Cast your vote for street improvements in our district

The City of Seattle is doling out funds to revamp local parks and streets, and they’re asking residents to vote on which areas we’d like to see improved.

One of the proposals is to add an all-way stop on Leary Way NW at 20th Ave NW.

It’s called the Your Voice, Your Choice: Parks & Streets, a participatory budgeting initiative in which Seattle residents democratically decide how to spend a portion of the city’s budget on small-scale park and street improvements. A total of $285,000 has been set aside for each city council district; people are invited to cast ballots for their top three choices in their district before June 30. All community members ages 11 and up can vote online or at in-person polling stations at all community centers and libraries.

The eight projects outlined for our district (District 6) are the following: (View all proposals here):

  • Phinney Ridge/Woodland Park: Crossing Improvements on NW 50th St & Dayton Ave NW. Add flashing beacons and curb ramps on NW 50th St at Dayton Ave NW to make crossing safer near schools and Woodland Park. Cost: $75,000
  • Wallingford/Woodland Park: Crossing Improvements on NW 50th St & Whitman Ave NW. Add signage on NW 50th St at Whitman Ave NW to make crossing safer on an intersection with low visibility near Woodland Park. Cost: $6,000
  • Ballard: Crossing Improvements on Leary Way NW & 20th Ave NW. Add an all-way stop on Leary Way NW at 20th Ave NW to make crossing safer near businesses. Cost: $5,000
  • Wallingford/Tangletown: Crossing Improvements on NW 55th/56th St & Keystone Ave NW. Add curb bulbs on NW 55th/56th St & Keystone Ave NW to make crossing safer near businesses. Cost: $65,600
  • Sunset Hill: Accessibility Improvements on 24th Ave NW & NW 70th St. Add an audible crossing signal on 24th Ave NW at NW 70th St to make crossing safer for pedestrians with visual impairments. Cost: $9,000
  • Green Lake: Crossing Improvements at NW 80th St & Corliss Ave NW. Add a curb bulb on NW 80th St at Corliss Ave NW to make crossing safer near Green Lake and Bishop Blanchet High School. Cost $75,430
  • Crown Hill: Traffic Calming on 14th Ave NW between Holman Rd NW & NW 95th. Add low cost curbing on 14th Ave NW between Holman Road NW & NW 95th St to slow traffic near parks and schools. Cost $34,500
  • Crown Hill: Accessibility Improvements on 8th Ave NW. Add 4 curb ramps along the pathway on 8th Ave NW between NW 97th St & NW 100th St to improve accessibility. Cost $100,000

Each district has its own ballot and set of eight to 10 projects, which were selected from about 900 ideas submitted in February by community members across the city. The projects that receive the most votes will be funded by the city and implemented in 2018. Winning projects will be announced by July 18.

 

Progress made on Vision Zero Campaign, City reports

The City of Seattle has released its 2017 Vision Zero Progress Report, which highlights steps the City has taken to move closer to its Vision Zero goal of ending traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

Vision Zero was launched in 2015 as a citywide, collaborative effort to improve street safety for everyone. Since then, the City has supported Vision Zero with more than $200 million in funding through the 9-year Levy to Move Seattle.

For the past two years, Seattle has moved forward on a number of engineering, enforcement, and education efforts to meet this aggressive goal and improve safety for all travelers:

  • Redesigned portions of Seattle’s most crash-prone streets, making them safer travel for people driving, walking, biking, and riding transit
  • Improved coordination between SDOT and the Seattle Police Department to enhance enforcement efforts and target top contributing circumstances to crashes (speeding, impairment, distraction, failure to yield to pedestrians)
  • Reduced the speed limit on 2,400 miles of residential (non-arterial) streets and 75 miles of center city arterials, because slowing down to the speed of life is critical to reaching Vision Zero
  • Partnered with transportation companies to reduce impaired driving by offering discounted rides in nightlife hotspots
  • Developed an approach to reach out to underrepresented communities, as they often bear a disproportionate burden of crashes

“Seattle is one of the safest cities in the world, but that doesn’t mean we should accept death and injury as a byproduct of commuting,” says SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “We will continue to retool our streets with an emphasis on safety versus speed.”

The City knows that ending traffic deaths will not happen overnight. Vision Zero is a long-term goal that Seattle can only achieve with a steady stream of changes to our streets and our behavior.

While SDOT has seen trends headed in the right direction,preventable tragedies still do occur. Over the past two years, more than 40 people have lost their lives as a result of traffic collisions. Another 300 people have been seriously injured. People walking and biking, and older adults continue to be overrepresented in serious and fatal crashes.

“I’m proud that Seattle is a national leader on safety, but there is more work ahead,” says City Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “To reach our goal of zero traffic deaths, we need to do everything we can to make sure our kids, older adults, and everyone in between can get around our growing city safely.”

In the months ahead, SDOT plan to:

  • Continue focusing on high crash corridors
  • Improve pedestrian safety by installing more than 40 leading pedestrian intervals to give people walking a head start in crosswalks
  • Expand turn restrictions in some locations
  • Review speed limits in urban villages where vehicle-pedestrian collisions occur most often
  • Build 50 blocks of new sidewalks

Read more about has been achieved done and where the City is headed in their Vision Zero Progress Report, available at www.seattle.gov/visionzero.

City on the lookout for new candidate for Planning Commission

The City of Seattle is looking for a candidate to serve on the Seattle Planning Commission starting in January 2017. Planning Commission members are appointed by the Mayor or the City Council and may serve up to two consecutive, three-year terms.

Currently one position is open; this position is subject to appointment by the City Council. The City is committed to promoting diversity in the City’s boards and commissions.

Persons of color, women, persons with disabilities, and sexual minorities are strongly encouraged to apply. Commissioners must reside in Seattle and serve without compensation.

The Seattle Planning Commission is a 6-member Commission of neighbors that care about the future of our city. They are a group of individuals that have served on neighborhood councils, community design review boards, as well as many other community focused volunteer roles.

“We have a broad range of skills and perspectives that include architecture and design, land use and transportation planning, low-income housing development, and community engagement,” say Commission members.

The Seattle Planning Commission advises the Mayor, City Council, and City departments on citywide planning goals, policies, and plans and provide them with independent and objective advice on land use, zoning, transportation and housing issues.

Members of the Commission have a broad range of skills and perspectives but they are always looking for new voices that bring to light issues facing all parts of the city. They are looking for someone who:

  • brings a commitment to making Seattle a great place to live and has knowledge and experience in land use and planning,
  • has a commitment to community-building and community engagement,
  • has a working understanding of zoning and land use issues,
  • has an understanding of transportation investments and how they impact the neighborhoods around them,
  • can speak to the needs of affordable housing or has an understanding of what role affordability plays in the city,
  • has a passion for communicating planning to a diverse set of stakeholders,

Participation in the Planning Commission is a significant volunteer commitment. This includes attendance at monthly meetings (the second and fourth Thursdays of each month) and participation on at least one sub-committee that meets monthly. Commissioners also attend and participate in relevant public meetings and events.

To be considered for appointment to the Commission, please send a letter of interest and resume by post or e-mail (Valerie.Kinast@Seattle.gov) by October 21, 2016, addressed to:

Valerie Kinast, Interim Executive Director
Seattle Planning Commission
City of Seattle
Office of Planning and Community Development
PO Box 34019
Seattle WA 98124-4019

Please consider including any voluntary personal information regarding your cultural background, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability that might assist us in meeting the City’s goal to create diverse boards and commissions.

To find out more information, contact Valerie Kinast, Interim Commission Executive Director at (206) 233-7911 or via e-mail at Valerie.kinast@seattle.gov.

Council votes to ban “greenwashing” of non-compostable bags

Last week, The City Council voted unanimously to make Seattle the first place in the nation to ban the use of misleading green- and brown-tinted non-compostable plastic bags.

The lawmakers also moved to prohibit the use of false “eco” labeling on non-compostable bags, and to make permanent Seattle’s five-cent charge for recyclable paper shopping bags.

“Now residents will be able to tell which bags are truly compostable and which are not because bag manufacturers and retailers will help provide clarity rather than confusion,” says Sego Jackson, a waste-prevention expert at Seattle Public Utilities.

According to the City, food waste composting in Seattle has increased every year since 2008, when its collection was made available for all single-family residents.

Many Seattle residents use green tinted compostable bags to collect their food waste. However, most green produce-type bags are made of petroleum-based plastic.

Some plastic bags are mistaken for compostable because they are tinted green, have the words “eco” or “bio” and symbols such as leaves and trees printed on them. Some are printed with confusing terms such as degradable or biodegradable.

When people unknowingly use these “look-alike” plastic bags, they wind up polluting our local compost. The ordinance approved by the Council today, the first of its kind in the nation, will help keep plastic out of our compost.

The ordinance requires that all compostable bags provided to customers by retailers must be tinted green or brown and must be labeled compostable. The legislation also requires the bags to meet strict composting standards in order to be labeled as compostable.

Any provided plastic bag that is not compostable may not be tinted green or brown. Confusing or misleading terms such as “degradable” will not be allowed on bags provided to customers.

The ordinance also makes permanent the current requirement that retailers charge at least five cents for each large recycled paper bag provided to customers. Plastic carryout bags are already banned by Seattle Code and will continue to be banned.

According to the City, since the bag ban ordinance became law, in 2012, residents have continued to increase their use of reusable bags and decreased the plastic bags in residential garbage by half.

City considers 3-year solid waste rate plan

In keeping with SPU’s long-term strategic business plan, on Tuesday the Seattle City Council will consider a rate path for solid waste services on garbage, recycling and composting.

The rate increase would raise residential and commercial charges by an average of 4.4 percent a year over the next three years.

Under the plan, rates would increase 7.2 percent in 2017, 1.9 percent in 2018, and 4.0 percent in 2019, effective April 1 of each year.

If approved, the monthly solid waste bill for a typical residential customer (one 32-gallon garbage can, one 96-gallon food and yard waste cart and one 96-gallon recycling cart) would go from $44.85 this year to $48.10 in 2017. In 2018 and 2019, average household bills would be $49.00 and $50.95, respectively.

The proposed rates were forecast in SPU’s business plan, approved by City Council in 2014, which caps combined rate increases for all SPU services — drinking water, sewer, drainage and garbage — to an annual average of 4.6 percent through the year 2020.

Drivers of the current solid waste rate proposal include:

Under the rate plan to be considered by City Council on Tuesday, commercial solid waste bills would increase by varying amounts, depending on the type of service and the number of times the waste is collected. Here are two examples:

  • A convenience store or a busy restaurant with a 3-cubic yard non-compacted dumpster, collected once a week, would see increases of $31.18 in 2017, $8.66 in 2018 and $16.62 in 2019.
  • A 30-unit multi-family building with a 3-cubic yard non-compacted dumpster, a 96-gallon food waste container, and 3-cubic yard recycling service, would see increases of $36.55 in 2017, $10.45 in 2018, and $22.28 in 2019.

The rates proposal will be discussed by the City Council over the next several months and will be finalized as part of the budget development process in the fall.

City seeking community members for HALA Focus Groups

The City is on the lookout for community members to serve on the community focus groups that will guide the implementation of Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).

The Community Focus Groups will guide implementation of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), the plan put forth by Mayor Murray and the City Council to improve housing affordability and availability throughout Seattle.

“We are asking residents from neighborhoods across the city to participate as volunteers to inform the HALA process. A key focus of the Community Focus Groups will be land use and zoning changes that could affect neighborhoods,” says our Neighborhood District Coordinator Thomas Whittemore.

Check out more information about the focus groups set to be formed in the North Region below:

  • Community Focus Groups will meet monthly, March through December in 2016.
  • 4 or 5 groups will be formed, each comprised of 20 to 40 people.
  • Group will include representatives of every urban village and neighborhood vicinity in the city.
  • The meetings are intended to bring about constructive dialogue about housing programs.
  • Meetings will be open for other members of the public to observe and comment during a set time on the agenda.
  • Meetings may also be recorded or filmed so a broader public audience can follow the process using social media or online tools.

Community representatives involved in the focus groups will be asked to attend about right meetings, read materials, and respond to emails between meetings. The total time commitment will be between 10–15 hours per month.

Most meetings will occur at City Hall downtown outside of typical business hours. The City will also offer access to free parking and public transit for Community Focus Group members during meeting times.

Downtown was selected as a central meeting location so that representatives from many neighborhoods have access. City meeting rooms also facilitate audio and video recordings that can be shared with other members of the public.

The City is accepting applications until Friday, February 26, 2016, by 8 p.m. At the closing of the application period, if more applications are received than can be accommodated, a committee of City staff from the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Neighborhoods, the Office of Housing, and the Office of Planning & Community Development will convene to select the group of representatives.

“The main selection criterion is intended to create a balanced set of representatives in each focus group. Consideration will also be given to applicants who are representative of a larger community organization, council, or cultural community in their local area,” says Whittemore.

The City is looking to make sure that the focus groups represent a range of different demographics and perspectives including traditionally under-represented groups (including minorities, immigrants, refugees, and non-native English speakers), renters, households with children and experienced neighborhood advocates.

If you are not able to commit to joining the community focus groups you are able to participate by attending neighborhood meetings, completing web surveys, via social media and on the HALA website.

Learn more and complete the application online.

City’s NPSF now accepting proposals from community members

street fundf

The City of Seattle is now accepting proposals to the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund (NPSF) to support improvements to neighborhood parks and streets that are initiated by community members.

The NPSF can be used for projects valued up to $90,000 that will improve parks and streets for your local community. A local project example that was funded by NPSF includes the improved crossing at NW 58th and 14th Ave NW (pictured).

Other examples of park projects include playground improvements, trail upgrades, sport court resurfacing, natural area renovations, and accessibility improvements. Examples of street projects include crossing improvements such as marked crosswalks, curb ramps, and pedestrian countdown signals; and traffic calming, such as traffic circles and speed feedback signs.

The deadline for applications is February 8, 2016, and awarded projects will be completed in 2017. Any individual, neighborhood group, or business group is eligible and encouraged to apply.

To learn more about the fund or to propose a project click here. If you have further questions contact our Neighborhood District Coordinator Thomas Whittemore at (206) 684-4096 or via email Thomas.Whittemore@seattle.gov.

Photo courtesy of East Ballard Community Association.

City to proceed with homeless encampment on Market St

After months of deliberation and contentious meetings with various neighborhood stakeholders Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Mike O’Brien announced on Wednesday that the City is going ahead with the temporary homeless encampment at 2826 NW Market St.

After consulting with a number of local stakeholders, City staff spent the last three months evaluating the viability of six alternative sites, which included both City-owned and privately-owned properties. However, as stated in the official written annoucement, “after a thorough analysis, it was determined that the sites were either not available for encampment use or did not meet code requirements.”

City staff have expressed their concern of finding a solution to assist local homeless persons before the weather turns too cold. “As we have begun to experience the fall and winter months, it is vital that we provide those experiencing homelessness with safe, secure places to stay as soon as possible,” writes Mayor Murray and Councilmember O’Brien.

After the set up of the Market St encampment, the City will continue to review and evaluate possible alternative locations that meet the criteria set by the ordinance which authorizes encampments. Michael Fong, Chief of Staff from the Mayor’s Office, confirms, however, that another location will require the City to address a number of outstanding legislative, environmental, and safety issues first which will take months to complete.

“Until those issues are resolved, the City will move forward with the process to stand up the Market Street site,” says Fong.

In their written announcement Mayor Murray and Councilmember O’Brien acknowledged those in the community who expressed their concerns about the use of the Market Street site. “We ask for support to the people who will be living there,” writes Mayor Murray and Councilmember O’Brien.

The opening date of the encampment is at this stage unknown, however, as per the City’s Sanctioned Encampment Siting, the encampment can remain in the area for no longer than a year and must be vacant for a year in between encampments. Click here to learn more about the Director’s rules for encampments.

The encampment will be operated by SHARENickelsville, or a prequalified faith-based or non-profit organization. The operators will be responsible for safety and security within the camp and residents will be screened by the operators for acceptance. The city confirms that Low Income Housing Institute will provide case management services to individuals living in the encampments. Operators will also form a Community Advisory Committee to respond to community concerns, review operations standards, and work with neighbors of the encampment site.

As the project moves forward, it is clear the encampment will continue to be a controversial issue within the community. The My Ballard team will continue to keep readers up to date with the latest information as the situation progresses.

Email your thoughts about the announcement to tips@myballard.com.