Hello Residents of King County District 2,
This is your friendly neighborhood King County Councilmember, Girmay Zahilay. I hope you’ve all been enjoying your summers and staying safe. Below are some news, updates, and events that I think you’ll find useful.
As a reminder, Washington State opened back up on June 30th. To read Governor Jay Inslee’s full statement, click here. You can always find your nearest vaccination site at our King County Public Health website or Washington State’s COVID Vaccine Finder.
Youth Achievement Center Launch
My office has been working for the past year with several community organizations to build the Youth Achievement Center (YAC), a supportive housing development for 100 unhoused youth in South Seattle. I’m inviting YOU to help build the YAC! Join us at the YAC Block Party this Sunday at 12pm in Columbia City to learn more. Please share the below flyer and if you can, donate today! You can also watch our campaign launch video here.
Skyway Town Hall
On June 17th, my office along with the Department of Local Services (DLS) held a virtual town hall to discuss the various issues pertaining to Skyway. These meetings are an opportunity to hear from elected and appointed King County leaders and department staff members about how your local government is delivering services. Topics included Skyway community concerns and needs, affordable housing and anti-displacement, Metro Skyway investments, Skyway Park improvements, the Community Investment Program, and more. To watch the recording, click here.
Update on Ranked Choice Voting
As you may know, I was championing the cause of voting reform in King County. I proposed legislation that would put Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) on this November’s ballot so that we could have a more inclusive, representative, and modern system of electing our public officials. This week, my co-sponsor and I decided to postpone the legislation and continue working on it for next year’s ballot. Most of my colleagues shared our interest in RCV but understandably wanted more time to work through the details without the fast deadlines associated with this November’s ballot.
Thank you all so much for supporting RCV. Your advocacy has laid the foundation for voting reform in Washington. Let’s keep the momentum going and continue working on the legislation for next year. Special thanks to all the journalist who covered our proposal and to Fair Vote Washington.
Ethiopian Community Village in South Seattle
Last week, I was excited to join the groundbreaking for the Ethiopian Community Village! It was incredible to see hard work and community organizing result in 90 units of affordable housing for seniors and space for other community gatherings right here in our district. Huge congratulations to all those that made this possible! Major shout out to the Ethiopian Community in Seattle.
Upcoming COVID 8 Budget
Just as the COVID 7 supplemental budget was being passed, my Council colleagues and I began working on the COVID 8 budget supplemental. These supplemental budgets appropriate money from the federal government to address impacts of the pandemic. COVID 8, as currently drafted, invests in these key areas:
• Continues the County’s COVID-19 response by readjusting public health investments to continue key pandemic response operations, while ramping down other services to meet evolving community need, including closeout costs for isolation and quarantine sites and hotels which served community throughout the pandemic,
• Dedicates $18 million for community supports by investing in a more resilient and equitable economy, connecting underrepresented and dislocated workers to job opportunities, creating community engagement capacity in BIPOC organizations, investing in culturally appropriate services for rideshare workers, and providing support for immigrant communities who have not been able to access federal benefits,
• Allocates over $90 million for rental assistance,
• Supports County service delivery through investments which support operational adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
• Provides additional resources for the criminal legal system to begin addressing the backlog of criminal and civil cases that have built up over the course of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Last week, my colleague Councilmember Balducci included the following alert in her newsletter, which I think you should know as well:
“Following a historic heat wave and with no rain in sight, on Tuesday, Governor Inslee declared a statewide state of emergency relating to the growing risk of wildfires, including a statewide prohibition on most outdoor and agricultural burning through September 30.
While it’s impossible to predict whether King County will experience the incredible wildfire smoke of last year and 2017, it’s time for us to prepare. Public Health – Seattle & King County has prepared suggestions for how to get ready and resources to stay informed about air quality and smoke forecasts.”
Get wildfire smoke ready today >>>
OLEO Director Search
The King County Council hosted two virtual community meetings on July 13th and 14th to give members of the public the opportunity to ask questions and hear from the two finalist candidates for the Director of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO): Tamer Abouzeid is an attorney, mediator, community organizer and policy professional; and Eddie Aubrey is a civilian police oversight manager and a former police auditor, judge, and prosecutor.
Fireworks Ban & 4th of July
Last week, our nation celebrated the 4th of July – happy Independence Day, everyone! As we move forward celebrating this holiday, please remember that this year King County passed a law banning fireworks.
Before I get into the details about what that means, let me just say with all the heat waves and wildfires, fireworks and firecrackers are as dangerous as ever. Our fire departments tell me they prepare for the 4th of July the same way they would prepare for an upcoming natural disaster. They tell me every year people blow up their limbs, damage property, set homes on fire, and in some years people have even been killed. Please enjoy the 4th safely without fireworks.
So, King County passed legislation banning fireworks. What does that mean?
First there’s some nuance here: “firecrackers” had already been illegal in Washington State prior to King County’s new ban. The explosive devices that shake the earth and set off car alarms — M80s, M100s, bottle rockets, missiles, firecrackers. Those have already been illegal and continue to be illegal. They’re not even covered by King County’s fireworks ban because they’re already illegal at the state level. Please don’t use them.
King County’s ordinance covers “fireworks”, which is everything not covered by the state law. Things like wheels, fountains, Roman candles, and smoke devices. In other words, once the new King County ordinance takes effect and combines with the state level bans, all fireworks and all firecrackers of all types will be banned in the locations where King County has such authority.
King County’s authority to ban fireworks extends only to unincorporated King County. So the new fireworks ban applies only to unincorporated King County: areas like Skyway, Lakeridge, White Center, East Federal Way, etc. Although neighboring cities like Seattle already have a fireworks ban in place so much of the substance of what I’m writing here may already apply to city folks as well.
State law requires that if King County bans “fireworks”, it must wait 1 year before the ban takes effect. So even though we passed the ordinance this year, it won’t become effective until 2022.
Remember, when I say it won’t become effective I’m referring ONLY to the “fireworks” ban from King County. As discussed above, firecrackers, the big stuff, are already illegal by the State of Washington. Furthermore, criminal activity, like targeting people with fireworks, damaging property with fireworks, hurting people, etc. that’s also already illegal and we don’t have to wait until 2022 to say that’s not allowed.
This year and 2022, King County will be undergoing an education and information campaign to spread awareness about the new law: that all fireworks will be banned and should not be used in places like Skyway and other parts of unincorporated King County.
Starting in 2023, enforcement of the fireworks ban will be conducted by unarmed, nonpolice alternatives.
Once more, please mind the distinction between fireworks enforcement and enforcement of dangerous and criminal activities like targeting or harming people and property with explosive devices.
We all have a responsibility to create a safe community. Let’s make sure all of our neighbors can enjoy future Independence Days in peace. That includes peace and safety from explosive noises, from brush fires, from death and damage, and also from unnecessarily sending armed police officers into situations that don’t warrant it.
Here is the non-emergency line for KCSO for your future use: 206-296-3311
To hear directly from our fire department in Skyway, please watch this: https://fb.watch/6wf-wj2aEK/
Thank you so much for listening and happy 4th!
Help us grow our reach!
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Councilmember Girmay Zahilay