Hazard pay for grocery store workers is here: Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda's bill to give grocery store workers up to $4 per hour in hazard pay passed 8-0 today, with Councilmember Debora Juarez absent. The emergency legislation will apply to grocery companies with more than 500 employees worldwide, as well as companies that boast stores larger than 10,000 square feet. Berkeley and Long Beach recently passed similar policies, and Los Angeles is considering passing their version of the policy this week.
"This is another piece of legislation to truly try to protect those on the frontline and recognize the incredible danger our frontline workers are in," Mosqueda said. Councilmembers Andrew Lewis, Tammy Morales, Lisa Herbold, Lorena Gonzalez, and Kshama Sawant signed on as co-sponsors.
Someone mailed Councilmember Tammy Morales's husband pornographic images with her face on them: Morales finished up her weekly report in the Seattle City Council's Monday briefing by acknowledging the hate mail and death threats Councilmember Kshama Sawant said she has been receiving for over a month from a Seattle Fire Department email address. This hate, Morales said, is not an isolated event.
The council, and especially the women on the council, have been on the receiving end of a "dangerous escalation of expression that goes way beyond free speech," Morales said. Erica Barnett at PubliCola has documented the harassment women on the council have received over the years.
With a tremble in her voice, Morales described the letters someone mailed her husband—her face superimposed on porn.
"We understand that those of us who are called to public service will be targets of all manner of divisiveness and hate," Morales said. "But when council members have their windows broken, their parents accosted, and when actual violence is threatened, that crosses a line."
Morales said she was glad to hear that SFD and the Seattle Police Department were investigating the threats. She said she expected to be briefed on those investigations as well as the investigations into the five SPD officers "who were present at the insurrection on January 6," Morales said.
800 tiny homes by the end of 2021 will sure take a village: Councilmember Andrew Lewis announced a new proposal on Monday to scale up tiny house villages in Seattle. The proposal is appropriately called, "It Takes a Village." COVID-19 forced more unhoused people onto the streets and into city parks as homeless shelters de-congregated. "There’s this sense of urgency," Lewis said. So, he's trying to act quickly. With some private money, he might be able to pull it off.
As the weather gets colder it is unacceptable how many Seattleites are living outside. Working with service providers, outreach workers, community and business leaders I have plan to leverage private $$ and public resources to change this. Learn more here https://t.co/cBIHJep8wH pic.twitter.com/xJqchIv164
— Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis (@CMAndrewJLewis) January 25, 2021
Tiny homes are the one homelessness solution that unites Danny Westneat at the Seattle Times, Sawant, and Councilmember Alex Pedersen, Lewis joked. Homeless people also "overwhelmingly" accept placement into tiny homes, Lewis said. In the fall budget, the council appropriated $4.2 million for three new tiny house villages, or around 120 new tiny homes.
At the end of November, the South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce approached Lewis with a nugget of an idea: What if business and private interests bankrolled more tiny homes?
So far, Lewis has raised over $1 million in donations from Canadian real estate developer Onni, local wealthy business people such as Rebecca and Eli Alamo, John Meisenbach, and others. The goal is to raise $7.2 million from businesses and private investors to fund one-time construction costs of the villages and to use the earmarked council funds to run operations like keeping the lights on, providing food, heat, and case management.
Lewis is hoping more money pours in. He's also looking for land. If you have a spare plot of land you'd like to site a tiny house village on, Lewis would like you to email him. One option is to site villages on yet-to-be-developed construction sites.
"There's a lot of opportunities to approach developers sitting on properties that are waiting to be built," Lewis told me in an interview, "in the meantime, they could let the city host a tiny house village [on the site]," kind of like what Pedersen plans to do with that U-District Sound Transit site. Lewis described his dream of creating "a big database and directory of properties" in that pre-construction purgatory that the city could keep tabs on and through which it could rotate and re-site encampments.
If it all works out, "It Takes a Village," combined with other city-run shelter strategies, would create around 1,145 new shelter beds. Currently, over 3,700 people are living unsheltered in Seattle, though those counts probably aren't accurate since the annual count of people sleeping outside won't occur this year.