MAKING IT WORK
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide information, inspire involvement, and make things work in this great city.
On Monday, August 13, the City Council unanimously approved a package of four pieces of legislation that includes: 1) direction to the Mayor to staff a new nightlife enforcement unit that could issue fines and respond to neighborhood resident complaints in the evenings; 2) strengthening the City’s existing nuisance code to allow for abatement proceedings if a nightclub violates occupancy standards three times within a year; 3) a new requirement that nightclubs write safety plans, and 4) legislation requesting that the Mayor’s staff research and report back to Council with recommendations concerning club security staff training, zoning, promoter licensing, and new enforcement authority held by the Washington State Liquor Control Board. This legislation is now in effect.
This package includes the key measures that the City Council has been working on to prevent violence, reduce noise, and stop littering and other community problems. The Council will take further action in the near future to strengthen the noise ordinance and to establish a Nightlife Advisory Board to help with monitoring and policy development.
On Monday, September 17, the Council approved legislation establishing a Nightlife Advisory Board and creating a licensing process that would make it easier to impose penalties on larger night clubs when violent incidents take place. This narrowly drawn license was approved by a vote of 6 (Clark, Conlin, Della, Drago, Godden, Licata) to 3 (McIver, Rasmussen, Steinbrueck), after being amended to postpone implementation for a year pending an evaluation of the effectiveness of the other measures approved by the Council. The license ordinance was vetoed by the Mayor.
There continues to be disagreement over whether a narrowly-drawn nightlife license would be a useful tool or whether it is unnecessary given the other legislation that has been approved and would have unintended negative consequences. While I have strong doubts about the effectiveness of a license, I was willing to put a framework in place (limited to larger clubs and to issues relating to violence) as a means of ensuring that there would be a strong incentive for club owners to work hard to make the other measures effective. The Mayor had proposed a license that covered all clubs and that included issues of noise and litter as well.
Violence, excessive noise, and litter are not good for nightlife, and they are not good for neighborhoods. Everyone agrees on that. The disagreements have been over what regulatory system will best address these concerns. The package that the Council has approved has support from both residents and the nightlife industry, and it is likely that there can be similar agreement on the noise regulations and advisory board. If this package is effective on reducing the problems that have been experienced, I would expect that the license issue will not come up again.
However, the key to success will not just be in passing laws, but in ensuring that they are monitored and enforced, and that will require continued Council vigilance, even after we have completed the work on the final pieces of legislation.
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DISCOVERY PARK CAPEHART PROPERTY
On Monday, September 24, the Council unanimously approved legislation that finally incorporates the Navy housing area known as the Capehart property into Discovery Park. As a former member of the Discovery Park Advisory Council (prior to my election to the City Council), I have worked for many years to secure its inclusion into the Park.
The Capehart housing area is an enclave within Discovery Park. Acquisition of this site and adding it to the City's largest natural area has been planned since the City acquired most of the rest of the former Fort Lawton and developed a Master Plan for Discovery Park in the 1970's. While other former Fort Lawton property has come to the City with federal financial support or for very little cost as the military gradually abandoned the use of this area, the current administration required that the City pay $11 million for the Capehart housing, to be paid to the private developer that is building the replacement housing adjacent to the Everett Navy Base. This legislation implements the agreement for this, which was signed by the City in December, 2004. The funding for implementation comes largely from various sources dedicated to open space. The alternative to the City implementing this agreement would be for the property to be sold to and developed by a private party, probably as high end housing in this prime location.
Some community members advocated that the City retain the 66 housing units for low income housing, arguing that the City needs housing, not open space. It is unfortunate and sad to pit those two important needs against each other. As more housing is built in Seattle, open space becomes an even more vital necessity for our community, especially for low and moderate income households, who often live in multi-family housing.
In addition, this site would not be in any way an appropriate location to retain for housing purposes. The Capehart housing units that will be demolished are older units that are near the end of their useful life. All of the military families are being relocated to other housing, and no persons will be displaced when these housing units are torn down. They are also located in an isolated area, with neither grocery facilities nor social services facilities anywhere nearby. Retaining these units for housing would not only fly in the face of a more than 30 year commitment to the community and the Park, but would also be very impractical.
However, the other remaining military enclave in Discovery Park, the Army Reserve area, is a site that the City has committed to provide housing on. That area is located at the Park boundary, and does not compromise the integrity of the park, while also providing much more space for including services in the development and much better access to areas outside the Park. The Council is committed to including up to 200 units of housing in our redevelopment plan for that area.
The City of Seattle has a deep and fulfilled commitment to low income housing, and has invested $78 million over the last five years, developing some 2300 units. Our community needs both housing and parks. The fulfillment of the Discovery Park Master Plan by incorporating the Capehart housing area is an important step in realizing our community vision for Seattle.
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POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY AND PUBLIC SAFETY PLANNING
On Monday, September 24, the Council unanimously approved Resolutions 30996 and 31014, and Council Bill 116021, relating to public safety and police accountability. This legislation establishes a framework for taking the next steps towards making Seattle an even safer City in the future.
Resolution 30996 establishes performance measures for the Police Department. This resolution is the result of two years of negotiations between the Executive and Council, and extensive research and analysis on how to determine priorities for the work of the Seattle Police Department and how to measure the efficient and strategic use of police resources to meet those priorities.
The major performance goals for the Seattle Police Department are defined as 1) reducing crime, 2) reducing fear of crime and increasing the sense of security, 3) increasing traffic safety, 4) increasing safety in public places, 5) providing good customer service by responding to calls and attending to community needs, 6) holding offenders accountable, 7) using authority and force fairly and only as reasonably necessary, 8) strengthening emergency prevention and response, and 9) using public resources efficiently and responsibly. The resolution includes a set of 44 specific measurements that the Department will report annually or biennially in order to evaluate the Department’s effectiveness in meeting these performance goals. A complete list of the measures can be found in
Resolution 31014 endorses the Neighborhood Policing Staffing Plan. This plan calls for adding 105 police officers between 2008 and 2012, establishing new Patrol officers’ work shifts in order to make officers available when they are most needed, and redrawing Patrol beats to improve the workload balance among beats and allow more flexibility in Patrol deployment. In adopting this, the Council recognizes that, while Seattle in general is a very safe City, there are significant ‘hot spots’ around the City that require better public safety measures, and that there are communities where people do not feel that they are safe, even if the statistics are relatively good.
Effective deployment of existing resources by establishing new work shifts and beats is likely to be the best way to deal with this, and the 25 officers to be added in 2008 will provide additional flexibility. Additional officers could be added depending on the health of future budgets and a demonstration that these additional officers are the best investment compared to preventive measures such as human services, housing, and other priority areas.
Finally, Council Bill 116021 is a step towards improving the City’s police accountability system. It requires that the Office of Professional Accountability Director and Chief of Police file written explanations when they disagree on the final disposition of a misconduct complaint investigation. While any possible more major changes in the City’s complex accountability system will await the report of a citizen panel that is currently reviewing the system, there has been broad agreement that providing this paper trail will clear up confusion and concern about such disagreements.
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ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR GOATKIND
On Monday, September 24, the Council unanimously adopted my ordinance to allow the keeping of miniature goats as small animals in all zones of the City. Under the ordinance, persons can keep up to three of the several varieties of miniature goats, all of which are in the size range of up to 24 inches tall and 50 to 100 pounds. The goats must be licensed and must be kept on the owner’s property except for purposes of transport or with the permission of another property owner. Male miniature goats would be required to be neutered, and all miniature goats would be required to be dehorned.
While it is critical to keep working on the larger issues around sustainability, there are smaller ones that can also make a contribution to moving Seattle in a sustainable direction. I sponsored this ordinance at the request of a constituent who has goats, and who was dismayed to find that they were defined as farm animals in Seattle and therefore could only legally be kept on properties larger than 20,000 square feet. My office checked with the Health Department and Seattle Animal Control, and found that there are no significant issues associated with keeping miniature goats in the City.
Miniature goats are excellent pets, being good-natured, friendly, and relatively undemanding to keep. They can be a sound way to provide milk and cheese for families, if the milk is properly pasteurized prior to use. Encouraging local food production is a positive step from a sustainability standpoint (as with our community garden programs), and it also helps remind people of where food comes from (not from factories!) and helps teach children about ecology and the love of nature.
Goats are also ecologically effective browsers and are valuable for controlling weeds and clearing brush and undergrowth -- the City actually hires herds of goats to maintain areas such as power line corridors and steep slopes.
These are all good reasons to permit keeping miniature goats, and it was great to see both overwhelming public support and generally positive media response to this legislation. Keeping goats should not be undertaken lightly, as there is a lot of work and energy involved. The Health Department and Seattle Tilth are developing informational material and a training course for prospective goat keepers, and I encourage anyone who is considering goats to contact them prior to making a commitment.
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“If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.”
-- Margaret Mead
“Remember, remember always, that all of us… are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
-- Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Citizen participation and engagement are critical for maintaining democracy -- fostering it is a key task of elected
officials. It's my hope that this newsletter will inform you about issues, inspire you to get involved, and that together
we can make things work better in this great city. Please send me your feedback, so we can keep things lively, interesting,
Your Seattle City Councilmember
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