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State Tourism Industry Convenes In Seattle October 11-13 2022

Seattle Tourism

First in-person conference in more than ten years features Rick Steves keynote, hot industry issues and regional roundtables; Summit on responsible outdoor travel gathers state thought leaders

SEATTLE (October 4, 2022) – Washington’s tourism industry will hold its first in-person state tourism conference in more than ten years, attracting professionals from across the state, October 11–12 at the Seattle Airport Hilton Hotel in SeaTac. Following the conference, on October 13, the inaugural Responsible Outdoor Travel Summit will take place at Bell Harbor International Conference Center on the Seattle waterfront.

Both events are hosted by State of Washington Tourism, Washington’s official destination marketing and management organization.

State of Washington Tourism Conference

The State of Washington Tourism Conference is a highly anticipated opportunity for a beleaguered industry to meet and plan its future. Tourism was among the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic and continues to struggle with workforce challenges.

Following the 2011 closure of the state tourism office, the industry worked for years to reestablish a statewide tourism program, ultimately establishing a foothold for State of Washington Tourism just before facing the global pandemic.

The conference will open with a welcome from Washington Governor Jay Inslee and feature a keynote address by public television presenter Rick Steves on the future of travel.

The conference presentations and panel discussions will include the following:

  • The state of travel, from national research experts
  • Plans to rejuvenate international travel for Washington
  • State destination brand and consumer marketing opportunities
  • New community short-term rental regulations
  • The shared value of tourism among visitors and locals
  • Tourism workforce solutions
  • SEA flight service and capacity update
  • A national update on travel infrastructure, security and border crossing

Responsible Outdoor Travel Summit

The first Responsible Outdoor Travel Summit, October 13 at Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, will convene state and national thought leaders in travel, outdoor recreation and conservation to discuss the role of responsible travel in protecting Washington’s ecologically and culturally sensitive assets and enhancing traveler and host experiences.

The summit is presented by State of Washington Tourism with initiative and foundational support from the Port of Seattle. The two organizations have worked in partnership toward tourism industry recovery, with a strategic emphasis on responsible travel. The summit is intended to spark greater collaboration and commitment from each organization and participants.

Presenters will include representatives from REI, Expedia, Alaska Airlines, Mt. Rainier National Park, the office of Governor Jay Inslee, the Washington Trails Association, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Snoqualmie Tribe, the Tulalip Tribes, the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau, AFAR magazine and the Washington State House of Representatives.

The keynote address will be given by Jeremy Sampson, CEO of the Travel Foundation, an international sustainable tourism organization dedicated to ensuring that tourism has a positive impact on destinations. Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz will offer opening remarks, and Teresa Hillis of Expedia will present data related to the growth of responsible travel.

Presentations and panel discussions will address the following topics:

  • Managing tourism volumes in communities and on public land
  • Improving the recreational user experience
  • Inclusion and representation in outdoor recreation
  • Travel media panel discussion
  • Summit closing conversation and next steps for Washington

About State of Washington Tourism

State of Washington Tourism (the recently rebranded Washington Tourism Alliance) is a 501(c)(6) organization established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission of developing and sustaining Washington State destination tourism marketing. SWT procures and administers funds for state destination tourism marketing activities and creates and implements the strategic statewide destination marketing plan. Visit the destination website at or the tourism industry site at

Bloodworks Northwest Unveils New Donation Center in Renton, Serving South Seattle Communities

Bloodworks Renton Location Now Open

Located directly across from Bloodworks’ processing lab, the new location will create better efficiencies between the two facilities by delivering blood within minutes.

SEATTLE (September 21, 2022) – Bloodworks Northwest has opened a new blood donation center in Renton in place of its previous one in Tukwila. The new center is located in Time Square Business Park at 660 SW 39th Street #100, directly across the street from Bloodworks’ testing and processing lab and two blocks from IKEA. This convenient location will provide better efficiencies between the two facilities and allow for faster processing times. The goal of the new, vibrant, modern donation center is to attract younger donors and serve the region.

               The Bloodworks Renton Donor Center will operate seven days a week and increase the number of available donor beds by 10%. As a result, Bloodworks expects to collect more than 18,000 donations at the new center in the next year. The organization provides 95% of the blood supply to hospitals in Western Washington and Oregon, including nearby Valley Medical Center. It takes approximately a thousand people each day to provide a safe and reliable blood supply for those in need of transfusions for cancer, trauma, and surgeries in the Pacific Northwest.

               “We are thrilled to bring a bigger and better donation center to our community,” said Bloodworks Northwest President and CEO Curt Bailey. “Blood donation is vital to the health and well-being of our community. Our new donor center in one of Washington’s ten largest cities will make it easier for people to donate blood, encouraging them to step up and save lives.”

               Bloodworks is also trying to make the experience more donor friendly, with an outlet for cell phone charging behind every bench. There will also be free parking, and the center is near shopping outlets and freeways.

               “We wanted something close to our center in Tukwila, which closed in August after 52 amazing years, but also looked at the possibility of adding some efficiencies by being located right across from our lab space,” said Executive Vice President of Blood Services Vicki Finson. “Traffic delays in getting blood processed can be a concern. A unit of blood donated at the new Renton Donor Center will now be in our laboratory within minutes and starting its journey toward helping a patient in need. We look forward to our loyal Tukwila center donors following us 1.2 miles to our new location in Renton and welcoming many new donors as we grow.”

               The new donor center will also facilitate employee training of blood collection specialists since it is directly connected to the Bloodworks Northwest Training Suite. It’s also just steps away from the mobile hub, from which staff and mobile collection vehicles are drawn for blood drives within an approximately 50-mile radius.

               On September 29 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Bloodworks Northwest will have a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new donation center. President and CEO Curt Bailey, Executive Vice President of Blood Services Vicki Finson, Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone, Renton City Councilmember Ed Prince, and CEO Valley Medical Center Jeannine Grinnell will be on-site to celebrate the occasion, as will local blood recipient Mack Bell, who owes his life to transfusions from donors in his fight with a deadly condition called aplastic anemia.

               To book a donation appointment at the new Renton Donor Center, please call 800-398-7888 or schedule online at

About Bloodworks Northwest

Bloodworks Northwest is backed by 75 years of Northwest history and 250,000 donors. It is local, nonprofit, independent, volunteer-supported and community-based. A recognized leader in transfusion medicine, Bloodworks serves patients at hospitals in Washington, Oregon and Alaska — partnering closely with local hospitals to deliver the highest level of patient care. Comprehensive services include blood components, complex cross-matching, specialized lab services for organ transplants, care for patients with blood disorders, and collection of cord blood stem cells for cancer treatment. Bloodworks Research Institute performs leading-edge research in blood biology, transfusion medicine, blood storage and treatment of blood disorders. Patients with traumatic injuries, undergoing surgeries or organ transplantation, or receiving treatment for cancer and blood disorders all depend on our services, expertise, laboratories and research. Blood donation appointments can be scheduled at

Teachers In Seattle Vote To Suspend The Strike After Reaching ‘Tentative Agreement’ With School District

Seattle Teachers Strike

The school year was supposed to start Sept 7th, however, the strike continues to be extended. That maybe over, however, as the teachers and the school district have reached a “tentative agreement”. 

Washington state’s largest school district, Seattle Public Schools, announced late Monday it had reached a tentative agreement with Seattle Education Association on its educators’ contract. This comes as great news for many families as they try to get back to work and in the office.

Seattle Schools released a statement, acknowledging the tentative agreement but not really saying much on the matter according to ABC News, “For now, the details of the tentative agreement are confidential”. The Emerald City Journal was disappointed by all parties and the lack of transparency. The newspaper responded late Tuesday, “We go through this exercise just about every year and these are the employees we pay for with our taxes. They all work for us and they should all do their jobs better to represent the public. That includes all parties involved. If this was any other business, a lot of people would be shown the door and honestly, there are 100’s of others who would step up to replace them. Over time we’ve created a system that is poorly operated and not sustainable. The educational system has been ruined with privileged characters all protected by agreements, rules, bargaining parties, and the union. We will go through this again soon.”

On Tuesday, union members voted on whether to lift the strike. Among 78% of those voting, 57% approved a motion to suspend the strike, according to the union’s Twitter feed. School is expected to start on Wednesday.

As of late Monday night, the union was “excited” to have reached a tentative deal.

It was an “incredible effort” by both sides to reach an agreement, the school district stated.

All this comes, while today, the Dow dropped 1200 points devastating the financial savings across the country. It marks the worst drop since June 2020. Families are struggling to put food on their tables and inflation continues to run wild. Biden and the White House threw an ‘inflation reduction’ celebration with James Taylor on the South Lawn. Nothing to see here…. everything is going just great!

Photo by Peffs

Sue Bird Announces Her Retirement from the WNBA in Her Farewell Game

Seattle Storm Basketball

After 21 years in the WNBA, Sue Bird has finally retired. The Seattle Storm’s season came to an end Tuesday when they lost 97–92 to the Las Vegas Aces in the Western Conference Finals. In her farewell game, Sue Bird told the Seattle crowd, “I hope I did everybody proud.”

With her retirement, she leaves the WNBA with the record for most assists in a single postseason. She contributed 46 assists and committed only six turnovers in six postseason games in 2022. In her last game on Tuesday, she scored eight points and sent out eight assists. On-court recognition for the 41-year-old guard was given by the Storm and the Aces, with cheers from the crowd.

Speaking to a reporter after the game, Bird said, “Obviously, I am quite grateful for my twenty years at this institution. That place holds so many wonderful memories for me, and I’m going to miss it terribly when I go. I’m not leaving, but I’m going to miss it. It’s been a privilege to suit up for this team and represent these supporters.”

Bird spent her entire professional basketball career with the Seattle club, where she helped lead the Storm to four WNBA championships. After the final game in 2021, the same supporters who chanted “One more year!” now greeted her with “Thank you, Sue!”

When questioned about what she would like to leave behind, Bird stated she wants the Storm to keep winning and playing at the high level they set during her tenure. She hoped the incoming point guard could continue the team’s winning ways and sustain its championship status for the sake of the fans.

At first, Bird followed her colleagues off the court, but then she changed her mind. After the game, she stayed on the floor to be embraced by the Aces’ entire squad and coaching staff. As Bird greeted the fans and made her way to the locker room, the spectators stayed on their feet.

“I genuinely did not wish to leave the court,” Bird said. “At first, I just followed since it seemed that was the direction everyone was heading. Still, I wanted to take a minute before leaving to express my gratitude and take it all in, as this is, after all, a positive development. When I think of what we’ve done, I feel a sense of pride. Yes, I’m disappointed, but I’m also glad that I got to share that moment with the fans and hear them chant in such an enthusiastic way. Even if it may not seem like it from the outside, there is a great deal of joy.”

Bird said it seemed “sort of surreal” to have played her last game in the WNBA. Her teammates, notably Breanna Stewart, still are getting used to the thought of life without Bird on the court. Stewart remarked, “As disappointing as it is that we won’t be able to compete for a title this year, I believe what’s more painful is that we won’t be sharing the court with Sue anymore.

We won’t be able to interact with her in any way before or during games, so she won’t even be present during practices. To have it become a reality so suddenly is really painful.” The entire team, however, wished the legendary Sue Bird all the best in her retirement.

Photo: “Seattle Storm victory rally, Westlake Plaza, Seattle, WA” by djwudi

Top 3 Candidates for the Seattle Police Chief Post Announced by Mayor Harrell

Seattle Police

Seattle’s hunt for a new police chief, which began over two years after the prior chief retired, has narrowed down to three contenders, two of whom are already employed by the department. Seattle Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz, Seattle Deputy Chief Eric Greening, and Tucson Deputy Chief Kevin Hall were named as the three contenders for Seattle’s permanent Chief of Police by Mayor Bruce Harrell.

Chief Carmen Best stepped down in 2020 following a summer of demonstrations and criticism of the police force, and in the meanwhile, interim Chief Adrian Diaz has been in charge.

Out of 15 applicants provided to a search committee this spring, the three finalists—Diaz, Eric Greening, assistant chief of police in Seattle, and Kevin Hall, assistant chief of police in Tucson, Arizona—have been chosen.

While making the announcement, Mayor of Seattle Jim Harrell said, “Our national selection procedure has placed community voices at the center to discover what priorities and values Seattle citizens want to see in the new police chief.”

Following this thorough procedure, the committee identified three exceptional individuals who possess the experience, education, and character traits necessary to advance the One Seattle vision of a community in which every citizen has the right to feel secure.

“To ensure that our community’s expectations for candidates in terms of accountability, leadership that prioritizes the needs of the community, and creativity are met, our selection committee and evaluators have prioritized those traits in the candidates they have advanced. I am excited to interview and assess these potential hires,” said the city’s mayor.

The appointment of a permanent police chief is governed by a number of provisions in the City Charter. According to the Charter, the mayor must hold a competitive examination to determine the top three candidates for the position of police chief. The City Council must also approve the appointment of this official.

An outside agency was brought in back in April to help with the hunt for a permanent police head by scouring the country for qualified applicants. In order to choose the individuals who would go on to the testing phase, Mayor Harrell formed a search committee comprised of 14 prominent members of the community, including professionals in law enforcement, victim advocates, and others.

The search effort has been greatly aided by input and participation from the local community. In May, seven different language versions of a public poll were made available. The survey findings, from which over 1,300 locals participated, are shown below.

In addition, over the months of July and August, seven community dialogues were organized so that locals could have their say in the search. In July, the Empower Initiative encouraged talks with many communities, including the religious, corporate, immigration, and youth sectors. The Chief job attracted applications from fifteen qualified individuals. The search committee interviewed each candidate and then shortlisted a smaller group to take the exam.

The competitive examination mandated by the charter was given on September 6 and 7 and was overseen by four public safety specialists. All of the committee members agreed that the top three candidates should move on to the mayor’s office. There will be a series of interviews with the candidates, culminating in a question-and-answer session on September 15. The Seattle Channel will be broadcasting the evening event.

Photo by AdamCohn

Ex-Seattle Seahawks Linebacker Shaquem Griffin Has Decided to Retire from the NFL

Seattle Seahawks Football

The NFL’s “real inspiration,” veteran Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin, said he is retiring from the league on Wednesday 25th August 2020.

Griffin is notably remembered as a player who lost his left hand just at age of four as a result of a congenital ailment and later rose through the ranks to become the first one-handed player in NFL history. He was an inspiration to many and a good example of fighting despite the odds life hands you.

Griffin announced this in a message posted to The Players’ Tribune. “It still seems a bit unbelievable, to be honest.

It’s almost unfathomable that, after everything I’ve gone through, after all the hard work and all the naysayers, I’m hanging it up and moving on from football”, Griffin said.

The Rise of Griffin

The league initially took notice of Griffin when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which was the fastest time for any linebacker at the event.

The Seattle Seahawks took the University of Central Florida to commit in the fifth round a year after selecting his brother Shaquill in the third round. After three years and 46 games in the NFL, free agent Griffin was released by the Miami Dolphins.

He went through multiple futile tryouts before telling his agent he was not interested in playing in the NFL unless he could join his brother on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Quite a few individuals won’t like that strategy, I know. So many men are out there putting up long hours and making sacrifices in the hopes of landing some kind of break, and I’m holding them back. In other words, I completely understand. But there’s something you have to know about me,” says Griffin.

So, What’s Next for Griffin?

The free agent, who is 27 years old, has said that he is ending his playing career but staying in the league. In fact, he has joined the NFL Legends Community, a league-run initiative where former players assist current and past players adjust to life after football.

Griffin described it as a place where athletes may get advice and assistance in anything they could be going through or attempting to accomplish, including help with community service projects.

“It’s go time for my backup plan. I am aware of the good I am doing for other people. I give talks on believing in oneself and following your passion wherever I go, from high schools and universities to football clubs and businesses around the country.

Many in the business world are eager to hear my insights, but I have much more to learn from them,” he said.

Many well-known names in football history paid tribute to Griffin. In a tweet, the Seattle Seahawks called Griffin: “A genuine motivation for his teammates” while his brother Shaquill proclaimed him a “true legend” online.

And the NFL said, “Shaquem Griffin proved at the 2018 NFL Combine that there are no limits to human potential. Definitely, someone to look up to. Best wishes for your retirement.”

Photo by “Seattle Seahawk signatures” by samantha.levang is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Seattle Records One of Its Hottest Nights

Hot Melting Ice Cream In Seattle

The National Weather Service reports that the temperature in Seattle was 14 degrees higher than usual between Wednesday night and Thursday 25th August 2022 morning, making it one of the city’s hottest nights on record.

The overnight high temperature was 71 degrees, making it one of just three nights in the city’s climatic record when the low temperature did not drop below 70. A typical December night in Seattle had lows of 57 degrees.

Research showed that by the end of the century, increasing nighttime temperatures in three Asian nations might raise the death rate by up to 60%.

The warm night in the Pacific Northwest metropolis follows this trend. The authors of this study claim to have conducted the first analysis of how warmer evenings caused by climate change can affect death rates.

Deaths attributed to abnormally warm overnight temperatures make up the bulk of that rate. The body’s natural cooling mechanisms at night may be disrupted by an increase in temperature, which can have a negative impact on sleep quality and, in turn, the immune system.

The authors of the research found that this may increase the risk of getting cardiovascular disease, chronic diseases, inflammation, and mental health difficulties.

So Why Do Some Neighborhoods Experience Higher Temperatures Than Others

It has been found that the less affluent residents in the Seattle region are disproportionately affected by the heat.

Like in most parts of the country, low-income communities are disproportionately concentrated in urban cores where there are fewer trees, more paved surfaces, towering buildings, vast industrial parks, and major highways.

Thursday is expected to be hot, with a high of 90 degrees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, however, the heat will be dispersed over King County.

According to Edgar Frank, political director of the Burlington-based independent farmworker union Familias Unidas por la Justicia, income is a major determinant of who swelters in the Washington heat and who gets to enjoy mild summer days.

Workers in hot environments, such as those in agriculture and the fast food industry, are particularly vulnerable to heat problems. It’s more uncommon for low-income tenants to have air conditioning in the Pacific Northwest due to the region’s restricted access to residential cooling systems.

“This gets back to discrimination and who gets hit the hardest by climate and environment injustice,” Frank added. Maria Batayola, an environmental justice coordinator at Seattle-based charity El Centro de la Raza, noted that not everyone in Beacon Hill can afford to buy air conditioners and fans.

The Need for Long-term Climate Solutions

Batayola added that to keep cool for cheap, locals may do things like drape thick bed sheets or bright aluminum foil over their windows. Last year, Washington State increased its energy assistance program to cover the cost of air conditioning for low-income people.

More long-term climate resilience initiatives, including parks with plants and community halls with air conditioning, are necessary for marginalized populations that have been historically underinvested.

According to a study of 108 U.S. cities published in the scientific journal Climate in 2020, redlined regions consistently had higher average surface temperatures than non-redlined locations, sometimes by as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to a 2019 NPR study of surface thermal data from NASA and U.S. Geological Survey satellite photography from summer days in the previous decade, the temperature gap between the city’s coolest and warmest districts in Seattle might reach as high as 14.5 degrees.

Heat and wealth in Seattle were shown to have a modest relationship, according to NPR. On the same day when Georgetown saw 98.1 degrees of heat, people in Magnolia, where the typical household income is roughly $217,900, endured about 84.4 degrees, NPR reported.

Photo by “Bombs Away! A melting Bomb Pop on a sidewalk means one thing….hot weather! And maybe also a crying child.” by Lorie Shaull is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

5 Fun Things to Do in Seattle This August

Seattle Things To Do

Summer in Seattle is the perfect time of year to visit or be in the Emerald City. You can enjoy outdoor activities in moderate weather at this time of the year.

Whether it is strolling around the city’s attractions and parks or traveling to nearby state and national parks or attending a food or music concert, Seattle has you covered.

To get you started, here are a few of the many fun things happening in Seattle this August!

  1. Attend the “Day In Day Out” Festival

Enjoy three days of funky music performances from prominent musicians at the Day In Day Out Festival. Throughout the event, artists will perform in unison on a single stage.

Keynote performers at the Fisher Pavilion will include The National, Mac DeMarco, Mitski, and Animal Collective among others. The festival runs from August 12 to 14 at the Seattle Center.

  • Aerial Shows at the Arlington SkyFest

Attend the Arlington SkyFest to see hundreds of drones synced in a breathtaking show of aerial acrobatics and aerobics.

Walk around and eat from food trucks or check out military equipment on exhibit well before light shows begin. Additionally, there will be a children’s area that includes play activities and simulations.

At the start of this three-day event on Friday night, campers will have access to the campsites, which include entertainment and activities.

Come enjoy a family-friendly movie, a historic car exhibition, and aerial displays of drones, balloons, and planes in the skies this coming Saturday! Free aircraft flights will be available for children ages 8 to 17 on Sunday throughout the afternoon festivities, including face painting.

No tickets will be given out at the door for this event. In order to make the most of your tailgating spot, you should bring lawn chairs with you when you buy tickets.

  • Gigantic Bicycle Festival in 2022

Gigantic Bicycle Festival has us rethinking our transportation options every summer. When your bike ride is over, you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of activities like music and art exhibits as well as outdoor movies and camping during the festival. You may also simply get behind the wheel.

Superchunk and Black Belt Eagle Scout will be among the artists performing in honor of the bicycle, the region’s most popular mode of public transportation. The Gigantic Bike Festival happens on August 12 and 13 at the Centennial Fields Park.

  • Emerald City Comic Con

Emerald City Comic Con, the largest local comic convention of the year, is where geeks from all over save their most creative costumes.

The four-day festival is packed to the brim with seminars, meetings, special events, parties, and a ton of visitors lounging out in the artist lane. It all happens from August 18 to 21st at the Seattle Convention Center.

  • Chomp!

The 2022 Chomp is happening on August 20 at Marymoor Park, Redmond. This free event will have a farmer’s market, educational seminars on the environment and sustainability an upcycled items market from local craftsmen, zucchini races, a petting zoo, and much more. It’s also worth noting that the Drive-By Truckers are coming.

There’s Everything for Everyone!

The cool summer weather may seem like it’s just getting started, but that’s exactly why you should make the best of its late arrival and the previous July heatwave. If you’re a music fan, a gamer, a wine enthusiast, a film fan, or a combination of the above, Seattle has something for you in August.

Why Are Seattle’s Public Parking Lots Now Dominated by Illegally Installed Concrete Blocks?

Georgetown Seattle Hats and Boots

A considerable amount of Georgetown’s public parking is now obstructed by enormous, 6-foot-long slabs of concrete.

The blocks, which are frequently referred to as “ecology” or “eco” blocks, have been unlawfully and anonymously erected by individuals who want to prohibit RVs from parking directly in front of their residences or businesses.

RV residents are concentrated in a handful of neighborhoods in Seattle since large RVs are not allowed to park overnight in areas designated for industrial use.

Following the suspension of parking enforcement by the city of Seattle during the pandemic, ecological blocks have increased in Georgetown, Sodo, and Ballard in the last two years.

Now that parking enforcement has returned, those living in their cars face penalties and the potential loss of their shelter. However, there is essentially little enforcement of the increasing number of eco-blocks.

Disproportionate Enforcement

Eco blocks cannot be placed on public roadways, walkways, or parking spots. As stated by the Seattle Department of Transportation, ecology blocks “create parking overflow onto nearby streets, obstruct utility access, and create other accessibility or transportation concerns.”

Since June 2021, 25 property and company owners in Seattle who hold hundreds of concrete slabs have been informed that they might face penalties. As stated by the city, the first fine is $250; the second is $500; the third is $1,000. There are no restrictions on how many penalties a person may get in a calendar year.

Some establishments have received second warnings from the government, but no citations have really been imposed. Transportation officials have said that they want to increase enforcement of the 72-hour limit on car parking on the same block.

4,000 tickets have been issued and 2,100 cars have been impounded by the Seattle Agency of Transportation since October. However, the department claims that it did not seize lived-in automobiles until mid-May.

Advocates for the homeless argue that it is unfair for the city to require vehicle dwellers to adhere to parking regulations while allowing companies to prohibit vehicle dwellers from obeying them by using public spaces.

The city reports that determining who is accountable for unlawful eco blocks has been the greatest obstacle in addressing complaints about them. It’s not always evident who paid for the blocks since they’re situated on public roadways and often in the proximity of various residences.

When it comes to ecological blocks, a typical one weighs 1 to 2 tons and costs $20 per unit, making them prohibitively expensive for the city to completely eliminate. The agency states that it only reacts to public complaints about ecological blocks and does not pay for workers to “continuously police the city in search of infractions” as it does for parking offenses.

Why People and Businesses Are Installing the Slabs

According to city officials, blocks were sometimes installed before the epidemic, but have grown over the last year as the city has failed to enforce the 72-hour parking restriction. During this period, RVs remained stationary, amassing garbage and rodents to the chagrin of residents.

RVers have found it increasingly difficult to find free parking due to blockage and a lack of parking signage, and as a result, they are less willing to leave until they are forced to.

Businesses in the Sodo Business Improvement Area are anxious about the safety of their workers or about losing their livelihood if the eco blocks are placed, says Erin Goodman, executive director of the organization.

She said that in many areas of Sodo, RV encampments may attract rodents that put food producers in danger of losing their licenses, and RV fires can harm surrounding structures.

Although the Sodo Company Improvement Area does not advocate breaking local ordinances, Goodman said that business owners are unhappy if they’re threatened with citations.

Measure to Secure Wildland Firefighting Workforce Passes House –Advocates Urge Senate to Act Without Delay to Address Wildland Firefighter Shortages

Wildland Firefighting Workforce Passes House

Washington D.C. – It’s the midpoint of what has proven to be another agonizing wildfire season for communities across the country affected by the ever-increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires. The Washington Post reported recently that a study found 1 in 6 Americans are now exposed to “significant” wildfire risk. Against the backdrop of an ongoing crisis, the passage of The Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act (H.R. 5118) led by Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO) is a reason to hope. 

The measure that passed the U.S. House, mostly along party lines, would raise the minimum basic pay for federal wildland firefighters to that of a GS-6 ($17.71/hr) and allow for seven days of mental health leave annually. The legislation moves to the Senate, where advocates are urging members to act without delay. 

“Senators must know that wildland firefighters and constituents in their states need them to move this measure to a vote. Without raising the starting wage for wildland firefighters, we’ll continue to see an acceleration in attrition. Agencies will not be able to recruit quality people essential to do this complex and dangerous job. At a time when wildfires are increasing in frequency, intensity, and duration, causing greater destruction, we also need mental health support for the first responders tasked with the heavy burden of loss of life and property. Senators must assign this bill to committee and get it to the floor for debate. Your delay will signal to wildland firefighters that equitable pay is inconsequential said Kelly Martin, President of Grassroots Wildland Firefighters. 

The most destructive period of California’s wildfire season is now underway, and with about 25% fewer firefighters to respond to these emergencies, communities and firefighters brace themselves for the worst. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, that shortage translates to nearly 1,300 unfilled jobs. Meaning increased risk to the remaining first responders and decreased ability to protect life and property. 

For decades, federal wildland firefighters have been paid a fraction (think 50% or less) of what their state and municipal counterparts earn. They also battle work-related mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, and the rate of death by suicide among firefighters is rising, outpacing line-of-duty deaths. Many of the reforms outlined in The Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act (H.R. 5118)are components of the Tim Hart Pay Parity and Classification Act (H.R. 5631), considered by many wildland firefighters to be the most robust and comprehensive solution introduced into Congress to date. Advocates of this bill will continue to work with Congressional members like Representative Joe Neguse, who understand the scope and urgency of the issues at hand. Grassroots Wildland Firefighters beseech Congress to act on HR 5118 and Tim’s Act with the urgency with which firefighters defend our communities.

Photo by “Dragon’s Breath at Firefighter School” by Lance Cheung is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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