus service from West Seattle is going to make it easier and more affordable to live in the city.”

Mayor Murray applauds passage of I-594

Mayor Murray released the following statement on the passage of Initiative 594:

“Today, Washington has made a significant commitment to gun safety for all. States with universal background checks have fewer women killed in domestic violence situations, fewer law enforcement officers shot and fewer firearm suicides.

As the first state to pass this by popular vote, Washington has sent a message of hope to other states that progress is possible. We can act to prevent gun violence. We can save lives.

Our goal has never been about finding a single solution that will end gun violence once and for all. Instead, our goal has been to enact a sound system of commonsense rules that can, by working in concert, make an enormous difference.

This includes creating a more responsible culture around gun sales – which closing the background check loophole will help us achieve. It’s not the final answer to the challenge we face with gun violence. There are many more steps we can take and will take.

But there is no question that, today, Washington voted to create a safer environment in every community throughout this great state.”