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June 2004 - Issue No. 3
City Hall perspectives from Councilmember Tom Rasmussen

Welcome to the June edition of Point of View.

This month's newsletter provides an update on the Council's consideration of Sand Point/Magnuson Park. I will also share with you our progress in improving the Citys delivery of services to Seattles homeless. Finally, I wanted to provide a status report on a few issues that were highlighted in previous editions of Point of View.

I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on Point of View and any other questions or comments you may have. You can contact me by calling (206) 684-8808 or by e-mail by clicking here. Point of View subscription and removal instructions can be found at the end of the newsletter.

It is an honor to represent you and I look forward to working with you.

Warm regards,

Tom Rasmussen
Seattle City Councilmember
Chair, Housing, Human Services and Health Committee
http://www.cityofseattle.net/council/rasmussen

In this issue:

  • A balanced approach to the future of Sand Point/Magnuson Park
  • Improving the delivery of services for Seattle's homeless population
  • Legislative Update
  • Working in the neighborhoods

    A balanced approach to the future of Sand Point/Magnuson Park

    In 1999, Mayor Paul Schell and the City Council approved the Magnuson Park Concept Plan. The plan included a vision for a large-scale sports fields/wetlands redevelopment project. That launched a five-year debate over the size and scope of the project. After years of public discussion, several Council resolutions, and an environmental review process, the Council is considering a final vision for a recreational sports complex at Magnuson Park.

    Sports enthusiasts, environmentalists, neighbors of Magnuson Park and residents all across the city have weighed in with their thoughts about the proposed plan. I have received over 2,000 emails, letters and phone calls from people on both sides of this issue. At the heart of the debate is the question over the total number of sports fields constructed at the park, the number of fields which will be built with lights and whether the neighborhood and environmental impacts of this project can be adequately mitigated.

    I have been working with my colleagues to craft a compromise proposal. I advocated for reducingthe number of lighted sports fields to 5. I would like to see the Parks Department use the savings from 2 fewer fields at Magnuson Park to improve fields elsewhere in the city. There are many existing sports fields that are in poor condition. Repairing and upgrading them would help to meet the need for more all-weather playing surfaces. Unfortunately my proposal was not supported by the Parks Committee. The Parks Committee voted to reduce the number of fields from 15 sports fields (11 lit and 4 unlit) to 13 fields (7 lit and 6 unlit). The Committee's proposal is an improvement over the original plan.

    Several conditions were added to the Master Plan including the monitoring of wetlands/natural area restoration and creation and, the appointment of a citizen advisory committee to oversee the plan's implementation. The proposal I am supporting also requires that field lights be turned off by 10:00 p.m. Monday - Saturday and no lights allowed on Sundays. The Mayor had proposed an 11:00 p.m. shut-off time every day.

    The Full Council is expected to vote on the Magnuson Park Master Plan on Monday, June 14.

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    Improving the delivery of services for Seattle's homeless population

    As chair of the Council's Housing, Human Services and Health Committee, I have the responsibility of overseeing the City's policies and strategies regarding homelessness. I want to share with you our approach to addressing this very important issue.

    Last month, I sponsored legislation accepting $7.8 million in federal funding for homelessness programs in Seattle for 2004. Under the Stuart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, the City's department of Human Services worked with local organizations and agencies to secure a final grant award that was nearly $1 million more than what was anticipated. The funds will be used for a variety of services including emergency food and shelter programs, transitional and permanent housing, education, job training, mental health care, substance abuse treatment and veterans' assistance services. This year, including these funds, the City will spend nearly $21 million to assist the homeless.

    While these resources are significant, I am focused on evaluating the effectiveness of our programs, the delivery of critical services and whether we are actually making an impact on improving people's lives. We need to know if our resources are being directed effectively. That is why I am excited about a new innovate tool the City is developing to help us better understand homelessness. It is called "Safe Harbors".

    Safe Harbors is a computer-based program jointly developed with King County and United Way to allow homeless service providers to record and monitor client demographics and outcomes. They will be able to share information in order to improve service to specific individuals. Protecting privacy and confidentiality is an important part of the program. Safe Harbors will help us align the services being provided with the critical services that are most needed. If you would like more information on Safe Harbors, please visit http://www.safeharbors.org/

    The City, King County community service providers and others are working to develop a "Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness." The goal is to create a framework of strategies to ensure that individuals and families facing homelessness will have access to housing and the services which are needed to help them live independently and in their own homes and apartments. In August, this plan will be before the Housing, Human Services and Health Committee for consideration.

    With more than 1,700 people on our streets on any given night and another 3,500 in shelters and transitional housing, this is a community-wide issue that we must confront. In the coming months, I will begin to identify changes within our services that are necessary to improve our approach to assisting the homeless in Seattle.

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    Legislative Update

    In the last two edition of Point of View, I shared my thoughts and efforts on the City's budget, Alcohol Impact Areas and Canadian prescription drugs.

    Following is an update on each of these policy areas:

    2005-06 Budget

    In March, I wrote about the Council's adoption of a revised 2004 budget.

    June 15, 6 p.m.
    First A.M.E. Church
    1522 14th Avenue

    June 16, 6 p.m.
    Rainier Valley Cultural Center
    3515 S. Alaska Street

    June 22, 6 p.m.
    West Seattle Senior Center
    4217 SW Oregon Street

    June 24, 6 p.m.
    Greenwood Senior Center
    528 N. 85th Street

    Additional opportunities to comment about the budget will be available in September, once the Mayor submits the budget to the Council for consideration. If you have questions about this process, please contact me at (206) 684-8808.

    Alcohol Impact Areas

    In last month's issue I shared with you my thoughts about legislation creating two new alcohol impact areas in Seattle. On Monday, June 1, the Full Council adopted the recommendation that came out of my committee by a 7-1 vote. Two new alcohol impact areas were created in the University District and the Central Core of the city. I recognize that this is not the ultimate solution to a problem that requires a continuum of care including housing and treatment services. However, I want to provide our neighborhoods that are experiencing a disproportionate amount of the negative impacts of chronic public inebriation with the tools needed to improve the livability of their communities.

    Canadian Rx Policy

    My work to make available an option for City employees and retirees to purchase prescription drugs from Canadian licensed pharmacies is continuing successfully. With the Citys budget problems and rising health care costs, I initiated this effort to reduce the financial pressures on the City and to help our employees who were struggling with high-cost prescription medication.

    The Council adopted legislation that I sponsored (Click here to view the Council's Canadian Rx resolution) directing the City's Personnel Department to study and develop a Canadian prescription drug benefit program. In May, the department met with several prospective Canadian prescription drug vendors and has been working with our labor unions to develop a benefits plan and present it before the City's Labor Relations Policy Committee. Later this summer, we should have the framework for a program in place.

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    Working in the Neighborhoods

    The most enjoyable part of each day is attending community events and meetings. I enjoy the opportunity to visit and see first hand the important work taking place in our neighborhoods. I hope to see you at one of these or future events.

  • Monday, June 14th, 7:00 p.m. - Eastlake Community Council Meeting at Seward School Library

  • Wednesday, June 16th, 7:00 p.m. - Delridge Neighborhood District Council at TBD

  • Tuesday, June 22nd, 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. - Chinatown Elders Senior Party at Ocean City Restaurant, 609 S. Weller Street

  • Wednesday, June 23rd, 6:30 p.m. - Center for Women and Democracy Leadership Circle Reception at the Seattle Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park

  • Saturday, June 26th, 8:00 a.m. - Honorary Chair for the 14th Annual Walk for Rice Event at Seward Park

  • Sunday, June 27th, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. - Gay Pride Parade on Capitol Hill

    Please contact my office if you have any questions about these events or would like more information about where I will be in the community in the coming weeks.

    Return to Index

    If this edition of Point of View was shared with you and you would like to be added to our distribution list, please send an e-mail to me by clicking here If you would like to be removed from the distribution list, please send an e-mail to to me by clicking here. Other questions or comments about Point of View? Please call (206) 684-8808.


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