SeaTac City Councilmember Joel Wachtel Steps Down from Council Seat

 

SeaTac, WA (May 27, 2020) – During the May 26, 2020 Regular Council Meeting, SeaTac City Councilmember Joel Wachtel (Position 2) announced he was stepping down effective May 31, 2020. 

“I have to say, that the time I spent on the Council has been a wonderful time and I am proud of what we have accomplished,” said Wachtel. “My reasons for doing this are personal…because of situations that impacted us and health situations.”

“I am thankful for the passion and extensive experience Councilmember Wachtel brought to his elected seat,” says City Manager Carl Cole. “During his tenure, Wachtel guided the region’s first Municipal Airport Advisory Committee which ensured SeaTac’s relationship with community partner Port of Seattle was maintained.”

Councilmember Wachtel joined the Council in January 2018. In addition to the Airport Advisory Committee, during his time with the City, Wachtel chaired the Public Safety & Justice Committee and the Planning and Economic Development Committee. He also served as a member of the Sidewalk Advisory Committee and a Member of the Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ Retirement System One Disability Board. Wachtel also served as a representative on the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority Governance Board.

“I am very proud of what we have accomplished. I am very proud to be part of this Council,” said Wachtel. “The many important things that we have done, overcoming a deficit, increasing revenues, the SeaTac Center project, really we have done a lot for the City together.”

Wachtel is a resident of SeaTac.  He and his wife Maria have several adult children.  Following the meeting, Wachtel shared that he and his family are planning to move out-of-state.

“This is the time for my wife and I to enjoy our golden years as they are called, I plan to take full advantage of that time,” said Wachtel.

Wachtel’s term runs until December 2021. The City Council will announce the process of filling the empty council seat in the near future.

Reduced Fare Options will Accompany June 1 Reintroduction of Fares on Link and Sounder

Recovery Fares to be offered through June 30 during promotion of ORCA LIFT to riders experiencing financial hardships; campaign will emphasize face coverings directive

May 18-Effective June 1, Sound Transit will offer temporarily reduced Recovery Fares in response to the economic impact of COVID-19 as the agency re-introduces fares on Link light rail and Sounder. Service on Link will also increase at the same time, with trains running every 20 minutes during the day until after the p.m. peak. Link will continue to run every 30 minutes during evenings and on weekends.

The Recovery Fares come as the region prepares for the next phases of recovery and the expected gradual return of riders. The fare of $1 on Link and $2 on Sounder will be available from ticket vending machines through June 30. During this period, Sound Transit will redouble its promotion of ORCA Lift, a reduced-fare program that gives income-qualified riders discounts of up to 66% on Sound Transit and other regional agencies’ services. Passengers can now qualify apply for ORCA Lift online or over the phone without having to visit a processing site.

In addition to ticket vending machines, Recovery Fare tickets will be available on a contact-free basis through the Transit GO Ticket app. ORCA cards will continue to be charged full fare and can be used for transfers, while Recovery Fare paper tickets and Transit GO tickets cannot be used for transfers.

All transit staff will continue to wear face masks, and all Sound Transit passengers will be directed to wear face coverings consistent with expanded public health directives. Under current health directives customers are reminded to limit travel to essential trips. Riders should also follow social distancing and other critical health guidelines to protect the community. Sound Transit will continue expanded disinfecting of transit vehicles and facilities, with particular emphasis on ticket vending machines and other high-touch areas including hand rails.

Beyond providing money to support transit operations, the resumption of fares will also allow Sound Transit to increase safety and security for essential riders. The agency saw a dramatic increase in unsanitary conditions, rider complaints and incidents of vandalism after fares were temporarily suspended in March. The issues have been associated in part with riders taking repetitive trips without apparent destinations.

For now ST Express buses will continue to remain fare-free on a temporary basis to enable rear-door boarding to protect bus operators. By contrast, rail operators are protected in their own compartments. Even so, seats outside those enclosed compartments will continue to be cordoned off as an extra safety measure.

Beginning Tuesday, May 19, fare enforcement officers will begin educating riders about the resumption of fares, including the Temporary Recovery Fare, and providing information about ORCA Lift. Once fares resume, fare enforcement officers will follow social distancing guidelines and request that riders show an ORCA card, a Transit GO Ticket app activated ticket, or a ticket as proof of payment.


The Sounder reductions that have been in effect will continue at this time. Sounder South weekday service is reduced to seven round trips. The cancelled northbound trips are the 1502, 1506, 1508 and 1518 departures from Lakewood, and the 1516 and 1522 departures from Tacoma. The canceled southbound trips are the 1503, 1505, 1509, 1517, 1519, and 1523 departures from Seattle. 

Sounder North weekday service remains reduced from four round trips to two round trips, with cancellation of the 1701 and 1705 departures from Everett and the 1700 and 1704 departures from Seattle. 

Riders will find more information on the specific trips cancelled at https://www.soundtransit.org/ride-with-us/changes-affect-my-ride/reduced-service

and via rider alerts, which they can sign up to receive electronically.

During the COVID-19 response riders should take into account that electronic resources such as Google maps, One Bus Away and other applications and websites may not have accurate information for all trips, including service reductions affecting other agencies.

Sound Transit remains committed to working closely with its partners to continue serving the public. Efforts will continue to prioritize serving riders who depend on Sound Transit’s services, including seniors, people with disabilities, Title VI protected populations (race, color, national origin), low-income and limited-English-proficiency populations. To the greatest extent possible, we will continue to run trains and buses at our earliest and latest normal weekday hours. At this time normal service will continue on Tacoma Link.

Riders should sign up for rider alerts to ensure that they receive up-to-date information about service changes, or visit www.soundtransit.org. The language line 1-800-823-9230 is available to provide translation assistance for limited English proficiency persons.

City Manager Speaks at Chamber Virtual Resiliency Summit to help our Local Economy Recover

May 22-In the midst of so much uncertainty in today’s economy, as businesses and communities attempt to navigate an increasingly volatile and changing market, the Seattle Southside Chamber has planned a gathering of industry experts and economists to help sift through the data at the PNW Resiliency Virtual Summit on June 24, 2020. This event will be a gathering of minds, providing real and relatable insights to help our local economy recover efficiently and remain resilient.

“Resiliency has always been vital in business,” said President/CEO Andrea H. Reay, “However, the current economic climate requires us to recover more quickly. It is possible for businesses and communities to thrive in inconsistent markets, but only when they have the tools and willingness to embrace change and evolve.”

The PNW Resiliency Virtual Summit is the third in the Chamber’s signature Summit Series, created to support the mission to connect, convene, and create economic opportunity for South King County. That mission and focus have not changed with the pandemic, but the delivery methods have. This is why the event will feature the same engaging and dynamic elements of an in-person summit translated onto a virtual platform.

The Chamber is grateful to SeaTac City Manager, Carl Cole, who will be on hand to kick off the event and welcome the virtual attendees.

“As the impacts of this pandemic continue to expand, I am seeing hope start to diminish,” offered Cole. “I want to assure our community and partners that this is an opportunity to shine and not lose hope. If we work together, we will emerge from this tragedy stronger and better. I believe that and look forward to hearing more reasons to hope at this event.”

Chris Mefford, President & CEO of Community Attributes, will then deliver the keynote message, setting the stage for an engaging discussion and Q&A session with our panel of speakers including:

  • Kris Johnson, President & CEO of the Association of Washington Business
  • Scott Alexander, President of Alexander Party Rentals
  • More to be announced

After the keynote, panel discussion, and Q&A, there will be an opportunity for virtual breakout sessions for industry sectors to share specific trade and business opportunities and challenges as well as to seek counsel from local experts.

The PNW Resiliency Summit is open to all, but registration is required. More details and registration link below.

2020 PNW Resiliency VIRTUAL Summit

Date: June 24, 2020

Time: 11:00am to 1:00pm

Location: Virtual via ZOOM

Register Here

The Chamber is proud to serve our community and is committed to creating economic equity in South King County by encouraging investment and supporting a thriving business environment. A special thank you to Alaska Airlines for their contribution and to DoubleTree Suites Southcenter for being our event Host. Sponsorship opportunities are still available and are a great way to connect your business with the Southside Community. Please contact Renatta Emerson at Renatta@SeattleSouthsideChamber.com for a custom package tailored to serve your marketing and advertising goals.

We hope that you can make it and that everyone is staying healthy and staying safe at home.

Puget Sound Fire Weekly Incident Summary for May 10-16

May 22-Puget Sound Fire Weekly Incident Summary for May 10-16:

Total:                   551

EMS/Rescue:       422

False Call:              37

Fire :                     15

Good Intent:      56

Hazardous Condition:  7

Service:                13

Other:                   1

Annual Total Year-to-Date:  10,495

This week is national EMS Week! Did you know King County has a nationally renowned Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program? Thanks to the Medic One program and the ongoing training Puget Sound Firefighters receive, this region’s first responders are some of the best in the world. Every Puget Sound Firefighter is a trained Emergency Medical Technician and about 70% of the calls Puget Sound Fire responds to are EMS related. This #EMSWeek, Puget Sound Fire encourages you to call 911 if you need us. Our staff are highly trained and are here to serve our community.

Memorial Day Flag Lowering

May 22-The flags at SeaTac Government Facilities will be lowered Memorial Day weekend. Governor Inslee has ordered that all Washington State and United States flags at all state agency facilities be lowered to half-staff on Monday, May 25, 2020, in recognition of Memorial Day. This federal holiday is in remembrance of the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

Flags will remain at half-staff until noon on May 25 or first thing Tuesday morning, May 26, 2020.

Everyone is encouraged recognize service members who have died while serving our country .

Public Works Project Locations

May 22-Public Works Project Locations

Spot Drainage Repairs

This project will repair storm drainage infrastructure at eight locations within the City.  The project is currently in design.

S 180th St Flood Reduction Project

This project will construct a flood reduction facility to eliminate flooding at the end of S 180th St.  The project recently completed the planning and feasibility assessment stage and now will begin the design phase.

S 221st St Drainage Improvement

This project will construct a drainage conveyance system to intercept drainage flows on Military Road causing erosion of the embankment on Military Road and private properties as well as localized flooding of septic systems at nearby residences.  The project is currently in design.

Military Road South and South 152nd Street

Improvements for this road reconstruction and safety project include construction of bike lanes, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, new pavement, installation of street lighting, upgraded and interconnected signalization with pedestrian crossings, construction of a right turn lane on Eastbound South 152nd Street, and the elimination of the skewed intersection at Tukwila International Boulevard and Military Road South. Johansen is the contractor on the project and is currently working on completing installation of underground infrastructure to support power, cable, and telecommunications services.

Des Moines Memorial Drive South and South 200th Street Intersection

Improvements for this intersection include construction of bike lanes, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, new pavement, installation of street lighting, a new traffic signal system with pedestrian crossings, left turn lanes for all approaches, and construction of a right turn lane on westbound South 200th Street. Rodarte Construction is the contractor on the project and is currently working on installing utility infrastructure.

34th Avenue South Project

This “Safe Routes to School” project includes construction of sidewalks, curbs and gutters, storm drainage facilities, installation of an enhanced crosswalk, pedestrian lighting, landscaping, and underground conversion of aerial utilities. Design and right-of-way acquisition are ongoing. The project is scheduled to start construction in 2020.

South 200th Street Shared-Use Path

This project includes building a new separated shared-use path along South 200th Street between 12th Place South and the Des Moines Creek Trailhead. The project will provide pedestrian connections to street improvements that will be constructed at the intersection of Des Moines Memorial Drive South and South 200th Street, and a connection to existing pedestrian and bicycle facilities accessing the Angle Lake Light Rail Station. Design and right-of-way acquisition are in progress. The project is scheduled to start construction in 2020.

International Boulevard Corridor Safety Improvements Plan

The purpose of this project is to provide recommendations on enhanced safety improvements for all along the International Boulevard Corridor (from South 152nd Street to South 216th Street). The plan will allow for the City to move forward with identifying the safety concerns, prioritizing the order of addressing the concerns, assigning treatment measures to address the concern, and listing construction initiatives. Part of Citywide Local Road Safety Plan Toole Design was selected as the consultant to help with this plan.  The contract scope and fee are being negotiated prior to Council review and action.

Lost Elderly Woman Helped by Good Samaritans and Officers

May 22- On Tuesday May 12, Community Services Officers (CSO) Sana Wight and Regina Burke were called to a report of a vulnerable elderly woman who was found wandering and confused. The woman showed up at a stranger’s house believing she had lived at the house for the last 30 years. Neighbors quickly banded together and brought the woman a chair, blanket, and refreshments and sat with her. Their quick actions kept her safe until law enforcement could arrive on scene.

When SeaTac CSOs arrived, there was a language barrier and it was initially challenging to determine what language the woman spoke.  SeaTac CSOs reached out to King County Sheriff’s Office CSO Peter Truong.  CSO Truong’s speaks five languages, but despite his best efforts, he was unable to determine which language was her primary one. 

Still working through the issue, the CSOs noticed that the woman had made her trip from some unknown place in stocking feet. Looking at her feet to try to determine how far she had walked, they discovered her name on a label on the bottom of her feet, suggesting of her living in a family group home. CSO Wight decided to drive down the street to see if she could find a group home.  CSO Burke stayed, continuing to comfort the woman, while attempting to glean more information. The homeowners meanwhile stood by to provide support. Three workers from the home where the woman lives eventually arrived.  They were able to provide her name and other details. The elderly woman was happy to be on her way home and the neighbors were glad she found where she belongs.  

Public Works Project Locations

May 15-Public Works Project Locations

Spot Drainage Repairs

This project will repair storm drainage infrastructure at eight locations within the City.  The project is currently in design.

S 180th St Flood Reduction Project

This project will construct a flood reduction facility to eliminate flooding at the end of S 180th St.  The project recently completed the planning and feasibility assessment stage and now will begin the design phase.

S 221st St Drainage Improvement

This project will construct a drainage conveyance system to intercept drainage flows on Military Road causing erosion of the embankment on Military Road and private properties as well as localized flooding of septic systems at nearby residences.  The project is currently in design.

Military Road South and South 152nd Street

Improvements for this road reconstruction and safety project include construction of bike lanes, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, new pavement, installation of street lighting, upgraded and interconnected signalization with pedestrian crossings, construction of a right turn lane on Eastbound South 152nd Street, and the elimination of the skewed intersection at Tukwila International Boulevard and Military Road South. Johansen is the contractor on the project and is currently working on completing installation of underground infrastructure to support power, cable, and telecommunications services.

Des Moines Memorial Drive South and South 200th Street Intersection

Improvements for this intersection include construction of bike lanes, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, new pavement, installation of street lighting, a new traffic signal system with pedestrian crossings, left turn lanes for all approaches, and construction of a right turn lane on westbound South 200th Street. Rodarte Construction is the contractor on the project and is currently working on installing utility infrastructure.

34th Avenue South Project

This “Safe Routes to School” project includes construction of sidewalks, curbs and gutters, storm drainage facilities, installation of an enhanced crosswalk, pedestrian lighting, landscaping, and underground conversion of aerial utilities. Design and right-of-way acquisition are ongoing. The project is scheduled to start construction in 2020.

South 200th Street Shared-Use Path

This project includes building a new separated shared-use path along South 200th Street between 12th Place South and the Des Moines Creek Trailhead. The project will provide pedestrian connections to street improvements that will be constructed at the intersection of Des Moines Memorial Drive South and South 200th Street, and a connection to existing pedestrian and bicycle facilities accessing the Angle Lake Light Rail Station. Design and right-of-way acquisition are in progress. The project is scheduled to start construction in 2020.

International Boulevard Corridor Safety Improvements Plan

The purpose of this project is to provide recommendations on enhanced safety improvements for all along the International Boulevard Corridor (from South 152nd Street to South 216th Street). The plan will allow for the City to move forward with identifying the safety concerns, prioritizing the order of addressing the concerns, assigning treatment measures to address the concern, and listing construction initiatives. Part of Citywide Local Road Safety Plan Toole Design was selected as the consultant to help with this plan.  The contract scope and fee are being negotiated prior to Council review and action.

FACE-COVERING DIRECTIVE GOES INTO EFFECT MONDAY

May 15-The King County directive requiring face coverings be worn in public goes into effect Monday, May 18. Health leaders are asking everyone to keep in mind that face coverings should not be worn by everyone and are committed to ensuring that individuals who are unable to safely wear face coverings are not harassed or discriminated against.

Those who are exempt from wearing a face covering include someone who has a physical disability that makes it difficult to easily wear or remove a face covering; someone who has been advised by a medical professional to not wear one; someone who has trouble breathing or cannot remove a face covering without assistance; or someone who is deaf and uses facial and mouth movements as part of communications.

Approximately 33,000 King County residents have an intellectual or developmental disability that could affect their ability to wear a face covering.

“Wearing a face covering is important; if you can, you should. It is also important to understand that some people cannot wear face coverings for health, sensory, or communication reasons. If you meet someone without a face covering, please give them grace. It is not always obvious who has a disability,” said Robin Tatsuda, Executive Director of The Arc of King County, an organization that works to promote and protect the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and actively support their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.

Public Health – Seattle & King County convened a task force on older adults and people with disabilities to help understand the ways COVID-19 may be impacting people with disabilities and to help inform guidelines and decisions. This includes identifying gaps in data.

“We value the many contributions that people with disabilities have made in our COVID-19 response, and support information and outreach efforts that promote equity and inclusion as we all work to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” said Magan Cromar, Director, Developmental Disabilities and Early Childhood Supports Division of the King County Department of Community and Human Services.

More about the face covering directive:
Starting on May 18, most people who live in King County should wear face coverings in most public settings.

This includes buses and light rail, stores, and take-out restaurants – any place inside or outside where you may be within 6 feet of someone who does not live with you.

You do NOT have to use a face covering while walking, exercising, or otherwise being outdoors if you can stay 6 feet away from people who do not live with you. Face coverings can be cloth, scarves, or bandannas. They should cover the nose and mouth.

Some people need special medical-grade masks; please don’t use those if you don’t need to. They can be hard to find.

Large Affordable Housing Complex to Open in SeaTac

May 15- Construction on 365 units of affordable workforce housing is scheduled to begin prior to the end of the month, as the SeaTac City Council approved one of if not the largest new affordable housing complex in King County built in the past few years. At its Tuesday night Regular Council Meeting, the Council voted 6-1 to approve the sale of City-owned land to CAP Acquisitions, LLC (AKA Inland Group) and approved the plan for the construction of 365 units of affordable housing.

“We hear time and time again from both employers and residents that affordable workforce housing is desperately needed in the city,” says Mayor Erin Sitterley. “This complex will allow hundreds of our hard-working families to live near light rail and access jobs and amenities”

The new affordable housing development, to be named Polaris at SeaTac, is part of a 585 unit mixed use residential project that will include three residential towers, 27,000 square feet of new commercial space, underground parking, and convenient access to the Tukwila International Boulevard Light Rail Station.  This project will be constructed on at 4.5-acre site at 15245 International Blvd S. which currently contains a vacant 65,000 square foot commercial building and a structured parking garage.  On March 12, 2018, tenants of the commercial building were given nearly 18-months-notice of the sale and eventual redevelopment of the property, and all 11 tenants with leases moved out by August 31, 2019.

This 585-unit complex fits the high-density, urban village Transit Oriented Development model championed by the City, County and State.  In 2006, the City of SeaTac first envisioned this multi-family project with the passage of the South 154th Street Station Area Action Plan.  At that time, with light rail heading into the SeaTac, the City wanted to create high-density residential hubs around the three light rail stations that serve the residents and visitors of the City. 

The Polaris at SeaTac development will consist of two residential towers with 365 units of workforce housing which is affordable for individuals and families earning less than 60% of area median income.  The remaining 220 housing units of market rate housing will be located in one residential tower to be named Adara at SeaTac.

The City and CAP Acquisitions previously agreed to an $11,000,000 price tag for the sale of the property.  The resolution passed on May 12 allows for the 4.5-acre site to be sold as two separate parcels.  The affordable housing development, Polaris at SeaTac, would be built first and CAP Acquisitions will pay the City $6,930,000 for this portion of the property.  The remaining $4,070,000 of the purchase price will be received by the City upon closing of the second portion of the property for construction of the Adara at SeaTac development.  Until the closure of the Adara parcel, the City will also receive an additional payment of one thousand dollar-a-month, plus 12.84% leasehold excise tax, as a payment for the ground lease. CAP Acquisitions will use the Adara portion of the property as a staging area for the construction of the two Polaris buildings.

CAP Acquisitions says it was forced to split the property after the COVID-19 Pandemic hit and the financial lending markets for large-scale multi-family residential properties all but dried up. “I feel incredibly fortunate that we were as far along with the Polaris funder and investor as we were,” said Inland Group Development Lead Keith James. “The risk we would have is in another week or two or three, I don’t think the COVID situation will be clear that the lending markets would unfreeze to speak.”  

Originally, the proposed project would have created 665 units of housing along with 30,000 square feet of new commercial space.  A pre-existing parking easement for the next-door Pancake Chef restaurant caused CAP Acquisitions, LLC to downsize its original plans by over 13% in order to relocate the parking required by the pre-existing easement.

With the Council’s final approval, CAP Acquisitions, LLC will close on the property on May 21 and begin demolition of the existing structures and grading of the property the following week. As part of the redevelopment of the property, site wide improvements to the water, sewer, and stormwater facilities located on both parcels of the property will be made, in addition to internal roadway improvements that connects the two properties.  The Polaris project is expected to be completed in approximately two years.

To learn more about the project, click here.