Mayor Murray, Councilmember O’Brien Introduce Legislation to Build New Affordable Housing
This week Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Mike O’Brien introduced legislation that will create 6,000 units of affordable housing throughout Seattle. The proposal comes from the Mayor and City Council’s 28-member Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) advisory committee, and has been hailed as a “Grand Bargain” between affordable housing advocates and real estate developers.
There are two major components to the “Grand Bargain.” The first establishes an Affordable Housing Impact Mitigation Program (AHIMP) – commonly referred to as a commercial linkage fee – that will directly fund the construction of new affordable housing by requiring developers to pay a fee on every square foot of new commercial development. The linkage fee will range from $5 to $17 per square foot, based on the size and location of the commercial development.
The second part of the “Grand Bargain” calls for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) for new multifamily developments, requiring five to eight percent of units be affordable for residents earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for 50 years. In 2015, 60 percent of AMI is $37,680 for an individual and $53,760 for a family of four. As an alternative to on-site units, developers can pay a fee to construct new affordable housing offsite.
In exchange, the City will look to increase development capacity in various ways throughout the city. New developments in downtown and South Lake Union will be allowed an extra 1,000 square feet per floor. Outside of the downtown core, new buildings will be allowed approximately one additional story in height. These changes will be subject to program design and the existing legislative rezoning process. The full chart of proposed changes can be viewed here.
The “Grand Bargain” will be phased in over a number of years. When fully implemented, it will create at least 6,000 new affordable homes over 10 years.
Current market rates for a newer one-bedroom unit range from $1,399 to $1,887. The table below shows average monthly rent rates by neighborhood for buildings built since 2010:
Capitol Hill/Eastlake $1,887
Green Lake / Wallingford $1,671
Queen Anne $1,694
Rainier Valley $1,399
West Seattle $1,615
In comparison, the affordable rate (30% of a household’s monthly income) for a one bedroom unit for an individual earning 60 percent AMI is $1,008. Under the proposed “Grand Bargain” framework, rents for new affordable housing units would be set at this price or lower.
Over 45,000 households spend more than half their incomes on housing in Seattle.
In July, the HALA advisory committee delivered to the mayor 65 recommendations after 10 months of work. The consensus-driven proposal was crafted by affordable housing advocates, community voices, developers and housing experts appointed by the mayor and Seattle City Council in September of 2014.
The legislation will be taken up by the City Council’s Select Committee on Housing Affordability.
Deadline Approaches for Matching Funds to Support Neighborhood Projects
The deadline for the city’s Small and Simple Projects Fund is 5 p.m. Oct. 5. This fund provides awards of up to $25,000 to for community-building projects that are matched by community contributions.
To learn about the Small and Simple Projects Fund, visit seattle.gov/neighborhoods/nmf/smallandsimple.htm. This is the last opportunity in 2015 to apply to this fund.
The Neighborhood Matching Fund staff is available to advise groups on ways to develop successful applications and projects. You are strongly encouraged to call 206.233.0093 or email [email protected] to discuss your project idea with one of our project managers.
A program of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, the Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) Program awards matching funds for projects initiated, planned, and implemented by community members. Its goal is to build stronger and healthier neighborhoods through community involvement and engagement. Every award is matched by a neighborhood’s contribution of volunteer labor, donated materials, in-kind professional services, or cash.
Two Northwest Companies Settle with the EPA for Hazardous Chemical Release Reporting Violations
Two Pacific Northwest companies have settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after failing to report the release of extremely hazardous substances to federal, state, and local agencies in violation of federal laws designed to protect communities and first responders.
Goodrich Corporation, Washington:
Goodrich Corporation in Spokane, Washington failed to immediately report the release of hydrogen cyanide to the National Response Center, the State Emergency Response Commission, and the Local Emergency Planning Committee, as required by Section 103 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and Section 304 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act.
EPA alleges that on October 6, 2014, Goodrich released 25.5 pounds of hydrogen cyanide over a two-hour period. EPA alleges that Goodrich had knowledge of the release of hydrogen cyanide in quantities equal to or greater than 10 pounds, the reportable quantity, but did not report the release for nearly six weeks. Hydrogen cyanide is a hazardous substance listed in 40 C.F.R. § 302.4 and must be reported if 10 pounds or more is released. Hydrogen cyanide is highly flammable and soluble in water. It may form explosive mixtures with air and be ignited by heat, sparks or flames. Hydrogen cyanide may be fatal if inhaled or absorbed through skin. Initial odor may be irritating or foul and may deaden the sense of smell.
Goodrich has agreed to pay a penalty of $52,000.
Partner's Produce, Inc., Idaho:
Partner’s Produce, Inc. in Payette, Idaho failed to immediately report the release of anhydrous ammonia to the National Response Center, State Emergency Response Commission, and the Local Emergency Planning Committee, as required by Section 103 of CERCLA and Section 304 of EPCRA.
EPA alleges that Partner’s Produce released approximately 378 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on February 14, 2014, from its Payette, Idaho facility. Anhydrous ammonia is a poisonous gas. Exposure to vapors can cause temporary blindness and eye damage, as well as irritation of the skin, mouth, throat, respiratory tract and mucous membranes. Prolonged exposure to anhydrous ammonia vapor at high concentrations can lead to serious lung damage and even death.
EPA also alleges that Partner’s Produce violated Section 312 of EPCRA for failing to file annual Tier II Hazardous Chemical Inventory Reports for anhydrous ammonia at its facility in Payette, Idaho. EPCRA Section 312 requires companies to file hazardous chemical inventory reports with the State Emergency Response Commission, the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and the local Fire Department each year by March 1st.
Partner’s Produce agreed to pay a penalty of $67,392.
EPCRA was created in 1986 after the tragedy at the Union Carbide Pesticide plant in Bhopal India in which methylisocyanate was accidentally released killing and injuring thousands. EPCRA helps communities plan for emergencies involving hazardous substances. EPCRA requires hazardous chemical emergency planning by federal, state and local governments, tribes, and industry. It also requires industry to report on the storage, use and releases of hazardous chemicals to federal, state, and local governments. More information can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/epcra.
King County Continues Strong Push to Combat Human Trafficking
For the past several years, King County has worked to reduce human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. At the Sept. 1 meeting of the Metropolitan King County’s Health, Housing and Human Services Committee, committee members received a briefing on one initiative reflective of the county’s continuing effort to end this crime in the region.
In 2013, King County launched an anti-human trafficking transit public awareness campaign using County resources and private sector partnerships with Clear Channel Communications and Titan Media. This campaign involved over 200 Sound Transit and Metro buses, billboards, and radio and TV public service announcements which helped to inform thousands of people in Western Washington about human trafficking.
Last year, the Council unanimously adopted legislation that further supported efforts to combat human trafficking in King County by calling for the development and placement of human trafficking outreach information in government facilities and in other places where the general public or human trafficking victims would see these. The committee briefing focused on the status of this effort to reach out to victims trying to escape and community members who might be able to help if they knew how to identify a potential victim.
A group of more than 65 community partners and King County agencies have posted nearly 500 awareness notices in locations where victims and the public might see them. The campaign was informed by training materials on conducting public outreach campaigns provided by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC). Posters used in the campaign list NHTRC's hotline number, 1-888-3737-888.
Human trafficking is defined under federal law, and victims include children induced into commercial sex, adults age eighteen or over who are induced--through force, fraud, or coercion--into commercial sex, and anyone induced to perform “labor or services,” such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm workers forced to labor against their will.
EPA: Duwamish Cleanup Must be Done Right
Nine months after issuing its Duwamish Waterway cleanup plan, the United States Environmental Protection Agency is sending a message to a company responsible for cleaning up its portion of the waterway’s pollution: make sure the work is done right or pay the price.
As they removed and transported creosote pilings and PCB-laden sediments from the Jorgensen Forge site, the Earle M. Jorgensen Company (EMJ) and its contractors repeatedly failed to meet necessary and agreed-upon cleanup requirements and presented unnecessary risks to human health and the environment during the cleanup.
The EPA is proposing penalties of $367,500 for seven separate violations of the cleanup agreement between EPA and EMJ that occurred between July 2014 and July 2015.
Sediment cleanup work in a working river is complicated, so the EPA builds Best Management Practices (BMPs) into the workplans that are developed for each cleanup site to prevent release of contaminated material during cleanup work. Following these BMPs helps companies and their contractors get the job done correctly and safely.
Conversely, failure to do the work as required by the cleanup agreement and the BMPs detailed in the agreement, can lead to release of contaminants during cleanup activities which may have adverse impacts to human health and the environment.
Throughout the construction activities, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers observed and documented multiple violations of the cleanup agreement between the company and the EPA. Many of the violations were discovered by the EPA and the Corps, despite EMJ representatives being on-site at that time ostensibly to ensure that the work was being performed consistent with the cleanup agreement. For example, last year EMJ’s contractors repeatedly failed to use BMPs for pilings removal and sediment management and failed to take samples of sediments, as required, to determine if they’d actually cleaned up the site.
The EPA project manager called attention to the workplans -- and BMPs that should have guided the work -- but was typically ignored at each misstep.
Community collaborates to decrease school tardiness in Bellevue
Coordinated by the Eastside Pathways organization, the city of Bellevue, Bellevue School District and several community partners are collaborating on a campaign to encourage children to attend school and discourage tardiness.
This year’s awareness campaign kicks off on Sept. 1, the start of a new school year, with banners that will be hung from overpasses on SE 148th and NE 110th St.
“Bellevue is an innovative, vibrant and caring community, and we’re thrilled to be participating in this critical effort to help our students succeed,” said City Councilmember and an Eastside Pathways founding board member John Stokes. “The partnership between the city, the Bellevue School District and Eastside Pathways encourages parents to send their children to school and to have them arrive on time and ready to learn – key ingredients for our youngest generation to live, work and play well in the future.”
As part of the campaign, 22 Bellevue District schools will receive bookmarks and information cards distributed by volunteers. The schools will distribute them to students and parents and hang posters and banners in multiple languages on campuses to spread the word.
The bookmarks have the following tips for students to complete before bed: read at home, complete and pack homework, lay out school clothes, set alarm, sleep for 9-10 hours and have sweet dreams.
“Last year’s campaign brought an awareness of the impact of tardiness, and we will be building on those successes this year,” said Glenn Hasslinger, supervisor of pupil management at the Bellevue School District. “In the past two years the Bellevue School District has seen a reduction of nearly 30 percent. Elementary schools such as Clyde Hill, Newport Heights, and Spiritridge saw a significant decrease in late attendance (54 percent, 48 percent and 44 percent, respectively) in 2014-2015.”
Founded in 2011, Bellevue-based Eastside Pathways mobilizes the community to support every child, step-by-step, from cradle to career. The partnership unites around common goals, measurements and strategies to maximize each child’s opportunity for a productive, fulfilling life.
For more family fun events, see the Community Calendar.