Plan for the Future

Agenda

01

Homelessness

Plans and proposals
 

The number of Seattle homeless is heart breaking and their conditions continue to get worse creating strong emotions.  However, we must be led by reasoning to create lasting solutions through goals, analysis, and measured results.  $4.42 billion of federal aid is coming to Washington State with Seattle anticipating approximately $239 million from the Federal American Rescue Plan.   Presently $128 million is spent from the recent Council approved plan last month where members allocated $49.2 million on their housing and homelessness objectives, such as tiny homes and outreach.   For more than six years incumbent politicians state the emergency of the homeless, but couldn’t find solutions.  Tiny homes and living in a shed is not a long-term solution.  Even as a Rental Property these homes would not be allowed by SDCI as passing the RRIO checklist for occupancy, rejected for size to meet the sleeping room ordinance dimensions, no bathroom, no fan, fire rating for walls, egress, and lacking durability resulting is millions of tax dollars wasted.   Shelter is just a temporary need met without fixing root problems.  Current work has only touched the surface of this long-term problem that must be addressed with long-term solutions and ambition for the collective interest, not temporary shelter or pushed from one open space in a park to another edge of road somewhere.

At Northgate, the new light-rail station replaces the King County metro station, which was to be provided for developers that may include affordable housing.  This is a mistake, and the nearly $50 million above must be spent to build permanent vertical multi-story/multi-use homeless housing and rehabilitation facility focused at Northgate and permanently owned by the City.  Homelessness rehabilitation must be goal oriented toward a realistic 18 to 24 month transition housing necessary to heal from the root causes.  Here we would build a life-long plan with on-site professional support provided for those with addiction and mental needs as well as job training and career counseling including classroom time through the adjacent North Seattle College now just across the Northgate Pedestrian Bridge.  This gives those homeless in need a real plan, realistic time to transition, pride in themselves for a path forward, and value to the community.  This building facility, created at the obsolete public station, would also provide permanent direct access to light-rail transportation for jobs throughout the region supporting the planned transition without need for vehicles.  This location is beneficial as it is also immediately across the street from other medical professionals and is commercially zoned, so that unlike previous plans, it does not unnecessarily focus personal rehabilitation challenges as a bubble within the City’s various neighborhoods or schools zones.  Importantly the City’s assistance must be thoughtfully planned with separate and distinctly different facilities for families and homeless that are simply in financial distress and therefore need a very different kind of assistance.  Seattle can’t continue to allow unplanned homeless camps in parks and public properties, or even a grouping of temporary shed like tiny homes that has little long-term value for the community and doesn’t transition to normal housing and a life-long plan.  It is a hard transition, connecting at first with a few individuals at a time to eventually rehabilitate as many as possible.  But presently, in Seattle a homeless person can’t even apply for an ID without a physical address and significant paperwork, let alone try to get a job.  The City’s administration makes it impossible for the homeless to leave their impoverished state.  We need to stop the cycle of government run-around and instead:

  • Accept long-term responsibility, it takes time

  • Provide real housing for the transition

  • Be disciplined and show commitment to them

  • Create successful paths to follow for those in need

The way, the plan, the values, and the benefits must be made clear so that those in need feel aided and confident without feeling captured and incarcerated.  We must eliminate council’s past mistakes and press for a dependable City administration of long-term transitional infrastructure that is efficient, right, and fair.

02

Infrastructure & west Seattle bridge

Plans and proposals

As a professional engineer and bridge structural engineer (PE SE) with 30 years of civil engineering experience working on transportation and infrastructure projects, I feel strongly that the City of Seattle is making dramatic mistakes with our infrastructure.  I find fault that through poor maintenance and seemingly continual mistakes in the administration of our valuable infrastructure, the West Seattle Bridge has eliminated access to a major part of our City.  Now having been closed for 18 months without any certainty, the West Seattle community cannot continue to hear how great an emergency their access is while critical decisions languish.  Immediately after the February 28, 2001 Nisqually Earthquake, my technical report closed the Magnolia Bridge for remarkable damage that could have shuttered the bridge permanently.  Recognizing the Magnolia Bridge as a critical access, we were able to complete repair designs in March 2001, have a Contractor on board in April 2001, and open the bridge to the public in June 2001 with more than $200,000 paid to the Contractor as early completion incentive.  King County’s maintenance inspection observed significant cracks in the Duvall Bridge’s 12 span 1,182-foot reinforced concrete box girders.  We designed the external steel strengthening repair that winter and completed construction during a summer closure opening 7 days early to its 17,000 vehicles a day.  I have difficulty understanding that with 100,000 vehicles per day why the West Seattle Bridge had not been similarly prioritized for some level of opening.  Trucks and buses must cross on the lower West Seattle Swing Bridge, but the upper West Seattle Bridge should have the heavy central concrete barrier rail removed, the heavy outer rails replaced with lighter ones, and the bridge opened immediately to a lane of car traffic each way.

Seattle is a mature city with aging civil infrastructure.  We have reached a critical point where major upgrades and rehabilitation are necessary; for power, sewer, storm water, water supply, and roads/bridges, including new added transportation modes from partnering with Sound Transit.  Our City Council is missing information and is best served by having a council member with infrastructure experience and technical knowledge to help ask questions that spark the right answers and guide the development of our critical future infrastructure.  The city has upgraded sewer treatment facilities, water transport and recently reservoir facilities, and is in the middle of a storm water detention system at the north Lake Union Ship Canal Water Quality Project, but detailed planning and continued attention is needed moving forward.

 

More and enhanced transportation modes is our goal, but we must also maintain existing transportation to not create longer delays, added pollution, increased travel times, and unsafe conditions.  Our City streets cannot be made unsafe for other modes of travel by directives that favor only one user type.  All modes of transportation are necessary and integral to our transportation system.  Plans must work together to keep the elements that are valuable, while adding necessary improvements for future modes.  Our City must also act to address root transportation safety problems instead of reducing the value of roads by unrealistically and unilaterally dropping speed limits.  We need to re-establish basic rules for transportation interactions and educate drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians as to the correct means of assuring visibility when bikes and joggers are in the roadway.  This is especially true during dark Seattle winters where visibility is a safety imperative.

Finally, we also must have thoughtful decisions for infrastructure solutions realizing that enormous amounts of sustainability is created in maintaining and rehabilitating existing facilities because of the carbon footprint costs already paid and in understanding that new steel, concrete, rebar, and other building materials are the major users of our energy and resources.  Furthermore, obtaining the most from current resources has meaning and value that extends well beyond immediate project costs.  A significant portion of our future sustainability is reliant upon more economical and efficient solutions now.  We cannot waste resources on low value, short-lived, and temporary systems.  We need to focus on solutions with permanent value.

03

development and its impacts on critical green canopy

Plans and proposals

 

It doesn’t take a family friend from the asphalt and concrete cities of the East Coast to visit and help us understand the valuable difference between our City and others.   Trees and our urban forest are an important and valuable community asset that are essential to this local ecosystem capturing carbon and reducing heat within the built environment.   Once eliminated by poorly planned developments and growth, our trees cannot be replaced, ever.  Planning smart allows us to develop our properties in a focused and intelligent way.  We don’t need to recreate the “Dust Bowl” to know that it is wrong to permit destruction of our urban trees with a concrete and asphalt jungle that adds heat and permanently lowers the quality of life for all Seattle residents.  Urban canopy is critical green canopy; all of it.  That is not to say, by any means, that development and new infrastructure must be blocked by it.  Our planned and allowed developments must track the real “cost” of sacrificed trees so that we can correctly understand project costs, plan, and maintain the actual value of the Seattle area’s reservoir of critical green canopy.

Development can be wisely allocated to primary arterials where more extreme and considerable impacts are intelligently allowed, while ensuring the main region of connected adjacent neighborhoods, green space, and viewpoints are much more rigidly protected.  Herein the majority of mature critical green canopy is protected, while valuable development continues.  All residents, including those residing on developed arterials benefit by creating more open adjacent neighborhood spaces for all to walk, providing space for pets, to enjoy outdoor activities, while allowing development of affordable living spaces.  The developed arterial and connected adjacent neighborhood both receive value from the immediate adjacent access to mass transit, stores, retail, and business that enhance the usefulness and walkability of the area.  These attributes in turn create added value for business, employees, and happy/content residents, which in turn reduces crime by allowing for more personal neighborhood interactions, increased overall health, and a quantifiable reduction in required storm water runoff detention projects, such as the currently ongoing Lake Union Ship Canal Water Quality Project.  This sensible and focused design planning improves the city and environmental quality for all residents.

Enforcement by Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) of passed Tree Protection Ordinance sounds straightforward and obvious, but it is not working to create the smart City-wide Plan we need.  Fee-in-lieu of options and limitations to three trees a year per lot are not providing actual accounting and value for trees lost nor meeting our goals necessary to maintain critical green canopy.  It is also false to assume that even at 6 to 1 replacement of new to mature creates a realistic alternative to the mature trees’ benefits.  Count the leaves on six tiny new trees or considering the fact that small trees die or require replacement within three years, which makes them unequaled to a critical mature tree.  The tree ordinance must be clarified to protect all mature trees, except in designated arterials and urban development zones, including and especially those on public property.  The value of the trees within the allowed zones to be removed must be inventoried, retained if practical, but again valued in a tracking system for monitoring our area’s critical green canopy.  Protecting Seattle’s urban trees is a priority.  Environmental impacts begin in our own backyard.  Critical green space and tree canopy needs to be protected from poorly planned development.

04

public services and safety

Plans and proposals

I am for a Council that stands with and supports police.  I am for clear, dependable, judicial enforcement of laws.  I am strongly against defunding our police, unlike the current incumbent Council Member 8 who has worked to defund including removing an additional $2 million from police budget.  In Seattle, we do have need for a professional community response to homeless, to families, and to promote public order to which our police are a fundamental part.  Council’s recent votes and budgeting to eliminate financial and literal support for our police is wrong and it is hurting this community, the return of our businesses, and our people in need of support.  Increasing 911 response call times and the police workload through understaffing is damaging those most vulnerable and is resulting in a dramatic and dangerously low number of Seattle Police officers.  Seattle City Council’s allowance for a lawless and boarded downtown, a shutter Capitol Hill precinct, and the forced resignation of a good police chief was a mistake resulting in dramatically increased number of homicides and burglary in 2020.  I signed the Officer’s Guild petition in early August 2020 to stop defunding of our valuable police as well as the Guild’s recent petition of support at the national level.   We need to support our police, engage with them, and allow the opportunity for us to help make Seattle Police even better.

    

My background is that my favorite uncle (Uncle Bobby), was the chief of police for a small town in Pennsylvania after having retired from many years as a PA State Trooper.  His father, my favorite grandfather, was a professional soccer player and a long-time downtown Philadelphia neighborhood policeman.  I will always remember that black and white photo on his mantle with the white gloves directing traffic.  We need to help police return to a constructive manner of neighborhood engagement and outreach.  We need to promote neighborhood assignments so that the police are well known within the community allowing for collaborative relationships with its citizens that promote dialogue and prevent escalations.  We also need to give the police positive times in the neighborhood through off duty rotations that protect them from burnout of always being on-call responding to emergencies.  Most personnel go into policing to help people.  With the current city council leadership’s adversarial direction toward our police and the current Council 8’s work in particular to defund them, our police are responding to emergencies without support nor the opportunity to receive constructive two-way dialogue.     I emphatically support our police and making them better for us all.  We need to replace the current Seattle City Council Position 8 representative.