2020 Annual Report of the Seattle City Council

Overview

Each year, the Seattle City Council reflects on its accomplishments, and the impact legislation has made on making Seattle a more equitable, accessible, and economically resilient city. In 2020, Council was faced with multiple crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession; a racial reckoning demanding our city leaders to reimagine how we deliver public safety, especially to Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities; a climate crisis which included a summer choked by wildfire smoke; and the ongoing affordable housing and homelessness crisis. The Council underwent two budget cycles, shifting investments in crisis response and making new investments in BIPOC communities. Additionally, Councilmembers made important and significant policy changes, from the criminal justice system to workers' rights. 

2020 Seattle City Council

Explore the following categories below to learn more about the Council's 2020 budgetary investments and legislative accomplishments:

Contents

COVID-19 Response

Small Biz COVID Supports

Passed new progressive revenue that will fund COVID-19 relief programs, economic recovery and vital government services in the first two years of implementation, including $45 million of immediate funding to small businesses, rental assistance, immigrants and refugees, and childcare. The spending plan allocates about 60 percent of the revenue each year for affordable housing, including affordable rental housing, homeownership opportunities, as well as investments to implement Green New Deal strategies, increase funding for the Equitable Development Initiative, and economic revitalization.

Small Business, Nonprofit and Workers’ Support:

Created a $5 million Restaurant & Hospitality Worker Relief Fund to meet the emerging needs of small restaurants, bars and hospitality workers Transferred $5 million from Seattle's budget resources to a new food voucher program, which would provide grocery money to thousands of families across Seattle, during the early months of the pandemic. Passed legislation that freezes storefront rent increases for some small businesses and nonprofits, and allows some small businesses and nonprofits the ability to negotiate a payment plan for their rents with their commercial landlords. Protected small businesses and nonprofits from landlords seizing their personal property such as a business owner's home in the event of a commercial lease default following the COVID-19 caused economic crisis. Approved two amended pieces of emergency legislation intended to help provide relief for small business and utility customers. Provided gig workers working for food delivery network companies and transportation network companies with premium pay and increased protections for essential workers on the frontlines of this pandemic.  Expanded paid sick and safe time protections to app-based gig workers, such as Uber, Lyft, Postmates and Uber Eats, during the COVID-19 crisis.

Support for Renters and Vulnerable Communities:

Protected tenants at risk of eviction by passing legislation to allow a tenant to assert an economic-impact defense against evictions and created a pathway for tenants and landlords to establish rental payment plans Prohibited landlords from considering evictions related to COVID-19 during and after the civil emergency. Passed increased funding for free childcare for essential workers and families in need during the pandemic.  Provided $7.9 million of direct cash assistance for undocumented immigrants that do not qualify for federal COVID-19 relief. Expanded Seattle's Paid Sick and Safe Time policy to cover school, day care and adult day care closures, a policy that addresses working families who need to take time off work due to impacts from the coronavirus.

Investments in BIPOC Communities and Addressing the Harm of the Criminal Justice System

BIPOC Youth Investments

During the Budget process, Council invested in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities through fully funding of the Deportation Defense Fund; secured $550,000 for identity-affirming programs for Black girls, Black queer youth, and Black trans youth; secured funding for Chinatown/International District (C/ID) neighborhood planning; and, $550,000 for a restorative justice pilot program in schools, to repair the harm done by a racist disciplinary system on Black and Brown youth; and, allocated funding to establish the city's first Indigenous Advisory Council. Allocated $30 million for a Participatory Budget process to increase civic engagement so they can inform future policy-making, and investments to address public safety and community investments. Also restored $30 million to the Strategic Investment Fund to create opportunities for housing, affordable commercial and cultural space, public open space, and childcare in areas at risk of high displacement. Repealed two outdated laws from Seattle's criminal code, the drug traffic loitering and prostitution loitering ordinances, problematic laws that wrongly prioritized an incarceration-centric handling of drug use and trafficking and disproportionately impacted communities of color. Passed the MiChance Dunlap-Gittens' Youth Rights Ordinance, named after a local high school senior killed by plainclothes deputies during a misguided sting operation, which protects children and young people by requiring a lawyer when interacting with law enforcement to explain their Miranda rights.

Public Safety

Public safety

Council budget actions allocated funding to right-size our city's law enforcement by abrogating 93 Seattle Police Department positions, restricting and redirecting SPD personnel budget savings for BIPOC community investment. Required Seattle police officers to display their badge numbers while wearing mourning bands, following constituent concerns that officer badge numbers were not visible during protest demonstrations.  Expanded Health One to create three response teams to allow firefighters & social workers to respond to more 911 calls and lessen police responses. Added crisis counseling to support our first responders' mental health. Added a crisis counselor to Seattle Fire Department to keep firefighters safe and increase positive interactions with persons in crisis or suffering with mental illness. Moved 911 and parking enforcement operations out of the Seattle Police Department. Passed a resolution outlining the Council's intent to create a civilian-led Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention; identified actions to remove certain functions from the Seattle Police Department and provide funding for a community-led process to inform new safety investments. Allocated $10 million for the Community Safety Initiative. This is a community-led process through the Human Services Department that would drive the City toward a public health-centered, harm reduction model of restorative justice and crime prevention.

Homelessness Investments

Public safety

Worked in partnership with service providers and Councilmembers to ensure millions of dollars for hotel shelters, over 800 new shelter beds, and expanded outreach workers while removing police from homelessness responses.  Altered the city's land use code to allow up to 40 tiny house villages on City-owned property or property owned by religious organizations, allowing more of the city's homeless population to be sheltered and have access to services. Disbanded the Navigation Team and created the Homeless Outreach Provider Ecosystem (H.O.P.E.), an expert-led strategy to addressing homelessness by having trusted and experience service providers lead outreach to encampments, not city employees. Nearly doubled the city's Encampment Trash Program, providing trash pickup for encampment residents to 13 additional sites, starting in Seattle's Southend.  Passed the Clean Cities Initiative, which will invest over $3 million in funding for Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle Department of Transportation, and Seattle Parks Department to clean our streets, sidewalks, business areas, neighborhoods, and parks. Allocated funding for a network of 63 free public sinks to address hygiene needs for unhoused neighbors. Banned evictions during the winter months, preventing families from being evicted and facing homelessness during the coldest months of the year. Secured funding for outreach work to those involved in sex trafficking on Aurora and two full-time outreach workers to assist those living in encampments in Lake City.

Worker Supports and Government Services

TNC worker supports

Created minimum labor and compensation standards for transportation network company drivers, such as Uber and Lyft, and added rest breaks and allotted cleaning time for drivers, and increased consumer transparency. Supported small businesses by capping delivery fees imposed on restaurants by third-party delivery apps. Passed the Childcare Near You Ordinance, which changes Seattle's land use code to allow more childcare facilities across our city, lowering the cost of building childcare centers to make them more affordable, accessible, and closer to homes and transit across Seattle. Ordered an audit of Seattle's bridges, which concluded Seattle infrastructure maintenance program is spending far below what is needed to maintain its bridges. Council then allocated funding to increase the city's bridge maintenance program. During the fall budget process, increased the city's fiscal reserves to $35 million for future budget impacts from the ongoing pandemic-related economic recession.  Strengthened campaign finance reform in our local elections by prohibiting foreign-influenced corporations from political contributions to campaigns or independent expenditure committees. Required more disclosure and transparency in political ads, and by paid lobbyists and indirect lobbying campaigns. Allowed for the city's first scooter share pilot program, adding a new mobility option to Seattle streets. Approved the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) funding measures, which provided voters the option to renew funding for STBD, which they did by nearly 82 percent. Adopted a resolution that proposes enhancing the role of the Auditor's office to create a more efficient and efficacious city government. Advanced strategies and practices for affordable and accessible citywide internet access via the Internet For All resolution. Adopted a climate change resolution, expanding the city's analysis by asking City departments to assess whether new legislation would increase or decrease carbon emissions and whether it would strengthen or weaken Seattle's resiliency to climate change.