Mayor Introduces Legislation to Create New Licenses for Marijuana Businesses

Mayor Ed Murray today unveiled new legislation for the marijuana industry. The proposal addresses the rise of the unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries and creates a path for dispensaries to join the fully licensed and legal marketplace.

“We’re strengthening the recreational marijuana market and creating safer, more consistent access for those who rely on medicinal products,” said Murray. “Medical marijuana patients live with debilitating and frequently life threatening conditions, that’s why it’s so important to bring medical dispensaries into the fold by July 2016. This will expand the legal market and ensure that products are sold with the best medical and state retail standards.”

Since the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012, Seattle has seen the number of unregulated medical marijuana establishments double to nearly 100.

The State Legislature recently addressed the legal questions surrounding services and products being sold. The Mayor’s proposal allows the City to follow state regulations more closely by granting a new regulatory license to existing Initiative 502 businesses. The proposal also creates a path forward for medical marijuana dispensaries to follow enforcement guidelines and continue operations until they are able to receive state licenses in 2016.

“I am committed to work with the Mayor and his executive departments to implement these proposals using civil remedies and regulatory enforcement rather than criminal law enforcement wherever possible,” said City Attorney Pete Holmes. “I support using whatever tools are necessary to get the job done, but I hope and believe that civil regulatory enforcement will be most effective in bringing all Seattle marijuana producers, processors, and retailers into I-502’s system by July 2016, and in most cases well before then.”

The proposal establishes a tiered enforcement plan that favors civil action over criminal prosecution. The enforcement plan prioritizes the prevention of sales to people under the age of 21 and non-qualifying patients, and bans marketing products that appeal to children.

“This legislation will help secure safe, consistent quality medical marijuana for patients,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “It moves us toward an enforceable and fair regulated delivery system for both medical and recreational marijuana.”

Currently, medical marijuana dispensaries operate entirely outside of regulation. Under this proposed framework, the regulation of marijuana dispensaries will no longer be dependent on law enforcement alone. Many of these new policies will help normalize the marijuana industry as it joins mainstream businesses already operating in the City of Seattle.

“The C.C.S.E. and the C.P.C. have focused on standards and ethics in the Cannabis industry since their inceptions,” said Jeremy Kaufman, founder of the Center of Palliative Care and chairperson of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics. “Our organizations have always advocated for patients to have access to quality dispensaries and we want operators to conduct business without fear of criminal prosecution. Medical cannabis is undergoing a transition in Washington that will clarify its status.  Creating clarity is a complex process and this transition for medical cannabis is the next step in that process for Seattle and our local Cannabis industry.”

“As a licensed retailer opening a recreational store in Seattle I applaud the City of Seattle for moving forward on important legislation that will allow responsible adults to use marijuana recreationally and ensure that medical patients have access to quality-controlled products, while protecting public safety and our quality of life,” said John Branch, a member of the Washington Cannabusiness Association and owner of Ponder, opening at 24th and Union.

The proposal will be transmitted to City Council in June. More information is available on the FAQ page and Proposal Summary page.  

Murray statement on recent Port action

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after today’s meeting of the Port of Seattle Commission:

“I commend the Port Commission for deciding that the arrival of an off-shore drilling rig should be delayed until the proper permits are in place. I now hope Shell will respect the wishes of the Port, the City and the community at large, and not bring an off-shore drilling rig into Elliott Bay.”

Mayor Proposes Stricter Ethics and Elections Rules

Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen proposed legislation today that would strengthen election and ethics rules. The legislation amends existing law to explicitly prohibit campaign activities at, or adjacent to, official City sponsored events.

“City Hall should be – and is – a forum for ideas and civic conversation, but taxpayer-funded events should never supplement or support outside campaign activities,” said Mayor Murray. “We need to ensure public resources are not being used for political purposes. Electioneering and fundraising have no place at, or during, City-sponsored events.”

The existing ethics rules currently prohibit the use of City stationery, postage, vehicles, equipment, and staff for election purposes. The proposal would further clarify the rule by explicitly prohibiting an elected official, or their representatives, to engage in campaign activities at or nearby any official City event that was organized by that elected official or their City staff.

“This is common sense legislation,” said Rasmussen, the bill’s Council sponsor. “Campaign activities must be separate from official public activities that are organized by City staff and paid for by the taxpayers. We need to make that clear in our Ethics and Elections Code.”

Mayor marks milestone for Seattle’s new priority hire ordinance

Mayor Murray applauded the signing of a community workforce agreement (CWA) between the City and nearly 20 labor unions, completing a major milestone in the implementation of Seattle’s new priority hire law. The ordinance improves access to construction careers for women, people of color and others with social and economic disadvantages on City construction projects of $5 million or more.

“Seattle is experiencing dramatic growth and development,” said Murray. “This agreement will help ensure that local residents will benefit through career opportunities in the construction trades on major City projects.”

The CWA will operate like a “job-site constitution” on certain City public works projects, establishing worksite conditions, project execution and protocol to resolve labor disputes without resorting to strikes and lockouts. The CWA also implements the requirements of the priority hire law, including the percentage of worker hours served by residents in economically distressed areas of Seattle and King County, as well as the share of hours that will be served by apprentices.

“This CWA will change the future of the construction industry,” said Lee Newgent, Executive Secretary, Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council. “Working with our community partners and the City, the unions are supportive of these efforts to increase diversity and offer family wage jobs to our economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. These jobs are the key to economic growth.”

Learn more about the CWA and the priority hire law, adopted by City Council and signed by Murray on Jan. 29, by visiting http://www.seattle.gov/city-purchasing-and-contracting/social-equity/labor-equity/priority-hire.

Murray statement oil drilling rig’s scheduled arrival

Today Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after Shell announced that oil drilling rigs will arrive at the Port of Seattle this week:

“Seattle’s economic future must include vibrant maritime and industrial businesses, but I do not believe that this short-term lease is in line with our community’s environmental priorities. Together, we should be recruiting firms that will create high-paying jobs in the economy of the future, not the fossil-fuel industries of the past.

“I continue to expect the Port of Seattle to obtain all required city permits for Terminal 5. The Port Commission still has the opportunity to rethink whether they want to bring these drilling rigs to our harbor.

“To be clear, the City’s interpretation that a new permit is required for Terminal 5 has no direct bearing on activities that may be occurring at the Port’s other facilities. What is at issue here is new use not covered by the Port’s 20-year-old permit to operate a marine cargo terminal.

“The City will continue to partner with the Port on other projects to support our maritime industry. I am committed to building on the demonstrated record of collaboration we have established during my first 16 months as mayor.”

Mayor names new directors at Sustainability & Environment, Department of Neighborhoods

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today named Jessica Finn Coven to serve as director of the Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE) and Kathy Nyland to serve as director of the Department of Neighborhoods (DON). Bernie Matsuno, who has served as director of DON since 2011, will be stepping down effective June 2.

Finn Coven comes to OSE after serving as Washington Director of Climate Solutions since 2011. Previously she worked at the U.S. Climate Action Network and Greenpeace. She serves on the board of directors of Washington Conservation Voters and Puget Sound Sage.

“Jessica brings deep connections to Seattle’s environmental community,” said Murray. “Her commitment to environmental justice will lend strength to Seattle’s new Equity and Environment Initiative. The benefits of progressive environmental policy must reach all our diverse communities more equitably, including low-income families, immigrants and people of color.”

“Anyone who knows Jessica appreciates her deep knowledge of environmental policy,” said Rashad Morris of the Bullitt Foundation. “Her commitment to economic and racial equity makes this an especially strong choice as Seattle works to bridge issues of sustainability and social justice.”

“Seattle has long been a proof point that we can create more broadly shared prosperity by prioritizing a clean and healthy environment,” said Finn Coven. “Mayor Murray has been a leader throughout his career on sustainable transportation solutions and equitable responses to climate change. I’m absolutely thrilled to join his team and to be part of Seattle’s next chapter in clean energy development and ensuring the health of all Seattle’s family.”

Finn Coven will be paid $132,000 and start at OSE on June 12. Finn Coven replaces Jill Simmons, who announced her decision to step down as director of OSE in April.

Nyland is currently a senior policy advisor on land use and planning in the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Innovation. She is a former chief of staff to City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. Before joining city government, she served on several community councils, founded the Georgetown Merchants’ Association and chaired Seattle’s City Neighborhood Council.

“During my first year as mayor, Kathy has become a trusted advisor,” said Murray. “Her personal history as a community advocate, her strong relationships with neighborhood leaders throughout the city, and her policy acumen make her the natural choice to step into this role. I look forward to her leadership in community conversations on private development, public investments and support for vibrant neighborhoods in our city.”

“I am honored by this opportunity to continue to serve the Mayor and the city in this new role at the Department of Neighborhoods,” says Nyland. “I’ve long believed that our communities are our strongest resources and I look forward to bringing more voices to the table. We want to support and strengthen all our neighborhoods in Seattle.”

Nyland joins DON on June 2 and will earn $136,000.

Matsuno came out of retirement to serve as director of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, intending to serve only a few months, but staying on for more than four years. She developed and expanded new community programs at DON, including the People’s Academy for Community Engagement (PACE) and the Public Outreach and Engagement Liaison (POEL) program to expand civic engagement, especially in underrepresented communities.

“Bernie has been a true champion of our neighborhoods and a helpful advisor to me on community issues and needs,” said Murray. “She has advocated effectively for the community to have a greater voice in City government and their neighborhood – an important role that the department will sustain.”

“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to serve in Mayor Murray’s administration, but I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life,” said Matsuno. “I’m excited about this transition and intend to continue my professional work for the people of Seattle, as well as volunteer in my community.”

“Bernie Matsuno was one of my first and best hires 27 years ago,” said Jim Diers, former DON director. “Bernie initiated a powerful leadership development program and innovative outreach strategy to ensure that all voices are heard. I’m excited that Bernie is passing the torch to Kathy Nyland, someone who I have long admired for her leadership of the Georgetown neighborhood. I know that she believes deeply in the department’s mission and I can’t wait to see what she does in taking it to the next level.”

Matsuno will continue to lend her expertise to future City community-engagement projects.

Murray statement on arena EIS

Today, Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after the Seattle Department of Planning and Development issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement for a new arena in SODO:

“The SODO arena project has just passed another major milestone. The City has met its commitment to complete the EIS process. No major findings stand in the way of arena construction. The City will continue to work with arena developers, the Stadium District and SODO interests on the impacts that were identified during the EIS process. The City can now begin looking ahead to the street vacation and other pieces necessary to move this project forward.

We’re one step closer to bringing NHL hockey and NBA basketball to Seattle.”

Mayor presents revised Transportation Levy to Move Seattle

Move Seattle press conference

Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle City Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Mike O’Brien and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly today announced details of the City’s revised nine-year Transportation Levy to Move Seattle.

The revised Levy to Move Seattle reflects community priorities expressed in nearly 8,000 comments received during numerous public meetings, coffee hours and an on-line survey that followed the release of the draft levy proposal in March.

“This levy reflects the needs of our communities and improves the day-to-day realities of getting around our city,” said Mayor Murray. “Over the past several weeks, the people of Seattle told us that safety is the top priority. We will invest more in transit reliability and access, improved connections to light rail, and making it safer for people of all ages to walk in Seattle.”

The revised levy proposal, which Mayor Murray will submit to City Council next week, would fund $930 million in investments over nine years – $30 million more than the draft proposal released in March. The additional funding committed to transportation comes from the projected increase in assessed value due to new construction. The cost to taxpayers ($275 annually for the owner of a median valued home) would remain the same as proposed earlier.

In response to community feedback, the Transportation Levy to Move Seattle now includes:

  • $110 million – an increase of $35 million from the initial proposal – to build new sidewalks in high-demand areas and pilot alternative street designs that making walking safer and more comfortable in residential areas without sidewalks.
  • An enhanced focus on improving transit in seven high-priority transit corridors, while at the same time adding multimodal improvements that benefit people walking, biking, driving and moving goods.
  • Increased funding for small neighborhood priority projects focused on safety and connectivity.

“The proposed package reflects the priorities and projects that I have heard are important to our neighborhoods including the Lander Street overpass for the SODO area and the Fauntleroy Way improvement project, which is an important part of the neighborhood plan and which is designed and ready for construction,” stated Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Chair of the City Council Transportation Committee.

Roughly 5,300 people shared their transportation priorities through an online survey, and the City also spoke with residents through three open houses, three stakeholder roundtables, an online meeting, more than 30 community briefings, six neighborhood coffee hours, and participation at nine neighborhood farmers markets.

“Our many conversations about the proposal show that Seattleites care about transportation. It impacts each of us daily, whether you walk, drive, bike, use transit, or move goods around the city,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “The revised levy proposal is a comprehensive package that aims to meet the needs of our city today and tomorrow.”

The revised proposal was unveiled at 14th Avenue S and Beacon Avenue S, the site of a recently completed safety project funded by the Bridging the Gap transportation levy that expires this year. The project improves safety for children at a nearby elementary school, and also makes it safer to access neighborhood businesses and the light rail station. The Levy to Move Seattle would fund Safe Routes to School projects for every public school in the city, with an emphasis on those schools that need safety improvements the most.

The levy would help fund goals outlined in Mayor Murray’s 10-year transportation vision, Move Seattle, which integrates the City’s long-term plans for walking, biking, freight and transit into a comprehensive strategy.

The Seattle City Council will need to submit the proposal to King County by early August for it to be on the ballot this November.

Visit the Levy to Move Seattle webpage to stay up-to-date on the levy proposal: www.seattle.gov/levytomoveseattle.

Seattle Schools, City begin work to solidify Seattle Preschool partnership

Seattle Public SchoolsThe Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning and Seattle Public Schools have developed a draft partnership agreement on how they will work together on the Seattle Preschool Program.

Both the District and City have worked hard to ensure that the Seattle’s first steps toward a universal preschool system will complement and enhance K-12 education. The City and District share a goal of closing the readiness and achievement gaps that persist for many of Seattle’s students.

“Collaboration with our school district partners is key to the success of this program,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Seattle Preschool Program is designed to prepare students to be ready for school. Through strong partnership with the Seattle Public Schools, we can ensure positive outcomes for preschoolers and also sustain that success.”

“Seattle Public Schools is looking forward to a partnership with the City of Seattle and the Washington State Department of Early Learning to increase access to preschool for Seattle’s 3 and 4 year olds and aligning pre-K systems,” said Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland. “The city and district have vested interests in ensuring the quality of children’s experiences and the continuity of that quality from early childhood through college.”

The partnership agreement outlines how the City and District will work together to share resources and expertise as students move from preschools into early elementary settings. The agreement includes provisions on shared professional development, assessment tools, curricula, and community and family engagement strategies.

The partnership agreement also discusses how the district might operate Seattle Preschool Program classrooms, a development already approved by the Seattle City Council.

The Seattle City Council, the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors and the Seattle Preschool Program Levy Oversight Committee must review and approve the new partnership agreement before it is implemented.

Mayor Ed Murray: I stand behind our maritime industry

Following up on today’s announcement from the Seattle Department of Planning and Development regarding Terminal 5, Mayor Ed Murray issued this additional statement:

While I disagree with the port’s decision to service off-shore oil drilling rigs in Seattle, I stand behind our maritime industry and support continued success for the Port and maritime businesses in our community. The City’s review of the activity proposed at Terminal 5 is based on the facts specific to that proposal and the permits that have been issued in the past for Terminal 5. The City’s interpretation has no direct bearing on activities that may be occurring at the Port’s other facilities.

The Port and its tenants provide thousands of family-wage jobs, adding needed diversity to our region’s economy. Sustainable fishing in the North Pacific is part of our proud Northwest heritage, and will be for generations to come. The Port’s cargo terminals are a critical international gateway for manufactured and agricultural products from all around Washington and across the country. I will continue to fight for funding for the Lander Street overpass down in Olympia, which will help freight access the Port’s cargo terminals. The Port’s success is critical to our region’s success.

The City is willing to help the Port identify other uses for Terminal 5 and recruit other businesses partners who may be interested in the property on a short-term basis. Now is the time for the Port and the City to partner with the clean technology companies of tomorrow, rather than the polluting industries of yesterday.