New Funding for Youth Community Centers
One of the consistent themes in my conversations with community members is the need for more spaces where youth can go to play, learn and socialize.
With the social isolation caused by the pandemic, the need for community centers has become even more important so that our youth have a safe place to engage in recreation, participate in after school learning and develop supportive relationships.
For some children, the relationships they develop at their local community center may be the ones that transform their lives – the basketball coach that believes in them when no one else seems to, the art teacher that understands – and encourages – their passion for drawing, and the math tutor that is so funny that they become excited about fractions rather than frustrated with them.
Recognizing the importance of these gathering places in the lives of our youth and in the fabric of our community, the King County Council ensured that the Best Start for Kids renewal recently passed by voters included funding for capital grants for new or improved community or recreational centers. Over the life of the levy, up to $50 million will be available for community-driven development, especially in those parts of our County that lack these facilities.
Community Engagement Leads to Increased Transit Options for Kent East Hill
Transit isn’t one size fits all and its essential that we consult with those who rely on our public transit to ensure we are providing services at the times and places where they are most needed.
Three years ago, Metro began engaging with the community about transit options which would better serve those who have previously been underserved.
By listening to Kent residents, it became clear that immigrant and refugee community members living in the Kent East Hill neighborhoods needed public transit options that would allow them to work swing and night-shifts in the Kent Valley distribution centers – an entry job for many residents new to our community, but one that they could not get to due to lack of transit options.
From this outreach, Metro created the pilot program Ride Pingo which will serve communities where 57% of residents are Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, 34% were born abroad, and 43% speak a language other than English at home. Ride Pingo provides on-demand access to transit hubs and work locations in the Kent Valley and the Kent East Hill neighborhood.
Riders can download the Ride Pingo act or call 855-233-6043 to request an on-demand shared ride on one of the Ride Pingo 14-passenger vans.
The Ride Pingo app is available in Arabic, Chinese, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
The cost for the ride is the same as riding the bus and the same forms of payment as accepted – ORCA card, cash, Transit Go, etc.
Flood Grants Protect People and Our Environment
We all have seen the recent flooding that has hit other parts of our country and the devastating impact on communities that results from unprecedented weather events. Most people don’t know though that King County has its own Flood Control District which provides protection for people and property from flooding along our major rivers.
In 2020, the King County Flood Control District recognized two things: that flooding from other sources – such as coastal erosion or overflowing urban streams – also had a significant impact on our community, and that protecting people from flooding could be achieved using approaches that also protected – and improved – our environment. Three new grant programs were created to complement the current flood reduction grants – one for coastal erosion, one for urban streams and one for culvert replacements that also support fish passage. The District also doubled the amount of funding available for the grants and with these changes, opened up opportunities for more cities and organizations to receive support for flooding issues.
The recent round of grants was just finalized and a number of local projects received funding:
$450,000 for the McSorley Creek Shoreline and Estuary Restoration Project at Saltwater State Park which will make the creek more accessible for fish and the beach more accessible to people. It will also help reduce the flooding that has impacted the Saltwater Café.
$365,000 for the Massey Creek Pocket Estuary Restoration project which ultimately will increase fish passage and create a pocket estuary at the new mouth of the creek. Once completed, the Massey Creek Pocket Estuary is expected to offer refuge to juvenile chinook salmon.
$25,000 for the City of Des Moines to reduce flood impacts on Redondo Way South during major storm events. As part of this project, 50 feet of stream bed in the ravine areas to the east will be restored.
As Chair of the Flood Control District, I am excited to see the District use our grant programs to solve flooding issues while also being a good steward of the environment. As these three projects move forward, we will not only meet our public safety goal of protecting residents from flooding, but we will also create a safer, more hospitable environment for our chinook salmon and other fish species.
South King County — A welcoming Community for All
I’m proud to represent South King County, home to a diverse community where everyone is welcome and valued for the contribution they bring to our community. I joined both local leaders and Council colleagues in reinforcing this important message at two recent events.
In Renton, Mayor Pavone and I met at Gene Coulon Park to help promote the city’s “Hate Has No Home Here” initiative. This initiative is part of a nationwide campaign that identifies locations free from hateful behavior. Supporting this great effort to promote a welcoming community in Renton was a perfect lead into this week’s proclamation by the Council declaring Sept 10-19, 2021 as “Welcoming Week” in King County.
As a proud sponsor of this proclamation, I was pleased to read aloud the words “the King County Council is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all, regardless of immigration status, place of origin, race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability, and income” as I believe these words represent the residents of South King County so well. I am lucky to work hand-in-hand every day with diverse coalitions of community members to make King County – and especially South King County – a welcoming place where all residents are valued and respected.
My friend, Chitra Hanstad from World Relief Seattle, was on the line to receive the proclamation and spoke eloquently and passionately about her own experience immigrating to America and her work to ensure that same positive experience for the Afghan refugees her organization is currently helping relocate.
Working Together For Our Students
This week, I met with the Renton Schools Foundation and Renton Schools Superintendent Damien Pattenaude to discuss the challenges students have faced over the last eighteen months and brainstorm ways the County could support them as they start a new academic year. Joining me in this conversation was one of my team members, Shaunice Wilson, who serves as my Community Engagement Manager and also just happens to be a proud Renton schools alum!
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 [email protected].
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
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