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Dear Neighbor,

Last week, the Budget Chair released her proposed Balancing Package, which is a new budget proposal incorporating many of the amendments that Councilmembers created in response to the Mayor’s Proposed Budget. The Chair’s Balancing Package now becomes the starting point for any future amendments to the budget. You can view all of the amendments that were included in the package using this interactive tool.

In this newsletter, I will share which of my amendments were successfully included in the Chair’s proposal, and then the additional amendments I am bringing to push forward my priorities not contained in the Chair’s proposal.  

Overall, Councilmember Mosqueda has done a great job of including so many priorities in this budget proposal, while still maintaining balance and fiscal responsibility. Unlike many recent years in Seattle, updated revenue projections have been downgraded by $15 million since the Mayor’s proposal was sent to Council. The economy is rebounding, and this shortfall is due to large employers returning to offices in January rather than October. Budget Director Noble presented on this at my town hall last week - you can watch the recording here. This budget shortfall means that the Balancing Package had less funding to work with than the Mayor’s Proposed Budget, forcing some difficult decisions. 

This Thursday and Friday, the Select Budget Committee is meeting to discuss and vote on amendments to the Balancing Package proposed by Councilmembers. We plan to pass the final budget on Monday, November 22nd. If you want to watch committee deliberations or sign up for public comment, you can do so here.  

I will continue to send budget updates as this process continues and the final budget is passed.  


Chair’s Balancing Package 

Of the twenty-nine amendments I proposed this year, nineteen of my amendments were successfully included in the Chair’s Balancing Package. While most of these amendments are fully funded in the Chair’s proposal, several were scaled down to fit within the tight constraints of next year’s budget. Over the coming days, I will work to defend these amendments from any proposed cuts. Here is a full list of the amendments I secured in the Chair’s Balancing Package: 

Homelessness and Human Services

Mobile Crisis Team: As I have shared before, my top priority for this year is providing citywide, 24/7 mental health responders to address the full scale of the crisis unfolding on our streets. To do this, I proposed dramatically scaling-up the Mobile Crisis Team and Behavioral Health Response Teams, while also opening a second crisis stabilization center in Seattle. In the Chair’s Balancing Package, we secured a total of $3.5 million to fund this expansion. This is less than the $7.8 million expansion I proposed, but it continues to scale up Seattle’s dedicated Mobile Crisis response.  

Vehicle Residency Outreach and Safe Lot Expansion: The Vehicle Residency Outreach Team works with people living in vehicles to connect them to services including shelter and housing, help people regain stability, and ensure they have current tabs, driver’s licenses, and access to repairs. Safe Lots complement this work by providing a temporary, safe parking location for people living in their vehicles. This reduces the number of vehicles on public streets, while also providing a safe environment where people can be connected with services. The Mayor’s Proposed Budget ends funding for these vital programs. I secured $100,000 in the Chair’s proposal which maintains but does not expand the program. I am bringing an amendment forward to fund expansion of this program which I describe later in this newsletter.  

Rental Assistance: I proposed adding $800,000 to rental assistance efforts. Chair Mosqueda highlighted concerns that current funding allocated to rental assistance has not all been distributed. Instead of adding additional funding while current dollars sit unused, the Chair’s package includes a provision requesting that the Office of Housing work with providers to get existing dollars into the hands of households that need them. 

Phinney Neighborhood Association’s Hot Meal Program Expansion: The PNA’s Hot Meal Program is so much more than community dining. It provides a safe environment for people to feel cared for, deserving, and a part of the neighborhood. The Chair’s Balancing Package includes $90,000 to expand this critical work. 

Vibrant Public Spaces

Mural at the 63rd Street Underpass: The beautiful mural on 63rd Street under the Aurora Ave underpass has been badly defaced over the past year. For community members who worked to make this mural a reality in 1997, it has been painful to watch. I’ve secured $50,000 to restore and replace the mural. 

Ballard Commons Playground: The Ballard Alliance previously received City funding to complete public engagement and the conceptual design of a playground at Ballard Commons Park. That work was completed in 2019, but the playground itself has never been funded. While the pandemic stalled this plan, now is our opportunity to build back better. The Chair’s budget adds the $1 million that I requested for this purpose. 

Parks Remediation: The Proposed Budget already includes $2 million for remediation efforts in City parks, including things like re-planting, re-seeding grass, repairing lighting and irrigation systems, and conducting soil remediation. I have secured an additional $1 million for this effort, so that the City can cover all our parks and complete this work. 

Adaptive Cycling Center: Outdoors for All’s Adaptive Cycling Center in Magnuson Park rents (for free!) adaptive cycles of various kinds to provide mobility and recreation opportunities for people with disabilities or limited mobility. With $25,000 in the Chair’s proposal, Outdoors for All will be able to expand this service, either by offering rentals for two additional months of the year, or by expanding to seven days-a-week. 

Ballard Avenue Redesign: The embrace of outdoor dining and café streets has been one of the rare, bright spots from the past two years. When the pandemic began, I worked to bring a café street to Ballard Avenue, and for the past year I have turned my focus to establishing a pathway to permanency for outdoor dining. One aspect of this work is redesigning Ballard Avenue to demonstrate what a permanent outdoor dining street would look like. The Chair’s budget includes my amendment for $270,000 to fund a 30% design based on the recommendations of the Ballard Avenue Design Charette I hosted in August. 

More in District 6

Streetlights on NW 48th Street: The block of NW 48th Street between 6th Ave NW and 8th Ave NW does not currently have streetlights. I have secured $160,000 to add streetlights to this block, including to the alleyways to the north and south. This request is a product of a neighbor meeting with me during D6 Office Hours.  

Supporting Museums: The federal government’s primary relief program for museums only provided support to institutions that included fixed-seating, such as a fixed-seat theater. Many museums, like our very own National Nordic Museum, lack fixed-seat venues, leaving them without federal aid in a perilous time. I secured $1 million to provide financial support to struggling museums who were not eligible for this federal aid, which is half of the $2 million I proposed. 

Good Governance 

Water Safety Study: Included in the Chair’s Balancing Package is my amendment to add $200,000 for an outside, independent consultant to conduct an analysis of the staffing and capacity required to ensure public safety on our water ways. The City Council fully funded Harbor Patrol, but many officers are on long-term leave, leaving us with only one patrol vessel at a time. Even before the understaffing of Harbor Patrol, there were only three vessels patrolling our 201 miles of shoreline. Seattle has always had high boat ownership per capita, and we have experienced year over year increases in recreational activity. We need more than three vessels to protect the safety and economic vitality of our city’s largest public space – the water. This study will give us the benchmarks we need to meet.

Lifeguards and Parks Employees on Boats: I also proposed putting more City staff on the water immediately, either by hiring lifeguards who could work from boats, or hiring Parks employees who could similarly work from boats to provide more eyes on the water and respond to people in distress at our parks. While this effort did not receive funding, the budget does require the Parks Department to make recommendations for how such a program could be pursued. 

Permit Review Staff: Seattle’s permitting system is under-resourced, leading to long delays to obtain permits for everything from simple remodels to constructing affordable housing. Many of the worst bottlenecks in the permitting process are from reviews that occur outside the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections. This amendment will provide those review desks, such as the Fire Marshall’s Office and Seattle City Light, the ability to increase staff levels when more permit applications and revenue are received. I also proposed a one-time infusion of funding to address the permit backlog next year, but that funding is not in the Chair’s proposal. 

Design Review Report: Design Review is one aspect of the permitting process that I believe needs particular attention. We hear many complaints about the current design review program, including that it is too-often used to slow development unnecessarily, and simultaneously that it lacks the teeth to make the real impact it is intended to have. The budget includes a request to City departments to evaluate outcomes from the Design Review program and recommend solutions that could make the program more equitable and effective. 

Rental Housing Market Study: Seattle’s housing market has evolved quickly in recent years, and we need to understand the ways it is changing in order to make good policy for tenants and landlords alike. The City used to rely on a firm called Dupree & Scott for data about the rental housing market, but that firm has closed. The Chair’s proposal adds $145,000 to hire a consultant to analyze the current rental market and how it has changed over time. 

Comprehensive Plan Major Update Outreach and Environmental Analysis: In 2024 the City of Seattle will update its Comprehensive Plan, which is a long-term vision for how Seattle grows. This will be our community’s best chance to shape the future of our city, so it is important that we get it right. The Chair’s package adds $545,000 to improve the City’s outreach efforts and environmental analysis that will inform the Comprehensive Plan update. These resources will allow for a more robust, citywide conversation about our future growth, and provide funding for an inventory of the historic resources that we should preserve. 

Regional Growth Center Planning: By 2025 the City is also required to update our plans for six regionally designated urban growth centers, which include Downtown, First Hill/Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, the University District, and Uptown. While I did not secure the $300,000 that I proposed for this work, the budget does include a request for additional information about funding needs, so that we can ensure full funding in future years. 

My Amendments to the Balancing Package 

This week the City Council will consider a final round of amendments to the Chair’s Balancing Package. These amendments must be balanced, meaning any new spending must be offset either by cutting other spending or raising new revenue. In this tight budget cycle, it has been difficult to identify an offsetting cut for many of the priorities I would otherwise like to fund. I am proposing five new amendments to the Balancing Package, all of which are either revenue-neutral, or take funding from other priorities I have advanced: 

Vehicle Residency Outreach and Safe Lot Expansion: Earlier in this newsletter I described the vital work of the Vehicle Residency Outreach Team, which works with people living in vehicles to connect them to services, and operates a safe lots for people living in their vehicles. The Chair’s budget already includes $100,000 to maintain their work. I am proposing an amendment to add an additional $85,000 for a total of $185,000, which will allow the program to hire an additional manager and expand the services they offer. 

Leary Triangle Dog Park: I have worked with community members around the Leary Triangle since last year to come up with a vision for how we can better activate this public space. The leading idea has been a dog park, as well as potentially a skate park and food-truck corral, which would create a “entryway” to our brewing district. My $430,000 amendment was not funded, but I am proposing to spend $100,000 to begin work in this location. 

Seattle Conservation Corps: The Seattle Conservation Corps is a program that provides employment in “green jobs” to people experiencing homelessness. This program provides people exiting homelessness a job, with case managers who help them secure permanent employment once they graduate from the Seattle Conservation Corps. I proposed to add an employee to identify future expansion opportunities for the program after it returns to full scale, but this did not get funded. Instead, I am now proposing to add a provision requiring a report of future expansion opportunities, including how we can double funding for the program in 2023. 

Rental Market Study: The Chair’s proposal reduced funding slightly for the rental market study I have requested, and lumped other items into the amendment, stretching funding thin. I am proposing to focus the $145,000 of funding solely on this study.

Streetlights on NW 48th Street: While this amendment was funded in the Chair’s budget, I am proposing a proviso to ensure that the funding is only spent on this block, and not diverted to other City Light projects. 

See All of My Amendments 

In a previous newsletter I shared all twenty-nine of the amendments I proposed to this budget. You can find that comprehensive list of amendments here. 

While most of my amendments were funded in this budget, I am disappointed that a number of them were not, including hiring additional arborists for tree protection, providing more support to our food banks, and hiring additional staff at the animal shelter. 

In some cases, we found creative solutions to address amendments that were not funded, such as the Green Lake Boathouse, for which we were able to identify additional, existing resources in the current budget. In other cases, I will continue advocating for priorities that were not funded in future budget cycles. 

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Every Monday morning, I update the City Council on issues in District 6 and the work my office is doing that week. These updates are a helpful way to follow along with our work. I also post these videos weekly on my website and social media. You can view the latest updates and past videos on my website here.
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