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Dear Neighbor,

February was a busy month working on legislation and D6 projects. From advocating at the state level for mass transit options and envisioning changes to Aurora Avenue, meeting with Ballard business owners about organized crime, coordinating homelessness response in specific places in D6, and hammering out policy details to protect trees, I am honored to continue to work with engaged D6 residents to build a Seattle reflective of our values: a healthy city, with unique neighborhoods and vibrant public spaces connected by transit, that supports our small businesses and has safe, affordable places to call home.  

This newsletter gives an update on our homelessness response efforts at Woodland Park, gives details on my café street and tree protection pieces of legislation, discusses the residential eviction moratorium expiration and where we go from here.

Meeting with constituents is one of my favorite parts of being your city councilmember so in addition to the town hall I’m continuing my weekly D6 office hours. If you would like to meet with me directly, please sign up here

--Dan

Woodland Park Homelessness Update

We are utilizing the same framework used at Ballard Commons Park to address homelessness in Woodland Park. In early January, I worked with Mayor Harrell's team to intensify homelessness outreach efforts in Upper Woodland Park to address ongoing public health and safety concerns and restore community access to the park. These efforts were initiated with the goal of getting all who are residing onsite situated into shelter and on a path towards a permanent housing solution. The City is prioritizing the area for outreach and referrals to shelter. To closely coordinate, my office has been hosting weekly operations meetings with the Mayor’s office, King County Regional Homelessness Authority, REACH outreach workers, the HOPE Team, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and community leaders at Phinney Neighborhood Association. 

This is not easy work, and it takes time. We’re approaching the work in phases to make sure that our efforts are successful and sustainable and we are currently in Phase 2: 

  • Phase 1, which started in January, is outreach and harm mitigation. The HOPE Team and REACH have been onsite daily, making connections and learning more about the people living in the encampment.  
  • Phase 2, the phase we’re currently in, includes building a By Name List and Needs Assessment, in addition to continued outreach and harm mitigation. A By Name List provides detailed information about what people need to move inside. With more accurate information, we can do better case planning and service matching, which means our efforts to help people move are more likely to be successful and lasting.  
  • Phase 3 is when the majority of shelter and housing placements will happen, after we have gathered all the necessary information to make sure the placements are successful. This phase’s timeline is dictated by shelter and housing availability. 
Where we are today: We have completed the by-name list, the needs assessment is underway, and we have already begun moving people inside.

The timeline to complete this work is dependent on shelter availability and we are working as fast as possible. I will keep you updated as we move forward.

Café Streets’ Pathway to Permanence

I’m excited to announce the City Council passed my legislation to extend free café street and outdoor dining permits through January 31, 2023. This very popular program enables restaurants and other retail storefronts to continue utilizing streets outside of their businesses for outdoor dining while the City works to finalize permanent guidelines. This is another meaningful step along the pathway to permanence I created last year after hearing from many small businesses about the success of café streets. 

The extension of the Café Streets program builds on Council’s support of small businesses during the pandemic. This includes the Bringing Business Home ordinance, which allows microbusinesses to operate in their homes; grants for small businesses through the Small Business Stabilization Fund; direct financial support for workers in the restaurant, bar and hospitality industries; and financial support for museums that were denied federal aid.   

Tree Protection Ordinance  

Another piece of legislation worth celebrating is the release of proposed legislation to expand protections for trees in Seattle. Councilmember Pedersen and I are co-sponsoring this long-awaited legislation to include the following updates in our tree code: 

  • Expand the types and sizes of trees that are regulated, including a new definition of significant trees; 

  • Apply replacement requirements to include significant trees 12 inches in diameter and larger; 

  • Simplify provisions, including allowing development standards to be modified to aid in tree preservation as an administrative process without requiring Design Review, while maintaining Design Review as an option in multifamily and commercial zones; 

  • Establish a payment option for tree replacement; 

  • Support tracking of tree preservation, removal, and replacement; and 

  • Increase penalties for violations of tree regulations. 

This legislation is part of my vision for a balanced approach to Seattle’s urban transformation. We know we can have stronger tree protections and build the housing and density our city needs. In addition, we know we need to re-tree many parts of our city while protecting the tree canopy we have today. 

The proposal is now subject to a comment and appeal period under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). Members of the public can provide feedback on the proposal to SDCI until April 4th while the appeal window closes on March 10th. To learn more, please visit this website

Eviction Moratorium Expires, Enhanced Protections Remain in Place

On February 22nd, City Council voted to uphold Mayor Harrell’s February 28th residential eviction moratorium expiration. There was a proposal to extend the eviction moratorium as long as there is a COVID-19 civil emergency. While I could support a moratorium that was connected to a date certain, I could not support or vote for a moratorium that was vague in its end date.  

It is important that we have a step-down approach from the eviction moratorium so we don’t evict people who can’t pay debt and push them into homelessness. As you may know, Seattle is one of the last cities in the state and nation to maintain its eviction moratorium. The moratorium is not a long-term solution, and we need to understand the cliff we're are facing so that we can strengthen protections appropriately and increase rental assistance funding to meet the need of our community.   

The City Council has also adopted several strong protections that will remain in place once the moratorium ends:  

  • Six-Month Defense: For six months following the end of the moratorium (late August), we have established a defense against eviction for any tenant served with an eviction notice for non-payment of rent during the moratorium or during the six-months after.  

  • Repayment Plan: The Council has also adopted legislation allowing tenants who have missed rent payments to establish a payment plan to pay back their owed rent in installments over three to six months. This requirement applies to rental debt accrued during the civil emergency, or for six-months after the civil emergency lapses.  

  • The civil emergency is still in place, and I am not aware of any plans to end it, so this six-month clock will not start yet.  

  • Failure to Pay Rent Defense: Finally, we have also adopted a defense against eviction for any failure to pay rent during the civil emergency. Again, since the civil emergency continues, this defense remains in place.  

I am exploring how we can strengthen these protections, recognizing that many were adopted before we understood how long the COVID-19 pandemic would impact us.  

Hearing From You

Every week I meet with D6 residents to hear about issues impacting you daily. I love talking directly to D6ers, it is often the best part of my week. If you would like to meet with me, please use this form to set up a time. I meet with residents during the day and evening too. I look forward to speaking with you soon!

Subscribe to My Newsletter

If this email was forwarded to you by a friend, I encourage you to sign-up for my newsletter! I send out a regular newsletter about the happenings in our district, updates from City Hall, and progress reports on the work we are doing to make life better for all of us in Seattle.

To stay up to date, sign up for my newsletter here!

Videos on My Website

Every time we have Council Briefing, I update my colleagues on issues in District 6 and the work my office is doing that week. These updates are a helpful way to follow along with my 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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