Fire Response Petition Update

Thanks to the support of 887 community members who signed the White Center Fire Response Petition, the 6 petition items are areas of work for community members to consider when holding one-on-one discussions on allocation of the $2M economic recovery funds.


Some of our community demands that included specific dollar amounts have been granted but are still in need of follow-up by White Center staff organizers and community members.

On October 8, 2021 White Center small business owners and WCCDA organizers asked elected officials to a Fire Response Community Action Meeting, demanding the 6 petition items below. In response, Councilmember McDermott wrote the following amendment:

“The use of the $2 million economic recovery funds for more than just business grants and include general economic recovery work targeting White Center. This flexibility of the funds will allow potential strategies to be funded in coming months that will emerge from additional experience and feedback from the community. The $2 million economic recovery funds targeting White Center, some of which can be used for direct grants for small businesses while the rest of it can be used as strategies and plans identified by community members. In addition to this $2M amendment that passed through council, Council member McDermott also put forward two items for inclusion to the county budget, $175,000 additional overtime funds for King County Sheriff Office to add late night patrols in White Center and $100,000 to Department of Local Services to hire a person to provide fire victims with one-on-one support.”

PETITION DEMAND UPDATES AS OF 2/28/22:

COMMUNITY DEMAND #1: HIRE PRIVATE SECURITY FOR 8 HOURS OVERNIGHT, 7 DAYS A WEEK, TO BE FUNDED BY KING COUNTY. INVEST $175,000 PER YEAR INTO THE COMMUNITY, TARGETING FIRE DAMAGED AREAS IMMEDIATELY. OGANIZING RESULTS:

  • In collaboration with the Executive, Council Member Joe McDermott put forward $175,000 additional overtime funds for KCSO to add late night patrols in White Center. This amount would authorize up to 2,000 hours of patrol time for White Center.

  • White Center Community Development staff organizers are working to develop an implementation plan with relationship building, patrol results and clear budget at the center of discussions with community leaders, pushing for greater community accountability and transparency of our local overtime Deputies and Major Hodgson.

  • A meeting called by Major Hodgson in coordination with Department of Local Services (DLS) for January 28, 2021 at 1:00 was held, small business owners who attended communicated safety issues and concerns. Major Hodgson has committed to having consistent community meetings with businesses on an ongoing bases.

COMMUNITY DEMAND #2: $2M EMERGENCY RELIEF FUNDING FOR BUSINESS DISTRICT REBUILDING AND GRANTS TO SMALL BUSINESSES, ESPECIALLY TO THOSE WITH NO TO LIMITED INSURANCE COVERAGE, $25,000 GRANTS.

COMMUNITY DEMAND #3: BUSINESSES WHO DO NOT HOLD OR HAVE MINIMAL INSURANCE COVERAGE SHOULD AUTOMATICALLY BE QUALIFIED FOR A MINIMUM OF $25,000 IN EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE IMMEDIATELY. ORGANIZING RESULTS:

  • $2M has been granted

  • A portion of the $2M can be allocated for direct small business grants AND can be used towards rebuilding strategies and plans identified by the community.

  • The White Center CDA organizers are leading and working with the Department of Local Services (DLS) to implement a timely community-led process to solidify allocations to rebuild thoughtfully. One-on one allocation conversations will take place with:

  • White Center small business owners and property owners directly impacted by the fires

  • White Center small business leaders who have advocated for these funds and are connected to the commercial core work of the White Center Business Alliance (WCBA). Contact Mia McFarland at Mia@wccda.org for more WCBA information.

  • Community based organizations active in the White Center Commercial Core

All conversations will be collected and compiled and shared back to the community. There will be a way for the broader community to provide feedback as well once the above conversations take place and are summarized. COMMUNITY DEMAND #4: CREATE A TASK FORCE OF PROFESSIONALS, AVAILABLE DAILY, ON A DROP-IN BASIS TO HELP FIRE VICTIMS NAVIGATE SYSTEMS AND RELATIONSHIPS. PROVIDE 1:1 ASSISTANCE (SALVAGE ASSISTANCE, NAVIGATING INSURANCE AND PERMITTING PROCESSES, ASSESSING REBUILDING OPTIONS, FUNDING, RE-ENTRY ETC.) UNTIL THE BUSINESS IS ABLE TO RE-ENTER AND RESUME REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS AT FULL CAPACITY IMMEDIATELY. PROVIDE DELIVERY OF ASSISTANCE IN VIETNAMESE AND SPANISH. ORGANIZING RESULTS:

  • $100,000 in general fund dollars were granted to support the economic development position that Department of Local Services (DLS) has established. These general fund dollars will allow those individuals to focus on fire related recovery efforts for White Center businesses specifically.

  • With Hugo Garcia initially addressing fire victim issues, Michael Morales has been hired by DLS to focus on direct support to all fire victims. Hire was made at the beginning of 2022. He is currently reaching out and assisting businesses where needed. Michael is bilingual English/Spanish. Vietnamese assistance is currently not available.

  • White Center CDA staff continue to reach out and listen to community members on fire response work and other relevant commercial core work. WCCDA continue to build narratives with an anti-racist, anti-displacement lens, pushing for economic equity and institutional accountability, holding up community voices and tracking progress and setbacks

COMMUNITY DEMAND #5: BUILD TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY BETWEEN COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT. PROVIDE DETAILS OF ALL DEPUTY DUTIES IN WHITE CENTER DURING 2017-2020 AND BUDGETS FOR WHITE CENTER PATROL. ORGANIZING RESULTS:

  • A meeting called by Major Hodgson in coordination with Department of Local Services on January 28, 2021 at 1:00 was held. Small business owners identified the need for all Deputies who work in White Center, especially those Deputies working overtime were encouraged to meet White Center business owners and foster relationships. Organizers are working to foster new connections between LEAD and sheriffs as well as demanding diversion approaches and tools be used by sheriffs (still a work in progress)

  • White Center CDA is focused on reviewing King County Sheriff Office Budgets for 2022 with community leaders, aiming to review and compare how additional funds and additional overtime hours work with existing and past budgets with existing and past patrol hours.

COMMUNITY DEMAND #6: FUND A POSITION TO HELP FILL VACANT PROPERTIES IN WHITE CENTER, HELPING PROSPECTIVE BUSINESSES WITH FINDING THE RIGHT SPACE AND LOCATION, SUPPORT EXISTING BUSINESSES GOING THROUGH LEASE RENEWALS OR RE-LOCATION, ASSIST PROPERTY OWNERS IN FINDING QUALITY BUSINESSES THAT ARE A GOOD FIT FOR THEIR BUILDINGS AND ARE COMPLIMENTARY TO THE EXISTING BUSINESS MIX AND CULTURE OF THE WHITE CENTER DISTRICT. ASSIST DEVELOPERS THAT ARE REHABILITATING OR DEVELOPING BUILDINGS WITH RETAIL SPACE DESIGN, PRICING AND TENANTING, CONVERSATIONS FOCUSED ON FILLING COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES. ORGANIZING RESULTS:

  • This position has not been funded yet. Some of this work shows up in King County, DLS positions who are in contact with some property owners, but there isn’t one dedicated person focused on this work currently. We see the relationship work and support of White Center Property Owners as key to stabilizing and resisting displacement of our BIPOC small businesses. This focus on property owner and tenancy work will assist us with going beyond stabilization of BIPOC businesses but will give us more avenues to grow the presence and square footage of BIPOC small businesses and others in the core.

As you can see the work still continues - we will keep you all involved as we move forward. The fight is not over just yet.
- Economic Development Team
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