Statement on Committee Assignments

January 6th, 2020

I am excited to announce that I will Chair the City Council’s Transportation, Utilities (and Technology) Committee. This is an enormous responsibility and a vote of confidence in my fiscal accountability experience as these departments comprise more than half ($3.8 billion) of our city government’s budget of $6.5 billion. This Committee impacts everyone as we travel to and from our jobs and schools, as we rely on clean energy to run our homes and businesses, and as we strive to leverage the technological talent of Seattle to make our city government more efficient and responsive. 

  • Traffic congestion has been a big frustration for Seattle residents and businesses and there are no quick fixes. I look forward to pursuing sensible solutions to move the most people and freight in the most efficient and greenest ways possible, including the expansion of transit.
  • I look forward to using the best available science and data analyses to accelerate meaningful results on the City’s Climate Action Plan and other initiatives to benefit our environment.
  • I want to push back where possible on rising costs of our city government that are regressive, so we can relieve some of the pain of those utility bills that keep going up every year.
  • We also have an incredible opportunity to leverage our city’s world-class technology to improve data collection to get positive results from city government and to improve the customer service experience of our city’s residents. I look forward to consulting with local technology companies to determine where we can leverage their expertise to help us solve some of our city’s most challenging issues.

Due to the increase in the number of members for each committee, the committee work of Councilmembers will increase by 50% over past City Councils. (Councilmembers previously served on four standing committees, but now will serve on six.)  I look forward to serving on the following standing committees:

  1. Transportation, Utilities (and Technology Committee), Chair.
  2. Public Assets and Native Communities Committee, Vice Chair (includes Parks Department covering all District 4 parks from Terry Pettus Park to Gas Works Park to Magnuson Park).
  3. Land Use and Neighborhoods, Member.
  4. Economic and Community Development, Member.
  5. Public Safety & Human Services, Alternate.
  6. Sustainability and Renters Rights, Member

Also, I will serve on two “select committees” that are comprised of all 9 councilmembers:

  • Budget Committee
  • Select Committee on Homelessness

Let’s get to work!

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News Release: Councilmember Pedersen Calls for Analysis of Climate Impacts with New Legislation

January 2nd, 2020

SEATTLECouncilmember Alex Pedersen (District 4, NE Seattle) today announced he is introducing a resolution in the coming weeks to include climate change and carbon footprint considerations as part of an expanded “Fiscal Note” the City Council uses to review legislation.

“Over the past year, I heard from residents all over District 4 who demanded more accountability from our city government — which includes meeting environmental goals such as reducing Seattle’s carbon footprint,” Councilmember Pedersen said. “The Green New Deal Resolution adopted by the City Council in August 2019 produced a positive blueprint of our City’s aspirational goals. Implementing a Fiscal and Environmental Note will allow us to view new legislation through a climate lens, and will be a concrete step in fighting climate change locally. I look forward to working out the details with my new colleagues at City Hall as we craft more specifics on addressing the crisis of climate change.”

Currently, legislation considered by the City Council is accompanied by a “Summary and Fiscal Note” that assesses the financial and other policy implications of the proposed resolution or ordinance. The climate change impact of proposed legislation, however, is not measured. Adding a climate change component would have the City government explicitly consider fossil fuel use and carbon emissions. A new and improved “Fiscal and Environmental Note” would also strengthen the financial analysis of projects seeking tax dollars.

Councilmember Pedersen adopted the “carbon note” concept from Dr. Cathy Tuttle, a climate activist who ran for City Council in the 2019 primary. In a statement Tuttle said, “While climate action requires global solutions, right now American cities and large companies need to take the lead on decarbonizing our transportation, building, and utility sectors. By adding Carbon Impacts to Fiscal Notes, Seattle Council will give decision-makers and the public good information about how to reduce greenhouse gases as we grow our economy and build healthy communities. I’m optimistic this bold proposal from Councilmember Pedersen and the Seattle Council will lead to greener, cleaner legislation and funding decisions.”

The Washington State Director of Climate Solutions, Vlad Gutman-Britten, said, “Seattle must act with urgency to cut our climate pollution and accelerate the clean energy transition we need. We must ensure that future policies our city adopts cut climate pollution, and so adding climate considerations to Fiscal Notes is a good first step to better understanding how City policies impact the climate–and thereby our health, finances, safety, and more. We look forward to working with Councilmember Pedersen and the rest of the city council as this proposal evolves.”

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Welcome // Meet Our Team // Encouraging a Stronger Ordinance to Protect Trees// “Fridays in 4” // 4 You in District 4

December 20th, 2019

Welcome

Hello, and welcome to our District 4 newsletter! Each month our newsletter will detail what our office has been working on for you, discuss City Council votes, and provide information about issues and events in “D4”. While our team has been at City Hall for only three weeks, we want to share what we have been working on to better represent you and the 20 neighborhoods of D4.

Meet our Team!

Join me in welcoming our fantastic D4 team of Legislative Aides: Alexa Halling, Cara Kadoshima Vallier, Lhorna Murray, and Toby Thaler. You can read our team’s full bios on the district website. Our highly capable team knows our District well and brings a diverse breadth of lived experience and professional background to the table. Together we are looking forward to working on behalf of you and the other 100,000 District 4 constituents.

Protecting Trees in the Emerald City

In the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning (PLUZ) committee this week I convened neighbors, environmentalists, scientists, and urban forestry experts to discuss the need to implement Resolution 31902 to finalize a stronger ordinance that protects and increases trees in our Emerald City.

Over the past year, I heard from hundreds of concerned citizens who want City Hall to implement stronger protections for our tree canopy in addition to planting more trees throughout our city. In addition to improving the livability and enjoyment of our communities and critical habitat for birds, a robust tree canopy fosters a healthy city by decreasing pollution, sequestering modest amounts of carbon, and cooling homes and buildings – all vitally important for our environment. In fact, the “Green New Deal” Resolution that garnered a lot of attention earlier this year specifically calls out trees:  “Encouraging preservation and planting of trees citywide to increase the city’s tree canopy cover, prioritizing historically low-canopy and low-income neighborhoods.” To hold City Hall accountable on this issue, we need a stronger tree ordinance that is enforced. I heard you, and I am proud to keep the ball rolling on increasing environmental protections across our city. As we eagerly await their next update on the ordinance, you can visit the city’s website on trees by CLICKING HERE.

Office Hours in our District:

While I’ll be representing you at City Hall at City Council meetings during the week, it’s vital that I carve out as much time as possible to meet you where you are in our District 4. As there are no committee meetings scheduled for Fridays, you’ll find me “Fridays in 4.”

To make sure our constituents get the best customer service, we are establishing consistent office hours in our District! We will be meeting with constituents every Friday afternoon at Magnuson Park in the Building 30 conference room. To ensure you receive designated time with our office, sign up online by clicking here to reserve your appointment. See you Fridays in 4!

Follow us on Facebook

Use our new Facebook page. Like or follow us to receive more frequent updates from our office regarding District 4 issues. Be sure to send any comments to alex.pedersen@seattle.gov or call us at 206.684-8808.  If Facebook is not your thing, you can visit our website, which includes my blog with my statements on issues impacting our city and key votes such as supporting transit by exploring how best to expand ORCA card subsidies for workers.

4 You in District 4

1. Homelessness

Riding Along with the Navigation Team

In my first week, I accompanied the Navigation Team for a ride along that included a 7:00 a.m. huddle with the multi-disciplinary team to hear their concerns before we visited an unauthorized encampment of people experiencing homelessness. (As you may know, our Navigation Team has been Seattle’s key street-level response to the homelessness crisis which impacts communities across Seattle. Since 2017, the team has connected hundreds of people to shelter—moving people away from inhumane living conditions and connecting them with shelter resources, while also removing the most unsafe encampments that harm people living unsheltered and the community. To read more about the role of the Navigation Team, costs, and their performance, please read this letter drafted by Seattle City department leaders to our Mayor). I met with social workers, police officers, and case managers to discuss the challenges and barriers the team faces getting our unhoused neighbors into housing. I also observed the Navigation Team as they connected with our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Observing this challenging process is vital to improve and expand the Navigation Team.

I know that bringing people inside and connecting them to permanent housing is the #1 concern of District 4 residents, which is why my priority is to fund evidenced-based programs that connect our unhoused neighbors with programs that work.

This is why I am pleased that one of my first votes on the Seattle City Council was to move forward with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. The status quo has not worked, and we need a regional response to this regional crisis. I have confidence that this structure will provide a sensible balance between expert-driven policy, lived experience, and government officials who are ultimately held accountable by the public for results. Evidence-based solutions and accountability underpin the formal Guiding Principles of this ground-breaking agreement to address the regional homelessness crisis. There is much work to be done, and with this coordinated structure, we hope to do it with increased efficiency and effectiveness while centering the voices of those with lived experience of homelessness.

2. Public Safety

Seattle Fire Fighters and Paramedics

I know public safety is a top priority for District 4 residents, which is why I have visited fire stations across our district and throughout our city.  As a newly elected Councilmember, one of my first acts was to meet again with firefighters at Station 17 in the U District.

Our firefighters and first responders have done a tremendous job serving the needs of our diverse neighborhoods, while also going through a big transition: as the U District has grown, our firefighters are responding to a growing population with greater needs. This includes more students, residents in all types of buildings, people experiencing homelessness, those who need transportation to and from nearby hospitals, and more. To ensure that response times from firefighters and paramedics are as quick as needed to save our neighbors suffering from health emergencies, it’s important for our Seattle Department of Transportation to coordinate proposed road changes with our Fire Department.

On December 9, I was proud to be a “yes” vote along with my Council colleagues to support a pay increase for Seattle Firefighters through its union, IAFF Local 27. I know that supporting our first responders is integral to helping our homelessness crisis, as they are often on the front lines.

I’m also pleased to report that, starting next year, our Seattle Fire Department will be able to recruit more firefighters, thanks to the City Council approving an additional $600,000 in the 2020 budget for recruitment. The budget addition allows Seattle to fund nine additional candidates for one recruit class. SFD staff have indicated that a larger recruit class would allow the department to fill vacancies more quickly.

Please remember our firefighters and first responders this season – they do so much to ensure our safety!

3. Supporting Small Neighborhood Businesses:

Pam’s Kitchen

This week, I visited Pam’s Kitchen in Wallingford, a Caribbean restaurant which originally opened in the University District in 2006.

In my capacity as a Councilmember, I plan to regularly meet with local businesses to learn more about the unique challenges they face.

At my first Council meeting, I brought tokens of appreciation to share from District 4 including a mug from the U District’s Bulldog News and carrot cake from Eastlake Avenue’s 14 Carrot Café. I was so proud to highlight these amazing businesses in Council Chambers and give my Council colleagues a taste of what District 4 has to offer. (Click here to view a video of my comments).

I sat down with the owner and chef of Pam’s Kitchen, a Caribbean restaurant in Wallingford, to ask about the joys and challenges of running a small business – and what our city government can do better to prevent the displacement of so many local stores and restaurants that we adore and that give our neighborhoods character.
 
A restaurant’s biggest challenge is often financial – the combination of the high expenses of operating an eatery, the difficulty of getting low-interest loans from banks, and the disruption of moving costs or paying upfront costs at new locations. After pouring her heart into building her business for five years in the University District, Pam was forced to move from her original location because the building she leased was sold, torn down, and redeveloped. Pam had to incur the unexpected costs of finding a new location, renovating it, and starting from scratch to build a new clientele in Wallingford.
 
One idea I’d like to explore with our city’s Economic Development Department to prevent displacement is whether it could help more small businesses receive guidance before signing new leases. Small business owners are experts in the products they are selling but not always in the important details of such legal documents, which could have a major impact on the future of their business’s stability.
 
Ultimately, Pam expressed she does this work for the love of her neighborhood and community. She uses her restaurant to introduce Caribbean culture to Seattleites across the city (and customers from other states and internationally), and loves to bring people together through food.
 
“I just love to cook,” said Pam. “I believe if you do things the right way, and give them the best of you, it comes back.”
 
As we close out the year, shop for last minute gifts, and take your out-of-town family to restaurants, I hope you will keep our small businesses in mind during the holiday season.

4. Community Connections:

Getting Festive at Candy Cane Lane

Now in its 70th year, Ravenna’s Candy Cane Lane is a District 4 holiday tradition that people across Seattle look forward to experiencing. I had the honor of speaking to my neighbors during the big anniversary event last Tuesday. As I shared with the group who gathered for carols and celebration, it is my honor to serve as the City Council representative of this wonderful Seattle neighborhood.  

The theme again this year is Peace, with each house hosting a peace sign in a different language. As you can see, this house has peace written in both Hebrew and Arabic, representing Seattle’s commitment to be a welcoming place to all cultures, all languages, all people. 

You’ll also notice the large metal pipe decorated as a candy cane. Each house has one, and when someone moves from the neighborhood, the “candy cane” stays with the house, so the new owners can carry on the holiday tradition of Candy Cane Lane.

If you’re looking for something festive to do this month, visit Candy Cane Lane (NE Ravenna Blvd and Park Road NE, Seattle, WA 98105). The lights will be on through Jan. 1, with a “pedestrian night” (car-free) on Thursday, December 19.

As it is the season of giving, I encourage everyone to take a moment to give something back to our community. Giving can mean just finding time to volunteer, donating in-kind goods, or advocating for those in need. 

I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season, and a Happy New Year.

I’m looking forward to working with you all in 2020!


Strengthening Seattle’s Tree Ordinance

December 20th, 2019

I appreciate all the residents from across Seattle who took the time out of their day to attend our briefing on making Seattle’s tree protection ordinance stronger and enforceable — with the goal of expanding the health and environmental benefits of larger trees in our Emerald City. It was informative to hear from a wide array of tree experts. Thanks also to Councilmember-Elect Dan Strauss for joining me at the table and for all his work already on this important environmental and social justice issue. I look forward to working with him, my other City Council colleagues, our executive departments, and other stakeholders to enact a tree ordinance in 2020.

Here is a link to the KUOW news story.
https://kuow.org/stories/two-new-seattle-council-members-pledge-stronger-tree-protections-in-2020

And here is a link to the full video of the committee meeting at City Hall: 
https://www.seattlechannel.org/mayor-and-council/city-council/city-council-all-videos-index/?videoid=x109108


Council Passes ORCA for All Resolution

December 16th, 2019

Councilmember Pedersen is pleased to announce the City Council today adopted Resolution 32921 to explore financial and other implications of the inspirational “ORCA for All” vision. The stated goal of ORCA for All is to increase the use of public transit by expanding how employers can make the ORCA card transit subsidy available to more workers. It is our understanding survey data indicates that, if transit costs are paid for, many will shift their commutes out of cars onto transit.

The resolution states the intent of the City Council to pursue an ordinance expanding the “Commuter Benefit” chapter of the Seattle Municipal Code “to require employers to provide employees with transit subsidies.” The resolution requires assessment of numerous aspects of the proposal before an ordinance is brought to the Council for consideration. Councilmember Pedersen collaborated with Councilmember Mike O’Brien to broaden the scope of analysis to explicitly include potential impacts on employers and our City government’s budget.

Councilmember Pedersen is pleased to pursue this key element of transportation equity that will also help Seattle to address climate and pollution impacts by reducing single occupancy commuting.


Supporting City Approval of Regional Homelessness Authority

December 16th, 2019

I am pleased to announce that today the Seattle City Council approved the Interlocal Agreement (ILA) to establish a Regional Homelessness Authority (RHA) between King County and the City of Seattle. It is clear the status quo has not worked, and that a regional response to this regional crisis is needed.  In taking this groundbreaking step, we are honoring the research, wisdom, and advice of experts to end the fragmented approach we currently have. It is my hope that we will now unify in a holistic and aligned manner to achieve better results.

It should be recognized that this was a carefully considered proposal, crafted over the past two years, and included input from the general public and a broad coalition of experts, service providers, government, businesses, philanthropists, and people who have experienced homelessness. Because our city government is making significant contributions to the funding, we gave due attention to the governance and structure of the authority. I have confidence that this structure will provide a sensible balance between expert-driven evidence-based policy, lived experience, and government officials who are ultimately held accountable by the public for results.

As always, the details of this new Regional Homelessness Authority matter. There will be two main committees on this body: the Implementation Board and the Governing Committee. The Implementation Board will be composed of thirteen experts, including individuals with lived experience of homelessness. The Implementation Board will create evidence-based plans to reduce homelessness, which will then be passed to the Governing Committee. The Governing Committee, also comprised of people with lived experience in addition to elected officials appointed by Seattle and King County, approves the budget to carry out the plans offered by the Implementation Board. The Governing Committee would need a 2/3 super-majority to make any changes to the evidence-based plans put forth by the Implementation Board, and a 3/4 super-majority to remove the Executive Director of the Regional Homelessness Authority.

We have studied this issue long enough; we have worked on the structure carefully and I believe it is time for concrete action. I am pleased that today the City of Seattle was able to take a step forward so that this new collaborative regional organization of experts and officials can get to work.

CLICK HERE for a link to the ILA legislation, and CLICK HERE to see the King County’s statement on this issue.


Expanding Mass Transit Efficiently and Greenly

December 13th, 2019

I believe it’s vital to preserve and expand our public mass transit systems to move the most people in the most efficient and greenest ways possible. This past year, I heard this loud and clear from residents across District 4 who are eager to ride transit, but need help with that first/last mile or want more frequent and better coordinated bus service (such as getting buses to fit on Brooklyn Ave for the upcoming light rail station in the U District). In 2014, city voters boosted funding for our Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) to increase transit in our city — and this important source of transit dollars is up for renewal next year. Our Seattle Department of Transportation briefed the City Council Transportation Committee yesterday and I’d like to share their STBD update with you here.

It was also Councilmember Mike O’Brien’s last time chairing the Committee and many well-wishers attended to thank him for his many years of focused leadership. Several other important items were discussed during the Committee where we heard from the Transit Riders Union and others. Here’s the link to the agenda.


Statement on Recent Events Impacting Homelessness

December 5th, 2019

Councilmember Pedersen issued the following statement on recent events impacting homelessness: “After conferring with stakeholders from all sides (the nonprofit LIHI, several neighbors living in the tiny home structures, the Mayor’s Office, our Human Services Department, the Wallingford Community Council, and nearby businesses), I’d like to convey relief that an agreement has been worked out regarding the Northlake Tiny Home Village in our District 4. Wallingford neighborhood leaders should be commended for being so welcoming of the village.”

“Our compassion about our regional homelessness crisis also requires that we get results. The contract dispute about housing approximately 20 individuals in temporary structures was unfortunate because it not only created anxiety, but also jeopardizes the concept of tiny home villages — which have enjoyed improved results in some cases. I’ve been on the job for less than a week, so I look forward to making sure the city invests tax dollars wisely to fund frequent, competent, and caring case management that achieves our ultimate goal: get people into permanent homes. This reminds us of the urgency to approve a regional authority for homelessness that focuses on best practices proven to work — as recently articulated by our Mayor Jenny Durkan:


Statement on Crash on Highway 99

December 5th, 2019

Councilmember Alex Pedersen released the following statement about the crash on State Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue N.) as reported in the Seattle Times, which killed a brother and sister and inflicted major injuries to their father:

“This recent crash on State Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue N) is devastating and Seattle’s thoughts and prayers are with the Richman family as they mourn the loss of brother and sister Michael and Rebecca Richman. Our hearts are also with their father, who is recovering from serious injuries due to the crash. In terrible incidents like this, I try to lift up our gratitude for those who helped. I want to thank our first responders, as well as the witnesses who risked their own safety to both aid those injured and to follow the driver as she allegedly tried to flee the scene. My office has been in contact with both our Seattle Police Department (SPD) and Department of Transportation (SDOT) as soon as we learned of the crash, I visited the scene myself, and we continue to follow the situation closely. I have asked both departments to keep me informed as they continue to gather more information about the incident and how they are working harder to keep pedestrians safe in our city.”


Representing You at City Hall!

December 3rd, 2019

In this season of thanks, I am so grateful to be representing you and District 4 at Seattle City Council. Last Tuesday evening, I was sworn into office in Magnuson Park. You can watch my remarks here.

After we moved into City Hall last Wednesday, our first full day of work started with Council Briefings in the morning and the regularly scheduled Full Council meeting in the afternoon.

To share tokens of gratitude as a newly elected member of City Council, I brought gifts from District 4: carrot cake from 14 Carrot Cafe on Eastlake Ave and coffee mugs from Bulldog News on The Ave in the U District.

The week ahead promises to be dynamic and busy, and we hope you’ll stay in touch!  If you’re calling about:

  • City Budget, Labor Issues, and Scheduling please contact Alexa Halling, 206-684-5398
  • Homelessness, Education, and Neighborhood Businesses, please contact Cara Kadoshima Vallier, 206-684-8593
  • Transportation, Zoning, and the Environment, please contact Toby Thaler, 206-256-6267
  • District specific concerns, including Public Safety, please contact Lhorna Murray, 206-684-5255

Our main office phone number is 206-684-8808 or you can email me at alex.pedersen@seattle.gov

For the full bios of our talented staff, click here.

For a link to our website with more information, click here.

As a reminder, City Council recess will occur between Monday, December 22 and Friday, January 3, with regular committee meetings reconvening in the New Year.


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