Seattle releases environmental justice and equitable development plan for the Duwamish Valley

Seattle (June 27) – Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan released the Duwamish Valley Action Plan, setting forth a series of actions and strategies to expand economic opportunity, make environment progress and increase investments in the South Park and Georgetown communities. The plan is the result of an 18-month process that engaged City staff, residents, workers, and businesses of the Duwamish Valley to create a framework that reflects their priorities. The plan will be used to guide the City’s work and investments for years to come.

“We are taking another important step together toward realizing the community’s vision of a more inclusive, equitable, and vibrant Duwamish Valley. As a City, we are standing together to say we will do more with a plan that brings together the community’s vision for economic opportunity and environmental progress with a plan for making it real,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “From the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund to the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps to the South Park Merchants Association to the Latino Community Fund, the City has committed partners in this effort to ensure real economic empowerment, public safety, and a healthier environment in the Duwamish Valley. In all our actions, we will strive to honor the special importance of healing and preserving the ecosystems on the land and in the waterways to the Native people, including the Duwamish Tribe, which gives the Valley its name.”

By applying an environmental justice and racial equity lens, the actions form an environmental justice, equitable development, and anti-displacement strategy that is focused on seven priority areas: Environment, Parks & Open Spaces, Community Capacity, Mobility & Transportation, Economic Opportunity & Jobs, Affordable Housing, and Public Safety. It includes:

  •  50 near-term (0-2 years) actions the City has already taken in South Park and Georgetown from 2016 through early 2018 to address community priorities, show responsiveness, and build trust;
  •  37 mid-term (2-5 years) opportunities, with specific strategies and actions, that the City will begin implementing in 2018; and
  •  5 long-term (5+ years) strategies with bold and ambitious goals related to Anti-Displacement, Workforce Development, Climate Change, Parks & Open Spaces, and Health.

In 2016 and 2017, the City invested approximately $500,000 in actions that advanced or addressed previously identified community priorities. For example, youth capacity building and training related to tree canopy enhancements; de-pave (removing asphalt) and tree planting in industrial areas; and capacity building for an emerging housing and anti-displacement coalition.

Through the efforts of community members and Duwamish Valley Program’s work inventorying City projects and programs, and elevating South Park and Georgetown priorities, approximately $1.5 million were secured in the 2018 budget. Work initiated this year will include asthma prevention; weatherization, plus health measures, in Duwamish Valley homes; temporary improvements and activation of the land-banked South Plaza site; pedestrian and bicyclist safety improvements, including design of a pedestrian and bicycle connection between Georgetown and South Park; support for small merchants; and supporting the growth of the Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition.

Within the next five years, the City is committed to implementing equitable development strategies in partnership with the community, including improving access to affordable housing, jobs, and contracting; and developing strategies to adapt to flood risk and other climate change impacts while helping keep people and businesses in place.

“This action plan represents the hopes, dreams, and wants of our communities in South Park – from our youth, to our immigrant and refugee neighbors, to our small business owners and workers. It truly speaks to our priorities,” said Paulina López, a South Park resident and manager of the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps. “I commend the City for taking such an intentional, collaborative, and comprehensive approach to ensure their efforts and investments yield multiple benefits for years to come.”

The plan is the cornerstone of Seattle’s Duwamish Valley Program, a multi-departmental effort jointly led by Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment and Office of Planning and Community Development to advance the environmental justice and equitable development goals outlined in the Equity & Environment Agenda and Equitable Development Implementation Plan. Focused on the Duwamish Valley neighborhoods of South Park and Georgetown, the program is driven by environmental justice guiding principles, racial equity outcomes, community input, and a commitment to community-led planning.

“I’ve been involved in Georgetown community activism and advocacy efforts for many years. While progress has been slow at times, I’m excited and hopeful for the many changes I’ve seen recently,” said Georgetown resident Marianne Clark, whose family has lived in the neighborhood for five generations and whose father used to fish on the river for sustenance. “The City is working more closely with us to address several issues, including public safety, environment, parks, and more. Georgetown stands ready to work with the City to improve our beloved neighborhood!”

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