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Happy New Year Neighbors,

I hope you all had a safe and healthy start to this new year. 2020 was a difficult year - for families, individuals, businesses, nonprofits, the health services community, teachers, and nearly everyone else in between. While the COVID-19 pandemic is still surging, the recent deployment of vaccines to our healthcare and vulnerable populations gives me new hope.

When I was inaugurated a bit over a year ago, I had plans to spend my days meeting face to face with constituents, amplifying D6 constituent voices at City Hall. I planned to work towards increased bus infrastructure, addressing racial inequities, expanding affordable childcare programs, stewarding thoughtful land use policies, supporting small businesses, and ensuring ALL Seattleites have a safe affordable place to call home. These goals have not changed, if anything, the need for them has become even clearer. The pandemic highlighted the many social and health inequities that exist in our community. It showed us that there are healthier ways to shelter individuals, which provide healthy individual space, and allows people to stay with their partners, pets and possessions. It highlighted the need to support local small businesses and employees. It's become painfully obvious that the safety nets we have in place aren’t enough.

That’s why this year I focused on supporting small businesses, reducing the barriers to building childcare, expanding investments for mental health and substance abuse, securing funds for dedicated homeless outreach providers for D6, and more. Details below.

2020 showed just how strong we each can be, both as individuals and a community working together. It was not the year any of us planned. It was full of heartbreak and resilience, disappointment and opportunity. It turned our lives upside down and shifted our focus to what’s most important. 2020 got us to reevaluate many of our values and priorities.

I know many of us are hoping 2021 brings back normalcy, but realistically “normal” was not working for many in our community. We need better support systems for our workers and small businesses. We need to continue to rethink what public safety looks like and implement sweeping changes to how we respond to individuals in crisis. We need to create housing quickly, so that people living outside are safe.  We have a lot of work ahead of us in 2021, and I am committed to working with each of you to ensure our community thrives and each of these issues are addressed. This won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. Luckily the Council has already made funding decisions through the 2020 budget process, which will get us started in these efforts - and it is critical that this money is deployed quickly so our communities start seeing results.

Thank you for engaging and collaborating with me this last year, I look forward to working with you more in 2021. I meet with D6 residents every week. If you are interested in meeting with me, please fill out this form.

To a better year,  

2020 Accomplishments

In 2020, my office and myself had to adjust how we engage with our district. We quickly pivoted to many virtual meetings and phone calls, and were still able to hold 212 resident meetings, 36 community group and association meetings, and attended 42 Community Council and BIA meetings. Additionally, in my first eight weeks in office I participated in walking tours in Ballard, Phinney/Greenwood, Fremont, and Green Lake, visiting with 36 businesses. 

It was through feedback from these D6 resident meetings and other forms of D6 resident correspondence that I prioritized supporting families and small businesses, alleviating homelessness, land use issues, expanding support for tenants and property owners, climate change and public safety. Below are accomplishments in each of these categories:

My First Bill: Childcare Near You

My first piece of legislation was CB 119831, the Childcare Near You bill. Every family should have access to childcare. It is a critical service. The Childcare Near You bill encourages the creation of new childcare centers across Seattle. It removes unnecessary red tape to open a new childcare center and provides incentives to build childcare spaces.
Anyone who has looked for childcare in Seattle knows that it can be difficult and expensive to access. I have seen too many friends pushed out of Seattle simply because they couldn’t find childcare. Prior to the Childcare Near You bill, outdated regulations required childcare centers in most residential areas to apply for additional permits, adding months to the process and making projects more expensive. This prevented enough childcare from being built, increased the cost of childcare that was built, and pushed those childcare centers away from where people live and work.
Childcare touches on so many different issues: from the affordability of our city, to how equitable our neighborhoods are, to how we support working parents, and particularly working moms, who disproportionately bear the impact of our childcare shortage.
By making these changes, this legislation streamlines the process for opening new childcare centers. It will help make childcare available in more of our city and lower the cost of opening new childcare spaces.

Supporting Small Businesses

Small Business Case Management
In my first eight weeks in office - prior to the COVID-19 restrictions - I participated in four walking tours of business districts in D6 and met with 36 businesses in Ballard, Green Lake, Phinneywood, and Fremont.  When the pandemic hit, we reassigned staff roles within the office to provide small businesses with a case manager, helping to navigate the Federal, State, and City resources available. Navigating these bureaucracies is never easy which is why we had a member of my team solely focused on helping small businesses apply and receive support. A few examples include:

  • Addo Restaurant in Ballard was having issues with ticketing from parking enforcement. We were able stop the ticketing by changing the parking enforcement rules to facilitate customer pickup for takeout orders.
  • Assisted the Fremont Arts Council with rent and utility relief due to the cancellation of their major income generating annual event, the Solstice Parade.
  • Advised a long-standing food service establishment in Phinney facing eviction and threats of rent increases by a landlord, getting them some additional time to find another location once the stay-at-home order is lifted.
  • Working with D6 small businesses, Restaurants United, and Ballard Brewers to write a letter to federal and state leaders that was signed by the City Council, calling for support and identifying the barriers and challenges small businesses faced.
Our support for small businesses continues and if you need assistance accessing resources or alleviating an issue, please fill out this form - we are here to help you! 

Café Streets
Small businesses have struggled to remain open due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, especially as cases increase and indoor spaces continue to be limited in capacity.

As a solution, I proposed Café Streets and called on SDOT and the Mayor’s office to quickly use our streets and sidewalks for businesses to operate outside. These permits are a lifeline allowing businesses to remain open while complying with public health guidelines, safely allowing outdoor cafes, retail merchandise displays, food trucks, and vending carts. Seattle’s Café Streets and innovative businesses such as Ballard’s San Fermo have been highlighted on the national NPR. I am extremely appreciative of how small businesses have adapted this year to ensure a safe and healthy environment for their patrons.

Since the release of the outdoor permits this summer, SDOT has improved accessibility and speed to help our businesses pivot to outdoor operations faster. SDOT offers free, streamlined permits, and since we don’t know when the pandemic will end, these permits have been extended through October 31, 2021. I am currently working to create a permanent permit so that when the pandemic ends, we can still enjoy these Café Streets. SDOT also amended the rules to allow most businesses to leave their retail displays and tables in the rights-of-way outside of business hours so that our small businesses don’t need to face anymore unnecessary burdens.

Even before COVID-19, I wanted to see places like Ballard Avenue and streets throughout Seattle pedestrianized so that we can utilize and enjoy the public space we already have in our neighborhoods. Café Streets and Street Cafés have important economic value in our neighborhoods and city. We will get through this pandemic together and café streets are one creative way to support businesses during this time.

JumpStart Seattle COVID Relief Package and Economic Spending Plan
As a cosponsor to the JumpStart legislation I championed the needs of small businesses by expanding the amount of funds available for COVID-19 relief. In addition to providing immediate support to small businesses, the JumpStart legislation funds affordable housing, home ownership programs, the equitable development initiative, and provides funding to those most impacted by climate change. This is exactly what we need to jump start our City’s economic recovery and address homelessness in a way that will show results.

It was important to me that small businesses with narrow margins benefit from the JumpStart proposal and future investments in our economic recovery. JumpStart Seattle also includes solutions that we’ve heard from Seattleites across our city – a focus on rental assistance and childcare – so that we plug holes in this economic crisis and ensure our middle class thrives in the years ahead.

More COVID Relief Measures For Small Businesses
In 2020, the City dedicated nearly $10 million to Seattle small businesses and will be announcing the next round of grants by the end of January. Additionally, the Council passed legislation dedicating $5 million to directly support hospitality and restaurant workers who have lost wages because of the recent COVID-19 closures. Hospitality workers impacted can apply for up to $1,000 in support here.


Reopening Farmers Markets and Expanding Access to Healthy Foods

Reopening Farmers Markets
Farmers Markets are a critical piece of our food access infrastructure. The COVID-19 outbreak initially shut down farmers markets across the region. When it became apparent that outdoor, neighborhood-based farmers markets were a safer way to access healthy food than shopping at a grocery store, I worked with Seattle King County Public Health and the Mayor’s Office to allow neighborhood farmers markets to reopen quickly. In addition to this work, I led successful budget amendments to direct City departments to develop strategies to better support farmers markets, and preserved funding for a staff position necessary for farmers markets’ operations.

You may have noticed the farmers markets in D6 were the first to open in the City. This was directly due to my work behind the scenes and because of the amazing people like Doug Farr at the Seattle Farmer’s Market Association. A big, “Thank You” to Doug and all the farmers who remained committed to bringing fresh food from the fields directly to our neighborhood during a period of such uncertainty.

Accessible Healthy Food
I also passed a budget amendment to expand the Fresh Bucks program, enrolling 2,600 people currently on the Fresh Bucks waitlist who would not have access to the program this year. Fresh Bucks provides eligible residents with vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets and participating grocery stores. Access to healthy, locally grown food is so important, and food insecurity has been a major concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will also complement broader efforts I have pursued to support farmers markets and healthy food access.

Addressing Homelessness

We can no longer nip around the edges of this crisis, which has persisted as a civil state of emergency for 6 years and as a prominent issue for a decade. You can read about my approach here. This year I made strategic investments to help our neighborhoods in D6 until the City heeds my call to address this crisis at the scale it demands.

Expanding the Mobile Crisis Team
The Mobile Crisis Team is the best suited organization to assist with behavioral health issues in our city. It's comprised of mental health and substance use professionals who respond to individuals in crisis. More than a quarter of that team was set to be laid off as a result of the loss of non-City funding. I secured a $1 million investment in the Mobile Crisis Team, which will prevent the planned layoffs and provide $250,000 to expand capacity to meet increasing need. This investment also requires the Mobile Crisis Team to report on how referrals can be decoupled from the current practice of requiring SPD to make referrals. By requiring SPD to make referrals, we delay the response time of the Mobile Crisis Team, and dispatch officers to behavioral health calls rather than focusing their time on traditional police work.

Dedicated D6 Homelessness Outreach
This funding will provide two homelessness outreach workers for District 6. These outreach workers will connect individuals experiencing homelessness with housing and services, support good neighbor agreements and community clean-up activities, and serve as liaisons to businesses, community members, and neighborhood organizations.

I am the first person to bring outreach workers dedicated to D6. There has previously been an outreach worker dedicated to Downtown Ballard, and the additional two outreach positions I created will serve our district from Green Lake, to Woodland Park, to Fremont, and Ballard. This is in addition to the HOPE Team which will coordinate outreach services citywide.

Tiny House Villages
co-sponsored and supported two budget amendments to increase funding for Tiny House villages across the City. Tiny House villages are not the solution to homelessness, but while we wait for permanent housing solutions to be built, these ensure our homeless neighbors have a safe, warm place to sleep, have a door to lock and can keep their possessions safe.

Neighborhood-based Mental Health Teams
This funding is reflective of the type of investments we need to create a new public safety system. This amendment expands our mental health response city-wide, district-by-district, by funding specialized teams of mental health, medical, and substance use professionals. These teams will be based in neighborhoods throughout the city and act as first responders to behavioral health and substance-use situations. By funding these behavioral health teams we will focus resources upstream to reduce the number of 911 disturbance calls. Additionally, we will have the right person to call when there are behavioral health issues in our neighborhood.

Public Safety

The nation and city’s collective definition of safety was greatly redefined in 2020. I realized that what felt safe to me, didn’t feel safe for people of color in our city.

In 2020 the Council began transferring functions within SPD to more appropriate departments. We also funded a participatory budgeting process for public safety to begin scaling up community-based approaches to respond to crises. Additionally, we increased funding for mental health and substance abuse professionals, outreach workers and expanded the nationally recognized Health One program.

This work, which started in 2020, must continue to realign our public safety dollars in 2021.

We must create a public safety system that works for everyone in Seattle, so that when you call 911 you get the right response right away. We know that 56% of 911 calls are non-criminal – parking violations, noise complaints, mental health crises, and welfare checks. For these calls, we do not need a police officer to be the first person on the scene, and we do need the appropriate first responder to get there quickly with the resources they need to be successful. We need police time focused on crime, and when they are required to be the first on the scene for behavioral health or other non-criminal calls, we are not utilizing them to their highest and best use. The example from the Mobile Crisis Team demonstrates this. We shouldn't require a police officer to arrive on the scene just to make a referral to behavioral health professionals.

Additionally, we need to stop relying on our police to respond to the homelessness crisis. In early February I participated in roll call with the North Precinct and I saw that officers were spending their time responding to homelessness and mental health issues without the resources they needed to bring meaningful resolution to these human service calls, which delayed their response times to things like home burglaries and other public safety issues. This type of system doesn’t work for anyone: homeless individuals don’t receive the care they need; police officers are frustrated because they are spending their days being social workers, which they didn’t sign up for; neighbors are frustrated because they are seeing the rise in homelessness without proper results and, are experiencing slower response times when they need the police. This is why I sponsored funding for mental health professionals, substance abuse professionals and crisis response teams, as well as dedicated D6 homelessness outreach. I championed neighborhood focused homelessness outreach and expanding the Seattle Fire Department’s Health One program because by having more tailored and adequate responses to individuals living outside, we will free up our police to respond to public safety issues.

Addressing Racial Disparities at all Level of our City Governments and Policy 

What we know is that racial disparities are embedded in the fabric of our society. The marches we saw across the country this year calling for justice and equity were not new efforts. Voices near and far are asking us to address a failure that has been passed down through generations, a failure that is as old as our nation. Our country has failed to create unity and equity for Black, Indigenous and People Of Color for too long.

While many are hoping 2021 will bring back a sense of normalcy, we must face the fact that normal is not working.

Injustices faced by Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color today are prevalent across our country - including in Seattle. Discrimination includes unfair housing policies, biased policing, health care access, wage discrimination, voter suppression, or countless other needs.

I am committed to fighting these injustices.

Land Use

As Chair of the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee I strive to ensure, safe, equitable and connected neighborhoods. This year we focused on decreasing barriers to build childcare spaces, thoughtfully stewarding land use, increasing tree protections and supporting property owners and tenants by improving the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) systems and addressing permit wait times.

Thoughtfully Stewarding Land Use
When COVID-19 first broke out in Seattle, I took fast action to pass emergency legislation moving design review and permitting processes to a virtual format for the first time. This protected vital construction jobs and critical housing projects, while ensuring a responsible public health approach. Without this bill, our construction pipeline would have come to a halt along with the jobs these projects create
This year, I also acted on two amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, which guides sustainable long-term growth in Seattle, and is updated annually. The first expands the borders of the West Seattle Junction Urban Village to allow an expansion of Providence Mount St. Vincent, or “The Mount,” a senior living facility cherished by its surrounding community. The second amendment adopted a new neighborhood plan for Delridge, which had long been working to update their outdated plans.
In addition to this work, we adopted several routine land use proposals, such as the Land Use Omnibus bill, which makes important technical corrections to keep our city running smoothly.
Tree Protections 
One of my top priorities has been to increase protections for trees. In my first year in office, we took important steps to lay the groundwork for future wins. Since before my time in office, I have worked closely with SDCI on writing a new, stronger tree ordinance. This year, SDCI reported quarterly to my committee on their progress on tree protections, which has included hiring additional arborists, increased enforcement, and a draft Directors Rule to expand protections for trees.
Additionally, I have requested that Seattle Public Utilities expand the tree ambassador program, which recruits volunteers to help in the management of the City’s urban forest. I also added an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan docket for next year, which asks City departments to review goals and policies regarding trees. These are small steps to ensuring that Seattle’s gorgeous tree canopy stays intact. My 2021 goal is to expand these protections through a Tree Protection Ordinance.

Supporting Tenants and Property Owners

Improving Permit Review Times
A long-standing problem in Seattle is lengthy review times for permits. While City departments have taken positive steps in recent years, lengthy backlogs remain. I added language to the City budget that will require the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections to report quarterly to the City Council on permit review times, and steps they are pursuing to meet review turnaround goals.

Increasing Tenant Outreach and Education
This funding will supplement existing contracts to provide tenant outreach and education. The economic fallout of COVID-19 will have lasting impacts, and we anticipate a rise in evictions when state-level eviction moratoriums eventually lift. Meeting that new demand with increased outreach and education will allow tenants to connect with services and understand their rights.
Adding Property Owner and Tenant Assistance Resources and Staff
This funding will allow for the hiring of an additional staff member in the Property Owner and Tenant Assistance group, to assist in resolving complaints and requests for service from both tenants and property owners. The position will also support outreach and education as well as help enforce tenant protections. The additional position means that tenants filing complaints or seeking information about their rights will be responded to faster, and that property owners will have more City staff helping them understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law.

Increased Transportation and Addressing Climate Change

To keep our city connected and to decrease impacts from climate change I have pushed for more bus and bike lanes in 2021. My hope is to keep everyone moving and in their lane. During budget negotiations, I secured $1 million to continue work on the Route 44 Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor project, which was supposed to be delayed. It is important to keep these improvements on the original timeline, so they are built before the light rail station opens in the University District.

This year brought another mode of transportation to our streets: scooters. In the current public health climate, it was important to finally try this mode of transportation that allows people to safely and sustainably move throughout Seattle. Even as we begin to reawaken our past transportation patterns, scooters provide crucial first and last mile connections, helping Seattle residents get where they need to go. I am also proud of the equitable access built into this program, ensuring that all residents have access to this mode of transportation. I initially had reservations about scooters, and I am happy to see this program working well.

Advocated for the Passage of the Block the box Legislation
I testified in support of legislation that stops drivers from stopping in crosswalks (Blocking the Box). Blocking the Box violations occur hundreds of times per day in downtown Seattle, causing congestion, hurting transit reliability, and making our streets dangerous for road users. This is important to people living with disabilities who depend on clear crosswalks to navigate through the city. Here’s a quick video showing how blocking the box makes navigating the city dangerous for people with disabilities.  This legislation helps us move people through our downtown core by allowing cameras to detect drivers in intersections, crosswalks, transit-only lanes, or restricted lanes so that traffic can flow more efficiently. The legislation was passed by the State Legislature last March.

Hiring a City Climate Advisor
The Mayor’s proposed budget also was slated to delay the hiring of a Climate Policy Advisor until 2022. The Climate Policy Advisor position is responsible for implementing the City’s Climate Action Plan and working to address building decarbonization efforts. I secured funding to hire this position next year, because we cannot have any more delays to meeting our City’s climate goals. If we do not act with urgency today, we may not have a livable world in our lifetime. There is much more work to be done to meet our goals and we need a leader to ensure we meet our objectives.

Looking Towards 2021

The issues that arose in 2020, did not disappear at the stroke of midnight on January 1st. If anything we have seen that they continue to grow and evolve. Thankfully, in collaboration with my Council colleagues and the Mayor, Seattle is in a good position to address the health, social and economic wellbeing of the City. I will continue to advocate for District 6, I will continue to fight for more housing solutions for people living outside, I will continue to be a champion for small businesses and workers, I will continue to realign our public safety systems to create better outcomes and address racial disparities, and I will work to ensure our city recovers from the COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, as Chair of the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee I will spend the year addressing legislation on mobile home parks, tree protections and leveraging land use to address COVID-19 relief.

As Seattle continues to be a leader in areas of public health, civic justice and providing COVID-19 relief, the year showed that families need more support systems and that teachers, service providers and health care workers are all stretched too thin, which is why I will continue to advocate to our state and federal partners for additional supports for these programs.   

As I mentioned above, I have restructured my outreach plan for 2021 to meet public health guidelines and meet as many D6ers as humanly possible. I am committed to regularly communicating with constituents through office hours, community meetings, and towns halls. If you would like to request a meeting with me, please fill out this form. While we are not always going to see eye to eye, know we will continue to collaborate on solutions together. Thank you again for working with me last year and for continuing our effort to ensure the best for District 6 and Seattle as a whole.
If you need assistance, please reach out to my office:
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