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Banner with text King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, District 2

Friends and Neighbors:

After months of community engagement and deliberation, the King County Council passed its 2-year operating budget on Tuesday, November 17. So many elements go into crafting a budget of this size and countless folks behind the scenes worked long hours to ensure our County is on steady footing to face the challenges of 2020.

None of this could have been done without you. Whether you were marching in the streets to demand action, attending virtual town halls to elevate the needs in our communities, or reaching out to council offices to make your voice heard directly, you shaped the Countyís priorities.

While there are many highlights this year, Iím excited to announce tens of millions of dollars of investments directly into Skyway. Our goal is to make Skyway the blueprint for investing in underserved neighborhoods without pushing out the people who call it home.

Although this funding represents a new commitment from King County to support our urban unincorporated communities, this is only the beginning of a years long process to ensure that Skyway receives the needed infrastructure, community spaces, services, and affordable housing itís residents and businesses deserve.

Criminal Legal System Updates

In this budget, we also advanced the vision for a better system of public safety and accountability in King County. Thanks to new commitments from our County Executive, we will be implementing a community-created response to divert youth away from the criminal legal system and into community-based healing and restorative justice programming. With $6-million dollars of new funding, Restorative Community Pathways will provide services to 800 young people in lieu of filing criminal charges while building additional capacity to grow these alternatives for years to come.

Uplifting the need for additional transparency, accountability, and alternatives to our current system of law enforcement, this yearís budget requires three critical reports to be filed with the County Council as we chart our course for systemic reform.

Each of these reports will be essential elements in guiding our 2021 pathway to more effective King County systems. More of that change is now possible thanks to the passage of King County Charter Amendments 5 and 6 in November! The momentum of this victory means we can convene impacted communities to shape a better vision for public safety that invests in public health and community-based alternatives to traditional policing.

For additional details on this yearís budget, you can check out the King County Council website to learn about the full 2021-2022 budget.

New COVID-19 Guidance

Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday, November 15 announced broad new restrictions on gatherings and business activity as COVID-19 cases continued spiking in Washington.

The restrictions prohibit all indoor gatherings with people outside your household, unless everyone has quarantined and tested negative. Outdoor social gatherings are limited to no more than five people from outside your household. Indoor service at bars and restaurants is prohibited, and outdoor service will be limited to parties of five or less. Indoor gyms and fitness centers must close, as well as movie theaters, bowling alleys and museums.

Religious services are limited to 25% of capacity or 200 people, whichever is less, and masks must always be worn. Singing at such events is prohibited. Wedding and funeral ceremonies are limited to 30 people and receptions are prohibited.

Retail businesses, including shopping malls, must limit occupancy to 25% and close food court seating. Offices are required to mandate employees work from home if possible, and limit occupancy to 25% if they remain open. They must be closed to the public. Personal care businesses, such as salons and barbers, are limited to 25% capacity and real estate open houses are prohibited. Youth and adult sports are only allowed outdoor intrateam practice and athletes must all wear masks.

Long-term care facilities can only have visitors in outdoor settings.

These are serious new restrictions because our families, our communities, and our state are facing dire consequences if we are unable to get the spread of the coronavirus under control. We are facing record cases and hospital admissions already and with Winter ahead conditions are worsening.

However, if we all do our part, we still have more than a fighting chance prevent the worst-case scenarios. Wear a mask. Stay home unless it is absolutely essential to leave. Continue to socially distance. Weíre all in this together.

For full information on resources, testing, and updates please visit the King County hub for COVID-19.

Thank you to all of you, for doing your part to keep our communities healthy, strong, and growing.

Small Business Grants Available

The Seattle Office of Economic Development is currently accepting applications for the Small Business Stabilization fund. The Small Business Stabilization Fund (SBSF) provides $10,000 grants to small businesses and economic opportunity nonprofits throughout Seattle who have been financially impacted by COVID-19.

In an attempt to prioritize funding to businesses that are more likely to have experienced the greatest economic impacts, OED will ensure that at least two-thirds of grant recipients will be selected from applications from businesses with five or fewer employees and from areas that are identified as high risk of displacement or highly disadvantaged. Those areas are determined by several socioeconomic factors to identify areas of the city that have been historically underserved and more likely to be disproportionally impacted by economic shocks. All businesses and nonprofit organizations that receive a grant must commit to not reducing wages and benefits?provided prior to the COVID-19 emergency.

You can find the application and learn more by visiting the Seattle Office of Economic Development website here.

Connect with me on social media!

My team and I send email updates like the one youíre currently reading every couple of weeks, but for more frequent and daily updates, you should check out our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages. For the latest news, resources, and opportunities to engage with your King County government, follow me on the social media channels of your choice:

Instagram: @councilmember.girmay Twitter: @GirmayZahilay

Thank you!


Councilmember Girmay Zahilay

Phone: 206-477-1002