Harrell proposes legislation to crack down on vacant buildings
Citing a need to reduce the number of fires linked to vacant buildings, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell proposed legislation on Aug. 10 that he says will hold building owners more accountable for the upkeep of empty properties.
There have been 29 vacant building fires that have caused the deaths of three people so far this year, according to the city. At the same point last year, there had only been 19 vacant building fires.
“Fires in vacant buildings can present some of the most dangerous conditions for responding firefighters. The risks are often too great, leaving us to fight these fires defensively,” said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, in a statement.
Between 2021 and 2022, the City said there was a 25% increase in the number of complaints about vacant buildings.
The mayor’s legislation will require vacant buildings to be kept graffiti-free and better fortified, and it will simplify the process for police and fire departments to refer them to a monitoring system.
While Harrell's proposal addresses the maintenance of vacant properties, it does not address their potential use for housing.
From 2020 to 2022, the number of people experiencing homelessness in King County increased by 38%, according to the most recent Point-In-Time count.
Chief Seattle Club opens new transitional housing community in Ballard
Raven Village, a new transitional housing community, officially opened in the Ballard neighborhood on Aug. 11. The community consists of 22 tiny homes, where up to 25 residents will have access to a communal kitchen, restrooms, showers, laundry machines and on-site case management services.
The Chief Seattle Club developed the community and marked its opening with a blessing ceremony attended by local luminaries. Raven Village is meant as a stop-gap when housing stability proves elusive.
“While we work to secure lasting homes for many of our relatives, no matter how long the stay, we work to ensure residents of Raven Village are provided with culturally informed wrap-around services and care that are proven to heighten outcomes for Native people,” said Derrick Belgarde, executive director of the Chief Seattle Club.
New climate study finds over half of Seattle residents live in ‘urban heat islands’
Climate Central researchers found that more than half of Seattle residents live in areas with temperatures up to eight degrees higher than surrounding areas. Known as “urban heat islands,” these areas are much hotter due to their built environment.
For example, on a 95-degree day in rural Washington, people living in Seattle would experience temperatures of about 103 degrees.
Read more of the Aug. 16-22, 2023 issue.