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Hello neighbors. 

Starting this weekend, the City Council will be on recess until Labor Day. During that period the Council will not have formal meetings, but of course City business does not stop. Our office was able to get some important business done in these last few weeks before the start of recess, and I want to take this last opportunity to give you a few updates. 

City Hall Park

The Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with severe shortages of both affordable housing and mental health services, have led to a dramatic increase in people living unsheltered across the country. In Seattle, many people have resorted to pitching tents in public spaces, such as parks, to have any form of shelter. It is a failure of the City to not have better options for people to live in during our now common extreme weather events such as heat waves, wildfire smoke, and heavy rain and snow.  

One large encampment formed at City Hall Park adjacent to the King County Courthouse. The location of this encampment made it difficult for other people to access court services such as Housing Justice Project, protection order advocates, and jury duty. Several employees at the King County Courthouse resigned their positions citing safety concerns, and judges frequently reported the encampment was having a discernible impact on the ability of the court to continue to function.    

As a subscriber to my newsletter, you may remember me advocating for the JustCARE program and securing funding for its expansion. The JustCARE program and employees of the City’s Human Services and Parks departments worked on outreach, and 75 people accepted some form of shelter. This high acceptance rate and low-rate of displacement is critical to make sure we are not just moving people from one encampment to another. I am hopeful we will have more operations centering outreach and shelter in the future across the city as part of our partnership with JustCARE.   

Downtown Storefront Legislation 

Downtowns all across the world have been hit hard by COVID, and ours is no exception. Hundreds of Downtown business have closed, and the Delta variant has revived concerns about the future of congregate work. Downtown will bounce back, but the character of businesses and activities will likely change in the post-COVID world.  

That is why my colleague Councilmember Strauss, in collaboration with my office, proposed legislation to broaden the types of businesses allowed in street-level storefronts in the Downtown neighborhood. Prior to this legislation, Downtown street-level use was mostly limited to retail and restaurants. With this new legislation property owners can pursue uses such as gyms, public art installations, medical services, and temporary bike parking.  

Working with the Downtown Seattle Association and the Chamber of Commerce, my office put forward several amendments to further expand the impact of the ordinance. These amendments allowing light manufacturing, extending the added uses to South Lake Union, and fast-tracking the use approval process in Pioneer Square were all unanimously adopted by my colleagues. I look forward to visiting the dynamic new businesses that will take advantage of this legislation and shape the Downtown Seattle of the future. 

Florentia Street Redesignation 

Map of W Florentia Street between 3rd Avenue N and Florentia Street between Queen Anne Avenue N and Nickerson Street as nonarterial streets.

This summer, my office docketed a change to Seattle’s comprehensive plan to redesignate Florentia Street in North Queen Anne from arterial to neighborhood street. For years, neighbors living near Florentia have passionately advocated for this important pedestrian safety improvement. Vehicle speeding on Florentia is a common hazard, and it does not help that the corridor has incomplete sidewalk coverage in some locations. 

This redesignation is a critical first-step for additional traffic calming improvements like speed humps, speed tables, and repainting the road to reflect its new status as a residential street. While this change is now docketed, it will not go into effect until the comprehensive plan amendment has fully run its course. The redesignation is anticipated to be official sometime in early 2022, and my office will provide an update when a firm date is determined.  
I want to thank the community activists who have advocated for this change for many years. Thanks to their dedication we will finally reclaim this street as a safe place for pedestrians.        

 Budget Updates 

Earlier this week, the Finance & Housing Committee on which I serve passed the mid-year supplemental budget. This budget adjustment takes into account revised revenues and is our budget for the last quarter of 2021. Thankfully, Seattle has had a relatively robust recovery from the worst of the economic shutdown and so we have been able to fund some important additional programs. 

For example, we allocated an additional $3 million for the Human Services Department’s Community Safety Capacity Building RFP. This money will go to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led community groups to end violence and reimagine safety in their communities. I am proud to have sponsored an amendment providing $1.7 million to Chief Seattle Club’s ?al?al housing project that will create 80 units for housing for our American Indian/Alaska Native neighbors. 

After recess, the Council will begin the work of crafting the 2022 budget. It will be very important to hear from our community as we prioritize spending for next year. To that end the Council will hold three public hearings so that our constituents can way in: 

  • Tuesday, October 12th at 5:30 p.m. 

  • Wednesday, November 10th at 5:30 p.m. 

  • Thursday, November 18th at 9:30 a.m. 

Keep an eye out for emails from me with more information on how to participate in these online public hearings. 

Office Hours

As always, I am happy to take phone calls from constituents who want to discuss issues facing the city and more specifically District 7. Schedule a call with me here

Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis
Seattle City Council // District 7
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