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Point of View

April, 2006 - Issue No. 18

Dear Friends,

Councilmember Rasmussen Since my last newsletter we have made progress on a number of significant issues

  • I have begun to develop a plan to ensure that our senior centers meet the future needs of the aging citizens of Seattle.
  • We improved Seattle's public transit options by approving construction of the South Lake Union Streetcar.
  • We established a new funding source for affordable housing when we approved the increase in building heights for much of downtown.

As always, I welcome your feedback on Point of View articles as well as any other city issues on your mind.

Best wishes,

Tom Rasmussen
Seattle City Councilmember
Chair, Housing, Human Services and Health Committee

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In this issue:

  • Investing Today for Tomorrow's Seniors
  • Creating a New Way to Improve Neighborhood Public Safety
  • Moving forward with a New Streetcar
  • Taller Buildings and More Housing Downtown
  • Community Cause
  • In Your Neighborhood
  • Announcements

    Investing Today for Tomorrow's Seniors

    In my last newsletter I described how I led the effort to set aside $75,000 in the 2006 budget to expand the City's Age 55+ Employment Resource Center. The waiting list for those seeking employment assistance has grown to over 200 people! A few weeks ago, city staff provided a plan to help more older adults find livable wage jobs in Seattle. These funds will allow us to increase job counselor hours from 25 to 39 hours a week; and hire two part-time employees to help people secure jobs.

    With this expanded capacity, the Employment Resource Center will serve 171 more clients this year. If you or someone you know is 55 or older and needs assistance finding work, please call the Age 55+ Job line at (206) 684-0477 or visit the website: Age 55+ Employment Resource Center.

    Maintaining an active physical and social life is an important aspect of healthy aging. But sometimes, that requires a welcoming environment for seniors close to their homes. That's why I support our neighborhood senior centers. They foster an environment that is respectful and engaging for seniors and offer the opportunity to enhance physical fitness, mental health and emotional well-being. Some of Seattle's senior centers are having a difficult time financially and I am working hard to ensure a bright future for these centers.

    Today the centers operate independently of the City and public funding is minimal. The question is what should be the City's involvement in the future?

    I've initiated a plan to answer this question. My staff and I will review the budgets and programs offered at our senior centers, tour the facilities, speak with senior centers and seniors and develop options for the entire Council to consider. I will convene an advisory committee to review these options and offer additional thoughts and suggestions. By this fall, I will offer preliminary recommendations for the Council to consider.

    Last month the Seattle P.I published an op-ed piece which I wrote on this issue. Please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about our senior centers.

    Return to Index

    Creating a New Way to Improve Neighborhood Public Safety

    I hear from Seattle residents from every corner of the city about their public safety concerns. Part of the solution is increasing the number of officers on our streets. We added 25 officers in the 2006 budget and this year, I support Mayor Nickels' recent proposal for an additional 8 officers for 2007.

    Many concerns are related to lower level crimes and public nuisances, creating an unwelcoming and unsafe environment in some of our neighborhoods. The police have told us that we can't simply arrest our way out of our public safety challenges.

    Last fall Councilmember Nick Licata and I successfully included $400,000 in the 2006 budget to launch a pilot program that would combine law enforcement with services that are intended to help individuals solve problems that are driving the criminal behavior.

    Those problems can range from drug or alcohol abuse to the need for housing or employment. The idea is to use a "carrot and stick" approach to get these individuals off the streets and into constructive activities or programs.

    A citizen committee has been formed and is now reviewing proposals for how this pilot program should work. We will pilot different programs Downtown, in the Central Area and in Southeast Seattle and then evaluate which program is most effective.

    If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about this issue, contact Ann Corbitt in my office at (206) 684-8808 or via email at

    Return to Index

    Moving Forward with a New Streetcar

    In March, the City Council approved construction of a streetcar line in the South Lake Union neighborhood. I support this project and am excited that we will break ground this summer.

    The streetcar is a great example of private investment in public transportation. More than $25 million will be paid by property owners in the Local Improvement District (LID) along the new streetcar route. That's roughly half of the total cost. The rest of the construction costs will be funded by state and federal grants, sale of surplus city property, and selling development rights above the streetcar's maintenance base.

    When the Council approved construction of the streetcar we knew that an additional $2.8 million was needed. The Mayor is confident that the gap can be filled with pending state and federal grants. I consistently sought to limit the amount that Seattle taxpayers would pay and voted to increase the total amount that would potentially be charged to the LID by $2.8 million.

    I supported this amendment because adjacent property owners will receive a substantial economic benefit from the project. However, the majority of the Council did not agree to support increasing the LID amount.

    Instead the City will pay for possible cost increases up to a certain point, and the LID may be asked to pay any amount past that limit. This decision seeks to strike a fair balance between the City's costs and the property owners' contribution to the project. I will be monitoring this project closely to ensure that we protect the interest of the Seattle taxpayers.

    For more information about the South Lake Union Streetcar, visit:

    Return to Index

    Taller Buildings and More Housing Downtown

    Councilmember Rasmussen If you work or visit downtown today it is hard to believe that a little over a decade ago, our downtown was in jeopardy of dying. Many businesses were closing including two major department stores. People felt unsafe, there was little night-life while suburban competition for shoppers and tourists grew. But an infusion of public and private investments, city zoning changes for residential development and a concerted plan to encourage growth downtown led to a revitalization and active, center city neighborhood.

    Today, we are continuing to build upon the results and this month, the City Council approved zoning changes that allow for taller buildings in the downtown core. With 100,000 new residents expected within the next 20 years, we are focused on directing the growth to create a livable and affordable city.

    As part of this legislation, for the first time, private residential developers will be allowed to construct taller buildings if they pay into an affordable housing fund. It's estimated that over a $100 million will be generated over 20 years for the fund. Our intent is that the fund will be used to build housing for lower-income people including families with children who would like to live Downtown.

    By focusing growth in downtown, we can slow urban sprawl and protect our natural environment. But it's not just about smart growth - it's about protecting our values for a healthy, livable community for everyone.

    Return to Index

    Community Cause

    This month, I want to draw your attention to a wonderful event being held by the City's Office for Senior Citizens. On Thursday, May 11, the Healthy Aging Fair will provide information and resources for people age 55 and over on nutrition, fitness, health promotion, home safety, Medicare Part D prescription benefits, hospice, and meaningful volunteer opportunities.

    At the fair, you'll also find free cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose level screening. Other free services include body fat analysis, posture/spine screenings and mini-massages.

    Please share information about this event with those who might be interested. Healthy aging is critically important regardless of your age today! Below are the specific details for the fair:
    Date: Thursday, May 11 Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Place: Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, Central Building, 810 Third Avenue More Information: Call Cynthia Ellison at (206) 233-2781

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    In Your Neighborhood

    Councilmember Rasmussen I hope to see you at one of these events. If you would like me to visit your neighborhood, just contact my office at (206) 684-8808 or email me at

    • Monday, April 24 from noon to 1:00 p.m. - Senior Adult Program Red Hat Society Day Luncheon at Garfield Community Center, 2323 E. Cherry St.
    • Tuesday, April 25 from 7:30 - 9:00 a.m. - Senior Service Community Breakfast at the Grand Hyatt Hotel
    • Saturday, April 29 from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. - Memorial Service for Capitol Hill shooting victims
    • Saturday, April 29 from 5:00 - 10:00 p.m. - Seattle Men's Chorus Annual Auction at the Convention Center
    • Tuesday, May 2 from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. - Mayor's Scholar Award Ceremony at City Hall
    • Wednesday, May 3 from 7:30 - 9:00 a.m. - John Stanford Public Service and Social Action Breakfast at the Westin Hotel
    • Friday, May 5 from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. - West Seattle Senior Center Bingo
    • Saturday, May 6 from 6:00 - 10:30 p.m. - Futurewise Auction and Dinner at Bell Harbor Conference Center
    • Monday, May 8 from noon - 1:00 p.m. - Senior Services President's Council Meeting on Future of Senior Centers at the West Seattle Senior Center
    • Tuesday, May 16 from 5:30 - 9:00 p.m. - Hate Free Zone Dinner and Celebration at the Convention Center
    • Thursday, May 18 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. - Rainier Beach High School Foundation Multi-Cultural Dinner at Rainier Beach High School

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    This week the City Council announced five town hall meetings to hear about your priorities for the 2007-08 Budget. I encourage you to attend one of these meetings coming up in April and May.

    Monday, April 24, 6 pm - 8 pm
    Eckstein Middle School Auditorium
    3003 NE 75th

    Wednesday, April 26, 6 pm - 8 pm
    West Seattle Senior Center
    3515 S. Alaska Street

    Monday, May 8, 6 pm - 8 pm
    Ballard NW Senior Center
    5429 32nd Ave NW

    Wednesday, May 10, 6 pm - 8 pm
    New Holly
    7054 32nd Ave S. #207

    Tuesday, May 9, 6 pm - 8 pm
    Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS)
    720 8th Ave. S, suite 200

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    We have updated our newsletter distribution list and created a listserv to automate subscription and removal requests. If you have received this newsletter in error, I apologize for any inconvenience. Point of View subscription and removal requests may be found at the end of this newsletter.

    Other questions or comments about Point of View? Please email or call (206) 684-8808.

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