South King County Updates for September 2021 

CM Upthegrove Logo & Headshot

Working With Our Community to Welcome Afghan Refugees

Dear Neighbor,

The plight of Afghan citizens forced to flee their country has touched all of us and our South King County community has stepped up to help.

I recently met with Kent Community Partners to discuss how we can all help local immigrant and refugee organizations meet the anticipated needs of incoming Afghanis.

South King County is home to thousands of individuals who have made their way to our community in hopes of a better life.  They have fled war torn countries, dictatorships and inhumane situations and have found, in South King County, a safe and welcoming haven.

We now can offer that same opportunity to those Afghan refugees who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our American soldiers over the last twenty years.  I look forward to welcoming Afghan families to our community and working with the County and our community to ensure that their gut-wrenching decision to flee their homeland was not made in vain.

Afghan Refugee Resettlement Discussion

Meeting with Kent Community Partners to discuss efforts to assist Afghan refugees

The Missing Link: Connecting the Lake to Sound Trail

The King County Council has taken the first step in connecting existing Lake to Sound Trail segments by unanimously approving legislation that would construct an additional 1.8 miles of the trail in SeaTac. The missing link – known as Segment C - of the Lake to Sound Trail will run through both SeaTac and Burien and connect existing trail segments in Tukwila and Renton to the north, and Des Moines to the south.

Connecting Lake Washington to the Puget Sound for walking and biking has long been a priority for King County. By completing Segment C, we are taking an important step in our commitment to make it easier for people to get outside, to create more opportunity for active recreation, and to lessen the health disparities of people in South King County.

Once approved by the full King County Council, King County Parks will undertake construction beginning in the fall of 2021 with project completion expected by the winter of 2022.  The project is partially funded by the 2020-2025 King County Parks and Open Space Levy passed by the voters in 2019 and received the unanimous support of the SeaTac City Council.

The Lake to Sound Trail is a sixteen-mile trail that will eventually link the Puget Sound with Lake Washington and connects the cities of Des Moines, SeaTac, Burien, Tukwila, and Renton.

Des Moines Creek

Dave at the Lake to Sound Trail.

Changing Policy to Meet the Transit Needs of Underserved Communities

As we begin to move out of the pandemic, we are making systemic changes that will create a more equitable King County, and I am proud to be part of that effort as Chair of the Regional Transportation Committee.

The pandemic has further highlighted what we already suspected: that those residents whose work continued during the worst of 2020 – those workers deemed “essential” - largely rely on transit to get them from home to work and back again.

Over the last two years, and in consultation with the community, King County Metro has worked diligently to craft policy documents that will guide transit policy and services moving forward.

A crucial new element to these updates is the prioritization of equity in future transit service delivery. As part of a directive from the King County Council,  Metro has injected an equity lens into these policy documents to help combat decades of underinvestment in communities underserved by transit.

By prioritizing equity, we can ensure service investments will be made in those areas that have either gone without transit access or have been under-served. The focus on equity will also speed up investments in areas where high ridership patterns were strongest during the pandemic.

I believe there has never been a more crucial time to prioritize equity in all aspects of County planning. Leading with equity will help our region grow in a way that centers transit dependent and traditionally underserved communities.

I am committed to hearing from the public in a variety of venues throughout the remainder of the year and I look forward to discussions with constituents and my colleagues as we review and debate these policies.

Tune in on September 15 when I will be co-chairing a special joint Regional Transportation Committee with King County’s Mobility and Environment Committee where we will begin our review and discussion of these  policy updates.

Read more about the Metro policy updates here.

Metro Equity

From Social Isolation to Active Engagement:

Meeting with Local Seniors

Like many of you, when the pandemic first hit, I encouraged my parents to stay home.  I knew how isolating that would be for them but my mother has health issues and my father is blind and I wanted them to stay safe and healthy.  It was a tough decision but it was the right one.

One of the saddest aspects of the last 18 months is knowing that our seniors - many of whom were already living lives lacking social interaction – were becoming even more isolated from family and friends.  Research has clearly shown a link between social isolation and an increased risk of physical and mental conditions in seniors, so as part of the County’s COVID relief efforts, we provide supports to help keep our seniors engaged. 

We created programs to help them access technology so they could connect with others online.  We increased funding to our amazing senior centers so that they could provide programming and outreach to homebound seniors.  And we made sure our public health mobile strike teams could get out to senior housing complexes to offer vaccinations. 

I believe these supports have made a difference in the lives of our seniors and I am excited that we are now able to connect again in-person as Mayor Ekberg and I recently did with the residents of Marvelle in Tukwila.  We shared a lovely afternoon with this group of lifelong learners and happily answered questions about our respective roles in government.

CM Upthegrove Marvelle Southcenter

Stepping Up to Feed Our Community

Many of our neighbors in South King Country struggle to put food on the table – a situation which has been made worse by the COVID19 pandemic.  King County has provided millions to help ensure our community has access to food – including food that is native to those from a different cultural background.   Many of our local non-profits stepped up to assist with food distribution to our vulnerable neighbors, including the creation of Little Free Pantries, an initiative of the Kent Community Foundation and Kent Community Partners.

I recently joined Peter Kwon, Deputy Mayor of SeaTac,  Aman Ghag and his sons from the Dehg Tehg Community Kitchens and Shaquan Brown, Executive Director of the Matt Griffin YMCA, for the recent unveiling of the Little Free Pantry at the  Matt Griffin YMCA.

I love this poignant description of the pantries:

“In the last decade, thousands of Americans have built “little free libraries” to serve their neighbors’ hunger for knowledge. And more recently, an increasing number of Americans have built “little free pantries” to nourish their neighbors’ literal hunger.”

Kent Community Partners has pantry units available for deployment to groups ready to host them. For more info including to find locations of pantries, to donate, or to request a pantry, please visit:  or

Free Little Pantry

Happy Labor Day!


As the Council continues to operate remotely, now is the perfect time to engage with our work and share your thoughts on legislation before us.


My team and I are available via email at


You can watch Council meetings via livestream on the Councils website or on KCTV channel 22. We take general public comment on the 4th Tuesday of every month.

To learn more about testifying before Council go to:



Dave Upthegrove

King County Councilmember
District 5