MAKING IT WORK
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COUNCIL SETS 2011 PRIORITIES
On Monday, January 10, the Council announced our priorities for 2011, and reported on our accomplishments for 2010. The Council priorities are the issues that we will put major attention into during the year. They do not include all of the issues we will work on, but the ones that we jointly see as of critical importance and that will require significant effort and engagement.
As President, I develop the priorities by creating a draft list and then asking Councilmembers to comment, rank, and suggest other ideas. The process is pretty straightforward – most of the ones selected are not a surprise, although a few new ideas emerge as the discussions proceed.
For 2011 we again came up with 17 priorities, the same number as 2010 (in 2009 we had 15), roughly two per Councilmember. Here is the list, organized into three categories:
Build a livable city for our future
ECONOMIC RECOVERY Advance strategies to foster economic development and promote new jobs, including considering a 'one-stop' permitting system, ensuring that regulations are data-driven and goal oriented, expanding workforce training, and developing new marketing tools for businesses.
DEVELOPMENT Adopt legislation making Yesler Terrace replacement a model for sustainable mixed income communities, retaining and seeking to increase low-income housing units. Change zoning and land use rules in the South Downtown Neighborhoods and transit communities to promote more housing, smarter design, business success, housing affordability, and neighborhood sustainability.
PARTNERSHIP Continue to implement the Council's Seattle for Washington strategy to strengthen Seattle's relationships on the regional and state level.
ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP Develop specific milestones and steps for Seattle's carbon neutral goal, update the Climate Action Plan, and add "vehicle miles travelled" reduction targets to the Comprehensive Plan. Continue implementing the Zero Waste Strategy. Begin adapting to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
LIBRARIES Work with Seattle Public Library on a proposed voter approved levy to expand library services, strengthen partnerships with Seattle Schools and to help relieve pressure on the General Fund.
Foster safe, just and healthy communities for all
SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION Renew the Families and Education Levy in partnership with Seattle Schools. Foster a community-wide belief that every child in every school neighborhood can excel and graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college or obtain a career credential of their choice.
PUBLIC SAFETY Ensure effective neighborhood policing and efficient use of police resources by supporting innovative community safety strategies, adopting the "Gold Standard" for batterer intervention services, and supporting a comprehensive response plan for juvenile sex trafficking.
REINVENTING NEIGHBORHOOD SERVICES Develop a new operations model for Community Centers. Restructure the Neighborhood District Coordinator system and associated civic engagement efforts.
RACE, SOCIAL JUSTICE, AND OPEN GOVERNMENT Promote race and social equity in city government work. Implement strategies to support education and job readiness, equal access to technology, and other community-based approaches. Implement new technology measures for increased citizen access through the public engagement portal and constituent relations management system.
LOCAL FOOD ACTION INITIATIVE Emphasize rural-urban connections and economic development through encouraging local food production and food-related businesses. Work with community partners to develop opportunities for increasing healthy food production, distribution, and marketing.
HOUSING, HOMELESSNESS, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Implement the Housing Levy to encourage long term affordability and support housing for the disabled and homeless communities. Support emergency, transitional, and permanent housing for survivors of domestic violence.
Invest public resources fairly and effectively
BUDGET Adopt a sustainable 2012 budget that invests in public safety and human services. Expand partnerships with the City's unions and employees to deliver services to the public in cost effective ways while respecting the skills and commitment of the City's work force. Work on potential changes to the retirement system, better management of health care costs, and increase efficiency of personnel functions. Develop strategies to fund parks operation and maintenance.
CLEAN ENERGY Adopt a long-range strategic plan and new financial policies for Seattle City Light to keep focused on conservation and renewable resources for our future while ensuring financial stability and equitable rates. Continue exploring a smart grid and broadband services.
SR 99 REPLACEMENT PROJECT Consider legislation approving agreements with the State to advance the project on schedule while fully protecting Seattle's interests. Work to secure increased transit funding, protection for portal neighborhoods, and the foundation for the new waterfront. Place a funding plan for the seawall and waterfront on the ballot.
SR 520 Continue to advance Seattle's interests in protecting the Arboretum and our neighborhoods, securing a full funding plan, increasing transit funding and access, and moving the project forward.
CAPITAL INVESTMENT PLAN Determine options for funding Seattle's transportation system in conjunction with Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee III, and expand transportation choices and sustainable funding sources for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans. Develop a strategic approach for major capital projects, including the Seawall, the North Precinct, the City's elements of the SR 99 Replacement program, and initiating strategic capital planning for Parks and the Seattle Center.
TRANSIT Work with the County and State to Identify funding resources to support fairly allocated bus service connecting Seattle neighborhoods and linking Seattle to job centers in other parts of King County. Support the construction of the First Hill Streetcar, progress on Sound Transit lines, and continuation and expansion of electric trolley buses.
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COUNCIL 2010 PRIORITIES: PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT
The City Council has released our report on accomplishments for 2010, detailing the key actions that we took on the 17 critical issue areas that we announced in February would be our focus for 2010. We made progress on all of the areas, including adopting major legislative initiatives and working cooperatively with our regional and state partners to advance important projects.
We set two complementary key tasks for the year, both defined by the ongoing economic recession. The first was to revise and approve a sustainable budget. We successfully accomplished this task while preserving critical services in public safety, with no reductions in police patrol and firefighter staffing. We also maintained all human service programs, including even restoring the modest reductions proposed by the Mayor, and even added a few new initiatives, such as expanding homeless shelter funding and adding a new domestic violence prevention project.
Our second key task was to find ways to further economic recovery. We did this by creating new City initiatives, such as our 'Only in Seattle' marketing campaign for our neighborhood business districts, and realignment of the Office of Economic Development to be more customer-focused. We also worked on long range initiatives to develop more green jobs and provide better and more focused retraining programs.
Some key steps on other priorities:
- Clean Energy – new energy efficient building codes and conservation/renewable development.
- Viaduct/520 – advanced the Viaduct Replacement Program to its final implementation steps, worked on waterfront planning and Seawall funding, and drove design changes on SR 520.
- Transportation Choices – Worked with regional partners on a new transit service policy that protects Seattle service, adopted a Transportation Benefit District and Vehicle Licensed Fee, and created a Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee III to identify new funding sources.
- Access and Transparency – Continued work on making the legislative process more transparent and adopted public hearing policies relating to capital projects and public/private partnerships
- Development – Completed major overhaul of the Lowrise Multifamily Code, adopted adaptive reuse standards for the Duwamish, rezoned areas in Ballard to provide more flexibility, and began work on new land use rules for the South Downtown area.
- Partnership – launched the Seattle for Washington program to proactively build relationships with elected officials around the region and state, secured funding commitment for Seawall from Flood Control District and new transit service policies.
- Waste Reduction – Established yellow pages opt-out, multifamily food waste collection, and every other week garbage collection pilot.
- Carbon Neutrality – Hosted community discussions, initiated update of Climate Action Plan and adaptation strategy, and adopted policies promoting clean energy, density, and transportation choices.
- History and Culture – adopted design guidelines for Pike/Pine and Northgate neighborhoods, funded capital projects for arts organizations, and restored historic preservation staff cut in Mayor's budget.
- Schools and Education – Continued work on strengthening partnership with Seattle Schools and advancing the next Families and Education levy.
- Public Safety – Confirmed new police chief, established a rental inspection program, a new graffiti control program, and a nightlife nuisance civil infraction ordinance.
- Race and Social Justice – Created a Commission for People with Disabilities and a Seattle Youth Commission, and continued the work of the Race and Social Justice initiatives in the City and the community.
- Local Food – Adopted zoning changes to encourage urban agriculture, developed a Food Action Plan policy framework, and established a Food Policy Council at PSRC.
- Neighborhoods –Adopted three neighborhood plan updates and responded to cuts in the Department of Neighborhoods budget with restorations and a plan to reenergize neighborhood programs.
- Domestic Violence – Hosted a forum on homelessness and domestic violence, and provided funding for training homelessness providers on working with domestic violence survivors.
For more extensive summary of the implementation of the Council priorities click here.
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'ONLY IN SEATTLE' BUY LOCAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED
The Council's Economic Recovery strategy (Resolution 31135, adopted in May, 2009) included calling for a 'Buy Local' campaign to help Seattle's neighborhood business districts. We know that local businesses are critical parts of our community, and that dollars spent locally stay in the local economy and generate more dollars and jobs as they circulate.
The Office of Economic Development (OED) took this recommendation and ran with it. OED officially launched the project in November of 2010, in cooperation with five neighborhood organizations – Ballard Chamber of Commerce, Columbia City Business Association, MLK Business Association, Rainier Chamber of Commerce, and the West Seattle Junction Association. The campaign is already receiving kudos, and we hope to expand it in 2011.
While 'buy local' is an appealing concept, OED staff believed that it might not be enough to be effective in changing consumer buying habits. OED hired a marketing consultant and organized a workshop for local businesses and chambers to share their expertise about how 'buy local' can be made into an working concept that attracts customers.
Their conclusion was that there needed to be an additional element – something that added a consumer benefit to the 'feel good' idea of supporting neighborhood businesses, and that could be used to attract tourists and visitors as well. The hook became 'Only in Seattle' – a media and publicity push on the unique attributes of each neighborhood.
The overarching Seattle message:
"here you won't find – miles of strip malls, fast-food restaurants, sterile department stores, and the same ol' same ol'"
"here you will find –original, independently owned boutiques, cozy world-class cafes, charming urban villages of friendly, diverse people, and one-of-a-kind experiences."
A neighborhood example:
"Ballard: If you think Ballard is home only to the Locks and Scandinavian museums, you are overdue for a visit. Spending a day in Ballard is like visiting a village in Europe, where you will find a mix of stylish boutiques, first class restaurants, cozy cafés, and family-owned retailers. It's the historic old meeting the sophisticated new, and the result is a memorable experience waiting to happen."
Check out the website for more info, www.onlyinseattle.org and visit your local businesses!
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CARBON NEUTRAL SEATTLE: ADAPTATION -- TO WHAT?
The City Council's goal of reaching carbon neutrality will take many years – and we are leading the world in making this commitment and trying to figure out how to get there.
At the current rate, it will be a long time before we have a coordinated national strategy, and progress towards an international agreement is painfully slow.
But even if the world achieved carbon neutrality overnight, the climate is already changing, and we must adapt to that even if atmospheric carbon begins to decline. In all likelihood, we have at least several decades of changing climate before we can turn around greenhouse gas concentrations. Some of the more pessimistic assessments suggest that not even a turnaround will undo the changes that are likely to happen this century.
There is great uncertainty about what the climate future looks like or will bring, with a range of computer models ranging from the challenging to the disastrous. However, we know enough now to inform our actions, and the City Council and our Departments have been working for several years to identify strategies for adaptation. In 2008, the Council received a consultant report that outlined possible mitigation and adaptation strategies, and in 2010 the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE), in response to a Statement of Legislative Intent (a Council policy guidance tool), submitted a comprehensive assessment of areas of vulnerability, actions taken to date, and proposals for additional actions. In 2011, the Council will begin reviewing and acting on these recommendations.
The Climate Impacts Group (CIG) projects the following changes in the Pacific Northwest:
- A 0.5 degree temperature rise per decade over the next 50 years.
- Modest changes in precipitation, but possible shifts to drier summers and wetter winters, with the likelihood of increasing storm events.
- Spring snowpack decreases of more than 50% by the 2080's leading to streamflow issues.
- Sea level rises between 3 and 22 inches by 2050.
- Migration to the relatively stable Northwest from more impacted areas ('climate refugees').
- Pressure on public health and emergency management from heat waves, insect-borne illness, air pollution, and extreme storm and heat events.
OSE recommended the following guiding strategies for adapting to these situations:
- Improve our response capability by increasing resources dedicated to adaptation and organizing ourselves more effectively.
- Build infrastructure that is adaptable to climate change – taking into account sea level rise and mitigating precipitation and temperature increases.
- Use market-based approaches where possible, such as tradable permits or tax and price incentives, to build resilience.
- Mandate or prohibit actions that would be problematic, such as building in flood plains.
- Bring together stakeholders to formulate common strategies, including creating a regional joint compact to outline joint responsibilities and actions.
- Improve residents' access to information on climate change impacts.
OSE also identified six main areas where Seattle is likely to experience climate change impacts:
- Buildings, transportation, utility and communication infrastructure are vulnerable to climate change impacts such as flooding, heat events, and sea level rise. Land use regulations, stormwater and transportation projects, and building design and operations must be modified to address these.
- Public health and emergency management systems are likely to come under stress and require new resources to protect the health and wellbeing of Seattle's communities.
- Natural systems are likely to come under increased stress, with threats to native species, new invasive species, and the loss of ecosystem functions. Restoration and protection must be thought through strategically and enhanced.
- Water supply will be impacted, especially by the loss of snow pack and change in the timing of streamflows, with increasing summer demand. Demand management will be a key tool.
- Electricity supply will also be affected in similar ways. Diversification of the energy portfolio and new demand and supply management strategies will be required.
- The adverse impacts of climate change are likely to fall most heavily on the poor and those with limited access to resources. Strategies must include a social justice lens to ensure that this is taken into account.
With this data in mind, Seattle is beginning to sketch out our strategic focus on how to best manage adaptation needs.
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"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
"Pugh Creek goes into the Whitechuck
The Whitechuck goes into the Sauk
The Sauk goes into the Skagit
The Skagit goes into the Sound."
-- Gary Snyder
Your Seattle City Councilmember
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