Mayor Murray establishes team to guide renewal of Community Service Officer program

Mayor Ed Murray announced the creation of an interdepartmental project team (IDT) to guide the development of a new Community Service Officer (CSO) program. The CSO program will be designed to ensure that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is better able to provide non-emergency services and support to Seattle’s communities.

“It is critical to the long-term success of our police department to build strong, lasting bonds between officers and the communities they serve,” said Mayor Murray. “The Seattle Police Department has worked for years to become a model of 21st century policing and the Community Service Officer program will help us reach the ultimate goal of building community trust with the department. With this in mind, the interdepartmental team will utilize the City’s Racial Equity Toolkit to inform the development of the program and to address the biggest divides that exist between the police and community. I am appreciative of Councilmember O’Brien’s efforts to secure funding for this important program.”

Existing CSO programs in the United States typically handle non-emergency incidents such as neighborhood disputes, investigations, and crime prevention which can ultimately increase efficiency within a police department and improve service to residents. Mayor Murray has long supported the renewal of the program to help neighborhoods work with SPD and to further the City’s commitment to constitutional and bias-free policing.

Mayor Murray’s directive tasks the IDT to develop recommendations for a new CSO program informed by the City’s Racial Equity Toolkit. These recommendations will address CSO qualifications, training curriculum, and operational functions with SPD.

The IDT will consist of representatives from the Mayor’s Office, SPD, Department of Neighborhoods, Office for Civil Rights, Seattle Human Services, City Budget Office, and the City Council. The IDT will be chaired by police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. The involvement of the Community Police Commission is contingent upon the Court’s indication of approval under the 2012 Consent Decree between the City of Seattle and Department of Justice. The IDT will develop the scope, budget, and action plan for the CSO program and will make its recommendations in early 2018.

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Mayor signs MOU with Mexico City on climate action, economic development

mexicocitymouMayor Ed Murray signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Mexico City’s Chief of Government, Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa, Ph.D. The MOU pledges cooperation on trade and the economy, information technology, clean technology, creative industries, education, people-to-people exchanges, and other fields of common interest. Additionally, the MOU calls for collaboration on climate action, support of businesses that aim to grow in the two cities, and staff-level exchanges.

“Seattle has a growing international profile and solidifying our relationship with Mexico City gives us the opportunity to collaborate with a place that shares many of our goals and values,” said Mayor Murray. “As we reaffirm that Seattle continue to be a welcoming city, we want to strengthen our ties with our partners around the world. These partnerships allow us to learn from each other and work on areas of mutual benefit, such as economic development and fighting climate change.”

The MOU spells out the two cities’ “intention to foster closer economic and cultural ties,” and came about as part of their participation in the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. The two cities will:

  1. Promote learning from each other on issues such as climate action, carbon emissions reduction and environmental protection;
  2. Cooperate on a host of key issues facing both cities, including trade and the economy, information technology, and more;
  3. Support businesses with interest in expansion or investment in either city;
  4. Engage in regular communications at the staff level; and
  5. Create a framework for closer relations in the future.

This is the fourth MOU signed by Mayor Murray since taking office. In 2015, Mayor Murray signed  MOUs with Vice Mayor Tang Jie and Mayor Xu Qin both of Shenzhen, China relating to sustainable development and economic growth. Mayor Murray also signed an MOU with Mayor Zhang Hongming of Hangzhou, China in May 2016 to support the promotion of technology and innovation.

Mayor Murray is attending the C40 Mayor’s Summit in Mexico City this week to work with mayors from around the world on urban solutions to climate change and foster closer relationships with U.S. mayors as they work to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.

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Pavement to Parks project creates new open space in Rainier Vista

Today, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), in partnership with the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), hosted a grand opening for a new Pavement to Parks project in the Rainier Vista neighborhood. The new park space includes planters, seating, turf mounds, and a street mural designed by local youth.

 “This project is a great example of the positive outcomes that come from collaboration between government and the community,” said Mayor Murray. “We are activating an open space in way that is driven by the community, improves safety and livability and reflects the cultural diversity in Rainier Vista.”

Rainier Vista Pavement to Parks

This Pavement to Parks project repurposes a portion of S Genesee St., between 29th Ave S and Jill Place S, for an expanded park space in the neighborhood. Built under SDOT’s Adaptive Streets Program, the project uses low-cost, adaptable materials to test a public space on the street before permanent changes take place.

 “The Pavement to Parks project in Rainier Vista provides a great example of the benefits of the Adaptive Streets Program,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “By working with residents to install experimental and low-cost safety enhancements, the City is better poised to quickly respond to the specific needs of the neighborhood, while allowing time to review community feedback and performance data before making the enhancements permanent.”

 Rainier Vista community members requested that SDOT close the block in response to speeding traffic in the neighborhood. SDOT included the project as a 2016 Pavement to Parks installation to increase space for play and community activities, while reducing speeding on surrounding streets and improving pedestrian safety. SDOT and the RainierVista Neighborhood Traffic Safety Committee gathered ideas for the design of the project last spring and learned of strong support for the project during outreach events.

 “I’m proud of the community engagement by Rainier Vista residents that led to this project, and the partnership of the Seattle Department of Transportation in making it happen,” said Andrew Lofton, Seattle Housing Authority Executive Director. “The new park solves what was a traffic safety issue and, with its colorful new mural painted by youth, provides a vibrant play area and neighborhood gathering place.”

SDOT will evaluate the Rainier Vista Pavement to Parks project over the next two years. If successful, SHA will work with the City to build the project as a permanent park extension in the neighborhood.

For more information about SDOT’s Adaptive Streets Program contact Susan McLaughlin at 206-733-9649 or susan.mclaughlin@seattle.gov, or visit Seattle.gov/transportation/adaptivestreets.htm.

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Mayor Murray answers your questions on housing affordability

Housing affordability is a major issue across the city, and a key focus for my administration, City departments and community stakeholders. I recently joined Robert Feldstein, my director of policy and innovation, for a Facebook chat about our efforts under the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda to create and preserve thousands of affordable homes, and to address your questions. Watch the video below, and scroll down for a recap, answers to additional questions, and information on how you can get involved.

 

Why is Seattle facing such a housing affordability issue? 

As our economy and population grow, housing prices and rents have skyrocketed. As a result, thousands of families and workers – particularly lower-income people and among communities of color – are unable to afford the cost of living in Seattle. The thing that’s driving our affordability crisis is our booming economy. We’re anticipating growing by 120,000 people and 115,000 jobs over the next 20 years. If people weren’t moving here for jobs in our booming tech sector and the many attributes that make Seattle a great city, we wouldn’t have an affordability problem. But the answer isn’t to stop growth, but to plan for it and increase affordable housing supplies and reduce displacement.

What is Seattle doing to create more affordable housing?

In late 2014 I convened a group of stakeholders to look at this issue and come up with a set of recommendations. We adopted a multi-pronged approach – our Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) – that includes developer mandates, capital investments through a renewed housing levy, expansion of multifamily tax exemptions, prioritization of surplus property for affordable housing projects, a new set of tenant protections, building preservation programs and other anti-displacement measures.

Through HALA, our goal is to build 50,000 new homes over the next decade, including 20,000 affordable homes – something that’s never happened before in Seattle.

How we get to 20,000 affordable homes: 

  • Capital investments and partnerships with low-income housing providers through the renewed Housing Levy (expected to produce 7,500 units over the next 10 years)
  • Mandating commercial and residential developments build or fund affordable housing (+6,300 units)
  • Preservation property tax exemption (+3,300 units)
  • Expanding tax exemptions for new multifamily developments that agree to set aside 20-25% for affordable units. (+2,100 units)
  • Use surplus properties for affordable housing either by redevelopment as affordable units or proceeds of sales used for that development elsewhere (+1,100 units)
  • Exploring voluntary employer Housing Fund program, as has been done by some companies in Silicon Valley
  • Negotiating with the federal government to allow Medicaid benefits to be used for eligible supportive housing residents
  • Expanding down payment assistance and other homeowner programs

How much progress has been made?

Since the start of 2015, more than 4,400 units of affordable housing have opened, been funded or are under construction. In just the last few weeks we’ve broken ground on more than 200 units of affordable housing developed in partnership with Bellwether Housing in the University District and South Lake Union. In October, 112 affordable units opened at Plaza Roberto Maestas, an El Centro de la Raza project near the Beacon Hill Light Rail station made possible in part through an $8 million Housing Levy grant. More than $34 million in Housing Levy and other funding will be awarded in December.

How can we ensure equitable distribution of affordable housing? 

As part of our Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan, we conducted a Growth & Equity Analysis to ensure growth strategies address the needs of marginalized residents and are applied equitably. As we guide affordable housing development through HALA, we’re focusing on urban villages throughout the City – 28 areas with access to high-frequency transit, parks and schools. Zoning incentives, developer mandates, expanded multi-family tax exemption programs, Housing Levy and other City funding of new construction and preservation projects are being applied in a geographically equitable manner so affordable housing options might bring people together, rather than drive them apart.

What’s considered affordable and who’s eligible for assistance?

Housing is generally considered affordable to a household if it costs no more than 30% of a household’s income. More than 107,000 Seattle households pay more than 30% of their income for housing, and more than 46,000 Seattle households spend more than half their income on housing.

We’re focused on range of affordable options to assist people with no income, to those on fixed incomes or who need assistance buying their first home. Most programs that are part of HALA are targeted at households with incomes up to 30%, 60%, or 80% of area median income. For instance, the MHA program – developer mandates – require housing be made available to households earning under 60% of area median income – about $38,000 for an individual or $54,000 for a family of four.

Why not adopt rent control?

Rent control is prohibited by the State of Washington. Overturning it would take years and not address current affordability crisis, nor ensure more affordability (see: San Francisco). While that may be a fight worth having, right now we’re focused on acting to ensure neighborhoods are economically diverse and provide affordability for all incomes.

What’s the City doing to protect tenants?

In just he last year we’ve passed several measures to protect renters:

  • We expanded Source of Income protections and are working on reducing housing barriers for those with criminal records. Under new rules, property owners may not refuse to rent to tenants with Section 8 subsidies or alternative sources of income such as disability, Social Security or child support
  • Property owners may not give move-in discounts or other favorable terms for tenants who work for certain employers.
  • We adopted a “first in time rule” which requires property owner to rent to the first applicant who meets necessary screening criteria.
  • Property owners may not raise rent if their building is substandard and/or not up to code.

How do developer mandates work?

For the first time the City is requiring developers of commercial and residential projects contribute to affordable housing by building it onsite, or paying for its construction elsewhere in the City. This will generate more than 6,000 affordable homes in the next decade. Since our goal is to steer development and reduce displacement in urban villages, upzoning could allow for an additional couple stories of building capacity, and developers would need to make even greater investments in affordable housing to take advantage of that capacity.

Developer mandates are being phased in, and already apply downtown and in South Lake Union. Zoning changes to support MHA are being implemented in 28 areas identified as urban centers, urban villages or areas already zoned for apartments and commercial buildings. Mandates are not being applied in areas zoned for single-family housing, but the City is exploring how more types of housing might be supported in these areas.

On Oct. 17, I joined seven councilmembers in announcing proposed updates to MHA aimed at producing even more affordable housing and addressing growing displacement risk in several neighborhoods. Changes include:

1) Adopting a tiered approach in areas such as the U District that are receiving a development capacity increases greater than the typical one-story increase proposed as part of original MHA. This would support higher development capacity – potentially several additional stories – that would be tied to even greater developer investments  in affordable housing.

2) Moving some areas at higher risk of displacement – including the Central District, Chinatown/ID and parts of the Rainier Valley – into zones with higher developer requirements to reflect updated market conditions and stem displacement.

What areas will get higher MHA requirements?

The U District, which has gone through more than five years of community planning, is the first neighborhood where we’re proposing zoning changes tied to MHA requirements. With light rail opening in we’re focusing future housing and employment density in areas with the most accessibility to the station. Our proposal for zoning changes in U District are accompanied by other city investments in open space, transportation and services to ensure a walkable, equitable, vibrant urban center.

Under new proposals to increase affordable housing production through MHA, Chinatown/International District, Central Area and parts of Rainier Valley would be moved to a High-MHA designation to reflect updated rent data and the City’s analysis of higher displacement risk.

North Beacon Hill, North Rainier, and Columbia City, Northgate, and Crown Hill development would be moved from low-MHA requirements to medium-MHA requirements.

MHA map

Mandatory Housing Affordability proposed implementation area

 

Won’t mandates discourage development, or lead to even higher prices? 

Increasing development capacity is one of the ways we can achieve greater affordability. The MHA program is based on an exchange of value: Through upzones, developers can build more market-rate units to meet demand, and must make greater investments in affordable housing to do so. Those units must be built onsite as a set percentage of building size, or fund development elsewhere through the Housing Levy, affordable housing partners and other programs that ensure equitable development or housing preservation throughout the city. We project that increased performance requirements will lead to an additional 200-300 affordable housing units on top of the original program goal of 6,000. The MHA program can be re-calibrated to guard against unintended consequences, and we’ll be closely monitoring the affordable housing production and making changes as necessary.

How is the City encouraging more family-oriented housing?

Multifamily tax exemptions have helped create thousands of units of affordable housing designed for families. We’ve expanded that program to every neighborhood, so more two- and three-bedroom units can come on line and be available to more families.

What about micro-housing?

Small housing units are a good, lower cost option for many tenants. Innovative builders have made Seattle a national leader in micro-housing. In 2014, the City Council passed new regulations to clarify how the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections regulates this type of housing, ensuring greater design review. The City continues to encourage both Small Efficiency Dwelling Units (SEDUs) that have a minimum size of 220 square feet, and in certain locations (i.e. urban villages) Congregate Residences that can have shared kitchens and can be even smaller. We are continuing to monitor production of SEDUs and Congregate Residences, and expect to evaluate how they can be a part of the housing solution in the future.

How can we preserve neighborhood character?

I understand concerns that density and taller buildings may detract from neighborhood character. The City is working hard to ensure that upzones do not come at the expense of livability. We provide incentives for historic preservation and are directing growth to the core of urban villages to avoid large buildings right next to single-family homes. We’re applying new development standards for attractive and varied buildings, and implementing new affordable housing requirements and incentives to encourage a variety of housing types. HALA and urban village plans such as the one adopted for the U District after much public input contain incentives and requirements for open space, historic preservation, social services, and other community priorities. Along with affordable, family-oriented housing options, we’re working to increase commercial affordability so more people can work near where they live and have easy access to restaurants, shopping and services. As the city grows, we must maintain the uniqueness and high quality of life made possible by diverse neighborhoods and are working with neighborhoods to get that right. To weigh in on urban village plans and zoning proposals, visit Hala.Consider.It.

Is there state and federal assistance for affordable housing? 

Housing affordability is an issue facing every county. We need the state to expand the housing trust fund to $200 million. You can help by contacting state legislators about this issue. And we need the federal government to recognize that fully funding opioid treatment and anti-poverty measures will better allow cities to address issues of homelessness and housing affordability. These issues are connected.

What’s the public process on HALA and how can I be involved?

The public engagement process for HALA started in July 2015, followed by a citywide kick off in January 2016 for the HALA community focus groups comprised of over 180 participants who have met monthly to provide the City with feedback. City staff have attended over 70 community meetings and have had thousands of in-person contacts as well as a strong online dialogue like my recent online Q&A.

Beginning in November, the City will hold five community meetings throughout Seattle to share more about the proposal and receive feedback from residents. For those who cannot attend a meeting, or to review the proposals and weigh in, visit Hala.Consider.It.

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Mayor Murray announces upcoming RFP for KeyArena

Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced the City of Seattle will issue a request for proposals (RFP) in early January, 2017, to solicit specific plans from private parties interested in the redevelopment of KeyArena. Proposals would be centered around developing an entertainment facility that can host meetings, concerts and sporting events.

The City is seeking partners who are willing to invest in a facility that will provide a better home for KeyArena’s existing tenants, including the Seattle Storm of the WNBA and the Seattle University basketball program. Two entities, AEG and The Oak View Group, have reached out to the City indicating that they are potentially interested in an agreement with the City on such a project, and the RFP process may reveal others are as well.

“We continue to listen to options to redevelop KeyArena as part of our revitalization of Seattle Center,” said Mayor Murray. “There are many challenges to consider, including how to address traffic in the growing Uptown neighborhood, and any viable plan will include efforts to mitigate these concerns, while also bringing Seattle tremendous cultural and financial benefit. But, I remain committed to building a state-of-the-art arena in Seattle, and this effort means multiple entities could be working to make that a reality. I also remain committed to bringing the NBA back to Seattle.”

A study completed for the City by AECOM has demonstrated that an extensive renovation of KeyArena could provide a venue that would serve the needs of multiple tenants, fans, and the surrounding neighborhood.

Assuming an agreement can be reached, Council approval would be required and the project would be subject to an extensive review process, including an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and the associated assessment of traffic impacts. Potential KeyArena redevelopment would further energize and activate Seattle Center, after work with the Uptown neighborhood to develop a plan that can further enliven the neighborhood without creating undue impacts.

These proposals would join the recently-revised proposal from the group led by Chris Hansen as possibilities for the development of an arena in Seattle.

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Mayor Murray issues statement on latest SODO arena proposal

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after receiving a letter from the Chris Hansen-led investment group today:

“The City will review the letter sent by a group of stakeholders, including Chris Hansen, suggesting a revision to the previous SODO arena proposal. We share the goal of bringing the NBA and NHL to Seattle. The City will continue to consider all options to build a new, state of the art arena that will accomplish that goal and that can serve the city for years to come.”

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City encourages residents to prepare for weekend weather

With high-winds and rain predicted for Seattle and much of the Pacific Northwest this weekend, it is recommended that residents take extra precautions at home and when out. Residents should defer traveling during the storm, avoid and report downed power lines and trees, and be cautious near areas experiencing flooding.

Latest modeling shows a chance for heavy winds to arrive in the Seattle area as early as 5 PM on Saturday, October 15 and lasting throughout the evening. For the most current weather updates please visit the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office, Impact Briefing for Seattle. For up to date information impacting the City of Seattle please visit or Alert.Seattle.gov.

Storm Safety Information
• Please call 911 to report downed lines, do not touch or attempt to remove lines that have fallen during the storm.

• If you lose power at home, please call (206) 684-3000 to report the outage or call the Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-7400 to hear a recorded message with power restoration updates.

• Because of the timing of tomorrow’s storm, there may be challenges with travel throughout the city tomorrow evening and Sunday morning.

• For individuals using life-sustaining and medical equipment, please contact and register with your utility company. For more information call (206) 684-3020.

• Remember to treat intersections that are impacted by power outages as four-way stops.

• Check the Metro and Sound Transit websites for any impacts to your transit routes.

• Maintain gutters, downspouts, rain barrels, private culverts by keeping them clean, flowing and directed away from properties and hillsides.

• Keep storm drains free of leaves and other debris to prevent streets from flooding. Be sure to stay out of the road when raking.

• All Seattle Parks and Recreation grass athletic fields, including West Seattle Stadium, will be closed through the weekend. Most importantly, please remember to safe and use extreme caution outdoors. Parks officials encourage residents to avoid Seattle parks entirely this weekend due to the high-winds.

• Seattle Parks has cancelled programs and activities in parks across the system. For the most up-to-date information please visit seattle.gov/parks

• Generally, we want to remind you that if you do lose power, keep grills, camping stoves and generators outside. Fuel burning appliances are sources of carbon monoxide, a dangerous and poisonous gas.

• Have an emergency preparedness kit ready to help you get through until power is restored

• Storms can create a storm surge impacting high-tide. For information pertaining to tides visit NOAA.

• A temporary, emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness will be open at the Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion – near 2nd & Thomas, south of Key Arena. The co-ed adult shelter will open on Saturday and Sunday from 7 PM to 7AM. This shelter can accommodate 100 people.

• King County Shelter for adult males has expanded capacity to serve 50 additional men Friday through Tuesday, 10/14 – 10/18. The King County Shelter is located at the King County Administration Building at 500 4th Avenue in Seattle. The shelter opens at 7 PM.

• The City Hall Co-ed shelter at 600 4th Ave in Seattle will expand capacity Friday through Tuesday 10/14 – 10/18 with an emphasis on accommodating women seeking shelter. The shelter is open from 7PM to 6AM.

• Sign up and use AlertSeattle at alert.seattle.gov for up-to-date information from the City of Seattle

• The City will have additional staff and crews available throughout the evening and weekend to respond to emergencies as they arise. The Seattle Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center will be activated throughout the weekend.

Additional preparedness information can be found at: Take Winter by Storm – www.takewinterbystorm.org or What to do to make it through – http://makeitthrough.org/

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Mayor Murray launches ‘Resilient Seattle’ Initiative with 100 Resilient Cities

 

Today Mayor Ed Murray, joined by 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) and community leaders, launched a new effort to make Seattle more resilient to shocks—catastrophic events like earthquakes and floods—and stresses, slow-moving disasters such as inequity, homelessness, and climate change—which are increasingly part of 21st century life.

Seattle was selected to join the 100RC network earlier this year and joins cities such as London, New York, Bangkok, and Rio de Janeiro that have demonstrated a strong commitment to resilience planning in order to be better prepared when disruption hits.

image2“How we respond to the complex issues of climate change, affordable housing, and inequity will have profound implications for generations,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We must consider the impact of each of these things, particularly on communities of color, who are often disproportionately impacted. Seattle is prepared to work in partnership with 100RC and our community on innovative ways to lay the groundwork for Seattle to become the most resilient city in North America.”

Cities in the 100RC network have realized a host of benefits even over the relatively short lifespan of the program. These include improved bond ratings, additional federal investment, better collaboration with surrounding municipalities, more cost efficient plans to deal with disasters, and national recognition of their resilience work. The workshop will lay the groundwork for Seattle’s comprehensive Resilience Strategy and address challenges such as rapid population growth, transportation, economic and racial equity, and earthquake preparedness.

The ‘Resilient Seattle Workshop’ is Seattle’s first engagement in our partnership with 100RC. The workshop brings a diverse set of stakeholders from community-based organizations, the private sector, government, academia, and the arts community into the planning process. Workshop participants will explore the range of threats the city faces as well as opportunities to work together to become stronger. In the coming weeks, Seattle will name a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) – a new position that will lead the city’s resilience efforts and continue to engage stakeholders, resilience experts, and 100RC staff in drafting a comprehensive Resilience Strategy.

“Seattle is helping fuel global momentum around building urban resilience, and leading by example,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “The work from the agenda workshop will clarify the city’s needs, surface innovative thinking, and give us a blueprint for engaging partners from across sectors to bring Seattle the tools and resources needed to become more resilient.”

Seattle was selected as one of 37 members of the final cohort of what is now a 100-city global network, and will receive technical support and resources to develop and implement a Resilience Strategy. Each city in the 100RC network receives four concrete types of support:

  • Financial and logistical guidance for establishing an innovative new position in city government, a Chief Resilience Officer, who will lead the city’s resilience efforts;
  • Technical support for development of a robust Resilience Strategy;
  • Access to solutions, service providers, and partners from the private, public and NGO sectors who can help them develop and implement their resilience strategies; and
  • Membership in a global network of member cities who can learn from and help each other.

Seattle’s resilience strategy will be a holistic, action-oriented plan to build partnerships and alliances, financing mechanisms, and will pay particular attention to advancing racial and social justice. The workshop begins the process of identifying priorities, actions, and metrics, and the plan will be drafted over the next 6-9 months.

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Mayor releases plan to guide growth, investments in U District

After five years of community engagement and more than 90 public meetings, the City of Seattle today released the plan for growth and coordinated public investments in the U District. As the neighborhood continues to change rapidly, today’s announcement will guide future density for affordability and livability.

“This is an exciting day for the U District as we roll out our shared vision for the future of the neighborhood,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Over the last five years, hundreds of U District residents have contributed their opinions on how to build a more livable, walkable neighborhood as Sound Transit light rail comes to the community. And for the first time, all new development will contribute to affordable housing. Together we can shape a U District that reflects our values.”

With the Sound Transit’s U District Link light rail station opening in 2021, the City’s plan focuses future housing and employment density in areas with excellent access to the transit station.

The plan’s proposed zoning changes respond to community priorities for rigorous design standards that requires new public spaces, attractive buildings, and active street fronts. New incentives will encourage sidewalk improvements, space for social services, and childcare centers in private development. Other incentives will help preserve historic buildings and the pedestrian shopping district of the Ave.

“The University District has such a unique character – our students, faculty, and staff of the University bring a vibrant diversity to the community, and the neighborhood’s access to public transit, jobs, and local businesses make it an attractive place to live,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson. “But due to the pace at which Seattle is growing, we need to take bold and critical action to ensure that it remains an affordable place to live.

The proposed zoning changes here in the University District are the result of a four year process which has involved over 90 meetings and hundreds of participants. I want to thank everyone who, through their hard work and their feedback, has gotten us to this critical milestone today.”

As the neiaffordable-housingghborhood grows, Seattle’s new Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) ordinances will require all developers of multifamily and commercial buildings to build or fund affordable homes.

The City estimates that the MHA requirements that come with greater development capacity will create hundreds of new affordable homes. Without the proposed zoning changes that trigger MHA requirements, Seattle’s existing incentive zoning programs are projected to yield only an estimated additional 20 income-restricted homes built by private developers.

“As an organization that provides housing for low-income people every day, Bellwether is very excited to see the passage of this important legislation,” said Susan Boyd of Bellwether Housing. “By implementing MHA, we can create high quality, affordable homes for more low-wage working families in neighborhoods like the University District – close to great schools, great public resources, and rich job centers.   Funds from the MHA’s predecessor, the Incentive Zoning Program, is what made our 133-unit Arbora Court project in the heart of the University District possible. MHA implementation in the U District will expand the capacity to create affordable housing like this in the U District and across the City.”

Through the existing Housing Levy and incentive zoning programs, the Office of Housing recently has funded 182 new affordable homes the U District, 49 of which have already opened.

The University of Washington has been engaged in the plan as an active partner in the future of U District. The City and University continue to discuss their shared interests in improving connections to the new Burke Museum and the rest of the campus, expanding faculty and employee housing, creating jobs, providing additional childcare and creating a new public plaza adjacent to the light rail station.

“UW is proud to be a partner with the City of Seattle and the U District community in making this Seattle’s best neighborhood,” said UW Vice President Randy Hodgins. “The UW has sat shoulder to shoulder with City staff and U District residents to review and shape the ideas that have informed Mayor Murray’s proposal. We believe it’s the way to ensure the growth that’s coming will produce the great, inclusive neighborhood our students, faculty and staff want.”

As the neighborhood grows, the City of Seattle has made, and will continue to make, significant investments in the U District:

  • New parks and open space to serve the neighborhood, including upgrades at University Playfield, the new University Heights Plaza, the Christie Park expansion, and the future park on the Portage Bay waterfront.
  • A network of new bike lanes on 11th Ave NE, Roosevelt Way NE, NE Campus Parkway and NE 40th
  • Expanded sidewalks on NE 43rd connecting the light rail station to the Ave and campus.

“University Heights partners with the City of Seattle to ensure that everybody has a place to play, learn and grow in the U District regardless of their age, ability or economic status,” said Maureen Ewing, Executive Director of University Heights Center. “With the support of the City, we have saved our historic building from demolition, increased open space in the U District and are currently expanding arts and cultural opportunities that are accessible to all.”

The City is also expanding social service and public safety partnerships to make the U District more welcoming and safe for families and students:

  • The University District Partnership’s Clean and Safe initiative helps address vacant properties, graffiti and trash, making the neighborhood safer and more pleasant.
  • The Mayor will seek to expand his Youth Employment Initiative with the local non-profit ROOTS to build a “shelter to employment” program for homeless youth.
  • The Seattle Police Department and University Police continue to deepen their collaboration to support neighborhood safety.

“The City has played a critical role in this neighborhood’s plans for renewal,” said Kristine Cunningham, Executive Director of ROOTS. “ Once divisions and short-term thinking hampered our capacity to affect real change.  Now we are supported to combine diverse views and tackle the social, economic, and housing issues in the U District.  It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve made real progress.

Mayor Murray will transmit U District legislation to City Council next week.

 

 

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Mayor issues action plan for Chinatown-International District

Mayor Ed Murray today issued his action plan to address persistent public safety and disorder challenges in the Chinatown-International District (C/ID). The action plan reflects the recommendations of Murray’s Chinatown-International District Public Safety Task Force, which was convened last year in the wake of the murder of long-time public safety advocate and community activist Donnie Chin.

“Thank you to the many community members who contributed their time to this public safety task force and for their commitment to the neighborhood. Donnie was one of the people who taught us that it requires more than police presence in a neighborhood to address public safety,” said Murray. “The neglect that the Chinatown-International District feels did not occur overnight, but I am committing our City to work with the community to address these issues so that we preserve this wonderful, vibrant, diverse and historic neighborhood.”

Murray’s plan includes four key elements identified for early action:

 

  • Community Engagement and Outreach Specialist – This one-year pilot creates a new civilian position at the Seattle Police Department that will be trained in national best practices around community policing and will be the City’s point to implement strategies to address the most acute criminal activities afflicting the neighborhood.
  • Neighborhood-Based Public Safety Coordinator – The Department of Neighborhoods will provide matching funds for a position based in the neighborhood to provide public safety coordination between City departments and the residents and organizations in the C/ID.
  • Public Safety Steering Committee – City employees and community members will identify key public safety projects to implement in the next 12-18 months, which will be measured and monitored for concrete outcomes.
  • Improved Police Communication and Responsiveness – The Seattle Police Department will increase positive police engagement and relationship-building within the community with additional and redeployed staff, improve 911 responsiveness and language capabilities, and ensure that police patrols maintain high visibility in the neighborhood.

“We have recently seen the benefits of better coordinated police efforts in South Seattle and in our downtown core,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “We are committed to a similar multidisciplinary strategy to address the important concerns of Chinatown-International District stakeholders.”

In recognition of the significant impacts of heavy litter on quality of life in the neighborhood and the strong correlation between heavy litter and public safety concerns, Murray announced that the City will launch a new intensive litter clean-up program. The program will be piloted in two neighborhoods, the Chinatown-International District and Ballard. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) will increase litter pick-up with bi-weekly clean-up crews, install more trash bins on the street and increase community engagement to speed response to illegal dumping.

Additionally, Murray has instructed the Office of Planning & Community Development (OPCD) and Department of Neighborhoods (DON) to work closely with the new Public Safety Steering Committee to guide the development and planning of infrastructure investments, as well as monitoring related issues that need immediate coordination.

“Chinatown-International District is a unique cultural environment that faces distinct public safety and infrastructure challenges,” said Maiko Winkler-Chin of the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority. “For decades, our neighborhood has felt that it has not had the same access to City resources and services as other neighborhoods. Community members, especially recent immigrants and our seniors, often feel disconnected. These task force recommendations and the mayor’s action plan are intended to build new bridges while making our neighborhood safer and even more vibrant.”

“The City must be held accountable to the Public Safety Task Force recommendations by keeping our community inviting, safe and a competitive place to do business, to live, and to work,” said Tam Nguyen, owner of the Tamarind Tree restaurant. “We need the City to support a healthy neighborhood by targeting crime inducers, ensuring safe environments for all law-abiding residents, and improving communication and coordination with the C/ID.”

“Small businesses are the road to prosperity for many residents of Chinatown-International District,” said Ali Lee of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. “Creating safe and welcoming streets is critical if these small businesses are to continue to attract customers from the neighborhood, elsewhere in the Seattle and across the region. Our goal is to create a neighborhood where everyone feels comfortable walking, shopping and dining at all times of day.”

Donnie Chin was born and grew up in Seattle’s Chinatown and committed his life to the neighborhood. In 1968, he founded the International District Emergency Center (IDEC) to help respond to the needs of the immigrant, elderly, low-income families in the neighborhood.

Through IDEC, Donnie was always the first on the scene in the neighborhood responding to emergencies. He also provided CPR and public safety training to the residents and businesses in the neighborhood. Over the years, Donnie and IDEC became an invaluable partner to Seattle’s law enforcement and first responder communities, and he came to embody the “heart and soul” of the C/ID.

Last December, Murray convened the Chinatown-International District Public Safety Task Force of neighborhood leaders, City staff and the Seattle Police Department to identify strategies to improve neighborhood public safety and city infrastructure investment. Over the course of the last six months, the Task Force developed a detailed series of recommendations to address public safety and livability in the Chinatown-International District. The mayor’s action plan prioritizes the first steps that address the most urgent needs. Additional actions will be developed in conjunction with the C/ID community through the Public Safety Steering Committee.

According to the InterIm Community Development Association, more than three-fourths of C/ID residents are people of color and more than half speak a language other than English at home. Six out of ten neighborhood residents are of Asian descent, and at least one in four are seniors.

 

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