The Seattle Council goes on its summer break next Monday. Today's meeting was the last full-council meeting until after Labor Day. It was a whole lot of loose end-tying.
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The long, exhaustive meeting tackled 25 agenda items. The majority of them were vastly uninteresting. I'm talking land-use easements, sky bridges getting renewed, and people getting appointed to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. Buried in all that procedure were some actual big developments.
Giving Minors Legal Counsel When Talking to Cops
Notably, the MiChance Dunlap-Gittens Youth Rights Ordinance passed unanimously, 7-0, with Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Teresa Mosqueda absent. The ordinance was named after Dunlap-Gittens, the 17-year-old who was shot and killed by King County Sheriff's deputies in 2017 during a botched sting operation. The law directs police to give detained individuals under the age of 18 the opportunity to speak to a lawyer before waiving their Miranda Rights. In other words, cops cannot interrogate minors without a lawyer present, unless they believe the situation is life-threatening.
According to Councilmember Tammy Morales, one of the co-sponsors of the legislation, 90% of juveniles waive their rights when detained and interrogated by police. Most young people don't know or understand their constitutional rights and don't know they can refuse officer requests for information or a search, she reasoned.
Deshawn Neighbors, Community Passageways ambassador who spoke during the public comment period, said the community had lost trust with police long ago: "In order to gain that trust back, this is something we need."
Kendrick Washington with the ACLU of Washington said that "there are virtually no differences" between when police interrogate children and when they interrogate adults.
Morales said this ordinance was critical to ending the school-to-prison pipeline in Seattle and King County.
The King County Council will vote on a countywide version of the same ordinance tomorrow.
Dan Strauss's First Council Bill
Freshman Councilmember Dan Strauss popped his legislative cherry today. The first bill from Strauss begins to address the problem of the "affordable childcare desert" in the city. Strauss's bill, which passed unanimously, allows people to build childcare facilities in all zones, including single-family zones, and removes some unnecessary red tape. Here's the other red tape that got snipped.
The goal is to build more facilities closer to where people live and work, which is presumably why the bill is called "Childcare Near You." Catchy.
Gonzalez called this bill "one piece of the greater puzzle" of the childcare crisis.
Alex Pedersen's Resolution
Councilmember Alex Pedersen had a lot of items on the agenda today, including lots of designations for sidewalk usages for all those street cafes, and also those aforementioned sky bridge permit renewals.
He also put forward a resolution supporting The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, a bill introduced by the U.S. Congress. This legislation affirms Seattle's support for nationwide efforts to increase police accountability, which is good, but it's also mostly meaningless. And it’s difficult to overlook the fact that one of Pedersen's first moves as a council member was to submit a resolution ending the practice of the Seattle City Council passing meaningless resolutions on issues they don’t directly control. His resolution to end all resolutions failed. Now he's making resolutions. You love to see it.
Some New Landmarks
The Council designated three properties as historical landmarks: Canterbury Court in the University District, Roy Vue Apartments on Capitol Hill, and the University of Washington Engineering Annex. When I first read the agenda, I assumed Canterbury Alehouse was being designated a landmark. It's not.