Thursday, June 17, 2021

Safeway: "Masks Are Encouraged For Non-Vaccinated Customers" - Not Required

 

Redmond Safeway, 6/01/2021

This Safeway sign blew me away:  "Masks are encouraged for non-vaccinated customers."  Not required.
 
Subtitle:  "Safeway, Albertsons and Carrs care about the well-being of our Associates, Customers and Neighbors, as well as maintaining a safe and comfortable store enviroment." 

Fine print:  
"This does not apply to children under the age of 2 or those with the following exemptions:  Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disablility that prevents wearing a facecovering that could obstruct breathing or persons who are incapatitated, or otherwise unable to remove a facecovering without assistance.  Persons who are hearing impaired or communiting with a person who is hearing impaired where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication." 

NOTE:  A few weeks ago I was shopping in Costco without a mask when 97% were masked-up. I began to feel uneasy and mildly anxious so masked-up.  It helped.  After that one episode I've had no problems entering an establishment where masks aren't required; in fact I look for them.  I cherish the freedom and happiness from being vaccinated.  I also feel like I'm supporting our businesses.  I was vaccinated on February 20, and for me, all is well.  

-- Bob Yoder, 6/17/2021


Friday, June 11, 2021

City Considers Multi-Family Housing On Avondale

Perrigo Heights wet vaults -- a different development

Next Wednesday the 16th, the Planning Commission will review a multi-family land use proposal (Pier 67) on the westside of Avondale Road, north of 104th Street. 10431 Avondale.  Besides, single family dwellings, I hear senior housing and assisted living of sorts are planned.  This excites me because it brings a diversity of economic segments and household types.  And, the land use doesn't conflict with the character of our Education Hill neighborhoods.

One of my questions is the challenge of ingress and egress at Avondale Road.  Well, I guess if other multi-family complexes can navigate Avondale Road, Pier 67 can too. It's also nice there's a bus stop at 104th and Avondale. Residents could ride scooters to the bus stop right?  

Stormwater runs off the western hills.  Of course, the city requires to keep our stormwater clean.  Thus, Pier 67 will install two "wet vaults" to filter dirty water before it enters Bear Creek.  Pier 67 management are good stewards of our environment.

To make this all work, and bring diversity to this part of Avondale zoning would have to change from 4-dwellings per acre to 12 (or more) dwellings per acre.  The Planning Commission is holding a HEARING, next Wednesday the 16th at 7 p.m.  They're asking for comments on zoning and the neighborhood element. 

Please email your comments to the Planning Commission at:  planningcommission@redmond.gov

--Bob Yoder, 6/11/2021
   Photo, Yoder

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Welcome Cecilia Martinez!

 

Cecilia Martínez-Vásquez
Cecilia Martinez - Redmond's first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager

Redmond, WA – The City of Redmond has named Cecilia Martínez-Vásquez as its first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Manager. Martínez-Vásquez will be leading the new DEI program that will provide citywide leadership to advance Redmond’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals of reflecting the community, engaging in purposeful and accessible community outreach, and providing equitable service delivery and policy-driven outcomes. The DEI Manager will work to achieve these goals by recommending, developing, and implementing strategies, initiatives, and organizational change.  

Redmond, a global city that attracts residents from around the world, is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

“We envision a community where all residents can fully and effectively access city services, influence city policy and direction, and feel a sense of belonging,” says Mayor Angela Birney. “Cecilia brings the experience, education, and vision to lead Redmond towards our vision of being a welcoming and inclusive community for all.”  

Martínez-Vásquez holds dual bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Comparative American Cultures/Ethnic Studies, with a minor in Women’s Studies, from Washington State University, and a Master of Science in Justice and Social Inquiry from Arizona State University. She has worked with many different organizations and individuals on the Eastside and across King County as the Multicultural Center Manager at Shoreline Community College and with the Wrap-Around Services Program at the City of Bellevue.  

Cecilia grew up in the Yakima Valley, the daughter of farmworkers. The experiences of her youth paved the path for social justice-driven equity, diversity, and inclusion work while an undergraduate at Washington State University. Her work, education, and personal experiences have allowed for exposure to many areas of diversity including socioeconomics, culture of poverty, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, ageism, disabilities, and more.  

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Redmond Is Juiced Up On LIME Scooters

double click to enlarge

This picture shows two positives:  1) The scooters are parked next to a wayfinding sign [they need updating] and 2)  Looking closely, you'll see two new, modernized scooters. They are much more inviting than the scuffed LIMES handed down from Seattle.  They look and probably are safer.  I'm 70 with lousy balance yet might even jump on a new one were it not for the sidewalk issues. Oh, and I need a helmet.  

I didn't understand why the City permitted LIME so early when light rail is three years away.  But, now may be a good time to test scooters for usage on the major trails and downtown sidewalks and streets.  LIME is trying to condition and educate us; and to date, it appears few have learned.  

The program looks like a flop; patience is required. I hope to see many more scooters on the roads. I'm confident the City can make a success of it with the right education.  At least LIME is paying for it -- I hope.  

-- Bob Yoder
    6/5/2021
    Photo:  Yoder

Exciting New Redmond Tunnel Opens

 

Move Redmond.org

A new tunnel under SR520  (video) in Redmond "adds some topical flair to the ride and connects the Regional  Trail and Transit System."  

-- Move Redmond, 6/5/2021



Friday, June 4, 2021

Automatic Walk Signals? Or Use your elbow.

 I use my elbow when the city doesn't protect me like this
(double click to enlarge)
..
 This may be the last remaining automatic walk signal installed in the Downtown to "protect" pedestrians from surface COVID. B.Yoder, Photo: Yoder 6/4/2021

"While updated guidelines say that surface transmission is unlikely, people are still applying disinfection protocols to sanitize surfaces in homes. Some people refer to the act of overcleaning as “hygiene theater.” This term suggests that certain sanitation practices exist more as a “show” to ease people’s minds instead of being based in science."  - WebMD


Thursday, June 3, 2021

UPDATED: QFC Grocery Store Lightens COVID Restrictions

Sign at entrance to QFC - Bella Bottega (click to enlarge) 

When President Biden and the CDC announced masks weren't required if you were fully vaccinated, I was both shocked and elated.  Several times in a speech, President Biden merrily explained we can now show our smiles again!  

Voila!  When we returned from a trip to Winthrop (most of the boutiques had restrictions) we discovered  this COVID sign at QFC-Bella Bottega alerting customers:  "Masks not required for fully vaccinated individuals."  Was I smiling! 😃 Thanks President Biden! 

When we were in the store at 6:30 p.m. yesterday it appeared everyone was masked-up. I discussed the new policy with a checker.  He said his vaccination card was on file in the office and he wasn't required by management to mask-up.  But he thought the opening was too early.  

It's amazing  when only six months ago we were told to limit our time there, shop alone, or "pick up."  Grocery stores were some of the most dangerous places to be.  Personally, feel comfortable when not wearing in grocery stores; Costco is a different thing - I felt anxious.

-- Bob Yoder, 6/3/2021 Photo: Yoder



Wednesday, June 2, 2021

UPDATED: Access To Public Records at LWSD Is Non-Transparent


If you can find these links to the District record request form you are very lucky. Expect lots of hunting and pecking.  I finally found someone monitoring the District information page who noted:   

"Here is a direct link to the records request form: https://resources.finalsite.net/images/v1619802830/lwsdorg/e69qjdqq2pw6a2ouo9f4/public-records-request-form.pdf

You can also find a link to the form on the website in our Forms Library:
https://www.lwsd.org/about-us/forms-library#fs-panel-2236 "


The form is misguiding, difficult  and it's not necessary to fill out! Try to write 1-2 lines on the form and you'll see.  The email above the form is sufficient:  publicrecordsrequest@lwsd.org.  


The only way to find the Public Request email is by searching for the form. I asked the Communications Manager to make the public request e-mail visible on their site. No response. The public has the right to know and they shouldn't have to jump around barriers to be informed.  

Mason Effertz

Print Center Supervisor

Public Records Officer

Support Services Center

15212 NE 95th St Redmond, WA 98052

E: meffertz@lwsd.org | P:425-936-1128 | C:323-673-8661


-- Bob Yoder, 6/2/2021


CC:  boardmembers@lwsd.org 



Friday, May 28, 2021

Sammamish River Swallows by Reinke

(l-r) Olive Green Swallow, Barn Swallow

(l-r) Barn Swallow, Olive Green Swallow, Tree Swallow

 "I had never before seen these swallows perch anywhere along the [Sammamish] river, although they can be seen all the time swooping and diving in the air, back and forth along the river, catching insects "on the fly".  - John Reinke, 5/19/2021

Downtown Transit Station Will Have Escalators And Elevators

Description of the station

Light rail coming to downtown in about three years.
Looking west towards Redmond Town Center.


 

UPDATE: Vividly Colored "Bike-Ped" Tunnel Is Complete


The tunnel is now open! Trail users will be treated to a vivid color and design experience as they travel through the newly upgraded tunnel along the SR 520 trail at NE 40th Street. The tunnel also improves safety by moving much of the pedestrian and bicycle traffic away from the vehicle traffic in that area. Do you see the wall tiles? The **entrances are tiled with a rainbow to honor the diversity within Redmond. Councilmember Hank Myers objected, saying the gay population is only a sliver of Redmond's population.

**The rainbow entrances might be related to a bike-ped bridge.

-- Sources: Facebook, 5/28/2021, Bob Yoder, 5/28/2021, Photo, redmond.gov

CORRECTION: It's very possible I'm confusing the tunnel with a pedesrian bridge.


Thursday, May 27, 2021

The City's "Stay Safe Re-opening Plan"

 

Mayor Angela Birney at a ribbon cutting ceremony

A five stage strategy for re-opening city facilities, services, and programs.

The city plans to open city hall for meetings by July 1st. 2021.

The C.O.O. Malisa Files,  Human Resource Director, and the Fire Chief presented Redmond's "Stay Safe Re-opening Plan" at Council's May 27th Study Session.  It was well received, however councilmember David Carson noted he has a hard time speaking through a mask and requested this restriction be removed. Ms. Files said mask removals were a possibility.    

Reported by Bob Yoder, 5/27/2021

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

$631 Million Emergency COVID Budget Approved by King County Council

 Record $631 million emergency COVID budget approved by Council

 A seventh round of emergency funding in response to COVID-19, this time totaling more than $631 million, was approved Tuesday by the King County Council by a vote of 8-1.


The supplemental budget, funded largely by the American Rescue Plan Act, is larger than all previous King County COVID budgets combined and will provide support for a variety of services as King County looks toward recovery from the pandemic and its many collateral impacts. These investments align with the Council’s set priorities around housing stability and homelessness services, food security and access, mental and behavioral health, economic recovery, and workforce support, childcare and access to justice.


“Today we passed the largest supplemental budget in the history of King County. This is transformational — providing support for the mother struggling to provide for her child, for the renter on the edge of eviction, for the business owner getting relief from the new BIPOC economic resiliency fund, for the survivor of sexual assault or gender-based violence seeking justice, and many, many more,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, who is also budget chair. “I appreciate the ambitiousness of Executive Dow Constantine’s budget, and the collaboration of my colleagues in crafting this budget. Our work is not finished but these investments will help us find our way out of this extraordinary challenge.”


The major spending areas include:

  • Community Supports (e.g. food security, rental assistance, etc.)

$255 million

  • Vaccination Efforts including mass vaccination sites

$117 million

  • Public Health Response to the pandemic

$114 million

  • Economic Recovery / Jobs

$67 million

  • County Operations in response to the pandemic

$41 million

  • Arts, Entertainment, Culture and Science

$36 million

King County Vice Chair Votes "No" On $630 million COVID Budget

 Dunn condemns ‘failures’ in passage of more than $630 million COVID budget

 In response to passage Tuesday of the seventh COVID-19 supplemental budget – the largest in county history, topping $630 million – King County Vice Chair Reagan Dunn issued the following statement:


Today I voted no on the seventh COVID-19 supplemental budget because it fails to fund the most basic functions of our County government — criminal justice and public safety. We have heard from the Sheriff’s Office, the Prosecutor’s Office, and sitting judges of the King County Superior and District Courts about the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the criminal justice system’s ability to operate. We are seeing an unprecedented backlog in both violent and non-violent felony cases, an 86% increase in murders, and a significant increase in hate and bias crimes. With the facts before us, the safety of our community is at stake with no relief in sight—and that is unacceptable. We cannot lose sight of our basic job as elected County leaders, and I believe that this budget has.”


-- 5/25/2021

    King County Press Release 

Construction On Redmond's East Link Light Rail Speeds Along

 
As you can see, the station and track are elevated.  The station will likely be located across from the Redmond Town Center @ 166th.  
 

A segment of the 
Redmond Central Connecter Trail runs from Overlake Urgent Care to Redmond Town Center. Some of the light rail track will be installed on this segment.  The controversial ERRATIC outdoor art was installed at this corner and then moved at great expense to a more suitable Leary Way location.  

-- Bob Yoder / report and photos
5/25/2021

Monday, May 24, 2021

Emerald Heights Expansion Approved After Four-Year Battle With Neighborhood HOA

 

Emerald Heights.com

APPELWICK, J. — The City approved permits necessary for construction of a large assisted living residence on Emerald Heights’s retirement campus. The property is zoned R-6. The building would occupy what is presently a greenbelt abutting 176th Avenue NE in Redmond. The City determined that the construction would not have significant environmental impacts, and issued a determination of DNS under SEPA. The HOA of Abbey Road, a community of single-family residences on the other side of 176th Avenue NE, filed a LUPA appeal of the hearing examiner’s determinations to the superior court. The superior court overturned the City’s issuance of a DNS, but reserved ruling on the permit issues. Emerald Heights appeals. The State Appeals Court Division 1 reversed the Superior Court decision on May/24/2021 (and the Emerald Heights project is for all matters approved.)

Thursday, May 20, 2021

UPDATED OPINION, 5/28/2021 Should We Spend $1,450,000 For Police Cameras Next Year?

Internet photo

UPDATED OPINION:  "Redmond Police Chief Darrell Lowe is exploring equipping Redmond officers with both body-worn and in-car cameras and will present a proposal to City Council in June. The cost for equipment and staffing is anticipated to be approximately $815,000 to initiate the program and about $635,000 annually to maintain." The annual camera maintenance expense for each police officer is $7,299.  Total expenses for the first year will be $1,450,000.  

PATCH:  Regarding the deadly 2020 Redmond police shooting of Andrea Churna:

"The Police chief said he had no reason to believe criminal charges would be filed in the shooting."  -- Patch

The chief concludes:

"It is the Prosecutor's Office who will determine if any criminal charges will be filed against any of the officers involved. Based on what limited information I know now, I have no reason to believe this will happen. Therefore, the officers involved were returned to duty after a period of administrative leave which is protocol in these types of incidents. My heart is with Ms. Churna's family and loved ones, as well as my officers and dispatchers involved in this incident. It is a tragedy this incident had to end with a loss of life. I will continue to share updates with our community as more details become available." 

According to Police Chief Darrell Lowe, a poll on the issue is one of the most successful community polls the city has had with more than 1,400 people having taken it so far. A total of 94% of respondents voted "no" to fund cameras.  "One of the most successful community polls?"  Hardly.  The population of Redmond is ~ 65,000.  1378 votes is not statistically significant in our city.  In the final poll the worm turned and ~ 87% of the respondents voted "yes" to not fund cameras.

Council should weigh the cost and define the necessity of body cameras vs. the city budget and community benefits derived without cameras. A few benefits our community could garner without the $635,000 annual expense of  cameras are:   Enhanced mental health training and patrols, enhanced bias training, social workers, community education forums, improved homeless care, meaningful mental health care on the street; drug intervention, sheltering outreach; upgraded SRO resources, fewer levies. As the city grows, council will have the funds to add safety FTEs. Mitigated overtime costs.  I'm sure our Council could identify other benefits.

Redmond is a mostly sleepy town, compared to most other cities. Our police should feel blessed to have a beat here; Chief Lowe has the funds to hire the finest.  Apparently, the  most common crime in Redmond is "smash and dash" vehicular break-ins. Package and mail theft and vandalism are also common.  "The Police chief said he had no reason to believe criminal charges would be filed in the Churna shooting."  I hope Council has the strength to rise above politics and shepherd our city safety funds objectively.

-- Bob Yoder, opinion, 5/20/2021

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Opinion: Did the District Buy a Hazardous Waste Dump?

LWSD property viewed from south along NE 67th St.

When LWSD announced that they were purchasing the 25-acre Cadman site for $40 million, I sent a public records request to the District for documents and information about the purchase.  I got a reply that I would get the information by May 28, 2021.  The district closed on the property on May 6.  It has or is next to a giant pile of construction debris (see picture).

The Bargain and Sales Deed that I found on King County's parcel viewer contains an "Environmental Release" on pages 8-9 that states that there may be hazardous substances on the property.  Page 10 grants a "Noise, Dust and Vibration Easement" to Cadman so that they can still run their gravel operation next door.

It is disturbing that the District agreed to these terms.  It's also disturbing that the District was so secretive about this purchase until a few days before the sale was completed.  Did the District just buy a hazardous waste dump?

-- Susan Wilkins, opinion
    5/19/2021

No, I can't imagine the District would ever build a school over a hazardous waste dump.  B. Yoder
 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

In the Light of the Shining Moon

 

Waxing Gibbous Moon as seen from the Sammamish River Trail ~ 5-fold magnification
Photo by John Reinke, 4/22/2021 : 6.49 p.m.

For those who weren't Boy or Girl Scouts, "waxing" means becoming a full moon. 

I see the moon and the moon sees me,
The moon sees somebody I wanna see
God bless the moon and God bless me:
And God bless that somebody I wanna see.

Clifton Johnson, 1896

Sunday, May 9, 2021

City Allocates $392,000 for Pandemic Relief


On May 4th Council reviewed the 3rd round of federal pandemic funding allocations.  All funds must be allocated towards the prevention, response and preparation of the pandemic.  A total of $392,000 were assigned: 

  • $98,000 for mental health (at Youth Eastside Services.)
  • $47,000 food for senior citizens.
  • $39,000 administration costs for all three rounds.
  • $100,000 for legal services for housing stability and prevention of homelessness
  • $116,000 to Sophia Way for sheltering
$95,000 in food and mental health services may be available under a different plan.

Council will review and make a decision on May 18th, 2021. 

-- Reported by Bob Yoder
    5/9/2021  Image: Internet

UPDATED: Senior and Community Center to Open 2023

Community ribbon heart to memorialize the old Senior Center before demolition  

During the May 4th Council Committee meeting, Parks Director Carrie Hite gave an update on the Senior and Community Center.  The new building will open 2023. It will be at minimum LEED Gold Certified and built to last 50-100 years. Estimated cost is $41 million.  Councilmember Jeralee Anderson asked "if you had unlimited funds where would you spend them?"  Ms. Hite responded: "a buildout of the second floor." 

Staff showed maps of the layout of the spaces.  A list of the spaces on the website, with square footage and descriptions, would  be helpful in understanding the building.

-- Bob Yoder, 5/9/2021 (Internet photo)