News from and about King County… from COVID-19 updates to community news affecting our daily lives.
Today’s update includes an update on the King County Assessor’s senior property tax exemption, information on snow and ice resources from the Road Services Division, a King County Metro survey, a bill signed by the Governor to support businesses and workers, health updates, and more.
An eight-time Winter Olympics medalist who was inducted to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2019 – who is he?
(Answer is at the bottom).
Supporting Local Businesses
In the last nine months, I have visited many local South King County “takeout” restaurants, and now look forward to supporting “dine-in” restaurants because of the number of service jobs at stake. Last week, I met with longtime friend and Red Robin Founder Gerry Kingen of Salty’s about the hospitality industry. Looking forward to the Salty’s at Redondo Beach re-opening; great servers, great food!
Eating lunch outside on the deck with Gerry Kingen.
King County Assessor Update: Senior Tax Exemption
Recognizing the need to help senior homeowners, King County spearheaded a 2019 Legislative reform to the Senior Exemption program which increased the income thresholds to each county’s Area Median Income (AMI), and changed the qualifying threshold for senior property tax exemption in King County from $40,000 to $58,423.
This change resulted in a 300% increase in the number of applications last year, as well as some unforeseen issues such as the pandemic and system delays that created a backlog. The department was able to design an efficient, streamlined workflow that allowed them to approve 18,106 applications, providing seniors with an average savings of $4,334.14 for full exemption, $3,414.49 for partial exemption, and $2,681.51 for standard exemption, on a $600,000 home.
King County Road Services: Snow and Ice Resources
King County Department of Local Services’ Road Services Division has put together snow and ice resources for residents in unincorporated King County, which includes their winter weather response, snow routes and maps, and emergency preparedness resources that are available in different languages. Residents may also check King County traffic cameras in unincorporated King County to view real-time traffic information.
For assistance in unincorporated King County and county roads, call the 24/7 Road Helpline at 206-477-8100 or 1-800-527-6237. For more information, visit Road Services’ website or sign up for Road Alerts. For assistance within city limits, please contact your city’s maintenance or emergency response team.
King County Metro seeks community input through route to recovery survey
King County Metro is making plans to gradually restore suspended service where needed most. In order to make the most informed service decisions for King County residents and Metro customers, Metro is seeking community feedback through a short survey on Metro’s route to recovery. Responses are due by 11:59 p.m. March 8, 2021. Your valuable input will help transit planners identify and recommend priority service changes in September 2021 and beyond. Read more in the Metro Matters blogpost here.
Governor signs bipartisan bill to support businesses and workers
Yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation providing relief for businesses and workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. SB 5061 will increase minimum unemployment benefits for workers and provide significant tax relief for businesses over the next five years, to support recovery from the economic impacts of COVID shutdowns. Read more here.
Weekly King County Health Update: Winter Blues May Be Serious
At this time of year, some Pacific Northwesterners may be feeling the occasional “winter blues.” For others, this season’s chilly temperatures, shorter days, and gray skies are causing a more serious form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). As many as 5% of U.S. adults suffer from SAD and struggle with the way they feel, think, and handle things day-to-day. With the additional stressors and challenges of the pandemic, healthcare experts are especially concerned that even more people may be struggling with SAD this year.
SAD is a recurrent type of depression that is triggered by a seasonal change with symptoms that last about 4 to 5 months a year. The most common form starts in the fall and ends by spring. “Summer depression” is a less common form that begins in late spring or early summer and ends by the fall. SAD often begins in young adulthood and affects women more often than men. Although still unclear, experts believe a lack of sun sets off SAD through various ways: a biological or internal clock shift that affects behavior, mood and sleep, a brain chemical imbalance of serotonin (happiness neurotransmitter), a vitamin D deficit that affects serotonin levels, or melatonin overproduction that affects sleep patterns.
SAD symptoms include those associated with depression such as:
• Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
• Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
• Experiencing changes in appetite or weight
• Having problems with sleep
• Feeling sluggish or agitated
• Having low energy
• Feeling hopeless or worthless
• Having difficulty concentrating
• Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
For winter-pattern SAD, additional specific symptoms may include:
• Oversleeping (hypersomnia)
• Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates
• Weight gain
• Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”)
Specific symptoms for summer-pattern SAD may include:
• Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
• Poor appetite, leading to weight loss
• Restlessness and agitation
• Episodes of violent behavior
If you are experiencing these signs and symptoms, a good first step is to contact your healthcare provider for a diagnosis. Possible treatments may include: a lightbox, spending time outside every day (even if it’s cloudy), eating a well-balanced diet, exercising, and staying in contact with your friends and family through calls and video chats. Your healthcare provider may suggest medication options.
*If you or someone you know is thinking about hurting themselves or suffering an immediate crisis, contact:
This 24 hour, toll-free, telephone hotline provides immediate, confidential assistance to people in distress in the King County area. Call 1-866-4-CRISIS (1-866-427-4747) or 206-461-3222.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Provides 24 hour, toll-free, telephone support for anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress and provides information to locate crisis clinics and resources throughout the U.S.
Veterans Crisis Line
Veterans and family members can receive confidential help by calling 1-800-273-8255 (PRESS 1). Visit online to access confidential online chat help.
King County COVID Vaccination Update
As of yesterday, there were 239,774 first dose and 68,472 second dose vaccines administered among King County residents, bringing the total of all administered doses to 308,246. High-volume sites launched in Kent and Auburn have vaccinated 5,765 people at highest risk, aged 75 and older, and their caregivers. For more information, visit the King County COVID Vaccination Dashboard here.
King County Case Update
Today, Seattle – King County Public Health reported 118 new cases, bringing the total in King County to 78,981. In addition, Public Health reported 1 new death, bringing the total in the county to 1,300.
Stay In. Stay Healthy. Stay Strong.
Pete von Reichbauer
King County Councilmember
Washington trivia answer:
Born in 1982, speedskater Apolo Ohno is an eight-time Winter Olympic medalist who learned to skate at Pattison’s West Team Xtreme in Federal Way. At age 6, his father, Yuki Ohno, got him involved with competitive swimming and quad-speed roller skating, before joining the Pattison’s West. He then became a national inline speedskating champion and record holder.
Apolo Ohno became interested in short track speed skating after seeing the sport during the 1994 Olympics. His father supported this interest by bringing him to short track competitions across the United States and Canada, where he won several competitions. He became the youngest U.S. National Champion in 1997, the youngest skater to win a World Cup event title in 1999, the first American to win a World Cup overall title in 2001 and won his first overall World Championship title in 2008. In 2019, he was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
Compiled by Cyndee Navarro of my office.