By Sarah Brusig
The Kent City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022 was called to order at approximately 7:05 p.m. In attendance were Kent Mayor Dana Ralph, Kent City Council President Bill Boyce and Councilmembers Brenda Fincher, Satwinder Kaur, Marli Larimer, Zandria Michaud, and Toni Troutner. Councilmember Les Thomas was not in attendance.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
The meeting opened without changes to the agenda. Karena Cazares was appointed to the Human Services Commission and February 2022 was proclaimed Black History Month.
Councilmember Boyce commented on the many accomplishments by Black Americans. A few notable feats included the ironing board, the first home security system, the hair straightener, and the electric microphone.
Noted community events in the Kent area are games by the Seattle Thunderbirds, the Awaken Music Festival and other offerings at the ShoWare Center. Spotlight tickets are available at www.kentwa.gov.
Public safety was at the top of the conversation Tuesday night with Police Chief Rafael Padilla offering that year-end homicide stats were 14 in 2021 – up from eight in 2020. Of those cases, 11 have been completely resolved. Higher than national clearance rate on homicides with 85 percent vs. 51 percent. Eleven of the 14 homicides resulted with the victims dying of gunshot wounds; 1 stabbed; 2 aggravated assault; and 2 domestic violence-related.
Public assistance is still needed to help resolve the May 16, 2021 shooting at the Babylon Hookah Bar (306 Washington Ave. S.). As we previously reported, the victim, 29-year-old Dante Green, was shot to death. The man who attempted to help Green was shot two times and fled the scene. Anyone with information should contact the tips line at (253) 856-5808. Callers may choose to remain anonymous.
The second case under active investigation occurred at 420 Alderlane on June 20, 2021. Then 28-year-old Antoine Nelson was found in his vehicle on the side of the road. A good samaritan discovered Nelson and took him to the hospital where he later died. Anyone with information should contact the tips line at (253) 856-5808. Callers may choose to remain anonymous.
Chief Padilla next offered highlights from the “2021 Year End King County Firearm Violence Report” (a.k.a. the “Shots Fired Report”) available for download at kingcounty.gov/gunviolencedata. In King County, shooting fatalities were up 64 percent in 2021 over the five-year average at 88 victims, non-fatal shootings were up 54 percent at 372, and there were 17 more fatal victims and 102 non-fatal victims than in 2020.
Officer Padilla presented that racial breakdown of victims confirmed “many years of consistent data” indicating that “our BIPOC community members are victims of gun violence more than their white counterparts.” Black community members represented “48 percent of all the victims from gunshot wounds” in King County in 2021. “We’ve seen that trend for several years now,” Padilla added.
The Kent Police Academy is open for registration with the new program running Apr. 15 through June 14, 2022. Additional information is available at https://www.kent.edu/policeacademy.
The next item on the agenda included the six-year transportation plan for the region, which Mayor Ralph reminded is up for public comment. Ralph offered social media as a viable option to become involved in the trajectory. She then thanked Lowe’s Home Improvement on Pacific Highway for assisting with materials and volunteers in graffiti removal in the area.
CITY COUNCIL RETREAT
Chief Administrative Officer Derek Matheson next mentioned the Kent City Council 2022 retreat where topics on the agenda included the budget, climate issues, discussion around police, housing, and additional topics. Matheson said his team is close to launching their first-ever public facing performance dashboard with over 30 mechanisms to track Kent City Council goals.
Councilmember Boyce spoke about “increasing diversity in the hiring process” and said he was pleased with the Parks Department regarding the open spaces in Kent. The Kent Historical Society was next on Boyce’s report. Boyce read the organization’s mission statement and thanked them for their time compiling data and embracing Kent’s history.
Councilmember Michaud spoke next on the Parks and Human Services Committee, including an update on human services funding, new playground equipment and related matters.
Councilmember Kaur offered a brief update on the Clean Buildings incentive program.
Councilmember Larimer spoke about the King County Aging and Disabilities Advisory Council where the group endoflifewa.org offered a presentation on methods to help “streamline the paperwork involved with advance directives and living wills.” Larimer also serves on the Affordable Housing Committee and said the group approved their working plan for 2022 and have set initiatives to track, measure and monitor affordable housing units.
Councilmember Troutner provided an update on the Economic Community and Development Committee. The Committee approved County-wide planning policies for growth management and planning guidelines. The Regional Transit Committee will next meet Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. Troutner thanked pandemic partners for helping more than 408,000 people receive access to COVID testing and over 89,000 vaccinations with more than 5,000 serviced via mobile units.
Ccuncilmember Fincher provided an update on the traffic box murals, the Centennial Gallery and the Public Works Committee, including the Storm and Surface Water Utility Ordinance. “If you’re at home, wipes do not go down the drain…even though the wipes say they are flushable, they are not flushable. Do not flush wipes… Nothing but toilet paper down the drains,” Councilmember Fincher warned. King County Conservation election went largely unnoticed and should be added to the ballot, she said.
There was no public hearing and no public comment at the Feb. 15 Kent City Council meeting. The Consent Agenda was adopted unanimously. The Council also voted unanimously to extend the contract for Avenue 55 LLC until the Mar. 22, 2022 meeting. The Chestnut Ridge Park contract in the amount of $464,622 including Washington state sales tax was awarded unanimously to Key Peninsula Construction.
With no Executive Session, the Kent City Council meeting was adjourned.