PLANS & PROPOSALS
According to US News and World Report, Seattle has property crime rates more than double and violent crime at a rate 27% higher than similarly sized cities. Just walking my wife to work in Fremont this week, we were subjected to jeers outside PCC by a healthy young man because we declined to give a handout. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event but a near daily personal observation. This occurred immediately after we walked past another man violently yelling at the sky and playing loud disturbing noises driving all the patrons away from the tabled seating area. I want a Council that acts with urgency to maintain public safety, prevent disorder, and doesn’t profess excuses of lacking resources. As your Councilmember, I will support our Seattle Police and advocate for proper funding, training, and hiring of adequate number of officers for our city’s size. I support constitutional policing and I will also hold police accountable when mistakes are made. I am for clear, dependable, judicial enforcement of laws. I will strongly advocate for victims of crime and for their support in seeking timely justice and firm consequences for repeat offenders.
In Seattle, we do have need for a professional community response to homeless and initiatives to eliminate the root causes of homelessness. Well-trained professional police, properly funded, with adequate personnel, and motivated to do their job well is a fundamental part of that response to promote public order. Majority Councilmember votes in recent years to reduce budget and eliminate financial support for our police was wrong and is hurting this community, damaging our businesses, and all the people in need of support or police. Increased 911 response call times are impacting those most vulnerable. Increased workload for SPD officers is causing burnout and is resulting in dangerously low number of active officers. Past Seattle City Council’s elimination of necessary North Precinct improvements in 2017 and tolerance of crime and graffiti has emboldened the few to monopolize our public spaces and streets. This has led to businesses having to board-up windows, hire expensive private security, or move outside the city limits. I supported previous Officer’s Guild petitions to stop defunding of our valuable police and will work effectively with our new Council to restore the public services expected of a world class city.
My favorite uncle was a PA state highway patrol, and after retirement served as the chief of police for a small town in Pennsylvania. My grandfather was a professional soccer player and a long-time Philadelphia neighborhood policeman. I remember the monochrome photo displayed on his mantle in dress uniform wearing white gloves and directing busy street traffic. We need to aid police by restoring positive interactions through constructive neighborhood engagement and outreach. We need to promote neighborhood assignments, so the police are well known in the community allowing for collaborative relationships with citizens that promotes dialogue, restores public safety, and prevents escalation. We also need to give officers positive times with off call rotations for neighborhood outreach to protect them from burnout caused by always being on-call and responding to emergencies. I will lead by supporting our police, engaging with them, and providing the path and opportunity for Council to make Seattle Policing even better.
The number of Seattle homeless is heart breaking and their conditions continue to get worse creating strong emotions on all sides. However, we must be led by reasoning to create lasting solutions through goals, analysis, and measured results. Billions in federal aid has already been coming to Washington State with Seattle receiving hundreds of millions from the Federal American Rescue Plan. Despite abundant allocation to housing and homelessness objectives and services, little impact toward reducing numbers living on our streets nor progress to leaving their impoverished state is measurable. For more than six years incumbent politicians state the emergency of the homeless condition, but even with ballooning resources demonstrate no solutions. Tiny homes and living in a shed is not a long-term solution. Even as a Rental Property these homes would not be allowed by SDCI as passing the RRIO checklist for occupancy, rejected for size to meet the sleeping room ordinance dimensions, no bathroom, no fan, fire rating for walls, egress windows, and lacking durability resulting is millions of tax dollars to short-term short-lived solutions. Shelter is just a temporary need met without fixing root problems. Current work has only touched the surface of this long-term problem that must be addressed with long-term solutions and ambition for the collective interest, not temporary shelter or pushed from one open space in a park to another edge of road somewhere.
At Northgate, the new light-rail station replaces the King County metro station, which was to be provided for developers that may include affordable housing. This is a mistake, and the millions allocated for temporary solutions could be spent to build permanent vertical multi-story/multi-use homeless housing and rehabilitation facility focused at Northgate and permanently owned by the City. Homelessness rehabilitation must be goal oriented toward a realistic 18 to 24 month transition housing necessary to heal from the root causes. Here we would build a life-long plan with on-site professional support provided for those with addiction and mental health needs as well as job training and career counseling with classroom time through the adjacent North Seattle College now just across the Northgate Pedestrian Bridge. This gives those homeless in need a real plan, realistic time to transition, pride in themselves for a path forward, and value to the community. This building facility, created at the obsolete public station, would also provide permanent direct access to light-rail transportation for jobs throughout the region supporting the planned transition without need for a vehicle. This location is also immediately across the street from other beneficial medical professionals and is commercially zoned, so that unlike previous plans, it does not unnecessarily focus personal rehabilitation challenges as a bubble within the City’s various neighborhoods or school zones. Importantly the City’s assistance must be thoughtfully planned with separate and distinctly different facilities for families and homeless that are simply in financial distress and therefore need a very different kind of assistance. Seattle can’t continue to allow unplanned homeless camps under bridges, in parks and public properties, nor continue developing more expensive tiny homes that have little long-term value for the money spent and doesn’t transition to normal housing and a life-long plan. For some, aid and rehabilitation within the city is just not possible and working with King County we need to create rural ranch style support affiliated with and adjacent to our local farming to provide support away, new learned skills/work, and important self-value. It is a hard transition, connecting at first with a few individuals at a time to eventually rehabilitate as many as possible. But presently, in Seattle a homeless person can’t even apply for an ID without a physical address and significant paperwork, let alone try to get a job/change a life. The City’s administration makes it difficult for the homeless to leave their current situation. We need to stop the cycle of government run-around and instead:
Accept long-term responsibility, it takes time
Provide real housing for the transition
Be disciplined and show commitment to them
Create successful paths to follow for those in need
The way, the plan, the values, and the benefits must be made clear so that those in need feel aided and confident without feeling captured and incarcerated. We must eliminate council’s past mistakes and press for a dependable City administration of long-term transitional infrastructure that is efficient, right, and fair.
Housing & Urban planning
I am 100% pro-growth creating new living and workplaces for young and older generations and I support Seattle’s own local comprehensive planning. Always Plan Smart, Dream Big. Destroying zoning to eliminate planning for shortsighted “anything anywhere” density and more density is continued cut-rate development made with no plan and no future vision. It takes away older affordable housing and replaces it with dense high environmental impact unaffordable housing. My focus is on building smart high-density housing (HDH) that creates mutual neighborhood benefits, improves livability, increases quality of life and walkability while maintaining green canopy to protect neighborhoods from urban heat islands. We must eliminate expensive past mistakes of the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) resolution that provided developer giveaways allowing to pay an in-lieu fee instead of providing affordable housing. There is not enough affordable housing for multigenerational needs being built in our district and I agree with Councilmember Pedersen’s statements in the February 11, 2023 Wallyhood.org that “our development capacity is a public resource”. I will work for planned growth that includes required construction of affordable living units that are family friendly and generational friendly. The dominant development of studio and one-bedroom apartments or houses 3-4 stories tall with steep stairs do not meet the needs for families or for older generations’ mobility needs.
In addition, we also need to promote affordable individual home ownership. This could include allowing for convenient sale of the separated accessory dwelling unit that is permitted by Seattle Municipal Code, up to three units per lot. We must also work to utilize existing building footprints where possible, and construct with dependable composite long-lived building materials that are efficient and continue a path of sustainability toward Zero Waste.
Additional development can also be wisely allocated to primary arterials where more impacts are intelligently allowed, ensuring the main region of connected adjacent one-lane neighborhoods, critical green space, and viewpoints are more rigidly protected and properly functioning. Herein the majority of mature trees and green canopy is protected, while valuable affordable development continues, and our zoning's assurance of neighborhood function is maintained. Quality of life is benefited for all residents by creating more open walkable adjacent neighborhood amenities, maintaining parks and open space for pets and to enjoy outdoor activities, and still promoting development of affordable living spaces. Win-win is created for both the developed arterial and connected adjacent neighborhood in receiving value from immediate adjacent access to mass transit, stores, retail, and business that enhance the usefulness and walkability of the area. These attributes and the maintained function in turn create added value for business, employees, and happy/content residents, which reduces crime by promoting more neighborhood interactions, increased overall health, and reduced tax demands through a quantifiable reduction in impacts to roads, utilities, and required storm water runoff. Focused and sensible design planning improves the city and environmental quality for all residents.
critical green canopy
It shouldn’t take a visit from an East Coast friend to help us appreciate the valuable difference between our green city neighborhoods and others. Seattle’s trees and urban forests are an important and valuable community asset that are essential to the local ecosystem, capturing carbon and reducing heat within the built environment. We have allowed significant mistakes in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods creating heat islands. Even now, “For Sale” signs are visible on the green critical area slopes of West Seattle. Once eliminated by poorly planned growth and developments, our trees cannot be replaced, ever. Planning smart allows us to develop our properties in a focused and intelligent way. We don’t need to recreate the “Dust Bowl” to know that it is wrong to permit destruction of our urban trees and that their replacement with concrete, asphalt, and no yards adds heat and permanently lowers the quality of life for residents. Urban canopy is critical green canopy; all of it. That is not to say that development and new infrastructure must be blocked by it. Our planned and allowed development must track the real “cost” of sacrificed trees so we can correctly understand project costs to plan and maintain the actual value of Seattle’s reservoir of critical green canopy.
Enforcement by Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) of Tree Protection Ordinance sounds simple and obvious, but it has not worked to create the smart City-wide Plan needed. Limitations to three trees a year per lot and fee-in-lieu options are not providing actual accounting and value for trees lost nor meeting goals necessary to maintain critical green canopy. It is also false to assume that even at 6 to 1 replacement of new to mature tree creates a realistic alternative to that mature trees’ benefits. Counting the leaves on six tiny new trees or considering the fact that small trees die or require replacement within three years; makes them unequaled. The tree ordinance must be clarified to protect all mature trees, except in designated arterials and urban development zones, including and especially those on public property. We must also work to create a mechanism to aid owners of critical trees by offsetting their maintenance costs through tax credits and providing enhanced permit variance in exchange for maintaining existing critical trees that benefit the entire community. The value of the trees must be inventoried, retained if practical, but again tracked for monitoring our area’s system of interconnected critical green canopy. Protecting Seattle’s urban trees is a priority. Environmental impacts begin in our own backyard. Critical green space and tree canopy needs to be protected from poorly planned development.
As a professional civil and structural engineer (PE SE) with 31 years of experience working on civil public works and infrastructure projects, I feel strongly that the City of Seattle is making mistakes with our infrastructure. Despite nearly a decade of booming tax revenue and federal aid, through continual missed opportunities in the allocation of appropriate budget to infrastructure’s administration and maintenance, Seattle’s valuable infrastructure is crumbling. The critical importance of our City owned utilities, water, and bridge access was highlighted by the West Seattle Bridge closure, demonstrating the imperative prioritization of resources. Seattle is a mature city with aging civil infrastructure. We have reached a critical point where major upgrades and rehabilitations are necessary; for power, sewer, storm water, water supply, and roads/bridges, including partnering and connection with new and different transportation modes including Sound Transit, RapidRide, and others. I am pro-transit/public transportation always selecting where we lived based upon the bus lines and have worked extensively for our area’s Light Rail system including projects at Seattle’s Northgate Station, Shoreline’s 185th Station, SeaTac’s South 200th, and Redmond’s Overlake & Redmond Technology Stations. I also have first-hand experience as an important part of the Light Rail system’s maintenance, inspecting, and reporting on the miles of aerial guideway bridges and tunnels.
Our City Council is missing information and is best served by having a council member with civil infrastructure experience and technical knowledge to spark questions that obtain the right answers and guide the development of our future critical planning and direction. The city has upgraded sewer treatment facilities, water transport and recently reservoir facilities, and is in the middle of an on-going storm water detention system at the north Lake Union Ship Canal Water Quality Project. However, detail-oriented leadership and continued attention is needed to move the city forward.
More and enhanced transportation modes are the goal, but we must also maintain existing transportation to not create longer delays, add pollution, increase travel times, and prevent unsafe conditions. Our city streets cannot be made unsafe by directives that favor only one user type or mode of transportation. All modes of transportation are necessary and integral to our planned transportation system. Planning smart works by integrating the elements together to retain the value of existing transportation elements, while adding necessary right-of-way and improvements for future modes. Our city must also act to address root transportation safety problems instead of reducing the efficient transport on roads through unrealistically and unilaterally dropping speed limits. We also need to re-establish basic rules for transportation interactions, follow national sign standards, minimize visual distractions, and educate drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. This makes certain the safe interaction and assures visibility to see and be seen when bikes and joggers mix within the roadway given Seattle’s rainy and dark winters.
Finally, we also must have thoughtful decisions for infrastructure solutions realizing that enormous amounts of sustainability and reduced waste is created in maintaining and rehabilitating existing facilities because of the carbon footprint costs already paid and in understanding that new steel, concrete, rebar, and other building materials are the major users of our energy and resources. Obtaining the most from preservation of current historic resources has cultural significance that adds quality of life, creates a city we are proud of, and enhances value to our city and its citizens beyond immediate project cost savings. A significant portion of our future sustainability is reliant upon more economical and efficient solutions now. We cannot waste resources on low value, short-lived, and temporary systems.