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City View Newsletter

Volume 1, Issue 10  •  September 25, 2008
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Serving the Common Good: Magnuson Park

Earlier this week, the Council's Parks and Seattle Center Committee voted to recommend two public-private partnerships to the full Council to repair and renovate former U. S. Navy structures at the north end of Magnuson Park in northeast Seattle.

One partnership will allow Arena Sports to renovate Hanger 27 for use as a sports facility and for community meetings. The other partnership will allow repair and renovation of Building 11 (adjacent to Hanger 27) to house Sail Sand Point, other water-related activities, small restaurants, and limited office space. The partnerships guarantee continued public access to the north shore of Lake Washington and provide several public benefits, including youth athletic scholarships and public meeting space. But the greatest public benefit is renovation of the two buildings which otherwise would be boarded up or torn down.

I strongly support this type of public-private partnership because it allows the city to accomplish what we otherwise couldn't because of limited funds. These partnerships serve the common good by allowing thousands of individuals and families to engage in water-related activities, play indoor sports like soccer and lacrosse year-around or just enjoy a walk along the beach. These partnerships are pro-park, pro-family, and reflect wise stewardship. They will ensure that these facilities can continue to be used for community and recreational use.

The full Council will vote on both of these public-private partnerships next Monday or on October 6.

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Serving the Common Good: Fort Lawton

The Council voted 9-0 this week to submit a plan to the federal government that would allow the city to redevelop the soon-to-be-closed Army reserve base at Fort Lawton adjacent to Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood. If approved by the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 28 acres of Army property would be used for park land and for up to 216 units of housing, including both market-rate units and a maximum of 85 units dedicated to low-income, formerly homeless individuals.

Some - and I believe a very small minority - in the Magnolia community have objected to this plan either because they want Fort Lawton incorporated into Discovery Park, because they object to low-income housing in their neighborhood, or because they believe the proposed density of the new development is too high. Others in Magnolia have worked with the city to refine the proposal more to their liking and now support it.

I've watched the public process carefully, read most all of the plan documents, and listened to hours of public testimony about the proposed plan. The plan we adopted on Monday is a good one. It correctly balances the need for low-income housing with wise development philosophy, resulting in a new mixed neighborhood where nearly two-thirds of new homes will be market-rate. It limits, consistent with city policy, the percentage of extremely low-income units to less than 20% of the Census Block. And, it is socially equitable. Every neighborhood in Seattle needs to do its part to help address our pressing need for workforce and low-income housing. This plan shows Magnolia is stepping up.

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Safer Streets Initiative Advances

The Council-generated 12-point Safer Streets Initiative is moving along with passage this week by the King County Council's budget committee of funding recommendations for two special pilot projects we have proposed to address particularly urgent needs. County Councilmember Bob Ferguson has been especially helpful with his support and guidance in navigating the County process.

One project will create a joint police-mental health professional crisis intervention response team to respond to certain incidents where the combined power and expertise of the team is needed (SSI Step #1). Modeled on similar units in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B. C., this special unit would be created in partnership with King County and would be primarily available to respond in Seattle's West Precinct (downtown core) where approximately 125 to 130 incidents occur each week involving individuals with mental health issues. This project would use $500,000 in county mental health and drug dependency funds over two years.

The second project (SSI Step #2) would create safe housing and full, 24-7 specialized care services for children involved in street prostitution who want to escape that experience. The need for this type of housing and care services became clear when a city-funded study of child prostitution in Seattle/King County revealed that as many as 300-500 children may be involved. This project would use $960,000 in county funding. Read The Seattle Times' editorial this morning.

Mayor Nickels has announced that his 2009-2010 budget proposal will return police officers to some middle schools in the city's south end (SSI Step #8), a move strongly supported by the school district.

The Mayor's budget is also expected to maintain the city's commitment to hire additional police officers through 2012 (SSI Step #5).

The SSI also calls for more "assertive" policing, especially focused on open-air drug markets, social disorder, and other quality-of-life street crime (SSI Step #6). There is no doubt an expression of Council intent is needed on this issue, especially when many question whether or not the Council will provide the political and policy support police officers doing their jobs on the street will be watching for.

Assertive policing is based on the premise that cops matter, that crime can be prevented and social disorder decreased when officers are present and engaged in proactive problem solving. Assertive policing has been successfully used in other U.S. cities.

If you doubt this approach to policing, read this article in The Seattle Times on how emphasis patrols (presence) and proactive policing has cleaned up the notorious Pike-Pine corridor downtown or this article on special police and prosecutor focus on high impact juvenile offenders.

Read more about SSI here.

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City for the Arts and Culture

Seattle is the #1 city in the country, on a per-capita basis, for arts-related businesses, according to the city's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. Here are some key facts-
Seattle is home to 4,065 arts-related businesses that employ 21,025 people.
Seattle's nonprofit arts organizations constitute a $330 million industry.

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LakeUnionPark and MOHAI

The Museum of History and Industry, currently located in the Montlake neighborhood adjacent to the SR520 Bridge, wants to move to Lake Union Park. MOHAI will be forced to find a new home when work begins on the new SR520 bridge replacement project. The Council's Parks and Seattle Center Committee recommended this week that the city enter into an agreement with MOHAI that will allow them to renovate the old armory building at the south end of Lake Union as their new home. This is another example of a solid public-private partnership, in this case with the nonprofit museum.

MOHAI will become the "anchor&" tenant at the new Lake Union Park. Phase 1 of the park's development has been completed. Phase 2 will begin soon. Learn more about future development of the park, including a map of what it will look like when completed.

MOHAI's move, along with development of the new Lake Union Park, is another important reason why the so-called two-way Mercer Project is so important. Two-way Mercer Street is a key element in the overall transformation of the South Lake Union neighborhood. Read my earlier comments on the importance and scope of the two-way Mercer project, a project many people misunderstand as aimed solely at lessening traffic congestion.

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Budget Review Process

Next Monday, September 29, the Council will kick off its fall budget process by receiving the Mayor's budget proposal. Mayor Nickels will address the Council at 2 p.m. His speech kicks off a 60-day intense Council focus on the 2009-2010 city budget.

Review the Council budget process, including how to make your voice heard.

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