The Seattle Restaurant Alliance was pleased to welcome Casey Rogers and Joel Miller from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to the November meeting to give a presentation on SDOT’s Safe Start program, which began at the beginning of the pandemic to provide retailers, restaurants and vendors with free permits to expand business operations in the right of way. 

Members gave direct feedback about the program as SDOT drafts legislation towards permanency due in December. Here are a few highlights:

  • SDOT is currently offering free temporary permits for outdoor cafes, retail merchandise displays, food trucks, vending carts and fitness activities that are valid through May 31, 2022.
  • SDOT is currently drafting legislation for the next steps of the program which is due to the Council by Dec. 15.
  • Members expressed strong interest in continuing to keep the cost of the program low or even free.

City Budget Process

Last week, the Chair of the Budget Committee, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda presented her balancing package for the 2022 budget. Unfortunately, the amendments requesting money to attract large conventions and improve permit review times did not make the cut.

Mosqueda has characterized this budget proposal as one that gets funds out the door for housing, public safety, and human services. These highlights include:

  • A $192 million investment in affordable housing, including $97 million from the JumpStart tax, which the city collects from employers for each salary over $150,000 annually.
  • More than $27 million for “Healthy & Safe Communities,” which Mosqueda says includes adding positions for 911 dispatch, 20 additional fire recruits, mental health assistance for firefighters and police officers, and alternative response for low-level emergency calls and other efforts to keep residents out of the criminal justice system. 
  • A $2.5 million investment in mobile mental and behavioral health crisis services and a roughly $30 million plan to partner with King County on additional mental health crisis facility beds.

The Seattle Police Department also saw a cut of about $10 million to their budget in the form of salary savings, hiring incentives, and cutting the proposed expansion of the popular Community Service Officer program.

Councilmembers have one last chance to get other amendments into the package before a final vote Nov. 22. However, any amendments presented must be self-balancing, that is, they need to denote where they are cutting and adding money in the budget. Final votes on amendments will take place during budget committee meetings on Nov. 18 and 19.

Next Meeting

Reminder there will be no December meeting, the next meeting will be in January.