By Mellow DeTray
Here’s our recap of the Kent City Council meeting held on Tuesday night, Dec. 13, 2022:
The Public Hearing on The Bridges Wetlands Property was moved to Jan. 17, 2023. This agenda item had to be delayed in order to allow time for proper notification of the public. Any community members who showed up to speak on the topic were allowed to speak during the general Public Comments time instead, and one person did, expressing concern over the wetlands potentially being sold to developers. Mayor Ralph responded to assure the community that the wetlands will remain protected; the City is not selling the property, despite a recent erroneous newspaper headline.
Another community member spoke during Public Comments to thank the Parking Enforcement officer for removing several abandoned cars from his street. The desire for a second Parking Enforcement Officer position for the city of Kent was also expressed.
276 Tons of Trash Removed From Streets this Year: Employee of the Month Celebrated
Mike Houlihan, director of Kent’s Solid Waste Crew, was named Employee of the Month. Mike has given 9 years of inspirational, energetic, and positive service in a job that others might find difficult. The City receives hundreds of service requests per month for trash cleanup and graffiti removal, and Mike takes care of these cleanups tirelessly and with a great attitude.
$6,493 Raised by Staff for Charity
Each year City employees hold a fundraising event to benefit a local charity. This year’s event included a chili cookoff and raffle. The funds benefitted Eileen & Callie’s Place, which provides support for girls who have aged out of foster care. Once they reach adulthood, foster kids don’t have families they can turn to when times get rough, or they have pressing questions. This organization aims to fill that gap, helping foster kids transition successfully into adulthood. They even hold an 18th birthday party for the girls, many of whom have never had a birthday party.
Public Safety Report
Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla presented to Council the latest public safety data. Finalized shooting numbers will be coming from King County, but preliminary counts show this year’s numbers remain high. The Chief is hopeful that they are trending downward. While total shots fired increased from 1,036 in 2021 to 1,246 this year, both fatal and non-fatal shootings have gone down during the same period. First responders have been working very hard to improve survival rates. The BIPOC community is disproportionately represented in the numbers of both the victims of this violence, as well as the perpetrators.
The Crisis Response Team “Co-Responders” positions have been hard to fill, but Police are partnering with the Fire Department to hire a nurse and mental health counselor, who will be available on evenings and weekends in Kent, for situations when mental health services would be more helpful than sending an officer.
During the meeting, Officer Gregory Dale, fluent in American Sign Language, was sworn in. This follows last month, when three new officers joined the force. The Police force has one position left to fill and ten applicants vying for it. This is quite the turnaround from last year, when there were a record number of open positions, a similar situation to virtually all surrounding police departments. Chief Padilla attributes this turnaround to having a great recruiting and hiring team.
Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. She has volunteered at many local establishments over the years, including the Burien Library, Burien Actors Theatre, and Hot Feet Fitness. After working for ten years at Burien Community Center, she moved on to teaching fitness classes and to work the front desk of a Burien yoga studio. For many years Mellow kept a moderately popular cooking & lifestyle blog, and she had a brief stint in political journalism during a local election. Clear and informative writing has always been a side hobby of Mellow’s and she looks forward to bringing you unbiased coverage of City Council meetings.