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King County, WA

King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove: Meeting residents immediate needs, planning for a better future

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Normandy Park Blog
Normandy Park Blog
 2021-06-04
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Meeting Residents Immediate Needs, Planning for a Better Future

Dear Neighbor,

The King County Council recently passed additional County funding to support residents’ immediate needs while also laying the groundwork for a better economic future for all.

Throughout the last year and a half, I have spoken to hundreds of community members about the challenges they have faced and the concerns they have for themselves and their families. I have heard about the fear of losing one’s home, the stress that comes from losing a job and the strain our youth have been under as they navigate remote learning and a changed home environment.

This budget seeks to address those concerns while providing hope for a brighter future.

Highlights of the funding include:

  • Over $255 million in community supports including food assistance and $100 million in rental assistance to prevent eviction and keep people in their homes
  • Over $114 million to continue the County’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • $67 million to support economic recovery and jobs programs, including new apprenticeship pathways into behavioral health career and construction apprenticeship and job training program
  • Over $50 million for the County’s emergency homelessness response and for supportive services for those experiencing homelessness
  • $7 million in childcare subsidies for low-income families and essential workers
  • $6 million to address behavioral health issues in seniors and youths and to provide culturally appropriate services
  • $3 million for senior centers to respond to the increase in demand for services
  • $2 million for anti-hate and bias efforts throughout the County
  • $800,000 to expand current County programming that addresses small business displacement such as that experienced in SeaTac’s Bakaro Mall

For almost 18 months our community has battled a pandemic and the County responded to keep people fed, housed and healthy – that work continues. But, with this infusion of federal funds, we have a unique opportunity to rebuild our community and strengthen our economy in a way that ensures everyone has a better future.

The budget comprises a mix of funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, FEMA, the state and county. The Council anticipates additional COVID-related budgets over the remainder of 2021.

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Support for Displaced Small Businesses

As part of the COVID funding package, the Council also provided an additional $800,000 to the County’s Commercial Affordability Pilot Project which seeks to help small businesses impacted by gentrification and displacement.

The Pilot Project has helped two South King County businesses thrive despite facing displacement and other small business challenges. Both Spice Bridge in Tukwila and the SeaTac International Mall in SeaTac are success stories in part because of this vital County support.

The recently opened SeaTac International Mall features an indoor Somali shopping mall, grocery store, deli, office space and a chiropractor. Many of the Somali-owned businesses were displaced from Bakaro Mall a few years ago and were looking for a new space to sell their goods.

When Bakaro Mall closed, the County worked with many of the businesses – including the micro-businesses run by Somali women – to find options so they could continue to operate. We provided intensive technical support through a consultant, but it was clear we needed a broader approach to the issue of displacement and these additional funds will allow for the expansion of the current pilot program.

When a small business is displaced, it’s not just the business that is hurt, it’s the entire community. This new funding will not only strengthen businesses, it will also strengthen our community.

Banning County Use of Facial Recognition Technology

On Tuesday, King County became the first county in the U.S. to ban government use of facial recognition software over concerns of racism and demographic biases.

This groundbreaking proposal passed the Council by a vote of 9-0. Studies have revealed that facial recognition software is often racially biased as it is far more likely to misidentify Black or Asian faces. It is also full of risks to fundamental civil liberties, is invasive and intrusive.

The ban was supported by local community groups, public defenders, immigrants’ rights advocates, racial justice organizations, workers’ rights groups, privacy advocates, and technologists.

D5 Youth Advisory Council Community Project Presentation

Please join me and the teen participants of my D5 Youth Advisory Council for their Community Project presentation.

These presentations are a chance for you to hear from seven local teens about the most pressing issues in their communities and solutions they might recommend. In addition, they’ll be sharing highlights and answering questions about their experience participating in this program the last six months. Please submit your questions in advance to dave.upthegrove@kingcounty.gov.

What: 2021 D5 Youth Advisory Council — Community Project Presentation

When: Friday, June 11th, 5 p.m.

Where: Streamed live – Facebook.com/cmupthegrove

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Don’t miss your opportunity to have your voice heard in Link Light rail station area planning!

Great news! The deadline for public input on future transit-oriented development in Kent/Des Moines has been extended to June 7th. If you have ideas on what kinds of development you would be interested in seeing near transit in South King County, Sound Transit wants to hear them!

With this investment, there is a rare opportunity for development of approximately 4 acres adjacent to the future station located next to Highline College and along SR 99. This is our opportunity to build a community-led vision for the future development of the area. Community feedback collected through this survey and an online open house later this fall will be used to inform the content of the Request for Proposals for the available sites.

This area is ripe for redevelopment and the City of Kent has paved the way with its Midway Subarea Plan that was crafted specifically with transit in mind. With high-capacity transit immediately next to this large site, there are opportunities for several types of development – whether that be housing, childcare, social services, food access, or commercial. If you have ideas, I encourage you to participate in the ongoing conversations – through the current online survey and future community conversations – about how we collectively build out this unique space.

The online survey will be available through June 7 at www.KentDesMoinesTOD.com. The survey will be available in English, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali and Tagalog.

The Federal Way Link Extension is currently under construction and is slated to open in 2024. This line will continue the main Link spine down to Federal Way and will join projects currently underway in North Seattle, Lynwood, Bellevue, Redmond, and Tacoma Hilltop in the regional Link system. More information on the project and public involvement process is available at www.soundtransit.org/fwlink.

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As the Council continues to operate remotely, now is the perfect time to engage with our work and share your thoughts on legislation before us.

My team and I are available via email at dave.upthegrove@kingcounty.gov.

You can watch Council meetings via livestream on the Councils website or on KCTV channel 22. We take general public comment on the 4th Tuesday of every month.

To learn more about testifying before Council go to https://www.kingcounty.gov/council/committees/full_council.aspx

Sincerely,

King County Councilmember

District 5

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