Councilmember Lisa Herbold on South Park, tree cutting and Amazon
Like you, I was shocked, saddened, outraged, and worried for the safety of my neighbors when we learned about the shooting of one of our South Park children.
Wednesday evening, I was at the Denny/Sealth PTSA Safety meeting at Neighborhood House in High Point when the officers that were the presenting guests were called away to respond. Many of you were much closer to this event. Maybe you, like I, felt a sense of helplessness in the face of such a needless tragedy.
When a teenager or any child in our community is shot we all feel that pain in different ways. It is my greatest hope that the child involved can recover fully, and that family and community members are there to offer support every step of the way.
As a parent and grandparent this is the worst of our fears. But I need you to not feel helplessness. I need you to keep raising your voices to demand more from City Hall.
I know that South Park will not be defined by this incident, but instead by the strength and pride of this community who, every opportunity, rallies to the aid of others who are suffering.
While it’s too early to know specifically what could have been done to prevent this senseless shooting, what we do know is it is past time for City Hall to really rally its support for South Park. What I do is commit to you in my capacity as representative of our community to continue to keep the health, safety and welfare of my South Park constituents at the forefront.
As a Councilmember, the formal scope of my powers doesn’t necessarily extend beyond legislation and budget decisions. But it does afford me a chance to secure resources and services for all of us, and to advocate for the community.
I’ve been able to advocate for the residents of South Park, only because of the efforts that many of you have made to engage with my office. Over the last two years my staff and I have worked on South Park issues ranging from:
- Securing a dedicated SPD bike beat
- Securing a mobile precinct unit for South Park
- Closing several residential and commercial nuisance property cases while continuing to work on others
- Advocating for the clients of the South Park Information and Referral Center
- Supporting efforts to do community-based planning for the South Park Neighborhood Center
- Supporting superfund remediation efforts for the Duwamish
- Pushing to break ground on the long-delayed SPU Pump Station project to improve the environment where you live
- Working to improve the lighting on the streets, in alleys, and recreation areas
- Helping the Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition, to support their capacity building to undertake anti-displacement work in the Duwamish Valley
- Proposed and secured funding for the South Park Family Service Center
- Helped ensure the future of Duwamish Waterway Park and the continued development into a park space
- 36.5 hours of open office hours in South Park to hear from you
- South Park Public Safety Task Force (see below)
Let’s continue our efforts to work with the precinct officers to maintain their presence, engaging the crime prevention coordinators to help SPD to be more proactive, fighting for greater support for youth engagement and violence prevention services, mental health funding, and other services that help the people that need it most, and implementing and funding the recommendations from the community-driven South Park Public Safety Task Force. The Council, in the budget process, secured $600,000 for implementation. The Executive has committed to reprioritizing funds to help implement some others.
Over the last couple of days, I’ve been in touch with the Mayor’s Office, Chief Carmen Best, and City departments. Please click here for an update on the City’s work to implement the recommendations of the South Park Public Safety Task Force. Thanks to the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) for their work in coordinating this udpate; DON is assigning a point person to make sure these items keep moving forward.
I’ll see you at the vigil tonight.
Second West Seattle Tree Cutting Settlement
On Monday, the City Attorney announced a settlement of $360,000 for a second tree cutting lawsuit stemming from the illegal cutting of 153 trees on public property in the East Admiral area in early 2016. The first lawsuit was settled in 2017 for $440,000. Remediation work is underway, including saplings that were planted within the last week.
Saplings now adorn a hillside where the trees once stood, though it will be decades before our West Seattle greenbelt is truly restored. Thank you to City Attorney Holmes and his team for securing this $360,000 settlement, in addition to the $440,000 settlement from last spring; I expect these clear consequences will make someone think twice before considering arboricide in the future. I’m glad the funds will be going to restore this greenbelt, and other greenbelts in Seattle.
Here’s a link to the City Attorney’s announcement. Parks and Recreation Interim Superintendent Williams notes that over 620 trees have been planted, and over 5,500 native plants overall.
Trees in our greenbelts are precious natural resources that maintain soil stability, thus lessening the risk of landslides, and maintain air quality by absorbing carbon.
Earlier, the King County Prosecutor opted not to file felony criminal changes; the City Attorney has jurisdiction over lesser charges, i.e. misdemeanors.
Today’s Amazon Meeting
Later today some of my colleagues and I are attending what has been referred to as the “Amazon Reset Meeting,” along with a number of other policy makers and opinion leaders in Seattle. I think of it as an opportunity for King County Councilmembers, State Legislators, Governor’s staff, School Board members, Seattle College Presidents, and other attendees to set the terms for what we as a City believe is important for a good corporate partner that is employing a larger and larger portion of our workforce.
I’ve not been shy about calling for Amazon to pay more attention to its labor practices. I sent this letter last year and worked to get the famous “reset letter” to also include these same critical issues.
These are the topics on Amazon’s agenda today:
- Providing Affordability and Opportunity in Seattle
- Transportation and Mobility
- Seattle Business Environment
- Education and the Future of Work
It’s important for Amazon to understand the elected leaders in this region highly value workers’ rights, and that in seeking a better relationship with Amazon will not look the other way when workers are misclassified as contract employees and labor rights are denied. I also want to ensure that union represented workers in markets that Amazon has and is acquiring are secure in their employment futures.
With that in mind I will continue to advocate for many of the issues important to Amazon workers: not receiving minimum wage, overtime, rest breaks, paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, and other benefits. Resolving these problems for the workers who keep Amazon running – and others struggling to make it in our City -- is critical for the high cost of living in Seattle.
Finally, I want to ensure the understanding that preemption bills in the State Legislature that would limit Seattle’s ability to enact strong labor laws are not acceptable to many City of Seattle lawmakers.