Topic: Seattle City Council
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December 11, 2013 at 4:08 PM
Corrected version: Due to an editing error, a previous headline on this story gave an incorrect fine amount.
A majority of Seattle City Council members in a committee vote today approved fines of $27 for public pot smoking. The full council is expected to endorse the action Monday.
City Attorney Pete Holmes had initially proposed $50 fines; when administrative fees were added the total cost of a fine could reach $103.
Sponsored by Councilmember Nick Licata, the lower fines were meant to mirror the penalty for illegally drinking alcohol in public. The council wants Seattle police to give a warning before fining someone consuming pot in public, which is prohibited under the state’s voter-approved pot law.
The council also would require the Seattle Police Department to monitor the age, race and sex of those fined, and the locations of violations. Police would be required to report findings every six months.
Five of the nine council members backed the fines in a unanimous vote of the Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee. They were Sally Bagshaw, Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, Bruce Harrell and Licata.
The legislation would leave it to the Seattle Municipal Court to determine the toal cost of fines after administrative costs. The law would allow the court to tack on about $28 in added fees.
“I fully support this bill,” said Holmes, who has emphasized that it’s in interest of the new legal pot law to enforce its ban against public consumption.
December 9, 2013 at 6:14 PM
The Seattle City Council Monday unanimously approved $2 million to fund an expanded surface parking lot at the Woodland Park Zoo.
The 165-stall parking lot will be built in 2014 and will expand the inner north parking lot where portable trailers housing administrative offices are now located. Those offices will be moved to near the zoo’s west entrance. The zoo will contribute $570,000 to the construction.
The surface lot represents a compromise with neighbors who had objected to a four-story, $28 million parking garage originally approved by the council in 2004. A city hearing examiner subsequently ruled that a parking garage wasn’t a use consistent with a city park.
The city owns the zoo and the non-profit Woodland Park Zoo Society operates it under a 20-year agreement.
November 18, 2013 at 6:02 PM
A struggling young adult shelter at YouthCare’s James W. Ray Orion Center will likely stay open next year after the Seattle City Council’s budget committee voted unanimously Monday to grant the shelter $130,000. The full council is expected to vote on the budget next Monday.
The contribution more than matches the $120,000 in funding the Metropolitan King County Council approved last week for the shelter. Combined, the funds will make it possible for the 15-20 bed center to stay open at least five nights a week next year.
August 5, 2013 at 1:49 PM
The state’s top pot consultant offered two main bits of advice to the Seattle City Council, which is poised to create regulations for legal pot businesses that may allow 50,000-square-foot growing operations in the city’s industrial areas.
Mark Kleiman, a UCLA professor and head of BOTEC Analysis, told council members today that increased law enforcement against illegal dealers could be helpful to the state’s new legal recreational system — even if that enforcement leads to short-term racial disparities in prosecuting cases. And, Kleiman said, he’s concerned the city’s zoning plan for legal pot could leave empty buildings in manufacturing areas because it’s unlikely Seattle would ever become a long-term growing haven.
“I’d be a little worried about developing white elephants,” Kleiman said about the city’s zoning proposal. “You may wind up with buildings people don’t use.”
Trailed by a New Yorker writer, Kleiman told the council he doubted that Seattle would ever become a center for agriculture of any kind. Land costs in the city are high, he noted, and abundant land in eastern Washington is well-suited for sun-grown pot, which could be produced at presumably cheaper prices than indoor pot in Seattle. Kleiman suggested that “cannabis gold rush” entrepreneurs, able to pay higher rents, could displace manufacturers in the city, only to find years from now that pot is legalized nationally and all grown in Iowa.
July 29, 2013 at 4:08 PM
By a narrow majority, the Seattle City Council Monday rejected a proposal to expand locations for homeless tent encampments in the city and provide a regulatory framework for the health and safety of residents.
Over the pleas of some homeless people and their advocates, five council members voted down a proposal by Councilmember Nick Licata that would have added city and private land to areas where a tent encampment could be located. Currently, only faith communities are allowed to host tent encampments.
Councilmembers Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, Richard Conlin, Jean Godden and Tom Rasmussen all voted no, saying tents didn’t provide an acceptable alternative to permanent housing. They noted that the city invests $30 million to $40 million a year to provide homeless services, including emergency shelters.
The most immediate question now is what happens to Nickelsville, the illegal tent encampment on West Marginal Way. In June, the council voted to shut down the trouble-plagued encampment Sept. 1.
The council also approved $500,000 to provide relocation services to residents. Since then, the number of residents has risen as homeless people hear about the funding and seek help finding housing.
A motion by Licata to put off Monday’s vote until a report on relocation efforts at Nickelsville was completed also failed.
July 22, 2013 at 4:11 PM
The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to spend money raised by school-zone traffic-camera tickets exclusively on road- and pedestrian-safety projects near schools.
Mayor Mike McGinn has also repeatedly said he wants to invest all those funds–which amounted to $3.3 million after the pilot program’s first six months–into road safety projects near schools. But he wanted that money to stay in the general fund so there would be more flexibility and accessibility when the city wanted to spend it, according to his spokesman, Robert Cruickshank.
As our story in today’s paper says, the separate fund the council established today would require every penny to be spent on operating and maintaining the cameras; safety education; and capital-improvement projects, such as repainted crosswalks, new sidewalks, lights and more camera installations.
Councilmember Nick Licata has said he wanted a separate fund to increase financial transparency for those skeptical of traffic cameras and to ensure the money is spent the way the city promised. He hopes the same can eventually be done with revenue generated by the city’s 31 red-light cameras.
Because of past difficulties in funding pedestrian-walkway improvements, Councilmember Richard Conlin said at today’s meeting that he sees the new fund as “an opportunity, not a restriction.”
Councilmember Tim Burgess said the fund could be used for Seattle Neighborhood Greenways projects as well as Safe Routes to Schools projects.
In school zones, when vehicles drive faster than 20 mph while yellow beacons are flashing, the cameras take a picture of the vehicle’s license plate. A traffic officer from the Seattle Police Department reviews the $189 citation before it’s mailed out to the owner of that vehicle.
McGinn wants some ticket revenue spent on installing nine new cameras next year at Bailey Gatzert Elementary on East Yesler Way, Dearborn Park Elementary on South Orcas Street, and Roxhill Elementary and Holy Family Parish School, both on Southwest Roxbury Street.
Eight existing school-zone cameras started catching speeders in December at school zones near Broadview-Thomson K-8 School on Greenwood Avenue North, near Thurgood Marshall Elementary on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, Gatewood Elementary on Fauntleroy Way Southwest and Olympic View Elementary on Fifth Avenue Northeast.
To see how many times school-zone and red-light cameras have triggered citations at a specific location, check out our interactive map.
Preliminary data from the Seattle Police Department shows the average speed of people who were mailed citations was 30 mph. The data showed that 96 percent of those cited have not re-offended since the program started in December.
June 17, 2013 at 2:35 PM
The leaders of the City Council Transportation and Budget Committees Monday said they would not recommend Mayor Mike McGinn’s funding request for study of a light rail crossing of the Ship Canal.
Instead, Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Tim Burgess said they would prioritize safety and maintenance projects in the city, including at East Marginal Way, where a bicyclist was killed recently, and Northeast 75th Street, the site of a horrific truck-vs.-pedestrian crash that left two people dead and two facing lengthy recoveries.
The council announcement came as the Budget Committee, chaired by Burgess, this week takes up a mid-year supplemental spending package. The council’s proposed transportation package reallocates some of the $7.5 million in savings from the Spokane Street Viaduct and 2013 debt service savings.
“Our proposal is intended to ensure every city dollar that goes to transportation will be spent to meet current critical safety, maintenance and transit needs,” Burgess said in a news release.
McGinn had sought half a million dollars to study a Ship Canal crossing for a light rail line from downtown to Ballard and another $300,000 to speed up a study of another light rail route up Eastlake to the University District.
June 13, 2013 at 5:45 PM
The federal agency that works on solving homelessness has written a letter to Mayor Mike McGinn supporting the end of Nickelsville. A seven-member majority of the Seattle City Council on Monday ordered the mayor to clear Nickelsville by Sept. 1. They pledged to help the more than 100 residents of the encampment find shelter, but said the encampment could not stay at its location on West Marginal Way.
The mayor and Councilmember Nick Licata were pursuing a new location for Nickelsville, and at a meeting Wednesday, some members of the council still indicated a willingness to consider supporting an encampment in the city.
The federal government has never supported encampments. But while that’s not new, their letter offers support to the council as it makes a politically challenging decision.
June 12, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Seattle City Council members are the target of a protest planned for this afternoon by leaders of Nickelsville, a homeless encampment the City Council announced this week it will shut down in September after two years on city property.
In a letter to council members, Nickelsville residents wrote that the letter council members wrote to Mayor Mike McGinn “pretty much talked about us like some dogs in a kennel.”
“Humans have a basic right to stay together and safe,” they wrote. “In Seattle the majority of the City Council has chosen to ignore and disrespect that basic right … Please understand that Nickelsville is sticking together.”
It’s likely more than 100 homeless people will turn out for today’s 2 p.m. housing committee meeting and a planned “die-in” on the steps on City Hall at 2:30 p.m. As we detailed in a story last week, many of the protesters at events like this are told they must participate or risk being kicked out of their encampment. (more…)
June 10, 2013 at 4:57 PM
The Seattle City Council today unanimously approved a bill that would prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until after an initial screening. Employers could reject an applicant because of a criminal record, but only if there is a legitimate business reason to do so.
The measure was strongly opposed by some business groups, including the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, which said they didn’t want the city second-guessing their hiring decisions. They also opposed a provision that will allow the city Office of Human Rights to investigate complaints by job applicants who believe they were turned down solely because of their criminal history.
Advocates, including City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, who sponsored the bill, noted that 50 cities and 8 states have banned the check-off box on job applications that asks whether the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime.
Harrell said the bill will remove barriers to jobs and create pathways to re-entry and success for ex-convicts.
Under the Seattle measure, employers could ask about criminal history after an initial screening to eliminate unqualified candidates. Applicants would have two business days after being turned down to correct any misinformation on their record or explain the circumstances of a conviction.
Advocates also argued that people who have served their criminal sentence should be given a second chance to rebuild their lives. They said that people with jobs were much less likely to commit new crimes.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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