Dear Neighbor,

After record rainfall these last few months, we are finally getting some sunny days around here. This past Monday, Council received the first quarter economic and revenue update that shows continued strength in the construction sector and a strong economy in our region that continues to outpace the U.S.

Last Thursday, SPD responded to a downtown convenience store robbery. Three officers were shot and, thankfully, all three officers have been released from the hospital. I want to thank all of our officers and first responders who serve and protect our community and put their lives on the line for us every day. Our work on police accountability does not diminish our thankfulness for their public service

This week, local philanthropist Paul G. Allen, announced a $30 million investment to help the City develop a housing and service center for families with children experiencing homelessness. We are all thankful for Mr. Allen’s generosity, investment and commitment to Seattle.

Below are the latest developments from City hall that may be of interest to you.

Fixing Potholes

In the last newsletter, I wrote about the many potholes we come across after winter and early spring and what we are doing to fix this problem. I am following up to share that SDOT has launched a vigorous effort to repair potholes. For District 2, City crews will be fixing potholes from South Orcas Street to South Alaska Street, along Rainier Ave S, up to Dearborn St, around 12th Ave South, Beacon Avenue South, and in many of other locations where residents have reported potholes. Our voices were heard and action is taken. 

Support for Seattle Public Schools to 2-Tier Bell Schedule

This week, after listening to parents, teachers, and the school district, the City announced a proposal to help Seattle Public Schools move from the current 3-tier bell time schedule to a 2-tier schedule. The school district asked for this one-time support of $2.3 million from the City to purchase additional bus service. We are not the School Board, but anytime we talk about education, my focus is to listen to the students and parents to ensure we invest the time and resources to help our students, teachers, and parents so they have every opportunity to succeed. As a parent, I remember the 16 years my wife and I spent getting our children to and from school. Some years required scheduling gymnastics. This is a change supported by research and data showing it is better for the health, safety, success and well-being of all our students. The Seattle School Traffic Safety Committee recommended that elementary schools start no earlier than 8:00 am, so that young students are traveling to and from school in daylight. Significant research has been done supporting later start time for teens. The 2-tier bell times for the 2017-2018 school year can be found here.

Seattle Preschool Program Classrooms Expansion

Last month, the City’s Department of Education and Early Learning announced the Seattle Preschool Program will add 20 new classrooms for the 2017-2018 school year. The program will now serve more than 1,000, three- and four-year old students. Visit this link to enroll your child next year. I believe these investments in our early learning system will pay off in huge dividends in the near and long term future. 

Renters' Commission

On March 20th, we passed Council Bill 118921 to establish the Seattle Renters’ Commission for the purpose of advising the Mayor and Council on issues to help our renters and represent their interests. Over 52% of households in Seattle live in rental housing and the number is 80% in some neighborhoods. The Renters’ Commission will consist of 15 members, 6 appointed each by the Council and Mayor, 2 by the Commission itself, and a young adult 18-29 years old from the Get Engaged program. The deadline to apply is May 1st at this link. Median household income of renters in Seattle is less than 50% of the median income of homeowners. We need to be intentional in our efforts to listen to renters and come up with obtainable solutions to address rising rents and housing affordability.

A Plan for Wireless Broadband Services in Seattle

Over a year ago, I sponsored a budget action for our Seattle IT department to develop a plan that would provide disadvantaged and underserved communities with free WiFi service. Eighty-five plus percent of Seattle residents have some level of Internet access at home. As part of the strategy and analysis in the report, the City identified twelve locations and six parks deemed important to improving digital equity. The digital equity locations are: Yesler Terrace, High Point, South Park, Rainier Vista, Othello, Rainier Beach, Lake City, SW Roxbury Street Corridor, 23rd Avenue Corridor, Judkins Park, Jimi Hendrix Park, Pratt Park, Camp Long, Discovery Park, Occidental Park, Warren Magnuson Park, Waterfront Park, and Westlake Park. In the last year, the City of Seattle completed upgrading public WiFi equipment at 26 Seattle Parks and Recreation Community Centers. The City has seen WiFi usage more than double in the past year. With 13.5 percent of the City’s residents living below the poverty level, my goal is to provide these low-income residents with free WiFi broadband service. I held a committee discussion with Seattle IT on April 19 to discuss this Wireless Strategy Report and stated that we need to act with a sense of urgency to implement a plan to deploy WiFi service at the identified digital equity locations. Stay tuned for the specific deliverables that will demonstrate the City’s commitment to its WiFi strategy in 2017.

Rainier Avenue Corridor Safety Improvements

On March 20th, the City announced investments we are making to improve pedestrian and neighborhood safety as part of the Pedestrian Master Plan and Vision Zero safety program. The Pedestrian Master Plan now directs $22 million for 50 blocks of new sidewalk improvements this year. Seven locations in District 2 will see these safety investments. Additionally, as part of additional funding I secured last fall for the Rainier Avenue corridor safety project, SDOT will accelerate the second phase of this project on Rainier Avenue between S. Kenny Street and S. Henderson Street. The corridor will see $2.25 million in improvements. We announced these investments a few weeks ago at M.L.K Elementary school with Mayor Murray, Councilmember Mike O’Brien, and community leaders.

Select Committee on Civic Arenas

On March 27th, Council held the first meeting of the Select Committee on Civic Arenas. The purpose of the Select Committee on Civic Arenas is to examine issues and consider actions related to the proposed civic arenas at Seattle Center and SODO. As Council President, during the development of our annual work program, I established a Select Committee on Civic Arenas so the Council as a whole is involved in the review process of the arena proposals. The first two committee meetings (3/27 and 4/17) provided a general overview on the issues for the SODO arena and KeyArena redevelopment and the evaluation process for the KeyArena Request for Proposals (RFPs). The April 17th committee meeting focused on reviewing the initial three-page summaries provided by the two responders (AEG and Oak View Group). The City has created a three-prong approach to evaluate the proposals by AEG and Oak View Group. Three teams have been setup by the City to assist the Mayor in making a decision by the proposed June 30th deadline: a community advisory panel, city staff review team, and executive review team. After the selection, the next step would involve drafting a potential development agreement, long-term lease, memorandum of understanding, landmark controls and incentives, and other legislation in coordination with the vision and mission of the larger Seattle Center re-development efforts.
At the same time, the committee will also consider the new street vacation petition submitted by WSA Properties LLC in the SODO area. On April 6th, the Seattle Design Commission approved the new street vacation proposal by Mr. Chris Hansen. The Commission approved the new street vacation proposal by a vote of 7-1 on design and 8-0 on public benefit. Again, our job as Council when reviewing street vacations is to answer the question, does vacating the right-of-way serve the public’s interest. To arrive at an answer, we should be guided by the Final Environmental Impact Statement data and established land use policies and standards as called for by in the street vacation policies. We need to look at the merits of both projects equally, and ask if it serves the public interest (no public financing, transportation impact, economic impact, jobs, neighborhood impact, etc.).
The SuperSonics last played here nine years ago and this long saga for a new arena and bringing back a team has certainly tested our resolve as fans. The good news for fans is we are trying to put the City in the best position to bring a team back. We have three investor groups determined and competing to build a new arena that will serve as an opportunity to be a great venue for music, entertainment, NHL, and NBA. For more information on the Select Committee, please visit:

Misty Copeland Lecture at UW

On March 24th, I had the great opportunity to attend a lecture by Misty Copeland at UW. In 2016, Misty Copeland became the first African American female principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history. In 2014, President Obama appointed Copeland to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2015. She shared her unique and inspiring story. It was amazing to hear what Misty overcame in her life to achieve her dreams. Moving from place to place without a stable roof over her head; living in an environment that had absolutely nothing to do with dance; and then being introduced to mentors who saw potential in her as a teenager. Her story touched young and old; dancers and nondancers; people from all backgrounds and Seattle was the beneficiary of her visit to our city.

Technology Matching Fund and Neighborhood Matching Fund

The City has two extraordinary grant programs through the Technology Matching Fund and Neighborhood Matching Fund. Community organizations and nonprofits can apply for technology grants up to $50,000 to help increase digital equity. The application deadline is May 3rd and application materials are available at Communities can also apply for the Neighborhood Matching Fund, which goes towards projects that strengthen our communities through community space improvements, public art, and community organizing. Funds per project range from $5,000 to $100,000. To learn more and apply, please visit The next deadline for Neighborhood Matching Funds is June 26.

Take care and stay tuned for more exciting news from City Hall.

Bruce A. Harrell
President, Seattle City Council - District 2
Chair: Education, Equity, & Governance Committee
206-684-8804 | Office: 206-684-8804 | PO Box 34025 Seattle, WA 98124-4025

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