King County proposes banning natural gas in most new unincorporated-area construction

September 22nd, 2021 Tracy Posted in Development, Environment, King County, White Center news No Comments »

Announced today by King County Executive Dow Constantine – a proposal to change building codes, including a ban on natural-gas use in most new construction. At the heart of that part of the proposal:

The proposed Ordinance:

• Prohibits fossil fuel combustion for space heating in all commercial buildings and in multifamily buildings four stories tall and taller;
• Prohibits fossil fuel combustion for water heating in multifamily buildings four stories tall and taller, as well as hotel/motel and group residential buildings; and
• Increases efficiency requirements, including for lighting and window insulation levels.

As building codes apply to new construction, building additions, and some mechanical and building feature replacements, the effect of the proposed Ordinance would primarily be to reduce natural gas expansion in all commercial buildings, and multifamily buildings over three stories tall, thus helping to curb future GHG emissions.

The city of Seattle already has passed similar legislation. Read the full announcement, including what else would change, here. The proposal goes to the County Council for consideration (documents are here).

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North Highline’s future: New way to have a say in how it should look

September 17th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news No Comments »

From King County:

King County Local Services is working with the North Highline community to create urban design standards for new commercial, multi-family, and mixed-use developments.

To align these new design standards with the community’s values, we’re forming a community advisory group to help develop these standards in a way that reflects the values and assets of the community. If you’re interested in applying to be a member of that group, please use our online application form.

The project team is also gathering input directly from community members through an online survey and upcoming events. Do you have ideas to share? Your voice matters — please take the survey!

Check out this information sheet to learn more about the project, or contact Jesse Reynolds by email (jesreynolds@kingcounty.gov) or at 206-477-4237.

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County offers help for unincorporated-area small businesses affected by pandemic

July 8th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Businesses, King County, White Center news Comments Off on County offers help for unincorporated-area small businesses affected by pandemic

Applications are open for a King County program to help small-business owners in unincorporated areas including North Highline. From the announcement:

As part of King County’s initiative to help our region recover from the pandemic, the King County Council has dedicated $4.5 million to help small business owners in unincorporated areas.

The application period opened Wednesday, July 7 and closes Wednesday, Aug. 4. Small business owners can apply online at kingcounty.gov/localbusinesshelp or by calling 206-477-3800 beginning today.

King County Local Services will administer this new grant program, which is open to businesses with 30 or fewer employees and $3 million or less in annual gross income.

Owners who receive grants will be reimbursed for business-related expenses incurred since March 3, 2021. Reimbursable expenses include rent, payroll, business utilities, goods and services, and COVID-19 accommodation costs.

This program is specifically intended to help small businesses, as was the county’s first round of grants offered last year. Through that earlier program, more than 571 businesses received or are in the process of receiving up to $5,000 each from King County Local Services, for a total of nearly $3 million.

In 9 languages:

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HEAT WAVE: King County and WCCDA opening Top Hat cooling center with individual rooms

June 25th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, Weather, White Center Community Development Association, White Center news 4 Comments »

We’re now under an Excessive Heat Warning through Monday. Just received this announcement about the site once set up (but never used) for pandemic quarantine/isolation:

With high temperatures expected to soar past 100 degrees through the early part of next week, the county will make 20 air-conditioned units available from 4 p.m., Saturday to 10 a.m., Wednesday. Overnight stays will be available.

The White Center Cooling Center is located at 206 SW 112th St., in the Top Hat neighborhood.

Those who are interested should call 206-572-5557.

The center will offer a way for residents—including those experiencing homelessness—to escape the heat. The center will welcome overnight stays as well as an air-conditioned area with water and refreshments for shorter visits.

Those who stay overnight will be able to enter and leave the facility from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The doors will be locked outside of those hours, with some exceptions for late arrivals.

Service and emotional support animals are welcome. Masks and social distancing guidelines will be followed per Washington State and King County requirements.

Teams from King County and the White Center Community Development Association will staff the site, and private security will be on-site day and night.

This effort is a partnership between DCHS, Local Services, FMD and the White Center Community Development Association.

At this time, the White Center Cooling Center will be the only such facility offered in unincorporated King County. You can find other cooling centers on the King County Emergency Management blog.

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Stage 1 burn ban for unincorporated King County starting Thursday

June 23rd, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, Safety, Weather, White Center news Comments Off on Stage 1 burn ban for unincorporated King County starting Thursday

With a heat wave on the way, an outdoor burn ban is about to kick in. Here’s the announcement:

King County Fire Marshal Chris Ricketts has issued a Stage 1 fire safety burn ban for the unincorporated areas of King County starting Thursday. The ban will remain in effect until further notice.

The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-90’s throughout the weekend, with readings climbing to nearly 100 degrees Sunday. The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Watch for King County.

The Stage 1 fire safety burn ban applies to all outdoor burning, except for barbecues and small recreational fires in established fire pits at approved campgrounds or private property with the owner’s permission.

“Extreme heat and especially dry conditions have increased the risk of wildfire dramatically,” Ricketts says. “People in both rural and urban unincorporated areas need to use caution.”

Recreational fires still pose a risk, so their use shall be limited and respected accordingly. Ricketts says recreational fires must:

-Be built in a metal or concrete fire pit, such as those typically found in designated campgrounds, and not be used as debris disposal
-Be no larger than three feet in diameter
-Be located in a clear spot, free from any vegetation for at least ten feet in a horizontal direction and at least 25 feet away from any structure, and allow 20 feet of vertical clearance from overhanging branches
-Be attended at all times by an alert individual with equipment capable of extinguishing the fire

If your property is inside city limits, please contact your local jurisdiction for their requirements. This ban remains in effect until further notice.

With Fourth of July fireworks sales beginning across the county, Ricketts also reminds users to stay mindful of their surroundings when discharging fireworks.

It’s every individual’s responsibility to help prevent fires that destroy lives, property, and our wildlands. For more information, visit the Local Services Fire Marshal’s website.

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Community Investment Committee members announced

June 8th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on Community Investment Committee members announced

The new Community Investment Committee‘s been announced and has already had its first meeting (last Saturday). Here’s the announcement of who’s on it, including five people from North Highline:

A new community-centered budget process is underway, with the selection of 21 committee members who will develop a $10 million investment plan in unincorporated King County. The committee will design and carry out a budgeting process that will be centered on racial equity. The process will build on community strengths and address specific priorities that these communities have identified.

“Centering communities in this budget process means that more voices will be a part of the process to invest in the future of unincorporated King County, and that’s going to lead to better processes, better connections between partners, and a bright future for everyone,” said Executive Constantine. “I want to thank the committee members for stepping up and helping chart the course.”

Over the two months, King County Local Services accepted applications from dozens of residents who were hoping to serve on the committee. The members represent the five urban unincorporated areas of West King County:

Skyway (five members)
White Center/North Highline (five members)
East Federal Way (five members)
Fairwood (three members)
East Renton Highlands (three members)

The committee held its first meeting on June 4 and will meet regularly to create the guidebook for Local Services’ “Participatory Budgeting” effort. Committee members will also engage the community in the participatory budgeting process.

“I’m really excited to have this opportunity to take a valuable resource and have it directed, by community, to make decisions about what’s best for folks in their community,” said Community Investment Committee Member Emijah Smith.

Below are the Community Investment Committee members and the areas they represent:

North Highline/White Center: Emijah Smith, Marissa Jauregui, Sahle Habte, Carmen Smith, Kimnag Seng
Skyway/West Hill: Ayanna Brown, Yvette Dinish, Curtis Taylor, Jamoni Owens, Rebecca Berry
East Federal Way: Trenise Rogers, Jimmy Brown, Serena Evans-Satoran, Anna Irungu, Zayda Quintana
East Renton: Ajala Wilson-Daraja, Yordanos Teferi, Deborah Eberle
Fairwood: Noni Ervin, Michelle Faltous, Elizabeth Singer

Participatory Budgeting

Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. In King County Local Services’ case, this work will allow the community to decide how to spend the following two funds:

-$10 million on capital projects in these urban unincorporated areas. The funds can be used for anything that needs to be built or replaced, like buildings, sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping, signs, and play structures.
-$1.3 million for services or programs in Skyway/West Hill and North Highline/White Center. This funding can be used for almost anything, like after-school programs, job training, building maintenance, food, art supplies, and investments in play structures or sidewalks.

The committee will design and carry out a budgeting process that will be centered on racial equity. The process will build on community strengths and address specific priorities that these communities have identified.

The committee will also help design the larger Participatory Budgeting process to make sure that communities have control over how this money is spent and that funded projects will address real community challenges and have the most benefit. The committee will also be heavily engaged in collaborating with local community-based organizations and performing outreach to their respective communities.

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Will county zoning change to deal with displacement? Conversation next week

May 19th, 2021 Tracy Posted in housing, King County, White Center news Comments Off on Will county zoning change to deal with displacement? Conversation next week

Also next week, you can join a conversation about potential zoning changes and other “strategies” to deal with displacement. Here’s the announcement:

The Department of Local Services and the Department of Community and Human Services are co-hosting a virtual community conversation on potential new rules that would require developers to provide affordable housing as part of new developments in and around downtown White Center and the Skyway Business District. Additional rules are also being considered to incentivize developments where 100% of the housing is affordable. Join us to learn and participate!

The Zoom meeting will be the evening of Tuesday, May 25 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Registration is required.

Register at: tinyurl.com/IH4NHSWH. Registration closes 5/23/2021 11:59 p.m.

This community conversation will engage community members and developers in a deliberative dialogue around various components of potential new “inclusionary housing” rules for Skyway-West Hill and North Highline. Inclusionary housing is policy and regulatory approach to creating affordable housing by requiring that developers include housing units in their projects in exchange for additional density and/or adjustments to certain development regulations. Inclusionary housing has been used successfully across the US and in the Seattle area. This is the first time it is being considered for unincorporated King County.

To learn more about this topic and all the strategies being considered please visit: publicinput.com/anti-displacement.

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RapidRide H Line ‘groundbreaking’ tomorrow in White Center

May 17th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, Metro, White Center news Comments Off on RapidRide H Line ‘groundbreaking’ tomorrow in White Center

During his State of the County speech last week, County Executive Dow Constantine announced plans for “groundbreaking” in White Center this week as the RapidRide H Line gets closer to launching. Work to prepare for the Route 120 conversion has already been under way on much of the West Seattle section of the route for almost a year – repaving and utilities. Today, details of this week’s event have been announced – 9:30 am Tuesday at Steve Cox Memorial Park. We’ll of course be there to cover it. P.S. Launch date for the new RapidRide has been pushed back three times but is currently set for next year.

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Own property? Watch for word of what it’s worth

April 29th, 2021 Tracy Posted in housing, King County, White Center news Comments Off on Own property? Watch for word of what it’s worth

From the King County Assessor’s Office:

The King County Assessor’s office has begun the annual process of mailing property valuation notices to taxpayers. Notices will be arriving in King County neighborhoods on a rolling basis for the next several months. As many property owners are aware, King County residential property values have risen sharply, and commercial values have remained steady, despite the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual process of property valuation will continue through the summer, but it is clear based on the areas of the county that have been completed thus far that most commercial property values have remained strong, and residential values have risen dramatically in many areas.

Median residential values have risen by double digits in every area where valuations have been completed so far. Values have risen the most in fast growing suburban and eastern areas of the county. Here are some examples:

Skyway, up 13%
East Auburn, up 15.5%
Woodinville and Duvall, up just over 18%
Enumclaw plateau and Black Diamond, up 21% and 22%

Each year as required by law, County Assessors appraise every commercial and residential parcel in the state. These values – set effective as of January 1 of the assessment year – are then applied to the next year’s tax bill. Property values are now being set as of January 1, 2021, for taxes due in 2022.

“No one knew what to expect a little over a year ago when this public health emergency began,” said Assessor John Wilson. “Now it is clear that a primary impact on property values has been caused by homeowners not wanting to sell at this time, leading to reduced supply and big price and value increases.”

We’ll be checking on the expected timing for North Highline notices.

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FOLLOWUP: King County Council passes fireworks ban for unincorporated areas

April 27th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, Safety, White Center news 5 Comments »

Almost 13 years after we first reported on a potential fireworks ban for unincorporated King County, it’s on its way to becoming law. Here’s the announcement from the County Council:

Fireworks will be illegal in unincorporated King County starting in 2022, thanks to legislation approved Tuesday by the King County Council.

Sponsored by King County Councilmembers Joe McDermott and Claudia Balducci, the legislation will prohibit all types of fireworks including sparklers and smoke bombs.

“While there are plenty of good reasons to support a full ban on consumer fireworks, I am driven by the tragic loss of life and property in White Center in 2019,” McDermott said. “It is past time for King County to do what most cities and parks have already done. People in unincorporated King County deserve the same protections as those living in cities.”

McDermott was referring to the 2019 house fire in North Highline resulting in the death of a 70-year-old man, his two dogs and displacement of 12 residents in the neighboring home. All of this was caused by fireworks. Elsewhere around the state and across the West, numerous wildfires have been triggered by fireworks, including some that left people dead or injured and caused millions of dollars in damage and costs to contain them. The calls of community members, individuals dealing with PTSD, and first responders like fire commissioners and marshals have made clear that fireworks present a clear public risk and public health hazard for our entire region.

“Personal safety, fire safety, and distress to people and pets are some of the good reasons many King County cities have adopted firework regulations,” Balducci said. “It just makes sense to expand these protections to our King County residents.”

This new ban brings unincorporated King County communities in line with most other jurisdictions in King County so there can be no more confusion: if it’s a firework, it is not legal in unincorporated King County.

Families in King County can still take the opportunity to enjoy fireworks displays safely by attending properly permitted, professional displays throughout the county.

State law requires a one-year waiting period before the ban can take effect, so it will be effective before July 4, 2022. In the meantime, county departments will plan for enforcement strategies that involve immediate, unarmed, non-police responses for potential violations and undertake an educational campaign about the new law.

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TUESDAY: Fireworks ban @ King County Council

April 26th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news 3 Comments »

The long-in-the-works fireworks ban proposed for unincorporated King County finally goes to the County Council on Tuesday. If it passes, it would take effect next year; you can read all the documents here. Our area’s Councilmember Joe McDermott is the sponsor; the proposal passed the Committee of the Whole last month. A public hearing is required as part of tomorrow’s 1 pm online meeting, and the agenda has information on how to participate.

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EARTH DAY: County Executive in North Highline to launch ‘3 Million Trees’

April 22nd, 2021 Tracy Posted in Environment, King County, White Center news Comments Off on EARTH DAY: County Executive in North Highline to launch ‘3 Million Trees’

(King County Executive’s Office photos)

Nine months after touring North Highline’s future county park, King County Executive Dow Constantine returned there for Earth Day to launch the “3 Million Trees” initiative. From the announcement:

King County Executive Dow Constantine on Earth Day joined community partners to kick off 3 Million Trees, an initiative that will plant, protect, and prepare a combined three million trees throughout the region by the end of 2025.

The initiative is part of Executive Constantine’s proposal for the 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan, which includes strategies to cut greenhouse gas emissions countywide in half by the end of this decade. Under 3 Million Trees, King County will plant 500,000 trees, accelerate land conservation to protect intact forestland this is absorbing carbon today, and prepare forests for warmer, drier summers that are occurring as the result of climate change.

“Earth Day is a moment for reflection, for inspiration and, most importantly, for action, which is why we are kicking off 3 Million Trees today,” said Executive Constantine. “We will build on the momentum of our successful 1 Million Trees initiative to achieve even more ambitious goals: increase urban tree canopy, protect forestland that this absorbing carbon now, and prepare forests for climate impacts.”

King County Parks’ Volunteer Program staff can assist residents and organizations that want to participate in the initiative. In addition to tree planting, volunteer coordinators organize events to remove noxious weeds and provide educational opportunities.

Executive Constantine kicked off the initiative with partners at a new urban park in unincorporated North Highline that King County acquired in 2020. King County crews, along with Friends of the Trail and Dirt Corps, have removed more than 7 tons of debris and truckloads of invasive species from the once-neglected greenspace. Native spring vegetation – including Pacific waterleaf and trillium – once covered by invasive Himalayan blackberry and ivy are coming back to life now that they have room to grow. The protected greenspace is beginning to offer better habitat for birds, pollinators, and wildlife in addition to offering public health benefits in a neighborhood that previously lacked access to open space.

See the rest of the announcement here.

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TODAY: Pandemic info from King County – listen live!

April 12th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, King County, White Center news 1 Comment »

The pandemic-update presentation from a King County rep at last week’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting included news of a regular “community partners” call, open to all. NHUAC president Liz Giba has sent info abut the call, which is happening at 4 pm today:

We have created a new link for our bi-weekly COVID-19 Community Partners’ Call and have extended the meeting by 15 minutes. Starting April 12th, the meeting will run from 4 pm-5 pm. The Community Partners’ call will now be Live Interpreted in Spanish and Somali. The Zoom link is below.

Join Public Health – Seattle & King County for local updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, recommendations for risk reduction, and information on COVID-19 vaccines. The webinar takes place every other Monday from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Zoom (schedule and link below). The next webinar is Monday, April 12th.

All are welcome, and the information is most helpful for staff and volunteers at nonprofits, businesses, and community-based organizations looking for resources and information on slowing the spread of COVID-19 in King County.

Live interpretation is provided in Spanish and Somali. Additional languages are available upon request.

One tap mobile:
US: +16699006833,,97016766517# or +13462487799,,97016766517#
Meeting URL:
https://kingcounty.zoom.us/j/97016766517
Meeting ID:
970 1676 6517
Join by Telephone 253-215-8782

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Fighting displacement in North Highline: Recommendations go public soon

April 1st, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on Fighting displacement in North Highline: Recommendations go public soon

Announced today by King County:

Skyway-West Hill & North Highline Anti-Displacement Draft Recommendations Report-Back

Please join the Department of Community and Human Services and the Department of Local Services for an interactive community meeting on Saturday, April 10th from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM to review and discuss the draft anti-displacement recommendations that will be presented to the King County Council later this year.

Registration is required and is now open at: eventbrite.com/e/anti-displacement-draft-recommendations-report-back-registration-145351188317. This meeting will help shape the county’s policy direction and investments in affordable housing in Skyway-West Hill. To learn more, check out: publicinput.com/anti-displacement You can find further information on the project at this website.

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VIDEO: County Executive Dow Constantine showcases jobs-program proposal in White Center visit

March 30th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on VIDEO: County Executive Dow Constantine showcases jobs-program proposal in White Center visit

Back in fall 2019, King County Executive Dow Constantine visited White Center (WCN coverage here) to talk about the newly launched King County Conservation Corps. Today, he returned to join them on patrol, and to talk about a broader job-creation program that’s part of his $600 million pandemic-relief budget addition.

The new proposal would create hundreds of jobs, expanding the KCCC and involving other county departments and divisions such as Roads and Parks; county Local Services director John Taylor joined him at this morning’s event. The KCCC, by the way, is a partnership with Uplift Northwest, previously known as the Millionair Club, and started as a six-month pilot project but is still going strong. The jobs program would cost an estimated $40 million of the $600 million pandemic-relief proposal, which is now in the hands of the County Council.

Other parts of the budget proposal:
*Continued Public Health Response/Vaccinations & COVID operations: $253 million

*Community Supports-rental assistance, childcare, behavioral health: $199 million

*Economic Recovery: $92 million

The full document is linked at the end of last week’s announcement.

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THURSDAY: Here’s why you want to be part of North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s April meeting

March 30th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: Here’s why you want to be part of North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s April meeting

The month begins with North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s always-informative April meeting. Here’s the announcement:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, April 1, 2021 at 7 pm

How? Join Zoom Meeting: kingcounty.zoom.us/j/98750682577

Meeting ID: 987 5068 2577
Passcode (case sensitive): NHUAC2021
Unable to join via Zoom? Please Call 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 987 5068 2577 Passcode: 956569157

As North Highline continues to have one of the highest COVID-19 positivity rates in the county, the virus continues to evolve. Last month’s NHUAC meeting was packed with information, but it was a month ago. What has changed? What should we know about the “Three V’s” – virus, variants, and vaccines? To answer these questions and more, we will be joined by Becky Reitzes, Educator Consultant with Public Health of Seattle & King County. Becky has been working on the COVID Community Mitigation Response since the beginning of the pandemic. Please bring your questions and join the discussion!

The shortage of adequate funding for capital projects, services and programs is an ongoing challenge in North Highline. As our local government, one of King County’s primary responsibilities is budgeting – deciding where and how our tax dollars are spent.

King County is taking a different approach to budgeting than it has used in the past. It is called Participatory Budgeting (PB). PB was first used in 1989 as an anti-poverty measure in Brazil where it successfully helped reduce child mortality by almost 30%. According to Participatory Budgeting Project’s website, “Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget. It gives people real power over real money.” Imagine what North Highline can be if people with personal knowledge of our community make decisions about how tax dollars are spent in our community. Sounds like a perfect fit for a NHUAC meeting, doesn’t it? Now imagine that you or a neighbor was one of those decision-makers. Join us as John Taylor, Director of the Department of Local Services, explains how King County will approach this chance to expand democracy and opportunity in North Highline and how you could become part of the Community Investment Committee.

Our Storefront Deputy, Bill Kennamer, will join us once again to share what he and his fellow deputies have been working on in North Highline.

Knowledge is power.
Learn, share, and help make North Highline a better and healthier place.
April 1, 2021 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor!

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County Executive visiting White Center tomorrow

March 29th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on County Executive visiting White Center tomorrow

If you’re in the vicinity of 15th and 100th tomorrow at midmorning, you might see a county delegation headed by County Executive Dow Constantine, talking with media before meeting up with the King County Conservation Corps. As the advance notice points out, the Corps “offers dignified employment opportunities to people experiencing homelessness and poverty while cleaning and removing graffiti from urban unincorporated areas.” While visiting, Constantine is expected to talk about hoping to expand the Corps as part of a job-creation program in his $600 million proposed emergency budget.

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King County Community Investment Committee – want to be part of it?

March 26th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, White Center news Comments Off on King County Community Investment Committee – want to be part of it?

Just in from King County Local Services:

King County is recruiting community members to serve on a new Community Investment Committee.

This committee will help King County spend…

-$10 million on capital projects in Skyway-West Hill, North Highline, East Renton, Fairwood, and East Federal Way. These capital funds can be used for anything that needs to be built or replaced, such as buildings, sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping, signs, and play structures.

-$1.3 million for services or programs in Skyway-West Hill and North Highline. This funding can be used for almost anything, such as after-school programs, job training, building maintenance, food, art supplies, and investments in play structures and sidewalks.

\The Community Investment Committee will design and carry out a budgeting process. The process will be centered on racial equity, will build on community strengths, and will address priorities that the community has identified. The committee will make sure that communities have control over what the money is spent on, so the projects that are funded will address real community challenges and have the most benefit.

King County approved funding for this project in its current two-year (2021-2022) budget, and will spend the funds as directed by the communities.

For more information and to apply: kingcounty.gov/depts/local-services/programs/urban-choices.aspx

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Fireworks ban for unincorporated King County is one step closer to finalization, after committee approval

March 18th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, Safety, White Center news 3 Comments »

As planned, the King County Council‘s Committee of the Whole took up the proposed unincorporated-area fireworks ban on Wednesday. With an amendment, it passed 5-4. The amendment by Councilmember Girmay Zahilay (read it here) has three key points:

-The first year this is in effect (2022), violators would be warned rather than fined

-Once fines do take effect, they would be $250, not $1,000

-A study would be required to see what it would take to get immediate, unarmed, non-police response to reports of violations

The fireworks ban, sponsored by our area’s Councilmember Joe McDermott, now goes to the full council for a final vote.

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King County Council to consider renter-rights proposal for unincorporated areas

March 16th, 2021 Tracy Posted in housing, King County, White Center news Comments Off on King County Council to consider renter-rights proposal for unincorporated areas

Announced today:

A transformative tenant protections package has been officially introduced by two King County Councilmembers. The measure, headlined by capped move-in fees and new ‘just cause’ eviction criteria, was officially put forward today by Councilmembers Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Girmay Zahilay.

While King County residents look ahead to a brighter, post-pandemic future, many will continue to live in fear of losing their housing – or struggling to get housing at all.

The proposal, referred to the Community, Health and Housing Services Committee on Tuesday, aims to add a series of protections for both month-to-month and longer-term lease tenants.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic fallout have exacerbated our already difficult housing crisis — putting large numbers of renters on the brink of eviction,” Kohl-Welles said. “For many of our neighbors, it’s a thin line between having a roof overhead and spending the night in a shelter or in a tent on one of our sidewalks. And for many, it’s having to decide to pay for rent or pay for needed medical care. We know that housing is essential to stability for King County residents. By enhancing protections for renters, we can work on the front end to prevent even more people from entering homelessness.”

Key among the protections included is the establishment of “just causes” that must be satisfied before a landlord can terminate a month-to-month tenancy, begin eviction proceedings, or fail to renew a fixed-term tenancy. State law doesn’t currently include just cause provisions for most tenancies, and while a bill is moving through the state legislature to add requirements to the books, that proposal falls well short of the King County proposal.

“After decades of gentrification and a full year of COVID-19 hyper-charging regional housing instability, people are struggling to stay housed. We have to come together and give tenants the housing security needed to survive this crisis,” Zahilay said. “Evictions, especially those inflicted without specific cause or reasonable notice, will exacerbate our homelessness crisis, crime, and public health issues. The legislation introduced today by Councilmember Kohl-Welles and I will be a difference maker for those already struggling.”

In addition to adding the just cause requirement – a significant factor in avoiding a wave of individuals and families losing their housing once temporary protections triggered by the COVID -19 pandemic end – the proposal would add a series of protections for tenants in unincorporated King County, including:

Cap move-in, security and other fees and deposits and allow incremental payment
Require landlords to give up to 4 months’ notice for significant rent increases
Prohibit rent hikes in unsafe or unlivable housing
Allow tenants to adjust rent due date if they live on fixed income
Add protections against eviction over late rent
Prohibit landlords from requesting Social Security number for pre-rental screening
Landlords who violate any of the new protections would be liable for damages in court.

“King County’s homelessness crisis is already one of the worst in the nation. We know that most people who are evicted end up homeless, many of them sleeping unsheltered,” said Katie Wilson, general secretary of the Transit Riders Union. “This ordinance is a common-sense measure that will help to protect tenants from arbitrary evictions when the moratoriums are lifted, so that many more people don’t fall into homelessness.”

In 2019, while unincorporated King County saw more no-cause evictions than any other jurisdiction in King County, according to data shared by Edmund Witter, senior managing attorney with the King County Bar Association. While only 6.8% of all evictions were filed in unincorporated King County, that part of the county made up 20% of all no-cause evictions countywide.

An estimated 22% of households in unincorporated King County are renters, which means about 25,000 households would be impacted by the proposal.

As part of the new legislation, the Executive would set up a central phone number for tenants to report suspected violations and would have to create an outreach plan to educate residents about the new protections. A one-pager with more details is attached.

The legislation would take effect 90 days after full council approval.

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