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

parket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press event video:

Mayor Murray’s State of the City speech as prepared

2015 State of the City

Seattle Mayor Edward B. Murray
February 17, 2015
Download speech as PDF

[Introduction]

President Burgess, members of the Seattle City Council, City Attorney Holmes, and residents of Seattle.

President Obama said in his State of the Union address last month that the state of the nation is strong.

It is strong, I believe, in no small part because our cities are strong and vibrant and innovative centers of change that are helping to drive the national agenda.

And Seattle is as strong, vibrant and innovative as any city in the country, leading on issues of equity, transportation and the environment.

The diversity of our residents, the energy of our businesses, the creativity of our arts together have created a unique moment in the history of this growing city.

We are in the midst of a moment rich with opportunity to shape dramatically the Seattle of tomorrow.

Last year, we showed how progressives can work together to make government function and improve the lives of the people of this city.

This year, we will start to see the results of last year’s great successes.

In April, because of our action, Seattle’s minimum wage will rise to $11 per hour.

And in April, because of our action, we will begin increasing park maintenance and expanding park programming…

In June, because of our action, we will begin to see the largest increase in bus service in the city of Seattle since Metro Transit was created in the 1970s.

In July, because of our action on priority hire, when the City invests in infrastructure, we will also invest in local workers.

In September, because of our action, we will see three- and four-year-olds attending new City-funded preschool programs…

We must remain committed to implementing these achievements: Following through and getting it right is just as important as getting it in the first place.

But while Seattle is strong and, I believe, getting stronger, we must recognize that the benefits of our thriving city are not jointly shared.

We see inequities…

…in how we experience growth – between those who benefit from it and those displaced by it …

…in prosperity – between those who can afford to live here and those being pushed out …

…in our schools – between those who are coming to school ready to learn and are graduating on time, and those who are not…

…in public safety – between those who are safe from crime, and those who are at greater risk of crime because of who they are or where they live…

And, of course, cutting across all these inequities is the most challenging inequity of all – and that is racial inequity.

We must keep working together so that we can keep driving better outcomes on each of these vital issues.

Our city is many things, including a city of young people – nearly half of Seattle residents are younger than 35.

And so I have invited high school students from around the city to join us here.

Let us take this opportunity to welcome all of you to City Hall.

You are coming of age at a time of unprecedented growth and change in your city.

This can be exciting and energizing – and it can also be confusing and unsettling.

But it does present us right now with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to define the future of this city while each of you is beginning to define your own future.

So let us define both together.

Together, we can determine the destiny of our city to ensure that Seattle is a safe, affordable, vibrant, interconnected city for all.

[Growth and planning]

Seattle is growing faster than its surrounding suburbs for the first time in over a century.

Over the past twenty years, the City set goals for growth in designated areas, and we met have those goals: three quarters of all growth occurred in urban villages.

In the next twenty years, Seattle is expected to add 120,000 new residents.

And as we grow, our City must ensure that we become a more livable and sustainable city.

In Ballard, for example, population has increased by 25 percent in the past decade but investments in transportation have lagged far behind.

In Rainier Beach, where the unemployment rate is three times the city rate, we must plan for growth in jobs as we plan for growth in population.

So this year, we will launch a different approach to these issues as we restructure City government to meet our rapidly changing city.

As we provide plans for new density in a neighborhood, we will also provide plans for how the City will invest to ensure the neighborhood continues to thrive.

To the students in the room, take a moment and think out twenty years from now.

You will be in your mid-30s. You’re likely to have a job. A spouse. Perhaps children.

Where will you be living? Near light rail? Will it be a house with a yard? Will you be able to walk to work or to a park?

Those are the questions before us. And we want to hear your answers. Your vision for the next chapter in Seattle’s story.

This year, we as a City are asked to look 20 years ahead to envision Seattle in 2035.

The revision of our Comprehensive Plan is a chance for all of the city – for millennials, families, and seniors – to discuss and decide…

… where we should grow…

… how we can grow sustainably…

…and, as new housing and new businesses grow…

…how we will prioritize our investments.

In keeping with one of the fundamental tenets of my administration, I am putting a new emphasis on equity in planning.

Growth must be about placing without displacing.

Therefore, in the coming weeks I am sending a resolution to Council that recognizes race and social justice as one of the core values for the Plan.

It will call on all of us to develop new equity goals and practices, and build in public accountability through more inclusive stewardship.

And since these questions affect everyone, we will redouble our outreach efforts to ensure all voices are heard.

Evening meetings in community centers are simply not enough.

So we will conduct digital outreach, telephone town halls and find other ways to engage those deeply affected by these questions but seldom heard from – immigrants and refugees, those working evenings or those at home taking care of their families.

And this spring, I will host my second annual Neighborhood Summit to continue this citywide conversation about our major initiatives, such as…

…updating the Comprehensive Plan,

…renewing transportation funding, and

…creating more affordable housing.

[Transportation]

With a vibrant economy, our challenge is to continue creating more transportation choices for everyone, while also reducing carbon emissions.

In the year since I took office, we have made a series of moves to give Seattleites more options.

We created a legal and safe framework for taxis and rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft.

We added miles of new protected bike lanes throughout the city.

Last year, we brought in Pronto bike-share, and this year, we are funding its expansion into under-served neighborhoods.

We are allowing car-share companies like Car2Go to expand.

Last November, the voters of Seattle generously voted to tax themselves to expand bus service in this city.

This is major progress.

 

As I said in these chambers last year, this City has many worthy individual plans for bikes, freight, cars, transit, and pedestrians.

But we lack a unified, modern, interconnected transportation plan. A philosophy for how to get our city moving.

Until now.

By the end of this month, I will release a new comprehensive vision for how Seattle approaches transportation….

…a vision that integrates our many transportation plans into a single strategy that is greater than the sum of its parts, which I have named Move Seattle.

Move Seattle is a vision for growing and expanding our transportation choices to meet the needs of all users, for today and tomorrow.

We will use Move Seattle to guide our investments as we renew our transportation levy this year.

We will get the basics right by improving our aging roads and bridges and sidewalks.

And we will make the investments necessary to build a safe, integrated transportation system with an expanding variety of choices available to all.

Seattle, it bears mentioning, is not an island. To keep our city’s economy moving, we must also keep our region moving.

With Sound Transit opening two new light rail stations in the coming year – one at the University of Washington and the other on Capitol Hill – now is the time to build on this momentum.

We are working with leaders throughout the three-county region to pass authority for Sound Transit 3 in Olympia this year.

Sound Transit 3 is our path forward to build new light rail connections within the city, including to Ballard and West Seattle.

These vital connections would link our growing light rail system to Puget Sound’s largest job centers.

Together, these efforts will have profound impact on our transportation future.

But there’s no denying it: our transportation future will look different without the leadership of Tom Rasmussen on the City Council.

Councilmember Rasmussen has been a part of civic life in Seattle for as long as I can remember.

He’s been a champion for seniors, for human services, for civil rights, and for innovative transportation solutions, including our successful transit campaign this past November.

Councilmember Rasmussen, we thank you for your years of dedication to serving the people of Seattle.

[Affordability in housing]

Income inequality is real, and it’s growing in Seattle.

In 2013, the income of the top fifth of Seattle households was 19 times that of the lowest fifth.

Everyone who works in Seattle should be able to afford to live in Seattle…

Our strategies to address this challenge have included reinventing our City’s utility discount program, where we have seen a 21 percent increase in household enrollments in one year, and are on track to meet my commitment to double enrollments by 2018.

And I look forward to partnering with Councilmember Sawant to continue this important work.

Our strategies have included raising the minimum wage for workers like Malcolm Cooper-Suggs, a 21-year-old fast-food worker.

Malcolm is excited to soon be able to start setting money aside for emergencies his future.

He is doing his part – working hard to make a better life for himself. He deserves a fair wage for a full day’s work.

Malcolm is here with us today – Malcolm please stand and be recognized…

In time, our action on minimum was will directly impact the lives of over 100,000 individuals like Malcolm working in this city.

Women are disproportionately represented among those who stand to benefit from the rising minimum wage.

And there are steps the City can take to address the gender equity issues among our own employees.

With Councilmember Godden’s leadership, we will move forward on a number of initiatives this year that will help close the gender pay gap and promote women’s participation in the City workforce.

We are also establishing an Office of Labor Standards to educate workers and businesses on how to comply with our new minimum wage law and enforce other important worker protections.

This Office in many ways is the crowning achievement of a remarkable two-decade-long career of service to the people of Seattle.

Councilmember Nick Licata, you have been a voice for the voiceless, and a tireless advocate for a more affordable city.

If, as Jonathan Raban has written, living in a city is an art, then you have brought the vocabulary of art to our ongoing efforts to make this city a better place for all…

Our next great challenge to affordability, of course, is housing.

Seattle now has the fastest growing rents among all major cities in the country.

To address this massive challenge, I worked with Councilmembers Clark and O’Brien to establish an advisory committee to take action.

As with our minimum wage task force, we have brought together people with very different perspectives who often do not agree, to work together on a definitive proposal just as rigorous as the solution we developed on the minimum wage.

Their recommendations, due in May, will help ensure people – and especially families –can live in this city no matter their income.

People including the mother I met who works downtown and lives in South King County, but spends hours a day commuting.

Hers is a common story that is often lost, but experienced by thousands of other workers across Seattle. These stories represent the true cost of a lack of affordability in our city.

I have made it clear to the members of the committee – and will reiterate here today –that we are not going to get there with a single tool.

To address our affordability challenges, everyone must play a part: from developers to landlords to nonprofits to employers to the construction industry… to City government.

That’s why I am committing 35 million dollars of City resources to enact the recommendations of this Advisory Committee.

[Education]

As we grow as a city, we cannot allow the opportunity gap between white students and students of color to persist.

Nearly 90 percent of Caucasian third graders are meeting math and reading standards in this city, compared to approximately half of African American students.

About one-quarter of African American and Latino students do not graduate on time, compared to 8 percent of Caucasian students.

We can no longer allow so many of our children to leave school unprepared for college, for work or for life.

The City has partnered with Seattle Public Schools for 20 years through the Families & Education Levy.

Thanks to the leadership of Council President Burgess, we are deepening our partnership through the Seattle Preschool program.

And there are still more opportunities to partner.

Building a school system that works for all of our children is not the responsibility of the school district alone.

It is the responsibility of all of us.

This fall, I will be convening an Education Summit to re-envision how a 21st Century urban public school system can work successfully for all students.

The City, the school district, the state, the private sector, teachers and parents – all must engage in frank and honest conversation, and unite around a shared vision.

Together, we will close the opportunity gap in our public schools.

[Economic development]

Seattle is home to one of the most unique business environments in the country.

We have a diverse economy that is creating jobs and keeping unemployment low.

Amazon continues to grow before our eyes. Weyerhaeuser is moving to Pioneer Square. Juno had a very successful initial public offering.

But we as a City lack a more focused approach to economic development.

Too often, we have rested on our luck and our geography.

In the coming months, we will be asking our local business owners:

What do we need to do to make the task of running a local business easier?

What can we as a City do to help businesses thrive?

Over the last year, we have taken some initial steps…

We held an industrial and maritime summit to explore ways to build upon Seattle’s strengths as a manufacturing center, and as a trading hub.

As a result, my budget invested in a Heavy Haul Corridor in Sodo, an essential step to help boost the competiveness of our industrial freight sector.

And we will continue this engagement to create a longer-term vision for the role of manufacturing, maritime, and trade in Seattle’s economy.

We are building our strategy to attract foreign direct investment.

We are expanding access to broadband to support start-up businesses.

Our Office of Economic Development launched an effort to help restauranteurs navigate the City, County and State regulations necessary to open and run a restaurant in Seattle.

And, we are making investments in business retention for medium-size business in growing industries.

All of these elements and more will be part of the conversation as we develop a shared strategy with the business community for how the City can play a more active role in nurturing our business environment and in creating jobs.

[Government performance]

A rapidly changing city requires a City government that can adapt right along with it.

If Seattleites are to have confidence that City Hall can meet today’s challenges they must be able to measure the City’s performance.

In September, as part of my budget, I made a promise to provide greater transparency into City government, and make more information and data accessible to the public.

And we have some results to share.

Today, we are launching a new tool called Performance Seattle, an interactive website found at performance.seattle.gov

Currently, nine of our departments are contributing data about how well they are meeting their goals, such as reducing traffic fatalities, reducing our carbon footprint and responding quickly to fires.

In the coming months, all City departments will set performance targets and report regularly to the public on their progress.

Today, we are also launching OpenBudget, another interactive website that presents budget data for the entire City government.

Located at openbudget.seattle.gov, it is a leap forward in budget reporting for our City.

Taken together, both of these resources will help us as a City achieve better goal-setting, better tracking, better use of data, and better outcomes.

These sites also highlight the great accomplishments of our hardworking City employees, who confront and manage complex and contentious issues each and every day.

I want to highlight the strong leadership of Christopher Williams, a long-time Parks employee who served as acting superintendent for more than four years, and is returning to his deputy role.

Christopher saw the department through a difficult time in the economy, and today, because of him, our department is stronger than ever.

Thanks to his leadership, and the leadership of Councilmember Bagshaw, we were able to secure long-term funding for Seattle’s parks and community centers.

[Public safety]

Last year in this chamber, I committed to using a data-driven approach to address our city’s complex and ongoing challenges in public safety, the paramount duty of local government.

Under Chief O’Toole, in August the Seattle Police Department launched the Seastat program, which uses data and community input to identify spikes in crime, address them, and evaluate police response.

In the fall, after a rash of robberies on Capitol Hill and in the Rainier Valley, we coordinated precinct and department-wide resources in the hardest-hit areas.

These focused efforts resulted in a 25 percent drop in robberies on Capitol Hill and a 40 percent drop in the Rainier Valley.

And after a spike in car thefts and car prowls last year, these same smart policing techniques led to a 12 percent drop in car thefts and a 16 percent drop in car prowls.

They also led to a 26 percent drop in burglaries.

This is good police work, and is the result of the dedicated efforts of our Seattle police officers.

These are early steps in addressing our public safety challenges, but they are positive steps in the right direction.

To build upon this momentum, I have set ambitious crime reduction goals for the Police Department, which are featured at Performance Seattle.

We will continue to grow and expand these strategies as we develop the best model for urban policing in the nation.

As I committed in these chambers last summer, I will provide the Council with a fuller presentation in late spring, consistent with our work to…

…ensure a safer built environment,

…foster more active public space and

…generate more economic opportunity for youth.

[Youth employment]

The fact is, the City can reduce youth crime and violence through a robust youth employment program.

In Chicago, for example, young people from high-crime neighborhoods were nearly half as likely to be victims of violent crime when they had summer jobs.

This year, we will create a Mayor’s Youth Employment Task Force to build the most vigorous youth employment program this City has seen in decades.

This program will help our young people – especially youth from our most under-served communities – develop the skills necessary to compete in the 21st Century economy.

We know what a successful program looks like.

Shawnteal Turner was in and out of juvenile detention when she attended a career fair and learned about the Youth Green Corps, a partnership between our Seattle Parks and Goodwill.

She liked learning about the environment and wanted help forming her life goals.

Shawnteal completed the program, and because of her dedication, passion and hard work, she is now working with both Seattle Goodwill and Seattle Parks & Recreation.

Shawnteal is here with other members of Youth Green Corps.

Shawnteal, please stand and be recognized…

We want to provide more opportunities like Shawnteal’s.

Our immediate goal is to double the number of summer youth served to 2,000 this year.

Additionally, Seattle was selected to receive a significant grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The staff hired with these new resources will first focus on addressing the disparities affecting young African Americans, particularly men, in Seattle.

We will align our participation in national efforts to address youth violence –including Cities United and President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper – with our local efforts, such as the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative.

In the spring, we will convene a Youth Opportunity Summit, working with African American and other community-leaders, experts in academia, the non-profit and private sectors to eliminate the educational opportunity gap, increase long-term employment and reduce juvenile crime rates.

[Police accountability and police reform]

Every community deserves to be served well by its police service.

Our efforts to reform the Seattle Police Department remain a top priority of my administration.

This City will continue working with the federal judge and the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice to address patterns of excessive use of force.

That is non-negotiable.

While we still have far to go, we need to acknowledge when progress occurs.

For the first time, the federal monitor has commended us for our progress. All officers are receiving consistent training. And, we are now collecting consistent, reliable, court-approved data for all uses of force.

Last year, I worked with Councilmember Harrell, the Community Police Commission, the Office of Professional Accountability and City Attorney Pete Holmes to develop reforms that will bring greater fairness, independence and transparency to the police discipline and accountability process.

Chief O’Toole and I have already implemented some of these reforms to ensure that disciplinary appeals are handled properly and efficiently.

This spring, I will introduce legislation to implement the remaining reforms.

All together, our comprehensive efforts will change the experience between our police and our community, and rebuild public trust.

They include…

…improved recruitment of a more diverse police force…

…significant training in de-escalation tactics and bias-free policing…

…extensive reporting and data-collection to identify potential misconduct…

…a streamlined complaint process for Seattleites to report issues …

…increased civilian oversight of every aspect of the police discipline and accountability system…

…and significant new transparency to instill public confidence and ensure that incidents of misconduct are not swept under the rug.

These changes are essential elements in our ongoing effort to create the best model for urban policing in the nation.

[Conclusion]

This is a historic moment in America and in Seattle as we confront the issue of race.

We must acknowledge how far we have come, but this is the side of the mountain, not the summit.

The poet Maya Angelou said:

“History despite its wrenching pain,

Cannot be unlived,

and if faced

With courage,

need not be lived again.”

It will take courage to address the deeply troubling issues of policing and race in this country.

It will take courage to acknowledge that the police are often at the receiving end of the failure of other systems to address race…

…failure in our education, criminal justice, foster care, mental health and political systems.

On the night of the Ferguson Grand Jury decision I pointed to the results of those failures.

… African Americans are incarcerated at nearly 6 times the rate of Caucasians…

… Homicide is the leading cause of death of young African-American men …

… 40 percent of African Americans will fail to graduate on-time from our high schools — or at all — …

…the numbers for Latinos, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans are hardly better.

To the young people here, everything I have spoken about today, everything we have accomplished this past year…

…pre-k, the minimum wage, transit, priority hire, parks and community centers, police reform, summer youth employment…

…they are the response of the people of this City to addressing the issue of race and inequality.

But much work remains and it will not be easy. It is time to begin again to climb that mountain.

It is time for Seattle to talk with each other about how we heal the wounds of race.

Maya Angelou goes on in her poem to say.

“Lift up your eyes upon

this day breaking for you

Give birth again

To the dream.”

 

Thank you.

Mayor delivers ‘State of the City’ address

State of the City 2015

In his “State of the City” address before the Seattle City Council today, Mayor Ed Murray dedicated $35 million in City funding to support affordable housing in Seattle, doubled the City’s commitment to summer youth employment and unveiled government performance and budgeting websites to bring new transparency to City departments.

The mayor cited 2014 advances in city policy on minimum wage, parks funding, transit, preschool and other issues, underscoring the need to deliver these initiatives in 2015.

“Last year, we showed how progressives can work together to make government function and improve the lives of the people of this city,” said Murray, “We must remain committed to implementing these achievements: following through and getting it right is just as important as getting it in the first place.”

After raising the minimum wage, Murray called housing “our next great challenge to affordability.” The mayor and city council launched a work group of housing experts last September, which is developing a slate of policies to support affordable housing for individuals and families across the income spectrum.

The mayor is reserving $15 million from the Seattle Housing Levy and $20 million in incentive zoning funds to implement the recommendations of the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee, which are due in May.

The mayor today unveiled Performance Seattle, found at performance.seattle.gov, a government performance website where the public can review city department goals and track outcomes. The site is launching with nine departments, and others will be added throughout the year. The public will also have better access to information about city finances through OpenBudget, located at openbudget.seattle.gov.

The mayor invited high school students from around the city to attend the speech, noting that they “are coming of age at a time of unprecedented growth and change” as Seattle grows faster than surrounding suburbs for the first time in over a century.

After increasing the city’s commitment to summer youth employment by 50 percent last year, the mayor pledged to double it in 2015 to 2,000 jobs.

The City is revising its Comprehensive Plan this year to guide the development of housing for 120,000 additional city residents over the next 20 years. The mayor committed to digital outreach, telephone town halls, a second Neighborhood Summit and other ways engage the public in the process. In the coming days, the mayor will send a resolution to Council that recognizes race and social justice as one of the core values for the Plan.

After expanding transportation options in 2014 with Uber and Lyft, Pronto bike share, car-share services and additional bus transit, Seattle will renew its expiring transportation levy later this year. The mayor announced a new unified transportation strategy, called Move Seattle, which will map out future infrastructure improvements to be funded in the next levy.

The levy will fund maintenance of existing roads, bridges and sidewalks, and make additional investments “to build a safe, integrated transportation system with an expanding variety of choices available to all,” said the mayor.

Seattle will continue to seek authority in Olympia needed for further expansion of Sound Transit’s light rail system to Ballard and West Seattle, even as the Capitol Hill and University of Washington stations come on line within a year.

Calling public safety “the paramount duty of local government,” the mayor noted Chief Kathleen O’Toole’s implementation of data-driven policing and how it is beginning to yield results. After a spike in robberies and property crimes, the department refocused precinct and department-wide resources to the hardest-hit areas. As a result, robberies dropped 25 percent on Capitol Hill and 40 percent in the Rainier Valley. Similarly, property crimes like car thefts, car prowls and burglaries have declined.

“Every community deserves to be served well by its police service,” said Murray. “Our efforts to reform the Seattle Police Department remain a top priority of my administration.”

The City continues to implement reforms to support police discipline and accountability. The Seattle Police Department has already made changes to the disciplinary appeals process, and the mayor is sending more reforms to the council in coming weeks. The mayor committed to additional changes at the department to rebuild the public trust, including:

  • recruitment of a more diverse police force;
  • continued training in de-escalation tactics and bias-free policing;
  • improved data-collection to identify potential misconduct of officers;
  • a streamlined complaint reporting process;
  • increased civilian oversight of police discipline and accountability; and
  • increased transparency in incidents of officer misconduct.

“These changes are essential elements in our ongoing effort to create the best model for urban policing in the nation,” said Murray.

In his address, the mayor renewed his call for shared responsibility to address the persistent educational opportunity gap between white students and students of color. The City partners with Seattle Public Schools through the Families and Education Levy and, beginning this year, through the new Seattle Preschool Program. In 2015, the mayor will convene an Education Summit to discuss solutions to inequities in academic opportunity and the resulting gaps in student math and reading scores and graduation rates.

“We can no longer allow so many of our children to leave school unprepared for college, for work or for life,” said Murray. “Together, we will close the opportunity gap in our public schools.”

The mayor concluded with a call for a renewed community conversation on the many challenges of racial inequity in the City and across the country. The mayor will convene a Youth Opportunity Summit in the spring to work with African-American leaders and to eliminate the educational opportunity gap, increase long-term employment and reduce juvenile crime rates.

“We must acknowledge how far we have come, but this is the side of the mountain, not the summit,” said Murray.

The mayor’s complete State of the City remarks as prepared are available here.

Video of the speech

Mayor Murray nominates Jesús Aguirre to lead parks department

Jesús Aguirre

Mayor Murray today nominated Jesús Aguirre to lead Seattle Parks and Recreation as superintendent.

Aguirre has a diverse set of experiences from working as an educator, parks director and – most recently – as State Superintendent of Education for the District of Columbia. He was selected after a national search.

“This is a pivotal moment for Seattle’s parks,” Murray said. “Seattle is a thriving city growing at a tremendous pace, and we must ensure that the services provided by Parks and Recreation support the increasing and evolving needs and interests of all our residents. Jesús’s leadership will be vital to activating our parks system, improving infrastructure, and securing the future of our parks for generations,” Murray said.

Aguirre turned around an ailing parks system in D.C. by reforming operations, leveraging outside resources and responding to a changing populous and growing urban setting. During his tenure there, Aguirre was able to solve a number of budget challenges, improve operations, revamp parks programs, implement a robust capital improvement program, develop a long-term master plan and receive national accreditation for the agency.

“I am confident that Jesús Aguirre is the leader who can manage our magnificent Department of Parks and Recreation and its talented staff during this exciting time in our City,” said Councilmember Jean Godden, Chair of the Council’s Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Gender Pay Equity Committee.

“I am honored to be joining the City of Seattle to help lead a parks system that is already the envy of most of the nation. I look forward to working closely with our communities to develop programming and build and maintain facilities that support these needs and interests of all residents,” Aguirre said.

Murray also praised acting superintendent Christopher Williams for his service in a time of budget cuts and financial uncertainty caused by the great recession. Williams, who is moving to the title of deputy superintendent, has worked at the department since 1992.

“Christopher has been a tremendous asset to our parks, his employees and the city,” Murray said. “I know he will continue his good work in the years ahead as he takes time to work through his ongoing health issues.”

Aguirre will be transitioning into the role over the coming months. He will assume responsibilities on a full-time basis on June 1st pending council confirmation.

Seattle Parks and Recreation manages more than 6,300 acres of public land and 26 community centers – along with trails, pools and boulevards. The department has a $147 million budget in 2015, and about 930 full-time employees.

Mayor, council celebrate Seattle’s new priority hire ordinance

Youth Build

Marquia Woo, a recent graduate of an apprenticeship program, speaks about the opportunities that job training programs like Youth Build create for communities. Since Wooten graduated from her training program, she has been working on Seattle’s Seawall with Mortenson Construction.

 

Mayor Murray, city councilmembers, construction contractors, community members and workers today celebrated the signing of Seattle’s new priority hire law that will bring more jobs to disadvantaged communities through City construction projects of $5 million or more.

“This law is a major move to support workforce development for areas in our region that are being left behind,” said Murray. “This new priority hire ordinance ensures direct access to training programs and construction jobs. New city streets and community centers will not just benefit all of us that use them, but also local workers seeking a career in the trades and earnings to support a family.”

The ordinance will improve access to construction employment and improve training programs for workers in need of family-wage jobs, while minimizing increased costs on City projects. The proposed ordinance would prioritize the hiring of residents that live in economically distressed areas in Seattle and King County.

“With this bill, more Seattleites who have faced barriers to getting into construction careers will reap the rewards of both a well-paying job in the short-term and portable skills for the future,” said Councilmember Sally J. Clark, the legislation’s sponsor and chair of the council’s Housing Affordability, Human Services and Economic Resiliency Committee. “This legislation has been a team effort all the way through and the community of social justice advocates has been invaluable in getting us this far. The impact of this bill for people in Seattle will be far-reaching and lasting as more people find the training and careers to change their lives.”

The ordinance will use poverty levels, concentrated unemployment and gaps in educational attainment to identify economically distressed communities by zip code, with the aspirational goal of increasing construction career opportunities for women and racial minorities.

“Using our local tax dollars to put people from communities in our city with higher unemployment to work just makes good sense,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, co-sponsor of the legislation. “I am proud of the step we are taking today, and I also want to acknowledge the incredible community organizing that began years ago to bring this bill to fruition.”

Currently, only five percent of construction workers contributing to City projects live in the economically disadvantaged areas of Seattle and only nine percent live in King County’s economically disadvantaged areas.

The City piloted the concept on the Seawall project, where compared to past roadway projects, there has been an increase in the hiring of local residents (44 percent of the hours served), women (15 percent of the hours served), people of color (26 percent of the hours served), and those from distressed neighborhoods in Seattle and King County (22 percent).

“We are standing here today to boldly say we know we have great, qualified local workers, so let’s keep these jobs in this City and foster career opportunities for our community,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “This was an inclusive process with our local workers, contractors, labor, and social and environmental justice advocates.”

The ordinance increases existing requirements for contractors to hire apprentices – between 15 and 20 percent of positions – and introduces requirements for hiring of graduates from local pre-apprentice institutions. The City’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) will support pre-apprentice and apprentice programs to increase graduation rates and worker retention, including concentrated recruitment of Seattle and King County workers, scholarships for tuition, boots and tools, and providing classes. The goal of the new law is to give access to careers in construction – from pre-apprentice, to apprentice and journey-level worker training.

The ordinance also directs FAS to execute Project Labor Agreements on projects meeting the $5 million threshold to provide the means to meet priority hire objectives and help avoid the risk of labor stoppages and/or shortages.

“The Building Trades is excited to be part of this historic agreement to improve community inclusion in the construction industry,” said Lee Newgent, Executive Secretary, Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council.

“We need to get more diverse people into the construction trades and help those trade workers who live in Seattle to hold good jobs,” said Connie Gersberg, owner of Metro Painting, LLC. “This ordinance will make the field better for local workers and help small and disadvantaged companies have a better chance to compete.”

Ordinance Signing at Youth Build The mayor signed the ordinance at the Georgetown Campus of South Seattle College, home to YouthCare’s YouthBuild program and other educational opportunities that open the door to careers in the construction trades.

“We know that jobs are the solution to youth homelessness, young adult poverty, and youth violence,” says Dr. Melinda Giovengo, Executive Director of YouthCare. “Priority hire offers an opportunity for graduates of pre-apprentice training programs like YouthCare’s YouthBuild to find stable, career-path jobs in our community, and have an opportunity to shape the future of Seattle.”

“This Priority Hire Ordinance will allow me to start my own career right here where I live, not just get a job, but give me the chance to actually build the city I live in and raise my daughter,” said Aikilah Eslava, a student at South Seattle College.

For more information: http://www.seattle.gov/city-purchasing-and-contracting/social-equity/labor-equity

20 years later: How are urban villages performing?

15217953753_a3969ec15e_zOn Wednesday, January 28, former Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck will present the results and achievements of the Urban Village strategy, which was first adopted into the Seattle Comprehensive Plan in 1994. Part of the Seattle Sustainable Neighborhoods Project (SSNAP), Steinbrueck will share what he believes has worked and how we can continue to monitor how well the Comprehensive Plan is working to manage growth in the city.

It’s been 20 years since the City adopted the 1994 Comprehensive Plan. The Plan’s hallmark, the “urban village strategy,” aimed to guide growth and City investment to designated urban centers and villages. The Seattle Sustainable Neighborhoods Assessment Project (SSNAP) is a study that measures results and achievements of the urban village strategy. Hear about the findings and conclusions that will inform Seattle 2035, the process to update the plan for the 120,000 more people and 115,000 more jobs expected over the next 20 years.

Measuring the Success of Seattle’s Urban Village Strategy

When: Wednesday, January 28
Where: City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room, 600 4th Ave. (Enter on 5th Ave.)
Time: 5:30 p.m. (Open House), 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. (Program)
RSVP here

Celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. with a day of service

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Following the annual Garfield High School Martin Luther King, Jr. rally, Mayor Murray, Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas, and Mayor’s office staffers participated in the National Day of Service. The Mayor’s office joined the Nature Consortium, students from the University of Washington, and current Miss Seattle Taryn Smith to plant native trees and spread mulch to help restore the West Duwamish greenbelt.

You can find ways to participate in today’s National Day of Service and beyond by visiting http://www.nationalservice.gov/mlkday2015.

More photos from today’s event:

City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools announce successes in collaboration to close access gap in arts education

ca-logo-800pxThe City of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools today announced the first year results of their Creative Advantage arts education initiative. The program succeeded in closing the access gap in arts education for students in the initial roll out area of the Central District. For 2015, the program will expand to include ten more schools in the district.

The Creative Advantage is a unique public-private partnership between the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and The Seattle Foundation. It is reinvesting in Seattle’s students and our community’s economic and creative future by addressing inequities in access to the arts and restoring arts education to all Seattle classrooms.

Arts are considered a core academic subject by the state of Washington and are included in the current SPS Strategic Plan. In alignment with these state and district policies, the goal of the Creative Advantage is to address the systemic barriers to student access to arts and ensure that every student has arts integrated into their education, starting in kindergarten. The long term goal is that by 2020, all Seattle students will have access to a continuum of arts learning opportunities.

“We must invest in our students’ ability to problem solve, collaborate, think outside of the box and persevere,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “These are exactly the kinds of skills that are developed through arts education. Our partnership is helping to close the opportunity gap in the arts.”

“We know students learn best when their education engages their heads, their hearts and their hands,” said Dr. Larry Nyland, Seattle Public Schools superintendent. “The Creative Advantage is a shining example of the district, the City and the community collaborating to give all students access to a well-rounded education.”

In March 2013, the Creative Advantage began implementation in the Central Arts Pathway, all schools that feed into and out of Washington Middle School.

Highlights from the Creative Advantage Year One Evaluation report include:

  • In 2013-14, the minutes of arts instruction in the Central Arts Pathway elementary schools increased from 2012-13 levels, and now reflects similar levels to the rest of SPS.
  • Similarly, students meeting standard in the arts significantly improved in Central Arts Pathway elementary schools.
  • During 2013-14, 1,659 elementary students attended music classes that would not have been available without the Creative Advantage roll-out.
  • Among stakeholders, there is a sense that arts learning has become a priority, not only for the district, but for the city and the community at large.
  • Stakeholders report that there is a conversation occurring around issues of social justice as a benefit of the arts initiative
  • Building on this year’s success, next year, every K-5 student in the Central Arts Pathway will have music class.

In 2015, SPS and ARTS will roll-out the Creative Advantage to one new K-12 Arts Pathway, the 10 schools in south-southwest Seattle: Arbor Heights, Concord International, Highland Park, Roxhill, Sanislo, West Seattle, and K-5 STEM, Denny International Middle School, Chief Sealth International High School and Middle College at High Point.

The program expands into two additional pathways in 2015-2016.

The City has prioritized this program through new staff capacity and an investment of $450,000 in the program to date, with plans for an additional investment of $525,000 over the next two years.

The School District has invested $600,000 in increased staffing, supplies and professional development, while the Seattle Foundation has created capacity in private fundraising that raised $200,000 from foundations and individuals to date.

For more information on the report click here: http://www.creativeadvantageseattle.org/go-deeper/

The Creative Advantage can be found online at www.CreativeAdvantageSeattle.org, at facebook.com/TheCreativeAdvantage and on twitter @SeattleArtsEd.

White House names Seattle ‘Climate Action Champion’

Climate Action ChampionsToday the White House recognized Seattle as a Climate Action Champion, one of 16 local and tribal governments that demonstrated a strong and ongoing commitment to actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance climate resilience.

“This is a tremendous honor that adds momentum to our innovations on climate action and community resilience,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We applaud President Obama for drawing attention to climate change and supporting local efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Obama Administration launched the local community Climate Action Champions competition this fall as a compliment to his commitment to address climate change at the national and international scale. On the front lines of climate impacts and a proving ground for climate solutions, local communities have a powerful role to play in addressing climate change.

Seattle stands out as a national leader with a citywide goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, ambitious Climate Action Plan and Seattle City Light’s decade-long track record as a 100 percent carbon neutral electric utility.

The Climate Action Champion designation comes with targeted federal support in the form of technical assistance, preferred status in certain competitive federal grant programs, and opportunities to engage in peer-to-peer networking and showcase Seattle’s leadership on a national stage.

For more information: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/03/announcing-first-class-climate-action-champions.

Mayor issues statement on the Duwamish River cleanup

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement today on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Record of Decision on the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site:

This is a huge day for Seattle’s only river, and for the people of Seattle. EPA’s final decision gets us closer to a healthier Duwamish River for our neighborhoods and our environment. Seattle and our partners have already invested over $150 million to cleanup key polluted sites within the river. We look forward to reviewing EPA’s decision and working with them to get the cleanup done.

In order to have a clean river, we need a healthy system. The City will also continue to engage in other Duwamish watershed recovery efforts. In the years ahead, we will work with neighborhoods along the river on grassroots environment, health and recreation projects that are reconnecting the community to our natural heritage.