New leader for King County Department of Local Services: Leon Richardson

July 1st, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on New leader for King County Department of Local Services: Leon Richardson

A new director for the King County department that most directly impacts communities such as White Center, the Department of Local Services, has just been announced:

Leon Richardson has been appointed the new director of King County’s Department of Local Services. He was previously at the County Department of Community and Human Services, where his achievements include helping stand up vital assessment and recovery centers at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a matter of weeks, he built out King County’s vaccination infrastructure, ensuring equitable access and distribution. Additionally, he administered a $400 million eviction and rent assistance program as well as overseeing the renewal of the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy.

Richardson – whose appointment requires King County Council confirmation – succeeds John Taylor, the department’s first-ever director, who moved to the Department of Natural Resources and Parks earlier this year.

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Minimum wage goes up for unincorporated King County. Here’s what co-sponsoring Councilmember Mosqueda says about it

May 14th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Jobs, King County, White Center news Comments Off on Minimum wage goes up for unincorporated King County. Here’s what co-sponsoring Councilmember Mosqueda says about it

County Councilmembers have approved a new, higher minimum wage for North Highline and other unincorporated areas of the county. Our area’s Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda co-sponsored it – here’s how she announced it in her newsletter tonight:

Today, the King County Council passed a new minimum wage for the unincorporated areas of the County. This new law, which I was proud to co-sponsor, will help bring unincorporated areas of the County, like White Center, Vashon Island, Skyway and more, in line with the many and growing jurisdictions in this county that have a higher minimum wage than the state minimum. Thanks to Councilmember Zahilay who was the prime sponsor, Committee Chair Rod Dembowski who also sponsored the legislation, and their teams for leading the effort on this bill with community.

Starting on January 1, 2025, the minimum wage for businesses with 500 or more employees will start at $20.29 and increase with inflation annually starting in 2026. There is a phase in for smaller businesses: Employers with 15 or fewer employees with an annual gross revenue of less than $2 million will have an hourly minimum wage rate of $3.00 less ($17.29). The reduction would decrease annually by $0.50 until no reduction is remaining in 2030. Employers with more than 15 employees but fewer than 500 employees would have an hourly minimum wage rate of $2.00 less ($18.29). The reduction would decrease annually by $1.00 until no reduction is remaining in 2026.

Coming from the labor movement, lifting up the voices of workers, community and small businesses to raise the wage for low wage workers in Washington State and at the local level, I know it works. When low wage workers get a raise they spend that money putting it back into their local economy. One Seattle Times article literally said: “the sky is not falling from Seattle’s minimum-wage hike”. Eight years ago, I helped lead the statewide minimum wage and sick leave initiative 1433, because reports showed the minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living – especially in this region. Study after study have shown that raising the minimum wage spurs economic growth by putting more money in our local economies – and that’s actually good for business. This is why I joined with my colleagues on the council to bring in worker advocates, small businesses and other stakeholders to craft policy raising the wage for our unincorporated areas.

With outreach and engagement done by our office, we’ve heard from workers and small businesses across District 8 that they support the new minimum wage. Many small businesses in the district are already paying wages above what the new minimum will be because they believe in paying a living wage and want to recruit and retain workers. One of the best ways to do that is to make sure workers can afford to live near their places of employment. A 2 bedroom apartment in White Center on average goes for nearly $2,000 a month, which would take up to 70% of your income before taxes if you made only the state’s minimum wage. As we work on scaling up housing and affordable units, one job really should be enough to make ends meet. I am proud to have voted yes to raise the wage for workers in District 8 and will continue to support additional strategies to grow small business, invest in equitable development, increase housing stock, and build more affordable units around our region. Raising the minimum wage is just one part of the effort to create a more equitable economy.

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WEDNESDAY: King County Job Launch!

April 15th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Jobs, King County, White Center news Comments Off on WEDNESDAY: King County Job Launch!

From the White Center Teen Program:

King County Job Launch for ages 16 – 24 is coming up on Wednesday, April 17th.

The Fall Job Launch Program features Pathways to Working in Healthcare. Ages 16 – 24 are encouraged to join virtually on zoom or in person at the White Center Teen Program (1321 SW 102nd St) or the Skyway Library (12601 76th Ave S ) on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 from 3:30 pm-5:30 pm. Scheduled presenters include:

IHAP (Introduction to Healthcare Employment and Mentorship Program)
Career Work$ Medical Free Job Training Program
Insider Panel of careers in Healthcare

For additional Information, please contact Vana Danh, King County Parks @ 206.477.2105 or visit Job Launch & PNTH Job Fair – White Center Teen Program (

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White Center sidewalk-repair project postponed again

April 10th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, Transportation, White Center news Comments Off on White Center sidewalk-repair project postponed again

Announced this morning:

In Fall 2024 – King County Road Services will repair sidewalks in two areas of White Center:

SW 108th Street between 4th Avenue SW and 1st Avenue SW
26th Avenue SW between SW 106th Street/SW 107th Way and SW 112th Street

We originally planned for these repairs to occur fall 2023 and then rescheduled to spring 2024. However, due to crew availability the work has been rescheduled to fall 2024. When we know when we’ll be in your neighborhood, we’ll be back in touch.

Details about the work

Damaged sidewalks can make it challenging for people’s mobility. Sidewalks can buckle and break in part due to tree roots. To fix these sidewalks, the county also will remove trees that are causing the sidewalk to lift and crack. We will work with the Department of Natural Resources and Parks to plant replacement trees in nearby locations.

This work is part of our ongoing sidewalk repair program to improve mobility for walkers, wheelchairs, and strollers.

It is informed by our Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, plan. To find out more about our Accessibility Program, visit: Roads’ ADA Transition Plan and Accessibility Services – King County.

We know trees are an important part of the community. We will replace or exceed the canopy provided by the original trees in nearby community parks.

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SURVEY: King County seeking feedback for next parks levy

March 29th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, Parks, White Center news Comments Off on SURVEY: King County seeking feedback for next parks levy

You won’t vote on it until next year – but King County is collecting early feedback before drafting the next version of the parks levy, so you’re invited to answer a survey now, and/or attend an online community meeting. Here’s the announcement:

The King County Parks Levy is a voter-approved property tax that keeps both city and regional parks, trails, and open spaces available for everyone. No matter where you are in King County, the Parks Levy goes to support local parks and trails. The current levy is in effect through 2025.

What should be in the next (2026-2031) levy to improve the parks and outdoor spaces in your community? King County Parks would like to hear from you. Your input will help shape parks and trails for years to come.

Take a 10-minute survey (and enter to win two tickets to any concert at Marymoor Live!).

-Register to attend a virtual community meeting on April 9 (5-6 pm) or April 23 (6-7 pm). To request interpreter support for the April 23 meeting, send email to Helen Potter ( with the name of the language no later than April 11.

Deadline for the survey is April 29.

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VIDEO: Conversation with your new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda

February 12th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on VIDEO: Conversation with your new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

After six years on the Seattle City Council, West Seattle resident Teresa Mosqueda moved to the King County Council last month. Following her November election win with 55 percent of the vote, she took office last month in the District 8 seat vacated by Joe McDermott after 13 years. As shown on this map, her district stretches from downtown Seattle to Burien, also encompassing West Seattle, Georgetown, South Park, Tukwila, and Burien, as well as White Center and the rest of unincorporated North Highline, plus Vashon and Maury Islands. As she had said during the campaign – announced almost exactly a year ago – her big focuses are on health and housing, but there’s a lot more to pay attention to. We sat down with Councilmember Mosqueda for a half-hour video-recorded chat at the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse this past Thursday. The unedited video is above; below, key points from our conversation.

We asked what the transition’s been like. She had words of praise for the county staff having to bridge such geographic and political diversity. She’s already been back to a variety of places around the district and is scheduling community meetings. “What I’m hearing in these meetings is what I heard in the campaign,” she says – concerns related to her signature issues. But economic challenges are a major concern, and she says she’s talking with businesses and workers about how to support what they’re doing. The county itself is facing a budget crunch, which Mosqueda points out could shut down public-health clinics on which tens of thousands of people rely for health care, she says, so she’s been lobbying for state action that would enable a tax-collecting boost by the county (but this Seattle Times story the day after our chat suggests it’s not happening), and talking to the feds too.

Also on the topic of health, she’s been elected as chair of the Seattle-King County Board of Health, and says a current priority is addressing the “shadow pandemic – isolation, depression, behavioral health, substance-use issues.” She also chairs the council’s Health and Human Services Committee. One major task ahead is the implementation plan for the Crisis Care Centers Levy that voters approved last year, meant to combat the lack of places to take people to get the care they need. Before the brick-and-mortar facilities are opened, she said, there’ll be a “mobile response.” The levy also funds “workforce training … so that [more] people are able to provide services” early on. She says the implementation plan should be complete by the end of the second quarter.

On housing, a major topic we tackled was the King County Comprehensive Plan update, which is currently before the council – “really important decisions that will be made for the unincorporated areas … more walkable, livable neighborhoods,” Mosqueda summarized it. She says it could lead to more affordability and, just to pick one unincorporated area of note, a “new vision” for downtown White Center; she recounted a conversation with a local doctor who hopes that’s what will happen. She says the review of the comprehensive plan has just begun, so she’s joining at an opportune time. She hopes to hear from community members about their thoughts about the next 10 years, too (the period the plan update is to cover).

We asked about displacement risk, given higher rents in the new buildings that replace old ones. Mosqueda says that she is wants to ensure anti-displacement action, with strategies including community preference and affirmative marketing. That means the people who have to leave get first preference for returning to the new buildings – and that they’ll be able to afford to. That requires more incentives for developers, though, she says – including more height – so she hopes the comprehensive plan will include that.

What’s her concept of “affordable housing”? Market rate plus affordable units on the same site will be a crucial mix. And community-focused services like child care on the ground floor would be optimal.

So where has this concept already become reality? we asked. She mentioned a Seattle project at 13th/Fir on a site that once held a parking lot. (Read more about it here.)

We also talked about dealing with the many jurisdictions that the county spans – many cities and neighborhoods. Mosqueda says they have to offer help and support as an “ally, partner, maybe even a co-conspirator.”

On the subject of public safety and criminal justice, we asked Mosqueda about King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s recent reiteration that he still wants to move toward eliminating youth incarceration, though it will take longer to get there than he had previously hoped. His update also included an advisory committee’s recommendations, such as a “respite center” and community “care homes” for some juvenile defendants. Mosqueda told us, “I am interested in seeing that kiddos have a place to go so they can get stabilized and back into society. … If folks are going to interact more with law enforcement, we have to have an array of services we can offer those youths … Ultimately working toward the timeline (Constantine) laid out is the right thing to do.” But what about the current wave of violent crime involving youth? Mosqueda says looking at the underlying issues is important too.

The county administers other major parts of the criminal-justice system – courts, prosecutors and defenders, sheriff, etc. – so we asked if anything else is bubbling up in that area right now. She mentioned a recent “joint meeting to reconvene the Gun Violence Task Force” with jurisdictions including King County and Seattle, and noted legislators working on that. Anything specific she is proposing? Mosqueda responded that “listening to the youth directly” is her focus, and some with whom she’s met already are particularly interested in mental-health services.

Concluding our conversation, we asked how best constituents can interact with her and her staff. She says they’re going out for tours and meetings on “District 8 Days,” with Vashon her first stop and White Center next. She’s also involved in roundtable discussions and responding to constituents’ individual meeting requests – email her directly at To find out what’s happening at County Council meetings, check agendas here.

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King County Local Services director moves to Department of Natural Resources and Parks

February 6th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on King County Local Services director moves to Department of Natural Resources and Parks

A new job just announced for the King County department director with whom unincorporated North Highline has dealt the most in recent years, John Taylor of Local Services. Here’s the announcement:

King County Executive Dow Constantine today appointed John Taylor as the new director for the Department of Natural Resource and Parks, selecting a proven leader to reinforce King County’s reputation as a trusted environmental steward and manage one of the largest metropolitan natural resource agencies in the country.

Taylor has served as the inaugural director for the King County Department of Local Services since 2018, when Executive Constantine established the agency to better serve the nearly 250,000 residents who live in unincorporated communities. He previously served as a member of the leadership team at the Department of Natural Resources and Parks, where he led a landmark accord signed by Executive Constantine that has restored salmon habitat, strengthened the local agricultural economy, and reduced flood risks.

“John brings the strengths and talent we need to build on King County’s reputation as a trusted environmental steward: Outstanding leadership skills, a lifelong commitment to protecting and restoring the natural environment, and the proven ability to produce lasting, measurable results for all living things that make King County home,” said Executive Constantine. “He will succeed as he has for five years as a highly effective member of my Cabinet, by upholding our values to create a more resilient, sustainable, equitable King County for this generation and for all those who will come after us.”

“I am grateful and excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead one of the nation’s premier natural resource agencies, one that has the talent and expertise needed to achieve ambitious goals,” said Taylor. “Executive Constantine has provided clear direction that he wants to build on the momentum King County has made in recent years to produce better results faster for people, salmon, and orcas, and that’s what we will accomplish with our employees and partners.”

Taylor will lead an agency that manages a large portfolio of services and initiatives that protect and restore the region’s natural environment, including climate action, land conservation, protecting water quality, restoring habitat, reducing waste, and promoting equitable access to parks and trails.

Taylor has already contributed to successes on several environmental initiatives created by Executive Constantine, including Clean Water Healthy Habitat by directing King County Road Services to help restore access to high-quality salmon habitat. He also helped create the framework for the Land Conservation Initiative, a partnership to protect the last, best 65,000 acres of open space within a single generation.

He will lead a workforce of 2,000 employees and manage the largest capital portfolio of any King County government agency. Executive Constantine recently toured the department’s new award-winning treatment station in Georgetown that was built to withstand climate impacts to better protect the Duwamish River and Puget Sound for the next century.

=The Wastewater Treatment Division is building and modernizing infrastructure that can withstand climate impacts to continue protecting Puget Sound for the next century

=The Water and Land Resources Division is restoring habitat and reducing flood risks throughout King County

-The Solid Waste Division is designing and building new recycling and transfer stations in the south and northeast areas of King County

-King County Parks is enhancing parks and trails throughout the region, promoting equitable access to places where communities connect

The Department of Natural Resources and Parks is contributing to King County Climate Office initiatives to prepare the region for increased risks to wildfire, extreme heat, and flooding

-The Department of Natural Resources and Parks leads Executive Constantine’s Local Food Initiative, making access to healthy, homegrown food more equitable

Taylor’s previous role at the department was deputy director for the Water and Land Resources Division, which has completed major restoration projects over the past several years. Recent successes include transforming dilapidated buildings along the Duwamish River into healthy habitat and much-needed greenspace for the nearby community, and simultaneously improving habitat and reducing flood risks along the Cedar River and Green River.

Taylor’s leadership team will implement Re+, the initiative Executive Constantine launched a year ago to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing waste and transitioning to a sustainable, circular economy. The department will also contribute to the King County Climate Office’s initiatives to better prepare communities for increased flood risks, extreme heat, and wildfire risks.

King County Parks – one of the department’s four divisions – will continue to expand and enhance its facilities and programs under Taylor’s leadership. In addition to making parks safer, more accessible, and more inclusive, the agency recently completed King County’s contribution to a 44-mile trail corridor that connects Golden Gardens Park in Ballard to Eastside cities and the Cascade foothills. This summer, King County Parks will complete a 500-foot-long trail bridge that connects Eastrail to Sound Transit’s Wilburton Station in Bellevue.

Taylor succeeded on multiple fronts as the first director for the Department of Local Services, producing measurable results that advance King County’s commitment to equity and racial justice.

He is credited with establishing the highly successful participatory budget process that creates opportunities for residents to decide how public funds are invested in their communities His leadership team also established the Community Needs List Program that gives residents in unincorporated areas a voice in King County’s budget process.

He has 20 years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, contributing to Vermont’s first Smart Growth legislation, Seattle’s Restore Our Waters Initiative, and establishing the Puget Sound Partnership. He previously served as a strategic advisor to the director of Seattle Public Utilities, legislative analyst for the Seattle City Council, and senior policy advisor to the governor of Vermont.

Taylor will begin serving as director of the Department of Natural Resources and Parks on Feb. 12. He will replace Christie True, who is retiring after a 39-year career at the agency, including 13 years as department director. Mo McBroom will continue to serve as the department’s deputy director, strengthening partnerships to produce results for climate action, equity and racial justice, land conservation, and resource recovery.

Taylor’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the King County Council. The Executive Office will begin recruiting for a new director for the Department of Local Services.

We’ll be following up for more on that search and who will run Local Services in the meantime.

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Here’s what happened at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first 2024 meeting

February 1st, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, Libraries, North Highline UAC, White Center news 5 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Moments ago, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council wrapped up its first meeting of 2024, facilitated by NHUAC’s Liz Giba.

KING COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM: For the third consecutive meeting, NHUAC had guests from KCLS. This time, trustee Verna Seal, who just joined the KCLS board last year, was first up. (She spent more than a decade and a half on the Tukwila City Council, until 2021.) “I love libraries .. so when this opportunity came up, I saw it as a way to give back,” she said, explaining that the board deals with policy, not operations. She’s one of just two people on the board who are from South King County. She invited questions; Giba asked, “How much money is the board in control of and how is it determined how much goes to each area?” Seal didn’t have specifics but said the system’s budget is $100 million-plus. They get a proposed budget and then review it, ask questions, etc., before eventually voting to approve a final budget (she noted you can see it online). Regional manager Mary Sue Houser added that the board meets at 5 pm on the last Wednesday of each month and anyone can attend online or in person (in Issaquah).

NHUAC’s Pat Price, who’s on the White Center Library Guild, said they’d love to see the board out here. Houser said that once the schedule and locations are finalized – maybe not until the new executive director Heidi Daniel is on board (she starts March 11) – they’ll make sure everyone knows.

Houser talked about programming for kids – including 10:30 am Thursday story times – and a LEGO Block Party at 3 pm February 16. (Check the library website for event listings.) Tax season just started – only 10 returns done so far but Houser said they’ve already found $15,000 in refunds for patrons.

Seal said that while she’s just one board member and can’t directly order changes – like “more hours, everybody wants more hours” – she can advocate, and ensure that issues are discussed. You can contact her and the rest of the board by email (find the address here).

ANNOUNCEMENTS: NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin announced that King County Parks has volunteer opportunities – including work this Saturday at Dick Thurnau Park and other upcoming events at Glendale Forest and North Shorewood Park, all 9 am-noon work parties. (Find out more about the events, and how to volunteer, by going here.)

KING COUNTY CODE ENFORCEMENT: Tom Campbell, code-enforcement officer with the county Department of Local Services’ Permitting Division, was invited to talk about a couple White Center-area cases. First one, a residential property on 19th SW, where an “inoperable vehicle filled with garbage … had been there for a long time.” The occupants had “bagged the garbage and moved it to their driveway,” he said, but they decided what more they could do via the abatement process. They found the owner, he said, and “she agreed to remove the garbage within one week.” They gave her vouchers so she could take it to the transfer station. As for the inoperable vehicle, the owners plan to have it taken to a scrapyard and will move a vehicle that still works into its place on a gravel pad. “So that should get it cleaned up,” he said, noting that the trash had become an issue for neighbors because it was attracting rats. He explained that they have authority to do “abatement” on this kind of situation and to place a lien on the property to recover costs – but that requires court action, and can “take a fairly lengthy period of time,” so they tried instead to locate the owner first, and were successful via an online search. If she doesn’t keep her commitment, then they can pursue court action, Campbell explained.

He said NHUAC also had asked about the outdoor music from Tim’s Tavern, a frequent topic at meetings last year, with nearby residents hearing it inside their homes. “An outdoor performance center is not allowed in (this kind of) business zone,” he said, so they’ve pursued a code violation there, and also the fact the outdoor seating was constructed without a building permit. “There may also be an occupant load issue,” he said. “We do have an active enforcement case there,” just opened last week, and they’ll be following up. Today they sent a violation letter to Tim’s, he said, and the only way to resolve it is to “stop the activity, stop the use as an outdoor performance center.” If they don’t comply, but appeal it, there’ll be a hearing, and if the violation stands, there would be a compounding daily fine for however long the violation continues. Beyond that, Campbell said, eventually the county could seek “injunctive relief.”

Campbell was also asked about the stripped vehicles and trash at 2831 SW Roxbury, the former Roxbury Auto Parts (which has a sale pending, according to its online listing); he promised to look into it.

With situations like 19th SW, he was asked, what can be done about repeat violations? Campbell said they’re working with the King County Council to review policies that tend to drag these things out. He said people should be aware that code enforcement is funded by the county General Fund and that’s facing a budget crunch, so money woes may affect this kind of work. “We’ve had a position taken away, so we’re down some staff in code enforcement … one of the things we’re going to have to prioritize is the types of violations” that they pursue. Some smaller-level problems may not get immediate action, he warned – they may have to prioritize even more than they do now. They already have a large backlog of ‘very substantive code violations,” he said, that they’re working on.

The 19th SW situation might not have been prioritized if not for everything from the rats to the various people who contacted Permitting about it, Campbell said, including the County Executive’s Office.

Dobkin asked if other downtown White Center businesses also are supposed to not be allowed to have outdoor music; Campbell said he’s not certain about the boundaries of the “community business” district but anyone within it is prohibited from that use. Dobkin said there are rumors that other venues are planning it, with encouragement; Campbell said he’ll look into that too. Dobkin said, “I’m not trying to close a business …. but when it interferes with our life, that’s when it’s a problem.” The King County Sheriff’s Office had been dealing with the Tim’s situation previously, and storefront Det. Glen Brannon said he had lots of background to share with the Permitting Division.

Campbell then was told the Blu Grouse on 17th SW also is a concern, with outdoor music during good weather. Campbell said he’ll check into it, including whether the venue is in the district where this use would be banned.

How can businesses be educated that this is not an allowed use? King County’s Bong Santo Domingo, who’s also with Local Services, was asked, since he’s working with a new alliance involving local businesses. Campbell suggested that assembling and distributing a flyer with what’s not allowed and what is allowed in the business district might be a good idea.

Discussion then turned to concerns that special-event music also was running too loud and too long; longtime residents said they had never had a problem before the past year or so.

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Then it was Det. Brannon’s turn. He elaborated on the ex-Roxbury Auto Parts building situation. He said the building was sold a year ago but it fell through (a plumbing company was going to move there); now another sale is pending, as we mentioned above, and he says his understanding that it’s going to be “some kind of car wash facility.” The owner doesn’t have the resources to tow the abandoned car(s) but they have been working to keep squatters out. Regarding the ex-Bartell Drugs building, which is owned by a California woman, it’s up for sale, he said, and it’s been burglarized and vandalized, so they’re trying to get it fenced. The “encampment on 13th” is still an issue, he said, and it’s being reviewed by King County higher-ups, though right now he says it’s only home to two full-time residents, with others coming and going. It might take two months “to get through all the bureaucracy it has to go through,” he cautioned. He talked about other sites he’s tracking, including one behind Little Caesar’s.

Brannon was asked about the much-reported regional enforcement inspections by Liquor Control Board agents and other law enforcers, which drew outcry because several venues were LGBTQ+. White Center’s Lumber Yard Bar was among them. Brannon wasn’t aware of the situation and the usual LCB rep wasn’t present. It was noted that reports also said Roxbury Lanes and Southgate Roller Rink had been visited as well. The regional reports mentioned Seattle Police and LCB involvement; why not KCSO? Brannon said LCB “has its own authority” and doesn’t require other law-enforcement approval or involvement, but he’ll look into it.

He received compliments for the department’s huge drug bust in Burien, and was asked about the most-recent freeway shooting; he said that largely was a State Patrol investigation, but said in general it’s related to gang activity – “young kids shooting each other.”

COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER’S ASSISTANT: Chris Lampkin from new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda‘s office introduced himself and invited everyone to let their office know about issues of concern.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC usually meets the first Thursday of the month, 7 pm, online – watch for updates.

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Our area’s new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda introduces her team

January 12th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, Politics, White Center news 2 Comments »

(From left: Chris Lampkin, Melanie Kray, Councilmember Mosqueda, Kamilah Brown, Erin House)

This week, Teresa Mosqueda took office as District 8’s King County Councilmember. Today we received this photo and announcement introducing her team:

King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda on Tuesday announced her staff at her historic swearing-in Tuesday, bringing together an all-star team to do the vital work of District 8.

“I can’t serve the district all by myself – I’m incredibly excited for my new staff joining me at the County,” Mosqueda said. “I’ve got a great team here who are all veterans to working in the political realm, but each bringing a different wealth of knowledge and experience that will benefit everyone in District 8 and across King County.”

Mosqueda brought over Erin House to serve as her Chief of Staff. House, who served as Mosqueda’s Chief of Staff at the Seattle City Council, will manage the office and policy work as well as focus on housing and homelessness, transportation, energy and land use and the environment. House previously served as a Strategic Initiatives Advisor at the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, where she worked on major citywide and long-range initiatives, including Link light rail expansion and community planning projects. She also served as Coalition and Outreach Manager for Seattle for Everyone, where she worked with a broad coalition to advance the first-ever comprehensive package of affordable housing policies in Seattle, and worked with Futurewise, a statewide growth management and civic planning organization, on projects promoting equitable and environmentally sound housing, transportation, land use, and environmental policies./

Chris Lampkin will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff, staffing community relations and communications, as well as working on policy related to labor and business, human services, Crisis Care Levy implementation, Harborview Medical Center, and community relations. Lampkin most recently served as the Political Director for SEIU Healthcare 1199NW where he worked to empower over 33,000 Registered Nurses, Healthcare and Behavioral Health workers of the union to grow their voice and lift standards for the communities.

Mosqueda brought a familiar face back to Council with Kamilah Brown as Director of Office Operations and Special Projects. Brown previously worked in the office of King County Councilmember Larry Gossett before going on to serve as Policy Director to [now former]Seattle City Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis over the last four years. Brown will focus on public health, constituent services, scheduling and special projects.

Rounding out her staff is Melanie Kray, Public Policy Director for District 8. Kray comes over from Mosqueda’s team at the Seattle City Council. She will focus on public safety, homelessness, utilities, immigration and arts and culture. Kray has her law degree from the University of Washington and served as the Rule 9 legal intern for UW Law’s Race and Justice Clinic, helping to manage cases in various stages of post-conviction proceedings.

Click here to watch a short video, and learn more about Mosqueda’s team here, including full bios and other staff information.

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Swearing-in day for our area’s new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda

January 9th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on Swearing-in day for our area’s new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda

(Photo courtesy King County Council)

Teresa Mosqueda‘s move from the Seattle City Council to the King County Council is complete with today’s swearing-in ceremony at the county council’s first meeting of the year. Administering the oath of office in the council chambers downtown was Councilmember Mosqueda’s husband, Manuel Valdes. Mosqueda was one of two newly elected councilmembers sworn in today, along with Jorge Barón; they are making history as the first Latina/o members elected to the county council. Mosqueda, who succeeds Joe McDermott in representing District 8 (including White Center, West Seattle, Vashon and Maury Islands, and Burien), will chair two committees – here’s the announcement:

The King County Council on Tuesday voted for Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda to chair two key committees in her first year on the council. Mosqueda will serve as Chair of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee and the Regional Transit Committee.

“I’m thrilled to be chairing the Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee,” Mosqueda said. “My biggest priority as a King County Councilmember is to improve the health of our residents, and as Chair of HHS we get the chance to focus on those priorities with urgency. The committee will have purview over the Crisis Care Levy implementation so that families will know where to turn if their loved ones are struggling and need help, and first responders will have a place to bring people in need. Critically, this committee has preview over affordable housing, which I will continue to champion with an emphasis on serving communities most at risk of displacement creating more affordable housing, and investing in the workforce serving our most vulnerable to keep people housed.”

The HHS committee’s jurisdiction includes health services provided to the community by county agencies and branches; public health programs, including those related to the protection, promotion, and provision functions of the department of public health and the structure of the public health centers; and human services programs, including review of human services-related levies.

Mosqueda, who was sworn in to represent District 8 on Tuesday, will also serve as Vice Chair of the Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee, and will sit as a member of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee, the Local Services and Land Use Committee, and the Employment and Administration Committee.

“I’m also very excited to be Vice Chair of Councilmember Dembowski’s Transportation, Economy and Environment committee,” Mosqueda added. “These are huge issues for District 8 and the entire county – from supporting the vitality of small businesses and workers, to addressing the transportation and growing environmental crises of folks across our region. Investments in economic stability, climate justice, and accessible transit all create healthier communities and thriving local economics. I’m thrilled to get to work on these priorities with my colleagues and community.”

Tuesday marked a historic moment in the history of the King County Council as Mosqueda and Jorge L. Barón – who was sworn in for District 4 – mark the first Latinos to serve on the Council. With a growing population of people of color and immigrants and refugees in King County, this marks a significant moment for representative democracy, especially given the diversity and largest ethnic population in District 8.

Full committee assignments will be posted here this week.

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Planning White Center’s future: King County calls for organizations to help with community planning

September 29th, 2023 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on Planning White Center’s future: King County calls for organizations to help with community planning

Received today from King County:

King County’s Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) is seeking responses for a new Skyway-West Hill and North Highline Community Planning Request for Information (RFI)! Responses are due Friday, October 27, 2023.


DCHS is releasing the Skyway-West Hill and North Highline Community Planning RFI to better understand the needs and priorities of the Skyway-West Hill and North Highline communities to inform the design of a future RFP to support Community-based organizations (CBOs) to lead community planning processes exploring or advancing community-led and community-owned models of Permanently Affordable Housing, including but not limited to Community Land Trusts, as an anti-displacement strategy in these neighborhoods. DCHS anticipates releasing the RFP in Quarter 1 of 2024 which will deploy approximately $175,000 to advance community planning efforts in Skyway-West Hill and North Highline. No funding will be awarded from this RFI.

DCHS is seeking responses from community-based and place-based organizations (CBOs) working in Skyway-West Hill and North Highline areas of King County or community members who have strong community ties to Skyway-West Hill and North Highline.

How to respond:

You may choose to respond either in writing or in an interview with DCHS staff.

Online form: Please visit and enter your responses to any or all of the questions.

By interview: Interviews with DCHS staff to respond to the RFI question in the attached document will take place between September 28 and October 27 during normal business hours (8am-5pm). Please email Joanna Armstrong at with “RFI Interview for Permanent Affordability Community Planning” in the subject line to schedule a meeting for up to one hour in length.

The method of your submission has no bearing on the consideration of responses. DCHS may contact respondents for clarification or elaboration of their responses.

For more information:

Please review the full RFI here: Full RFP document. Please direct any questions about the RFI to Joanna Armstrong, by emailing

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Councilmember to propose $19 minimum wage for unincorporated King County

September 6th, 2023 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on Councilmember to propose $19 minimum wage for unincorporated King County

A growing number of cities have their own minimum wages, and now one county councilmember proposes the same for unincorporated King County. At an event tomorrow (Thursday, September 7th) in Skyway, County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay plans to announce “a proposal to raise the minimum wage across unincorporated King County to up to $18.99 per hour.” The event announcement says, “If passed, the proposal would bring unincorporated King County’s minimum wage to be more in line with cities like Seattle ($18.69) and SeaTac ($19.06) It would also set annual increases for the wage as well as lower tiers for businesses with few employees.” Full details will be made public at tomorrow’s event, with attendees listed as including our area’s County Councilmember Joe McDermott.

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LAST CALL! Tell King County Local Services what you need

August 22nd, 2023 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 1 Comment »

Friday’s the deadline for this survey, if you haven’t responded to it already:

King County Local Services is asking people who live in unincorporated areas (areas that lie outside city limits) what would make their communities better places to live.

Local Services will work with communities to make a Community Needs List—a list of desired services, programs, facilities, and capital improvements—for each area. The county will use these lists to help make budget decisions next year.

► Online at
► By phone at 206-477-3800
► Questions?

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You might be eligible for a free cooling/heating system!

August 15th, 2023 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on You might be eligible for a free cooling/heating system!

Sent by King County:

Free Heating and Cooling Systems from King County!

Registration is now open for King County’s new Energize! Heat Pump pilot program, which will install 120 to 150 free or discounted heat pumps in the White Center and Skyway-West Hill unincorporated areas. Heat pumps are an energy efficient way to heat AND cool your home – and can help reduce your fossil fuel use and save on energy bills!

The program is open to single-family homeowners and renters; income-qualified residents may qualify for 80% to 100% cost-coverage.

Register to attend a one-hour workshop to learn more at

Not Sure if You’re Eligible?

Look up your address and income limits here:

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FOURTH OF JULY: Second year for fireworks ban. First year for possible citations

June 29th, 2023 Tracy Posted in Holidays, King County, Safety, White Center news Comments Off on FOURTH OF JULY: Second year for fireworks ban. First year for possible citations

As noted here in our coverage of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s June meeting, this is the second year for the fireworks ban in unincorporated King County, first year for enforcement. That does NOT mean deputies will be driving around citing people, however. Here’s the announcement with all the info you need:

The use and sale of consumer fireworks are prohibited in the unincorporated areas of King County. The county will begin enforcement of the fireworks ban and could issue citations to violators. Education about the ban and the reasons for it will still be provided.

Last year, the use and sale of consumer fireworks were officially prohibited in the unincorporated areas of King County, including communities such as White Center, Skyway, East Federal Way, Fairwood and the East Renton area.

The ban marked a big change for some, so King County’s initial enforcement goal was to inform and educate violators about the new rules.

This year, the county will begin enforcement of the fireworks ban, which could include issuing citations to violators. Education about the fireworks ban and the reasons for it will still be provided.

Enforcement will be managed by the Code Enforcement team in the King County Permitting Division. It will investigate complaints it receives about illegal fireworks use/sale only in unincorporated King County. Much like reporting a building safety or nuisance issue, reporting fireworks violations will require giving a specific property address. The person reporting the violation must have evidence and be willing to testify in person or in writing at a hearing in order for the County to take enforcement action.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions to help residents determine whether/how they can report a fireworks violation during the upcoming season:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are fireworks allowed in unincorporated King County?

A. No, the sale and use of consumer fireworks in unincorporated King County are strictly prohibited. Note: commercial displays by licensed pyrotechnicians are still allowed with a permit.

Q. I heard the ban went into effect last year – why weren’t citations issued then?

A. King County’s goal during the ban’s first year was to educate fireworks users about the ban. In many cases, potential violators received letters informing them that continued violations could result in citations.

Q. I live in a city like Seattle or Renton. Can I still report violations to King County?

A. No. King County will investigate complaints only for properties located in unincorporated King County. “Unincorporated King County” means outside of city limits.

Q. I know people are lighting off fireworks, but I don’t have a specific address – will you still investigate?

A. No. Code Enforcement will not investigate any complaint it receives for fireworks incidents on private property that does not include a specific address located within unincorporated King County.

Q. I have an address, but do I have to give my name and contact information when reporting?

A. Ideally, yes. While the person reporting isn’t legally required to give their name and contact information, anonymous complaints about fireworks on private property will only result in an informational letter to the property owner.

Q. Will I have to testify about the complaint I made?

A. Much like providing your name and contact information, you are not legally required to testify in writing or in person before a hearing examiner about your complaint. However, a citation with a penalty will only be issued if the complainant is willing to testify. Otherwise, the alleged violator will only be issued an educational warning letter.

Q. What about people who are lighting off fireworks in the street, park, or other public property?

A. Code Enforcement does not investigate complaints about fireworks use on public right-of-way or other public property like schools or parks. In those instances, contact the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Q. Will King County actively patrol for fireworks violations?

A. No. Code Enforcement and the Sheriff’s Office do not actively patrol for fireworks violations. Complaints must be filed through the regular code enforcement channels (see “How to report fireworks violations” below).

Q. What if I see actual or potential danger to people or property from fireworks? Who do I report it to then?

A. In instances where a threat to life, physical injury, or property damage may occur, contact the King County Sheriff’s Office by calling 9-1-1.

Q. Where can I find more information?

A. Go to for more information. You can also direct general queries to our customer support email and phone number at or 206-477-3800.

How to report fireworks violations

Please note: reports made by e-mail or by phone will be responded to the next business day.

Residents can report violators to Code Enforcement:

-Online by visiting (Users will have to sign up for our system)

-Online via the King County Permits website (Permits – King County). Select “File a complaint” in the Code Enforcement section. On the new screen, scroll down to “Enforcement” and click on “File a Complaint.” No registration necessary.

-Online via the Accela permit and complaint portal: King County, Washington – Accela. Scroll down to “Enforcement” and click on “File a Complaint.” No registration necessary.


-Phone: (206) 848-0800

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King County Council passes proposal to prevent unincorporated-area businesses from going cashless – starting in two years

June 28th, 2023 Tracy Posted in Businesses, King County, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on King County Council passes proposal to prevent unincorporated-area businesses from going cashless – starting in two years

Announced by the King County Council:

The King County Council on Tuesday voted 5-4 to approve legislation to require retail businesses in unincorporated King County to accept cash. The measure, brought by Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, is meant to ensure everyone has access to the economy, including people who cannot or choose not to access bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial tools.

“This legislation has been an important and sometimes challenging balancing act – trying to protect consumer access, support local businesses, and adapt to a changing world all at the same time,” Kohl-Welles said. “I am very pleased that the legislation as passed addresses this emerging equity issue in a way that is creative, proactive, and collaborative. Further, it signals that as technology continues to rapidly change as we appear to be moving to a cashless society, there is a place for everybody in our local economy.”

During and even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses in the Seattle area and beyond began shifting to cashless operations, leaving people who rely on cash with fewer options to purchase food and other essential consumer goods. Research, however, shows that cashless businesses most impact communities of color, seniors, people with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, kids, the houseless, and low-income communities.

At least 2.1% of Washington residents are unbanked, meaning they don’t have bank accounts, credit cards or other typical financial services, according to the 2021 FDIC Household Survey. Five-year estimates put that number even higher – at 3.1%. More than 17% of residents are underbanked, meaning they might have a bank account but often rely on alternative financial services, such as money orders, check-cashing services, and payday loans.

If applied to unincorporated King County, these figures mean more than 7,000 people could be unbanked and more than 42,000 people could be underbanked.

The ordinance requires that retail businesses in unincorporated King County accept cash, unless exempted, for most in-person retail food and consumer goods transactions, and to not charge higher prices than for another form of payment. The requirement would not apply to a number of situations, such as transactions by mail, phone or over the internet; those when an employee is not present, such as at a kiosk; for transactions in which a deposit is required or for over $200 in a single transaction; or to businesses providing a device to convert cash to a prepaid card. The Executive branch will be required to analyze enforcement and implementation mechanisms and make a recommendation to the Council on an enforcement mechanism and any other implementation measures by December 1, 2024. The law will take effect on July 1, 2025.

To acknowledge safety concerns raised during the committee hearings, retailers will be able to apply to the Hearing Examiner for an exemption from the requirement to accept cash based on the unique hardships a retailer faces, including but not limited to history of theft, distance to a banking institution, home-based businesses, and businesses with only one employee on site at a time.

It’s unclear how many businesses in unincorporated King County have gone cashless, but Kohl-Welles intends the legislation to serve as a proactive tool to protect consumer access as this trend continues.

Of those who still use cash for most purchases, the largest shares are people of color and those with the lowest incomes, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

The legislation garnered a wide range of community support, including endorsements from the ACLU; ARC of King County; Asian Counseling and Referral Services; Banchero Disability Partners; Be: Seattle; CAIR-WA; Chief Seattle Club; El Centro de la Raza; Faith Action Network; Indian American Community Services; King County Sexual Assault Resource Center; League of Women Voters; Low Income Housing Institute; MAPS-AMEN (American Muslim Empowerment Network); Northwest Immigrant Rights Project; Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action; Purpose, Dignity, Action (Public Defenders Association); Rainier Beach Action Coalition; Real Change; Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness; Solid Ground; Transit Riders Union; UFCW 3000; and the White Center Community Development Association.

Legislation to address this issue has already been passed in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and the states of Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. At the federal level, the bipartisan Payment Choice Act was passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives last year and has not yet been acted upon by the Senate. In addition to this Act, a similar Senate bill has also garnered bipartisan sponsorship.

“[Our vendors] ask you to allow [those] in unincorporated King County to buy a cup of coffee,” said Tiffani McCoy, Advocacy Director at Real Change. “To buy a bagel. To buy lunch. To buy diapers. To purchase whatever it is that they need.”

In response to the final action on the legislation, which included the addition of several amendments, Kohl-Welles said, “To produce meaningful change, compromise is often necessary, and contrary to the popular maxim, the perfect is not the enemy of the good. Even so, as amended, this legislation will promote the equity that our county holds to be its true north, helping real people, many of whom are too often overlooked, to live and engage in commerce in a way that works for them.”

Among those voting “no” was the Councilmember who represents this area, Joe McDermott.

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CONGRATULATIONS! Sili Savusa honored with Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service

June 14th, 2023 Tracy Posted in King County, People, White Center news 1 Comment »

Congratulations to longtime leader Sili Savusa for receiving a major award from King County – here’s the announcement:

(King County photo)

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott on Tuesday awarded Sili Savusa with the Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service, an award that recognizes individuals whose work has answered the question asked by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “What are you doing for others?”

Savusa is the Executive Director of the White Center Community Development Association, and has made a lifelong commitment to selflessly help, uplift, support and promote her community.

“Sili Savusa has been a force for positive change and community her entire life, and we’ve been so fortunate to have her bringing that skill and passion to White Center over the last decade,” said McDermott. “Sili’s impact in White Center has been undeniable – with thousands of families uplifted, businesses supported, and organizations buoyed by her leadership and friendship. I’m honored to call her a friend and inspiration, and am excited to see her continued success as she steps forward to make an impact on the entire state of Washington.”

Savusa learned from childhood the power and importance of community. Her father, a Samoan Matais (chief), helped found the Samoan National Chief’s Council in the 1980s, and then started the chief’s council in Seattle as well. In her childhood home, her father brought people in for community meetings, ceremonies, organizing.

As an adult, Savusa has carried on that tradition. She established the first Samoan Pacific Islander Parent Teacher Student Association in the nation, successfully managed the multi-million-dollar Making Connections community change initiative for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and became the first woman of color elected to the Highline School Board. She previously served as the Family Center Coordinator for Southwest Youth and Family Services.

For more than 20 years, Savusa has also worked with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, working to bring people together to establish relationships based on trust.

Sili, a longtime resident of White Center, has built a reputation as one of the most successful and prominent Samoan community leaders in the Northwest, and works each day to help uplift, support and promote her community and its needs.

This marks the eighth year that councilmembers have each selected someone from their district whose work embodies the spirit of King’s question.

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Virtual town hall Thursday for King County’s draft Comprehensive Plan

June 7th, 2023 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on Virtual town hall Thursday for King County’s draft Comprehensive Plan

What’s envisioned for your neighborhood in the next 10 years? King County is out with draft Comprehensive Plan updates, and a “virtual town hall” Thursday night brings you the first of two chances in the next two weeks to learn about and comment on it. Here’s the announcement:

Through July 15, King County residents have a once-a-decade opportunity to offer their input and make significant changes to the updates proposed for the Comprehensive Plan, a document that guides where people live, work, and play in unincorporated communities outside of city limits.

The Comprehensive Plan drives county decisions and planning for services in unincorporated areas such as where homes, offices, or stores can be built; how roads, buildings, and trees contribute to the look and feel of neighborhoods; investments in transit, sewers, and parks; protection of working farms and forests; and access to clean water, clean air, and a healthy environment. …

Since January 2022, when the initial scoping began, King County staff have received a record 10,000 comments from the public weighing in on their priorities for their neighborhoods. These priorities have been incorporated into the public review draft, which is now available for further input.

The Comprehensive Plan draft update contains a number of options King County is considering to build affordable housing, tackle climate change, and ensure social equity in our region:

Affordable Housing

-Middle Housing – Encouraging and streamlining the development of more naturally affordable housing such as duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes.

-Inclusionary Housing – Creating an incentive program that would increase the supply of affordable housing by offering developers cost-saving measures if they voluntarily include some affordable units in the building.

Climate Change

Cleaner Energy & Wildfire Safeguards – Encouraging a reduction in fossil fuel use in buildings, utilities, and transportation, and promoting the use of renewable resources. Collaborating and planning with community partners to improve forest health and reduce the impacts of wildfires

Stormwater Improvements – Working with other jurisdictions on a regional stormwater system that will make the water cleaner, add more green space for people to enjoy, and protect against erosion from stronger storms and flooding

Social Equity

-Racially Disparate Impacts Report – Analyzing how past land use regulations, such as development decisions and neighborhood investments, have impacted Black, Indigenous, and People of Color households and identifying actions to repair these past harms

-Housing Stability – Supporting projects, strategies, and investments that promote housing stability and prevent people from having to leave their homes due to rising costs

-Climate Equity – Supporting climate solutions that distribute benefits equitably, particularly to frontline communities most impacted by climate-related harm

General Planning Proposals

-Transportation Investments – Investing in safe, equitable, and accessible transportation for people walking, biking, driving, using wheelchairs, or transit — with a focus on communities most in need

-Rural Development – Protecting the unique character of rural communities by limiting the impacts of resorts, materials processing sites, mining operations, and mixed-use developments in rural areas

In addition to providing feedback via a survey and email, there will be two opportunities to talk to King County staff to learn more about these proposals and offer feedback:

Thursday, June 8: Virtual Town Hall, 6:30 – 8 PM
Thursday, June 22: Open House, Southgate Roller Rink, 4 – 8 PM

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County leaders say the budget’s in trouble and want your advice

April 27th, 2023 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 1 Comment »

County leaders say the tax system is broken and they’re facing a funding shortage. So they’re asking you for advice, via an online survey, before making cuts that could include some vital services including law enforcement. Here’s the announcement:

King County launched a community survey today asking for public input on prioritizing services funded by the County’s General Fund to inform looming budget cuts. The 2025-2026 General Fund is facing a $100 million revenue shortfall due to the state’s arbitrary one percent limit on property tax collections, which has not been updated in 20 years and now coincides with increased costs and high rates of inflation exceeding 9%.

To prevent deeper cuts in the next biennial budget and to provide time for affected programs to wind down, King County will be considering a budget in the fall that will include cuts to general fund programs.

“No enterprise, public or private, can be expected to provide the same services year after year with revenues arbitrarily capped below the increasing cost of doing business,” said Executive Constantine. “We are facing budget decisions that will affect the programs and services that people in King County depend on every day to keep them safe and healthy. These cuts will have real impacts on our residents, but we are left with no other choice given the legislature’s inaction. It’s important we hear directly from the public as to their priorities before I or the County Council make any decisions.”

“I look forward to hearing from residents what services and programs are their priorities and working with Executive Constantine and the King County Council as we move forward on these discussions,” said King County Council Chair Dave Upthegrove.

Most of the general fund goes to programs mandated at the state or federal level, like jails, courts, prosecution, and public defense. Many general government functions – such as elections, property assessments, human resources, the Executive department, and County Council agencies – are functions that cannot be eliminated but will face budget reductions in the fall. Discretionary programming – programming that is not mandated by state or federal law – represents a small portion of the total General Fund and overwhelmingly includes programs and services that support the region’s health, safety, and vitality, such as:

-Public Health clinics that serve low-income residents in Auburn, Bellevue, Federal Way, Kent, Kirkland, Renton, Seattle, and White Center;
-Services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault;
-Support for crime victims, family law support, regional gun violence prevention, and alternatives to standard adjudication and detention;
-Job training and other services focused on low-income BIPOC youth;
-Support for small farmers and forest owners to manage their properties to achieve ecological benefits and sustain the rural economy; and
-Sheriff’s deputies and detectives in unincorporated and rural communities.

Because these discretionary programs face the possibility of complete elimination, the community survey focuses on these areas so that Executive Constantine and the County Council can better understand which programs are most valued by residents. In addition to reviewing responses to the community survey, budget proposals will consider other factors such as the number of people served by a program, collective bargaining agreements, legal obligations, impacts on the region’s health and safety, and consistency with the County’s values.

Background on property tax limitations
In 2001 a voter-approved initiative limited property tax increases to one percent plus the growth from new construction, but after the state Supreme Court found the initiative unconstitutional, the legislature reinstated the limit. While the law caps any increases by governments to one percent, property tax bills of homeowners and businesses may change by more or less than 1%.

In the two decades since the cap was instituted, the revenue sources of counties have been structurally insufficient, as counties don’t have the ability to impose business and utility taxes, unlike cities and the state. Since passage in 2001, King County’s population has grown 30%, while consumer prices have increased 70%, and inflation in recent years has been as high as 9.5%. Despite those increasing economic strains, property tax collections have grown only an average of 2.68% in recent years.

Next Steps
The community survey will be open until May 18th. Executive Constantine will use the input gathered to develop his budget which he will propose to the County Council in the fall. The public will have additional opportunities to engage in budget decisions when the County Council holds public hearings.

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FOLLOWUP: Participatory-budgeting committee members announced

April 18th, 2023 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Participatory-budgeting committee members announced

King County Local Services has announced who was chosen for the steering committee to oversee the next round of “participatory budgeting” and says they’ve already met once.

North Highline/White Center
Robert Baker
Ruth Contrearas Rodriguez
Justin Cox
Heather Patrick
Sarey Savy
Pat Thompson
Vannra Yan

As explained in the announcement – which you can read in full here – “Participatory Budgeting allows communities to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending. Residents help decide how to spend money on capital projects (physical things that are bought, built, installed, or fixed up) or programs and services. The funds for the capital projects are backed by bonds. The funds for programs and services in North Highline/White Center and Skyway-West Hill come from King County’s general fund and are supported by marijuana retail sales tax revenue.”

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