Councilmember Pedersen’s Blog is the Place To Be!

November 25th, 2020

Thank you for clicking onto my blog where I post information all about Seattle city government. I focus on the geographic area I was elected in November 2019 to represent: District 4. Our wonderful district is home to over 100,000 people in 20 different neighborhoods from Eastlake to Wallingford to Magnuson Park.

Pro Tip: Use the “Search” box to the right to find info on the topics you care most about. Just type in key words, such as “Public Safety” or “Budget” or “Homelessness,” and click the Search button. Or you can just keep scrolling down and find the most recent content near the top.

More Info: You can subscribe to my e-newsletter to have key posts emailed directly to you at least once a month by CLICKING HERE. Or just save this link as a favorite on your browser and check it anytime for updates: https://pedersen.seattle.gov/

Ron Sims swearing in new Seattle City Councilmember Alex Pedersen, January 6, 2020.

with gratitude,


Final Budget – Positives and Negatives 💵

November 23rd, 2020

[NOTE:

  • More on the Budget: The blog post below discusses the final results of the Fall 2020 budget process (for 2021). For the separate blog post that details the beginning and middle of the process, CLICK HERE.
  • Public Safety: While public safety is a key component of our city budget and is discussed below, you can also view my separate posts about reimagining and revamping policing in Seattle by CLICKING HERE ]

Friends and Neighbors,

On Monday, November 23, 2020 your City Council adopted the 2021 budget for city government.

In a statement released to the media shortly after our Budget Committee last week, the other eight Seattle City Councilmembers celebrated amendments made to Mayor Durkan’s $6.5 billion proposal. Finalizing a budget feels like an achievement, especially given this year’s challenges: a pandemic, a recession, a racial reckoning, the homelessness crisis, the West Seattle bridge closure, and an antagonistic Trump Administration.

However, I do not feel like celebrating. I believe the amended budget has substantial negatives: it shortchanges our bridge infrastructure, fails to revamp public safety with a plan, and reduces accountability for our response to homelessness—all while giving city government a pay increase instead of investing more in our most marginalized communities. Ultimately, I voted Yes for the final package in this historic moment for reasons I’ll discuss in this newsletter. I believe it’s important to acknowledge both the positives and negatives of this year’s budget.

I appreciate the hard work the Mayor, our City departments, our City Council staff, and our Budget Chair have invested into this 2021 budget. The law requires us to craft a balanced budget covering 40 departments and 12,000 government employees under a tight deadline and we had difficult choices to make. People are yearning for functional government. If the budget does not pass, nothing gets done. No budget is perfect, and this budget is no exception. My constituents have diverse and conflicting views. A budget with positives and negatives is a natural result.

Despite the drama during each Fall budget season, the Council typically leaves intact over 90% of the budget exactly as proposed by the Mayor. This budget is no different, re-allocating less than 10% of the more flexible $1.5 billion General Fund. (When including the $6.5 billion from all budget funds, the Council’s changes amount to less than 3%.)  Many of the changes are made possible by a new revenue forecast received in the middle of the process (another common occurrence) that enables the Budget Chair to dole out additional dollars to the various Councilmember requests. To her credit, the Budget Chair transferred much of the additional funding to rebuild our Rainy Day Funds.

For my brief Op Ed on this budget process published by the Seattle Times, November 23, 2020, CLICK HERE.

Before we delve deeper into some negatives of this budget, here are some of the positives:

  • Funding for a Tiny Home Village in the University District and more dollars to the Regional Homelessness Authority. Given the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing homelessness crisis, I agree that well-organized tiny house villages can be a cost-effective intervention in conjunction with case management and a performance-based contract with the Human Services Department (HSD).  We have seen a sharp rise in encampments in D4, done the legwork of finding a suitable short-term location for a Tiny House Village, and wish to move expeditiously to address this urgent concern of finding shelter and housing compliant with CDC guidelines. In addition, this budget finally transfers substantial sums away from city government operations to the new Regional Homelessness Authority. Regional problems require regional solutions and, considering the City of Seattle’s spotty track record in responding to homelessness, the forthcoming regional operation is a welcome change.
  • Clean Cities Initiative. CLICK HERE to read an overview of this proposal to surge the clean-up of litter and illegal dumping. Since the beginning of the pandemic, through a combination of increases in trash at parks, reduced staffing due to COVID-19 safety, and a lack of volunteer opportunities for residents, the City faced significant challenges addressing litter and illegal dumping remediation. Data from Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) Illegal Dumping program shows a 195% increase in the volume of material collected from Q2 to Q3 2020. Departments, including SDOT, Parks & Recreation, Office of Economic Development, and SPU, will create a comprehensive plan to address the increase of waste challenges across the City which would stand up a rapid response team within Seattle Parks and Recreation to address trash in parks, and make infrastructure improvements in key parks to improve overall cleanliness. The proposal increases the purple bag program, the number of needle disposal boxes in the city and would expand the graffiti ranger program. Funding would also be directed to business districts throughout the city to increase contracted cleaning in their neighborhoods such as the University District. In addition, SPU would more than double the number of trash pickup routes which provide twice weekly collection of trash and bulky items in public rights of way which should greatly benefit District 4.
  • Funding to benefit Magnuson Park. We preserved the vital work on the sorely needed sidewalks and crosswalks to safely connect Magnuson Park to the surrounding communities along Sand Point Way NE. These sidewalks and crosswalks are needed now to meet the goals of three city government initiatives: Vision Zero, our Pedestrian Master Plan, and our Safe Routes to School program helping to safely connect dozens of children to Sand Point Way elementary school.  It will also help to connect the scores of cyclists biking from the Burke-Gilman Trail to Magnuson Park. This is about safety for pedestrians, it’s about safety for cyclists, it’s about connecting 850 low-income and BIPOC Magnuson Park residents to their neighbors, and it’s about safely enhancing access to the regional asset that is Magnuson Park. These are community-driven projects supported by all those neighborhoods there as well as the Magnuson Park Advisory Committee. In fact, diverse and collaborative groups have been advocating for these pedestrian safety projects for years–I first learned about this project years ago when I was a Legislative Aide. We also secured funding for a feasibility study for a new pool at Magnuson Community Center. Data reveal children of color have less access to parks and other recreational alternatives that enhance self-confidence, allow for creative expression and the development of social and emotional bonds that strengthen community cohesion.
  • Initial funding for bridge maintenance. While we faced setbacks, my office successfully used data to champion this back-to-basics priority and secured $4 million in additional funding to benefit the entire city despite the budget deficits. In our District 4 the 15th Ave NE bridge (over Cowen Park) was seismically strengthened and Fairway Ave Bridge is being rebuilt. But the City’s bridge audit noted that the University Bridge, connecting the U District to Eastlake and downtown, is among the four worst bridges in the city in terms of its physical condition. I expect SDOT to use some of the additional dollars to examine the University Bridge and craft a plan to keep it safe. To see our audit on bridges, CLICK HERE. For our proposal to allocate even more funding to bridge maintenance that was narrowly rejected by other Councilmembers, CLICK HERE.
  • Internet for All. We inserted our Internet for All initiative into the budget document to increase accountability to follow through on the Internet for All Action Plan’s eight strategies. The new section of the budget book will highlight for the general public that we unanimously adopted Resolution 31956, which was co-sponsored by Council President Gonzalez and Councilmember Juarez, in July 2020. This Resolution led to the Executive’s presentation to City Council last month of the Internet for All Action Plan. The next report from Seattle IT to the Transportation & Utilities Committee will be in the first quarter of 2021 and will summarize progress to increase access and adoption of affordable and reliable internet service, including setting up dashboards to track results.

  • Spurring protection of Seattle’s Trees. Washington is the “Evergreen State” and Seattle is the “Emerald City.” Trees provide numerous benefits including carbon sequestration, absorption of rainwater to reduce harmful runoff into Puget Sound and Lake Washington, shade for cooling during the warmer months, and proven health benefits. The bigger the tree, the better. As we take a long overdue, serious look at racial injustice issues, we know some communities of color have fewer large trees and are having them removed more often. As far back as 2009, our City Auditor determined that fractionalized management of trees and urban forestry issues was a major problem for Seattle and recommended consolidation. Instead, the City for eleven years has continued to try to make a multi-departmental approach to tree management work. During that time, I’m concerned we are seeing a declining tree canopy and loss of numerous large trees. Decentralization urban forestry management had its chance, but it does not work. Our budget action, approved by my colleagues, will have the Executive produce a plan for Council consideration that could rationalize and consolidate protections of Seattle’s trees, with a preference for an agency focused on the environment. To read the official budget action, CLICK HERE
  • Using data to prevent displacement of Seattle residents. I support creating more affordable housing throughout Seattle and, in addition to supporting new construction, we also want to ensure a net GAIN in the total amount of affordable housing. So we need to track and measure both new and existing affordable housing. When adopting major new land use changes or moving ahead with new construction projects, we need to ensure we have a detailed and accurate system to track the potential loss or demolition of existing naturally occurring affordable housing—and the displacement of low-income households. This will enable us to better quantify our new and existing stock of affordable housing. This action is needed to make sure we actually get the data we need to implement Resolution 31870, section 2.G. and Executive Order 2019.02. The data on displacement of low-income households needs to include rent levels and supply of naturally occurring affordable housing. We need to better understand the NET impacts. My colleagues adopted my budget action requiring a report on these important issues next year. Getting this information will provide a more comprehensive picture of our City’s affordable housing stock, so that we can do more to prevent economic displacement in Seattle. To read the official budget action, CLICK HERE.
  • Keeping utility rates as low as possible: SPU and Seattle City Light continue to work hard to forgive late fees and defer rate increases (except for the unfortunate wastewater rate increase from the King County Council). Council approved my request to study wastewater rates and changes in the rate-setting process, including the costs and benefits to the City and its ratepayers of various changes in wastewater treatment governance, such as potential City ownership of treatment facilities to control costs to you, the ratepayers. To read the official budget action, CLICK HERE.
  • 45th Street I-5 overpass pedestrian and bike safety improvements. There are only two east-west crossings of I-5 between 65th/Greenlake and North 40th Street:  NE 45th and NE 50th Streets. Both are heavily traveled by cars, and 45th by many buses, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Both 45th and 50th are very difficult and dangerous for non-motorized users. As a result, the University and Wallingford communities have advocated for improvements for many years. Unfortunately, the bridge itself is a Washington State DOT asset, making it difficult for our Seattle DOT to implement fixes. Solving the problem has become more urgent as the new Sound Transit Link station in the U District prepares to open in 2021. SDOT completed some initial design work in coordination with WSDOT, but it lacked funding to implement. Community leaders and transportation safety advocates worked with my office to insert $400,000 into the 2021 budget, so that construction of the improvements on the I-5 overpass are possible now. To see the official budget action, CLICK HERE.


The University Bridge which connects the U District and Eastlake in District 4 was among the bridges ranked in “poor” condition along with the Magnolia Bridge, 2nd Avenue South extension, and the Fairview Avenue Bridge (which is being reconstructed). This budget has both positives and negatives for bridges.

I also want to enumerate my concerns with this budget. Overall, I believe the City Council deviated too far from our Mayor’s original, sensible proposal and also failed to invest sufficiently in our city’s aging infrastructure.

  • Public safety: The budget as amended by Council unfortunately cuts police officer positions drastically before there is a community-driven plan and proven alternatives in place. While the Council approved my request to study the impact on response times to 9-1-1 priority one emergency calls, this will be after-the-fact instead of careful upfront planning. I strongly support more police reform and effective alternatives to traditional policing such as sending mental health professionals to help people in mental health crisis. But we need the plans in place first. Even after a Seattle Times analysis indicated our police department has fewer officers per capita than other cities, and after we learned highly trained officers are leaving at a faster rate, the Council chose to permanently eliminate police officer positions without first  finishing the formal community input processes created by the Council and Mayor. The budget also sidesteps the real issue: the urgent need to revamp the unjust, inflexible, and expensive police union contract. Redoing that contract is how we can save money, improve discipline, honor good work of first responders, and deploy unarmed professionals for lower priority calls to reduce harm. “Police contracts are one of the keys to police reform,” said Community Police Commission Co-Chair, Reverend Aaron Williams, at my Budget Town Hall. “When you’re talking about changing anything from the discipline of officers to them receiving pay, it all comes back to contracts.”  Moreover, expanding accountability reforms requires ample staffing for supervision and community policing.  Yet Council’s amendments cement in a sharp reduction in officers before proven alternatives are in place.  I’m concerned the remaining officers will be stretched thin and responding late. Our former Police Chief Carmen Best was clear: “I do not believe we should ask the people of Seattle to test out a theory, crime goes away if police go away, that is completely reckless.”
  • Reduced accountability for homelessness response: At a time when homelessness appears to be growing, a majority of my Council colleagues unfortunately used the budget to dismantle our city’s interdepartmental Navigation Team that engages with unauthorized homeless encampments. Instead, I believe we need to allocate more resources to our Human Services Department to track and evaluate the effectiveness of such changes, so we can ensure we are truly helping people.
  • Pay increases to city government rather than funding other priorities: While thousands of people live in tents and tens of thousands are unemployed during this pandemic-driven economic recession, your city government is giving itself $40 million in pay increases. Future city government contracts should encourage a sensible renegotiation of planned pay increases whenever City Hall faces recessions and deficits, so we have the flexibility to redeploy more dollars to the most marginalized communities.
  • Funds supervised drug consumption services. I voted against this funding because it will have the net impact of funding a safe drug consumption site, even though it would be housed in an existing facility. After researching this issue and touring the injection facility in Vancouver, BC, I believe we should instead provide more resources for rehabilitation and prevention services.
  • Neglect of Seattle’s bridges: I am thankful to voters who approved transit funding to maintain extra bus service. Now let’s protect the bridge network those buses rely on to safely connect us. The cracking and closure of the West Seattle Bridge should have been a wake-up call. The audit of all Seattle bridges I requested confirmed many bridges connecting our communities need much more maintenance. Yet this budget includes far less than the minimum dollars needed to maintain our city’s bridges. I had submitted a request to fund another $24 million, but the Budget Chair’s package added only $4 million. Councilmember Herbold, Councilmember Lewis, and I (supported by Councilmember Juarez) put forward a proposal to fund bridge maintenance with Vehicle License Fees, but the other five Councilmembers voted to delay this urgent investment. In a city defined by waterways and ravines, another forced bridge closure will stall multiple modes of transportation and our local economy. You can read the Seattle Times editorial that critiques the Council’s action by CLICKING HERE.

TRANSPORTATION SOLUTIONS

As Chair of the Transportation Committee, I ventured inside the West Seattle “High” Bridge last week to view the stabilization solutions being installed by SDOT’s engineers and contractors. Mayor Durkan recently announced plans to repair the bridge, which has been closed since March due to cracking.

Each of the nine councilmember chairs a committee so we distribute the responsibilities of overseeing different parts of your city government and its $6.5 billion budget. Appointed as chair of the Transportation & Utilities Committee in January 2020, I often provide updates on that committee’s activities.

West Seattle Bridge Decision:
Repair Option Wins

Last week, Mayor Durkan announced her decision to REPAIR the West Seattle Bridge, which I supported after careful consideration. The sudden closure of the West Seattle “High-Rise” Bridge in March 2020 has been a major challenge for Seattle and Washington State. Even though the West Seattle Bridge is not in Seattle’s District 4, I provide periodic updates on the closure, stabilization, and other issues impacting that vital bridge. It is an infrastructure asset vital not only to the 100,000 people of West Seattle but also to the entire region, especially as it impacts the economic engine that is the Port of Seattle.

Here is the statement I released after the Mayor’s decision to repair now (instead of the more costly and time-consuming option of replacing the bridge).

After consulting technical experts, Seattle residents, local businesses, and the Port of Seattle, I want to thank our Mayor for her careful and thorough consideration of how best to move forward safely and effectively so we can quickly restore this vital infrastructure. After studying the various choices, I agree with Mayor Jenny Durkan that immediate repair of the bridge is the best choice so we can quickly and safely restore mobility to our region’s bridge network. Repairing the bridge now still keeps open the long-term solution to plan and fund a methodical replacement in the future and to coordinate with increased transit options. I believe the cracking and closure of the West Seattle Bridge must be a wake-up call to take better care of all our aging bridges with more investment in maintenance to keep transit and freight moving throughout a city defined by its waterways and ravines. After being appointed to Chair our City’s Transportation Committee earlier this year, I remain committed to work with Mayor Durkan, our Seattle Department of Transportation, our Port of Seattle, the rest of the City Council, and Seattle residents to make sure we honor this commitment to our bridge infrastructure and get this done.

For more info and to check ongoing updates on the West Seattle Bridge, CLICK HERE.

Funding for Transportation Solutions

On the theme of the city budget—and your tax dollars—we are fortunate to have many sources of funds to support all modes of transportation in Seattle. In addition to benefiting from Sound Transit light rail (two more stations opening up in District 4 thanks to the 2008 Sound Transit 2 measure) and King County metro (buses), Seattle has the following sources of transportation dollars:

  • City Budget: Each year, your City government allocates hundreds of millions of operating and capital dollars from various sources for improvements to Seattle streets and sidewalks to benefit all modes of transportation. This includes funding from the voter-approved  Move Seattle Levy (2015-2024).
  • Reserves from the former 6-year Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) measure approved in 2014 (approximately $25 million). We will get input from the Transit Advisory Board, Transportation Equity WorkgroupMove Seattle Levy Oversight Committee, and other city residents concerned about reliable transportation in order to spend these reserves responsibly.
  • New 6-year STBD approved by voters November 2020: approximately $32 million for 2021 and $41 million for 2022. While the numbers have changed for the first year — with more money recently allocated to transit service — this bar graph from the Seattle Times provides a picture of how dollars could be allocated in future years (not including the reserves from the former STBD mentioned above):


Source: Seattle Times, November 3, 2020

The Council adopted my budget action to ensure the allocation of the $5 million shown in the graph for 2021 to “infrastructure maintenance and capital improvements” as authorized by the measure approved by voters. The allocation toward capital drops in future years so that we can allocate more toward transit service as we recover from the pandemic and recession and demand increases. The Council’s budget action is available HERE.

  • Vehicle License Fees: After the Supreme Court overturned Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 as unconstitutional, the Council was able to tap again the vehicle license fees (VLF) as a source for transportation projects and programs, including bridge maintenance. Currently we pay $80 to the City and that was going to drop to only $20 because a $60 VLF approved by voters in 2014 is expiring. As allowed by State law, the Council this week adjusted it to $40. That incremental $20 VLF will raise $3.6 million in 2021 and $7.6 million per year when there is a full year of funding starting in 2022. The reasonable decision this week by our Mayor to repair and maintain the existing West Seattle bridge underscores the need for more steady funding for bridge maintenance throughout Seattle to honor our recent audit of bridges. We could have immediately dedicated the funds for bridge maintenance. Unfortunately, a majority of the Council had supported the decisive proposal to use the VLF dollars that Councilmembers Herbold, Lewis, and I advanced with the support of Councilmember Juarez. Despite the disappointing delay, I am hopeful the additional process will lead to a robust increase in funding for bridge safety from several sources, which would benefit all modes of travel and keep our economy moving. For a Seattle Times article explaining the fee, CLICK HERE.

Street Upgrades in District 4

NE 43rd Street and University Way (”The Ave“): The intersection of The Ave and NE 43rd Street is scheduled to be closed November 21-26 as part of the 43rd Street Improvement Project by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). The Ave between NE 42nd and NE 45th Street will be local access only, with no through traffic. Customers should still be able to access all businesses, and the sidewalks will be open to pedestrians. Metro buses 45, 73, and 373 will be rerouted off The Ave for the duration of the closure. Contact SDOT at 43rdimprovements@seattle.gov with any questions. I know these closures have been hard on our local small businesses and I have asked our Office of Economic Development to develop a financial assistance program when SDOT projects cause substantial disruption to struggling small neighborhood businesses. In the meantime, there is a COVID stabilization grant program with applications due Nov 30 (CLICK HERE).

15th Ave NE Repaving/Bike Lane/Bridge Project:

Completing the seismic retrofit of the Cowen Park Bridge (15th Avenue NE) earlier this year made it possible to invest in all the street improvements above, so that buses, bikes, cars, and pedestrians can travel safely across. When we first keep our bridges safe, as recommended by our City Auditor, we can make multimodal transportation investments that are sustainable.

This multi-modal project in the heart of our District extending from Lake City Way down to NE 55th Street will not only repave this deteriorating arterial but also install bike lanes to benefit safe routes to school and the new light rail station opening at Roosevelt next year – all without negatively impacting small businesses. SDOT’s project page (CLICK HERE) contains regular updates. Currently (as of November 19) utility work will be happening between NE 70th and NE 75th Streets, with work crews also moving north toward NE 80th Street. One of the key transportation improvements made for this 15th Avenue NE project was the seismic retrofit of the aging Cowen Park Bridge, which will now enable all modes to travel from Maple Leaf and Roosevelt to the U District and downtown across a stronger, safer path. This enables the rest of the costly improvements along 15th Avenue NE to make financial sense for the long-term benefit of all and highlights a key rationale for investing more in the maintenance of our city’s bridge infrastructure as recommended by our City Auditor.

IN DISTRICT 4


Picking up litter in District 4 last weekend with our Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) crew. I’m glad the Mayor and Council are putting more money into litter pickup for 2021 and we’re getting more service in our District!

Listening to BIPOC small business owners in D4

Before masks were needed several months ago, I visited Pam’s Kitchen in Wallingford (formerly in the U District). Recently, she shared her thoughts with me again, along with other BIPOC business owners in District 4.

After the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and subsequent protests and strong calls for revamping public safety and community wellness, I consulted with over 25 Black leaders thus far from academia, advocacy, government, faith organizations, and business.

I also interviewed BIPOC owners of small businesses in our District. I heard views that were both diverse and complex. The cautionary comments of several Black leaders about drastic “defunding” were coupled with concerns about police misconduct, racial profiling, and systemic racism that must be addressed with stronger reforms and effective community programs.

The views expressed were strikingly similar to a June/July Gallup poll:

Most Black Americans want the police to spend at least as much time in their area as they currently do, indicating that they value the need for the service that police provide. However, that exposure comes with more trepidation for Black than White or Hispanic Americans about what they might experience in a police encounter. And those harboring the least confidence that they will be treated well, or who have had negative encounters in the past, are much more likely to want the police presence curtailed.

In Gallup’s polling published in August, they found similar results:

While Black Americans overwhelmingly support major changes to law enforcement, their greater need for security in their own community helps explain the complexity of their relationship with the police in their neighborhood. It is possible to both have less positive experiences with police and desire a police presence for safety and security.”

Admittedly, most of the Black leaders with whom I spoke had long-standing histories and relationships across Seattle. So I knew it was important to hear from Black youth in Seattle, particularly those who marched nightly the past several months. I hear their frustration with — and distrust of — elected officials who, for years, have voted to expand police budgets without ensuring that bad cops are held accountable for unjustly harming Black and Brown people. They also want more investments in prevention programs and the vitals of affordable housing, education, and health care. They are right.

To reconcile these various viewpoints, I continue to believe Seattle political leaders can find common ground in dismantling the institutional racism embedded in the 100-page contract with the police union and save money, rather than focusing solely on the police budget and staffing levels. If that inflexible contract is revamped, we can maintain adequate levels of police staffing, save money to reinvest in BIPOC communities for the long-term, and expand existing reforms. My votes on the budget this week include support for additional investments in Seattle’s BIPOC communities. But the hard work–and longer-lasting benefits–will come when the city government labor negotiators actually revamp the police union contract.

Public Safety Survey

As part of the ongoing effort to gauge community perceptions on public safety, I encourage you to take Seattle University’s Public Safety Survey (CLICK HERE). For an Op Ed about the public safety survey, CLICK HERE.

Join D4 Community Councils and Groups

Especially in these trying times, community connections are critical to a functioning and vibrant District 4. I encourage folks to join their Community Council to connect. For a list CLICK HERE.

D4 Neighborhood Matching Grant Awardees

I am pleased to share the District 4 Neighborhood Matching Fund Awardees for 2020:

  • $13,552 to Friends of Picardo Farms P-Patch for Accessibility Improvements at the Picardo P-Patch to rebuild and enlarge existing accessible garden beds, add specialized garden tools and storage, and enhance critical pathways to increase accessibility.
  • $43,000 to Eli’s Park Project for Phase 3 of Burke-Gilman Park Renovation to design and fabricate custom bike stations, sculptural elements, and educational panels. The park renovation will create an accessible, inclusive, nature-based park for people of all ages and abilities.
  • $20,819 to Magnuson Children’s Garden All Are Welcome Mural to work with youth residents of Magnuson Park housing and surrounding neighbors to design and create murals that create a strong ‘All are Welcome in the Garden’ message.
  • $30,095 to The U District Partnership for U District Mural Program to install three new works of public art in different areas of the neighborhood.

 Eat, Drink, and Shop at the 43rd Street Junction!

Come explore the future home of the U District light rail station and support your local businesses! From artisan ice cream to authentic Lebanese cuisine, the NE 43rd Street Junction has a yummy variety. Consider getting a 43rd Street Junction punch card today! During this upcoming holiday season, shop local and visit the University District Partnership’s new website: udistrictseattle.com.

Seattle Parks and Recreation invites community to review conceptual design for new Green Lake Community Center and Pool

Seattle Parks and Recreation invites the community to review the conceptual design for the new Green Lake Community Center and Pool. Please join the Online Open House between November 16 and December 4, 2020 at glcc.infocommunity.orgBy visiting the Online Open House, you can provide feedback to the design team and share what activities/amenities you would like to see in the center and pool. SPR is working to secure funding for the facility and anticipates the new community center and Evans Pool could start construction in 2025. (While Green Lake is in District 6, we know it also serves residents from Districts 4 and 5.) For more information CLICK HERE. While we’re excited about Green Lake, we also want to make sure our Parks Department gives our Magnuson Park Community Center more support — especially to benefit the low-income children who call Magnuson Park home.

City of Seattle seeks volunteers for Community Technology Advisory Board 

The City of Seattle is looking for volunteers to join the Community Technology Advisory Board (CTAB). The 10-member board and its committees help guide city strategies and investments in information and communications technology. CTAB members advise Seattle’s Information technology department, the Mayor and City Council on a range of issues, including broadband, digital equity, mobile and web based city services, privacy, community engagement, small cell/5G deployment, and access to technology for students, families, and underserved residents. The Transportation Committee that I chair includes oversight of the City’s Information Technology Department, which is overseeing our Internet for All Action Plan. To apply by the deadline of November 30, 2020 CLICK HERE.

COVID-19 UPDATES AND RELIEF

The troublesome spike in new COVID cases increases risk to health, safety, and economic recovery. I know it also deepens the sadness and worries we have already experienced. I remain upbeat about our long-term future and I want to share some information from Governor Inslee’s office as we enter the holiday season:

We know the holiday season this year will look different. Check out these ideas for safer gatherings, including virtual options and a checklist to help plan a safer outdoor gathering.

At this time, gathering with people we don’t live with—even friends and family—may spread COVID-19. The more people we interact with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the risk of becoming infected or infecting others. The safest action is to avoid gatherings and find different ways to celebrate this season. But if you are considering a gathering, here is a helpful guide to have an (awkward, but important) conversation with family or friends:

The Governor established new statewide restrictions last week.

  • Indoor social gatherings are prohibited with people outside your household unless you quarantine for 14 days prior OR seven days with a negative COVID-19 test
  • Restaurants and bars are closed for indoor service. Outdoor dining and to-go service are permitted. Table size is limited to five people.
  • Fitness facilities and gyms are closed for indoor operations. Outdoor activities are permitted, but limited to five people.
  • Religious services are limited to 25% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer. No ensemble performances or congregational singing, and face coverings are required at all times.

Where to Find More Updates on COVID and Relief

Source: King County Public Health

The Seattle City Council continues to update its COVID-19 webpage which includes resources supporting workers, childcare, small businesses, and tenants/landlordsYou can also visit Mayor Jenny Durkan’s centralized COVID-19 webpage, as well as the Mayor’s blog for additional updates. Additionally, our Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) has been translating and sharing information on COVID-19 in several languages. For links to OIRA’s fact sheets and other translated materials, go to their blog. And for the latest from Public Health Seattle-King County, you can visit their website to track our region’s response to the virus.

  • Learn more about safer holiday celebrations at HERE;
  • Washington State’s new restrictions at HERE; and
  • COVID-19 statistics for Seattle and King County at HERE.
  • If you experience any symptoms, sign up for a free COVID-19 test HERE.

City of Seattle Opens Applications for $4 Million in Small Business COVID Relief

The City is now accepting applications for Small Business Stabilization Fund grants provided by the Office of Economic Development (OED). The Small Business Stabilization Fund will accept applications until Monday, November 30, 2020. To be eligible for a grant, a small business or non-profit must have 25 or fewer employees, be located within Seattle city limits, and have an annual net revenue at or below $2 million. For more information on all eligibility requirements, visit OED’s website. Learn more about the Small Business Stabilization Fund, or CLICK HERE to begin the application.

Seattle City Light COVID Relief for Small Businesses

City Light is helping small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 with the following services:

  • Bill deferral
  • Free virtual energy assessment
  • Limited time: Free energy efficient equipment installation

Complete the City Light Small Business Support Form or you can also contact our Business Customer Service Advisors for assistance at (206) 256-5200 or SCL_BusinessServices@seattle.gov. Notice: If you have closed your business and need to permanently cancel your service, you must close your City Light account, or you will continue to receive bills. Please contact them to send notification.

The Seattle Public Library Launches Tutor.com During COVID

The Seattle Public Library is launching Tutor.com! Tutor.com has over 3,000 highly vetted expert tutors, who can help youth with schoolwork, tutoring and academic coaching in a variety of subjects in a safe and secure online classroom. 1-1 help is available in math, writing, science, history, foreign languages, college essay writing, Advanced Placement (AP) courses and more.
Go to www.spl.org/VirtualTutoring and log in with your library card or your Library Link number to connect!  Here are links to the English Flyer, Spanish Flyer, and additional instructions on how to connect.

 

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

City Council Meetings on the Internet

Listening: Even though City Council is not currently holding meetings in person in order to follow public health guidelines, you can still follow along by listening on your computer or phone by CLICKING HERE. You can also listen on your phone by calling 253-215-8782.

Commenting: You can also submit public comment by sending an e-mail to me at Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov or to all 9 Councilmembers at council@seattle.gov. Please remember to add “For City Council Meeting” in the comments. Now you can also phone into the meeting to speak directly to the Council live. For the instructions on how to register and call in, CLICK HERE. Sign up begins two hours prior to the meeting start time.

Virtual Meetings with Your Councilmember Pedersen

I continue to schedule virtual in-district office hours, so we can chat by telephone or via Skype. Please continue to sign up through my website or by CLICKING HERE so I can hear your ideas, concerns, and requests. You can also just send an e-mail to alex.pedersen@seattle.gov.

For previous e-newsletters, visit my blog by CLICKING HERE.

We will get through this together, Seattle.

With gratitude,

 

 

 

Councilmember Alex Pedersen
Seattle City Council, District 4

Email: Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov
Find It, Fix It


New Funding Option to Increase Protection of Seattle’s Aging Bridges

November 13th, 2020

November 19, 2020 Update:

The reasonable decision this week by our Mayor to repair and maintain the existing West Seattle bridge underscores the need for more steady funding for bridge maintenance throughout Seattle to honor our recent audit of bridges. We could have secured an immediate and dedicated source for bridge maintenance if a majority of the Council had supported this week the decisive proposal that Councilmembers Herbold, Lewis, and I advanced with the support of Councilmember Juarez. Despite the disappointing 5 to 4 vote to delay a decision on funding more bridge maintenance, I am hopeful the additional process will lead to a robust increase in funding for bridge safety from several sources, which would benefit all modes of travel and keep our economy moving.

  • For the Seattle Times coverage of the City Council vote, CLICK HERE.
  • For a Seattle Times editorial criticizing my colleagues’ disappointing decision to delay my proposal for immediate bridge maintenance funding, CLICK HERE.
The University Bridge that connects the U District and Eastlake in District 4 was among the bridges ranked in “poor” condition along with the Magnolia Bridge, 2nd Avenue South extension, and the Fairview Avenue Bridge (which is being reconstructed).
Photo: by SounderBruce on Wikipedia

November 13 and November 17, 2020:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We have an important opportunity during the remaining week of our annual budget process to support our city’s bridge infrastructure. Our Budget Committee is meeting again November 18 and 19.

In a city defined by its many waterways and ravines, our bridges connect us and we must ensure they are maintained to stay safe and strong. Vital for all modes of travel and our regional economy, bridges require ample maintenance not only to ensure they remain safe but also to avoid costly and disruptive shutdowns and replacements.

The recent independent audit of Seattle’s bridges proves city government must do a better job investing in this basic infrastructure, including bridges that serve public transit. The audit concluded that our city government has been substantially under-investing in the maintenance of our bridges. The result of underfunding our bridge infrastructure increases the risk of harm and disruption — failing to invest at adequate levels today means taxpayers might have to bear even larger replacement costs later. Pay now or pay more later. The sudden closure of the West Seattle Bridge should be a wake up call that we must take care of our city’s infrastructure to keep our residents and our local economy moving.

During our budget deliberations in November, City Council received broad input from residents, business leaders, and labor unions (including Laborers, Carpenters, and Ironworkers) calling for more maintenance of our vital bridges.

While the Mayor’s budget team worked hard to preserve the amount of spending for bridge maintenance despite budget deficits, we should do more as additional funding options become available.

For both 2020 and the Mayor’s proposed 2021 budget, the bridge maintenance items identified by the City Auditor total approximately $12 million, though approximately $2 million is for reimbursable work on other projects resulting in a current net investment of only $10 million.

To achieve the increased spending levels for bridge maintenance recommended by the City Auditor’s 2020 report, Councilmembers Pedersen, Herbold, and Lewis proposed adding $24 million to the 2021 budget (“Form B”: Council Budget Action SDOT-008-A-001) which gained initial support from Councilmembers Juarez, Sawant, and Strauss on October 30, 2020.

The $24 million increase for bridge maintenance would have achieved a total of $34 million for 2021, which is still on the low-end of the City Auditor’s recommendation of $34 million to $102 million annually (equivalent to 1% to 3% of total replacement costs).

While the Budget Chair’s balancing package was able to restore or fund several transportation projects including those for transit, pedestrians, and bikes, it added only $4 million from the $24 million request for bridge maintenance.

More funding options are needed now to address the bridge maintenance gap with the urgency it deserves.

Vehicle License Fees (VLF) (a.k.a. car tabs)

Thanks to the Supreme Court overturning the harmful Initiative 976, the City Council now has the flexibility to adjust the Vehicle License Fee (VLF) to $40 as authorized by RCW 36.73.065 and RCW 82.80.140. While residents currently pay $80 which would otherwise drop to $20 in 2021, the RCW permits the Council to “increase” it by another $20 (for a total of $40) in 2021. 

Councilmembers Alex Pedersen (Chair Council’s Transportation Committee), Lisa Herbold (West Seattle) and Andrew Lewis (downtown, Queen Anne, Magnolia) have introduced Council Bill 119951 to adjust the vehicle license fee to $40. (Residents currently pay $80 for the city portion each year, but it is scheduled to drop to $20.)

or at least 2021, the additional vehicle license proceeds can be focused on the maintenance of Seattle bridges that support high-capacity transit or multiple modes of travel with a focus on our Frequent Transit Network.

Underfunding our bridge infrastructure increases the risk of harm and ends up costing taxpayers more later, so let’s listen to the independent audit and increase bridge maintenance now to keep our people and economy moving,” said Councilmember Alex Pedersen, Chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee.

The impending decision whether to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge highlights the importance of ongoing investment in maintenance of Seattle’s bridges,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold (West Seattle). “Bridges are critical not only to residents and local businesses, but also to our regional economy.”

District 7 is stitched together by bridges we depend on for reliable bus service and freight mobility for our working waterfront,” said Councilmember Andrew Lewis (downtown, Queen Anne, Magnolia). We need to step up our commitment to this critical infrastructure.”

To read their press release from Nov 13, 2020, CLICK HERE.

The adjustment of the underlying vehicle license fee (VLF) to $40, if adopted by the City Council, is anticipated to raise an additional $3.6 million in 2021, and an additional $7.2 million in subsequent years. (The difference in amounts is explained by the fact that it will take the Washington State Department of Licenses six months to update the new fee in 2021.) Therefore, the additional $20 VLF ($3.6 million in 2021) could nearly double the Council’s additive investment to $8 million for 2021, with more dollars available in later years. That would bring the grand total for 2021 bridge maintenance to nearly $18 million for 2021.

Seattle will need additional sources of revenue to support our network of aging bridges, but dedicating a portion of additional Vehicle License Fees is an immediate downpayment that responds to the time-sensitive concerns raised by the recent bridge audit.

To support our environment and address climate change, it is also critical to continue to prioritize transit and related projects that ensure the reliability of transit:

  • We are thankful to Seattle voters for approving Seattle Proposition 1 in November 2020 to authorize a six-year 0.15% sales tax for the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD), which focuses on supplementing the bus service from King County Metro as well as providing free transit passes for those most in need.
  • IN ADDITION TO that new 6-year STBD measure (approximately $30 million in 2021 increasing to $41 million in 2022), the City Council Budget Chair was able to work with colleagues to restore funding for several transit/bike/ped projects for 2021.
  • IN ADDITION, there are still over $23 million in reserves remaining for transit from the 2014 STBD measure, all of which will benefit from input from the Transit Advisory Board.
  • IN ADDITION, our proposal for the VLF for bridge maintenance will focus on bridges serving our Frequent Transit Network.

Billy Hetherington, Political Director for Laborers Local 242, said “We know that in this world of COVID-19, the movement of goods and services have been essential to our daily lives as we try our best to work from home and social distance from our fellow citizens. We have seen the impacts a shutdown of a major bridge can have on the lives of Seattle’s residents. The West Seattle bridge is nowhere near the oldest in the city nor was it considered in “Poor” condition at the time of its shutdown. The Auditor’s reports calls for $34 to $100 million to adequately fund the preservation of SDOT’s bridge infrastructure, so this measure represents the bare minimum. Preservation and maintenance of our roads and bridges, throughout the state, has been overlooked for decades so I am happy to see Councilmembers making a stand to show this is a priority moving forward.”

Heather Kurtenbach, Political Director for Ironworkers Local 86, said, “Seattle’s bridges are in need of extra care and attention. Using funds from Vehicle Licensing Fees will allow the city to begin reinvesting in the maintenance of our bridges.”

Pedro Espinoza of Pacific NW Regional Council of Carpenters said, “May 23, 2013, was a perfect example of how bridge closures can impact our lives. A span of the bridge carrying Interstate 5 over the Skagit River collapsed, severely impacting the movement of Washington State goods and services. We need more funding for bridge maintenance in order to avoid events like this in the future.”

Erin Goodman Executive Director of the SODO Business Improvement Area said, “SODO is the industrial heart of Seattle, and during COVID-19 we have seen how many essential businesses are located here including food and supply distribution, PPE manufacturing, and more vital activities. Increased funding for bridge maintenance is necessary to support these essential businesses and their operations throughout our region.”

Background: 

  • The specific budget line items identified by the City Auditor as “bridge maintenance” include Bridge Load Rating (capital), Bridge Painting (capital), Bridge Structures Engineering (operating), and Bridget Structure Maintenance (operating). It may make sense to add a new line item for Structures (for capital improvements).
  • Chapter 36.73 RCW provides for the establishment of Transportation Benefit Districts (TBD) by cities and counties and to levy and impose various taxes and fees to generate revenues to support transportation improvements within the TBD. In 2010, the City Council passed Ordinance 123397 which established the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (“District”). The District imposed an initial vehicle license fee of $20 pursuant to RCW 36.73.065 by adopting Seattle Transportation Benefit District Resolution 1.
  • In 2014, Seattle voters approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District Proposition 1, which imposed an additional $60 vehicle license fee pursuant to RCW 36.73.065 and resulted in a combined vehicle license fee of $80. In 2016, the City Council passed Ordinance 125070 which absorbed the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, and vested the City Council with the District’s duties and authority, including the authority to collect a $20 vehicle license fee and the voter-approved $60 vehicle license fee. The voter-approved $60 vehicle license fee expires on December 31, 2020.
  • The needs for improvement, maintenance, and protection of public ways within the boundaries of Seattle’s Transportation Benefit District have grown, as evidenced by the Seattle Department of Transportation’s shut down of the West Seattle Bridge in March 2020 for public safety and the City Auditor’s 2020 report on bridge maintenance.
  • For 2021, the additional vehicle license proceeds could be used for maintenance activities on Seattle bridges that support high-capacity transit or multiple modes of travel, specifically bridges serving our Frequent Transit Network (see map below). Bridges support all modes of travel. For those who are concerned that bridges are “car-centric,” all the more reason that car drivers should help to pay for added maintenance through the car tabs (vehicle license fees).

More about the Bridge Audit Results:

The Ballard Bridge needs work.
Magnolia Bridge, another bridge ranked by the 2020 Audit as “poor.”
West Seattle “High” Bridge: The sudden closure of the West Seattle “High” Bridge in March 2020 has been a major challenge. This is infrastructure is vital not only to the 100,000 people of West Seattle but also to the entire region, especially as it impacts the economic engine that is the Port of Seattle.
The University Bridge that connects the U District and Eastlake in District 4 was among the bridges ranked in “poor” condition along with the Magnolia Bridge, 2nd Avenue South extension, and the Fairview Avenue Bridge (which is being reconstructed). Photo: by SounderBruce on Wikipedia

In a city defined by its many waterways, our bridges connect us and this audit report proves city government must do a better job investing in this basic infrastructure,” said Transportation Chair Pedersen who requested the citywide bridge audit. “Vital for transit, freight and our regional economy, bridges require relatively large investments to build and maintain to ensure they remain safe for generations. I requested this audit of our bridges because the rapid deterioration of the West Seattle Bridge underscored the need for City officials and the general public to have a clear, thorough, and independent understanding of the condition of major bridges throughout Seattle, including the adequacy of the City’s preventative maintenance investments and practices.”

After an extensive document review and numerous exchanges by the auditor’s office with the Seattle Department of Transportation’s engineers and managers, the audit report was completed on schedule. The auditor’s report was presented to the City Council at its Transportation Committee chaired by Councilmember Pedersen Wednesday, September 16.

Pedersen initiated the audit with an April 23 letter to the City Auditor asking his office “to assess the physical conditions and maintenance investments for the major bridges owned by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).” Pedersen’s letter requested a report from the Auditor by mid-September to inform the City Council’s fall budget process.

The audit concluded the city government’s annual spending is far below what is needed to maintain its bridges and SDOT confirmed this: “SDOT estimates its annual spending is tens of millions of dollars less than what is needed to maintain its bridges.”

The audit report makes 10 recommendations for improving the City’s bridge maintenance and investment policies. According to the report, SDOT generally concurs with the report’s recommendations and plans to implement them. However, it will take action from the Mayor and City Council to fill the gap in funding. “I am hopeful City Hall will pay close attention to this audit report and respond appropriately during the 2021 budget discussions to ensure that critical infrastructure does not continue to deteriorate with potentially disastrous consequences,” said Councilmember Pedersen.

City Auditor David G. Jones added, “Our report shows that there is a large gap between what is budgeted for bridge maintenance and what is needed to keep them in good condition. Our recommendations are for activities that SDOT should do now to better inform where investments are made, and more effectively use the resources they currently have.”

Additional Resources (on both VLF and Bridges): 

From the Seattle Times editorial: “New City Councilmember Alex Pedersen deserves kudos for requesting the audit after the West Seattle Bridge closure. It gives the council facts and improvements to consider, and has already prompted change at the Department of Transportation. Yet the situation demands more, including a new mindset at City Hall and an authentic effort, starting with the next budget.”

# # #


Time to participate in your Community Council

November 11th, 2020

Our District 4 is home to over 20 neighborhoods. Councilmember Pedersen believes community councils and other neighborhood-based organizations play an important role in Seattle.

It may seem ill-timed during the COVID crisis to promote participation in community groups, but we hear from constituents that they are yearning to reconnect with neighbors and many groups are already hosting “virtual” meetings online using software applications like Zoom and Skype. Even if you don’t log into a community council meeting, it’s a good time while we’re stuck at home to explore the options — so you can hit the ground running as soon as possible.

As more people participate in community groups, the groups can become even more diverse and effective in dealing with larger institutions like your city government. Participating in your local neighborhood group can provide a wide range of benefits for individuals and the community as a whole. These include opportunities to meet more of your neighbors, access information and events that help with community building, and organize neighborhood activities. Some people also participate to help keep their communities safe with crime prevention awareness and activity. If issues of concern arise, your community council may follow up and organize activities to address the issues. Often community councils are able to advise residents on how to respond in the most effective ways, which can include contacting your local elected officials at all levels of government.

Community councils are a great way to amplify issues that residents in the community want to see addressed. Community councils give residents a space to air opinions, ideas, grievances, and announcements of interest to you and your neighbors.  In addition, they organize residents to work towards common goals identified as priorities by the community and to spearhead events that benefit the community.

Here are some community organizations that represent residents in District 4. Please click on the group’s name for more information.

Eastlake Community Council (ECC)

CLICK HERE to contact ECC.

Fremont Neighborhood Council

CLICK HERE to contact the Fremont Neighborhood Council.

Hawthorne Hills Community Council

CLICK HERE to contact the Wallingford Community Council.

Laurelhurst Community Club

CLICK HERE to contact the Laurelhurst Community Club.

Magnuson Park Advisory Committee

CLICK HERE to contact the Magnuson Park Advisory Committee.

Maple Leaf Community Council

CLICK HERE to contact the Maple Leaf Community Council.

Ravenna-Bryant Community Association

CLICK HERE to contact the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association.

Roosevelt Neighborhood Association

Click here to contact the Roosevelt Community Council.

Roosevelt Neighbors’ Alliance

CLICK HERE to contact the Roosevelt Neighbors’ Alliance.

University District Community Council

CLICK HERE to contact the University District Council.

University Park Community Club

CLICK HERE to contact the University Park Community Club.

View Ridge Community Council

Click here to contact the View Ridge Community Council.

Wallingford Community Council

CLICK HERE to contact the Wallingford Community Council.

Wedgwood Community Council

CLICK HERE to contact the Wedgwood Community Council.

If you do not currently participate in a community group, but have an issue you need addressed by your city government, you can

Call the Customer Service Bureau at 206-684-CITY (2489) or use the “Find-It Fix-It” application from your phone. Alternatively, you can click on the specific links below to fill out the information:

To learn more about your District Councilmember, CLICK HERE.

To request a meeting with the Councilmember Pedersen, CLICK HERE.

To see a map of our City Council District 4, CLICK HERE.

You can always contact Councilmember Pedersen’s office by writing to us at Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov or CLICK HERE.


Budgets, Public Safety, Bridge Maintenance, and More

October 26th, 2020

Friends and Neighbors,

October has been bursting with work on Seattle’s $6.5 billion budget for 2021. I’ve spent the last few weeks working with the Durkan Administration, my Council colleagues, and constituents to consider how best to finalize a budget that works for all of us in the face of the economic and public health crisis caused by COVID-19. While I’m working collaboratively with some of my colleagues to advance constructive amendments to what was already a reasonable budget from Mayor Durkan and her talented team, I have to admit that striving to finalize a sensible and sustainable budget to make Seattle better has surfaced a few frustrations:

  • HOMELESSNESS: Several of my colleagues on the City Council still want to dismantle the dedicated team of city government employees who had been engaging with unauthorized homeless encampments (formerly known as the Navigation Team). Meanwhile, encampments appear to be growing — including those with fire or public health hazards. (See below for my Tiny Home Village idea to help.) I believe City Council should ensure practical and effective plans are carefully crafted and in place before making drastic budget changes.
  • SAFETY: In the face of new data showing highly experienced police officers leaving our police department at a higher than expected rate, some Councilmembers are still attempting to deeply defund SPD immediately without first scaling up effective, community-informed alternatives. I agree we must deliver justice within this historic racial reckoning and fundamentally revamp how we deliver “public safety” — yet, to achieve meaningful improvements, we must focus on the major problem: the need to revamp the expensive, inflexible, and unjust police union contract. All roads to progress lead back to the contract.
  • PRIORITIES: Policymakers often say “a budget is a statement of our values.” Yet City Hall seems poised to grant another year of pay increases for city government (nearly $40 million for 2021), instead of trying to renegotiate contracts in the face of back-to-back deficits to save jobs and to redeploy those dollars to house people experiencing homelessness, to repair Seattle’s bridges that our City Auditor confirmed are in dangerous condition, and to get dollars out the door sooner to marginalized BIPOC communities.

COMMON GROUND: While I’ve emphasized the need to save money to redeploy to urgent priorities, revamp our police contract, and repair our aging bridges, a more upbeat budget item where there is common ground with my Council colleagues and the Mayor is called “Health One.” Last week, I rode along with the Seattle Fire Department’s “Health One” team, which is currently just downtown. Health One is a relatively new model that combines firefighters and case managers from our Human Services Department to engage with people experiencing a behavioral health crisis or other distress on our city streets in a way that prevents more expensive and dangerous situations. The goal is a more effective intervention to link the person to other services rather than reacting and sending them to expensive visits to emergency rooms or, worse, the criminal justice system. Mayor Durkan is prudently proposing to double this model and I would like to see it expanded further into neighborhoods such as District 4’s University District. It’s also apparent that the teams will need more data analysis support to follow-up with the growing number of cases and to analyze trends with patient care and hot spot locations.

This newsletter provides more details on the City’s $6.5 billion budget, District 4 news, and updates about the response to the COVID pandemic.

Thank you for joining us remotely at the District 4 Budget Town Hall!

Thanks to those who participated virtually in the District 4 Budget Town Hall on October 8, 2020. The discussion focused on Mayor Durkan’s Proposed 2021 Budget and, because public safety is a major portion of the budget,  we spent time with the co-chair of the Seattle Community Police Commission,  Reverend Aaron Williams who has worked on social justice issues for many years and who leads a church in District 4. Reverend Williams told us,

“Police contracts are very important. Police contracts are one of the keys to police reform. When you’re talking about changing anything from the discipline of officers to them receiving pay and what-have-you, it all comes back to contracts…We’re hoping people like you, Councilmember Pedersen, will help make sure the City finally delivers on its promises to community and fully implements the reforms that were established under the 2017 accountability ordinance…We want to make sure police accountability is strengthened statewide…So I think it’s important that we’re still focusing on police contracts as a major part because it’s undermining the accountability process…We do believe police officers deserve a police contract, but it should not be undermining the accountability process…The [federal] consent decree is still in operation.”

Thank you for those who sent questions regarding the City’s next steps for reimaging public safety and for investing in BIPOC communities – which I believe is urgently needed now. If you’d like to view the video of our town hall, CLICK HERE. For the PowerPoint presentation, CLICK HERE.

Balancing the budget
must continue at City Hall

After receiving the Mayor’s proposed budget and several days of presentations from City departments, City Council entered the “Issue Identification” step of the budget process. Based on constituent feedback, I submitted several requests for potential amendments to the budget, including more maintenance of our city’s aging bridges, more protection for our trees in our Emerald City, more transparency for the expensive pension benefits for City government, and more data on police response times. In budget meetings this week, Council will discuss specific changes each Councilmember is pursuing.

Here are my remarks during “Issue Identification” on October 15:

“Considering the multiple crises we are facing, including back-to-back deficits for 2020 and 2021, I believe Mayor Durkan and her team have put forward a budget that is thoughtful and reasonable and I hope my colleagues on the City Council choose to consider it in a collaborative and constructive manner. Fortunately, we already have laws on the books that govern how we build up our Rainy Day reserves over time. If now is not the time to deploy our Rainy Day funds with a global pandemic and back-to-back deficits, I cannot imagine when that would be. I would, however, like to strengthen the current savings policy so that we build up future reserves faster.

“An important critique that I believe we must put on the table for discussion is whether we really want to increase salaries by nearly $40 million — on top of pay raises received by the city government this year and last year. When so many people are out of jobs and our city has so many deep needs, I don’t think it’s the right time to increase the pay of city government again. So if you look at page 28 of the Miscellaneous Issues memo, you’ll see a range of options to save anywhere from $5 million to nearly $40 million simply by forgoing those pay increases next year. Let’s reinvest the millions of dollars of government pay raises to provide shelter and mental health support for people experiencing homelessness so they are no longer living in our parks. Let’s reinvest the millions of dollars to invest further in BIPOC communities. Let’s reinvest the millions of dollars to increase the safety of our city’s aging bridges. City government can and should invest more in our most vulnerable populations and our aging infrastructure, instead of putting more money in our own pockets. In addition to helping the homeless and our bridges, forgoing pay raises now could also help to save city jobs and prevent layoffs in the future.”

Here is a chart showing various options for redeploying dollars from city government pay increases scheduled for 2021 to other urgent needs:

Represented employees = City government employees covered by labor unions. Changes would be subject to bargaining between our Labor Relations Policy Committee (comprised of Councilmembers and leaders from our executive branch both representing management).

2 Non-represented & non-APEX/SAM employees = non-represented employees who have historically received the same wage increases as City government employees represented by labor unions.

YOUR VOICE ON THE BUDGET:  In addition to the budget public hearing on October 6, my Town Hall on October 8, and public comment at every Council meeting, we are having another public hearing on the budget on Tuesday, October 27 at 5:30 pm. You can sign up to speak at THIS LINK two hours ahead of time. You can also always email me (alex.pedersen@seattle.gov) or all Councilmembers (council@seattle.gov) to let us know what you’d like to see in this year’s budget. We look forward to hearing from you.

To read more about the budget on my blog, CLICK HERE. For the memos and presentations from the budget meetings, CLICK HERE.

 

Revamping Public Safety Requires
Revamping the Police Contract:
What’s taking so long?

Whether you want to reduce costs to Seattle taxpayers or make the disciplinary system more fair or deploy mental health professionals instead of highly trained police officers, everything helpful seems to be blocked and controlled by the 100-page police union contractWhile attention has been focused on blunt budget cuts and bumper sticker slogans, all roads to meaningful justice and equity for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color communities lead back to reworking the unjust, inflexible, and expensive police union contract. Since last writing on this matter, there seems to have been no substantial movement by either the executive/legislative committee charged with negotiating all labor union contracts or the police union.  For more about the Labor Relations Policy Committee, CLICK HERE. To read an interview where I discuss that unjust contract, CLICK HERE. While I do not serve on that critical committee, I stand ready to help my colleagues achieve progress.

While encouraging City Hall policymakers who are in the official position to revamp the police union contract, I have also encouraged police reforms at the State level which will strengthen our negotiating position locally.  I appreciate former Council President and Mayor Tim Burgess (my former boss) and former monitor of the federal Consent Decree Merrick Bobb for their recent editorial calling for needed state reform. You can read their article at THIS LINK.

In addition, I’m asking for these items as part of our budget process:

  • An assessment of 9-1-1 emergency response times in light of increasing attrition and demands on police resources.
  • An assessment of potential savings from moving expensive traffic control functions out of the Police Department to save money for other community needs.

Around District 4

Photo: Seattle Parks & Recreation

 

PARKS IN D-4: There’s a new park open on Portage Bay in District 4!  Check out Fritz Hedges Waterway Park. This welcoming open space is named after Frederick “Fritz” Hedges, who was a long-term Parks professional with the City of Seattle. The new park is located at 1117 Northeast Boat Street. That’s east of the University Bridge (which needs repairs!) at the southern point of the University District, just a block from the Agua Verde restaurant. When I visited the park recently, I saw many people (and ducks) enjoying this lovely new connection to our waterfront, thanks to our Seattle Parks Department.  For more info on how to visit the new park, CLICK HERE.

I hope you’re also enjoying all the city play areas that opened back up starting October 6 as well. Remember to stay home if you’re sick, have any child over the age of two wear a mask, and maintain six feet of distance away from other households.

COMMUNITY COUNCILS IN D-4: On Thursday, October 7, I returned to the Wallingford Community Council to discuss our City budget process and to celebrate with WCC on finally achieving progress with Waterway 20 by passing Council Bill 119882. It was a robust conversation that included questions on the City’s plans to address homeless encampments and next steps for reimagining public safety. To participate in the Wallingford Community Council, CLICK HERE and for other community councils in District 4, CLICK HERE. Thanks to all the community councils in District 4 for inviting me and my staff to visit and listen.

 

VOTING LOCATIONS IN D-4:  Have you turned in your ballot yet?

Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, head of Seattle Central College, showing us how it’s done at one of the ballot drop boxes, though a regular mailbox works, too. Photo: Seattle Central News.

LAST-MINUTE DROP BOXES IN DISTRICT 4: As you can see from this map, if you want to use a reliable, last-minute Drop Box instead of a regular postal service mailbox, King County has placed them throughout the area including in D-4: Magnuson Park, the University District, and near Gas Works Park in Wallingford. There’s also one on the east side of Green Lake.

Help King County see historically high voter turnout this year! Ballots must be postmarked by November 3 or returned to a drop box by 8:00 pm that day. King County Elections has more information: CLICK HERE.

For a guide to surviving the stress of social media during the elections, CLICK HERE for a Seattle Times article. Trump loves Twitter, but there is a lot of misinformation and biased sources on social media, so this guide can help you stay informed and sane.

HOMELESSNESS INTERVENTION IN DISTRICT 4: WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Many constituents have contacted me with concerns that the number of unauthorized encampments around District 4 has grown and, as I travel through the district each day, I see the suffering with my own eyes. The public health social distancing requirements of the COVID pandemic have required homeless shelters to “de-intensify,” thereby reducing their capacity by approximately half. Fortunately, the Durkan Administration has created additional shelter opportunities and has a plan for surging temporary housing as part of their 2021 budget. Unfortunately, a majority of my colleagues on the City Council still plan to defund and dismantle the team of city government employees that had been responding to homelessness (the Navigation Team).

To help to respond to what appears to be an increase of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, I have worked with a local nonprofit and submitted an amendment to the budget to set aside funds necessary for a temporary new Tiny Home Village in our University District, which would have good access to transit. Used by Sound Transit for field offices during the construction of the Brooklyn Avenue light rail station (which opens next year), this small, centrally located site is scheduled for permanent affordable housing in a year or two. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and homelessness crisis, I’m hopeful that a well-organized “village” of 30-40 “tiny homes” can be a cost-effective intervention as long as it is operated by a nonprofit experienced in exiting people to permanent housing in conjunction with case management and a performance-based contract with our Human Services Department. Our district has been home to various iterations of temporary and approved encampments and has generally been welcoming if the location makes sense and there is a plan.

We have seen a sharp rise in homelessness in our district and I’m hopeful this will help to address it until shelters throughout our region can restore their capacity, until the new Regional Homelessness Authority is fully addressing this regional problem– all while our Seattle Office of Housing continues to fund the construction of permanent affordable housing as fast as it can. Results instead of rhetoric. If you have comments or concerns about this partial solution, please contact my office at Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov

15TH AVENUE NORTHEAST ROAD REPAVING WITH BIKE LANES:

After lengthy community engagement, including doorbelling neighbors myself before the pandemic hit, another street improvement project is under construction in District 4:  over a mile of 15th Ave NE between NE 55th Street and Lake City Way. This project is more than just repaving the street by the Seattle Department of Transportation. It includes updating water and sewer lines by Seattle Public Utilities, adding protected bike lanes, reconfiguring or removing some parking, and adding a few turn lane pockets for safety.  As I explained when we completed the seismic retrofit of the Cowen Park Bridge, I support these particular bike lanes — “after consulting with neighbors and considering the excellent connections to Roosevelt High and 2021 light rail as well as minimal impact on neighborhood businesses.” Construction started in September and will continue for more than a year. Disruptions are a certainty. If you’d like more information about the current condition and timing of work, please go to SDOT’s project page  by CLICKING HERE or send an e-mail to 15thNEpaving@seattle.gov.

BRIDGES NEED WORK — EVEN IN AND AROUND DISTRICT 4!

As Chair of our City’s Transportation Committee since January, I ordered an audit of all City-owned bridges shortly after SDOT suddenly closed the West Seattle High Bridge in response to accelerating cracking. It turns out that two bridges directly impacting District 4 have been severely neglected over the past several years and need fixing: the University Bridge and the Fairview Avenue Bridge. Thankfully, the Fairview bridge is being replaced now. As Eastlake residents and businesses know well, work started last year to replace the Fairview Avenue Bridge which goes over the edge of Lake Union at the southern end of the Eastlake neighborhood where Council Districts 4 and 3 meet. The work is expected to be completed next spring (2021). For more information on this SDOT bridge project, CLICK HERE. For the University Bridge and other Seattle bridges ranked “poor” or “fair,” I hoped to redirect additional resources from the City budget  — if my colleagues on the City Council agree that keeping our infrastructure safe is a priority.

Regarding the West Seattle Bridge, the Mayor prudently delayed her decision on Repair vs. Replace until after the election to gather more input. SDOT released a cost-benefit analysis on six options which you can review by CLICKING HERE — and there is a faster new proposal (“Rapid Span Replacement”) you can consider by CLICKING HERE (see photos below). For more extensive coverage this week, check out the blog of our West Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold by CLICKING HERE.

BOOKS IN D4: While the 26 branches of the Seattle Public Library aren’t open to the public during the pandemic, select locations including the Northeast Branch here in District 4 are now offering  curbside pickup serviceCLICK HERE to learn more. Congratulations to the Seattle Public Library for winning the 2020 “Library of the Year” award.

Seattle Continues COVID-19 Response

Please be one of the people wearing a mask! (just west of District 4) Photo: Crosscut.

Small Business Resiliency Grant Program from Washington State:
For small businesses, the Washington State Department of Commerce launched a Community Small Business Resiliency Grant Program using $5 Million of Federal CARES Act Relief Funds. Grant funds can be used to cover working capital shortfalls due to COVID-19 hardship. Commerce’s intent is to award each eligible applicant the maximum award available up to $10,000, based on the number of applications. Applications will be accepted between until 12 p.m. October 28, 2020. For more information and to apply, CLICK HERE.

Aid to Immigrants: Applications for Seattle’s COVID-10 Disaster Relief Fund for Immigrants close on November 5. Please apply for this direct cash assistance if you were excluded from federal stimulus checks and state unemployment insurance due to your immigration status. Payments will occur after December 1. CLICK HERE to learn more and apply.

Updates on UW COVID Cases: For more on the outbreak at some off-campus fraternities and sororities, CLICK HERE.

Mask Up! As I have written in nearly every newsletter since the beginning of the pandemic, please keep wearing your mask and maintaining social distance. As you might have heard, public health officials are alarmed at the increasing rate of new infections in Washington. Continue to do your part to protect yourself, your family, and our District 4 community. You can keep up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 news via the SEATTLE TIMESCITY OF SEATTLEKING COUNTY, and STATE OF WASHINGTON websites.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

City Council Meetings on the Internet
Listening: Even though City Council is not currently holding meetings in person in order to follow public health guidelines, you can still follow along by listening on your computer or phone by CLICKING HERE. You can also listen on your phone by calling 253-215-8782.

Commenting: You can also submit public comment by sending an e-mail to me at Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov or to all 9 Councilmembers at council@seattle.gov. Please remember to add “For City Council Meeting” in the comments. Now you can also phone into the meeting to speak directly to the Council live. For the instructions on how to register and call in, CLICK HERE. Sign up begins two hours prior to the meeting start time.

We are still receiving a very high volume of e-mails (for example, over 1,000 e-mails about the Mayor’s recent vetoes), so I ask for your patience as we try to respond to those District 4 constituents who asked for a response. Either way, we read your e-mails and they have an impact. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Virtual Meetings with Your Councilmember Pedersen
I continue to schedule virtual in-district office hours, so we can chat “in person.” Please continue to sign up through my website or by CLICKING HERE so I can hear your ideas, concerns, and requests. You can also just send an e-mail to alex.pedersen@seattle.gov

For previous e-newsletters, visit my blog by CLICKING HERE.

We will get through this together Seattle!

With gratitude,

 

 

Councilmember Alex Pedersen
Seattle City Council, District 4

Email: Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov
Find It, Fix It


Another New Park in our District 4 at Portage Bay

October 19th, 2020

This past weekend I visited the brand-new park that opened at Portage Bay in our District 4. It’s called Fritz Hedges Waterway Park, named after Frederick “Fritz” Hedges who was a long-term Parks professional with the City of Seattle. The new park is located at 1117 Northeast Boat Street. That’s east of the University Bridge at the southern point of the University District, just a block from the Agua Verde restaurant. I saw many families with their children and other residents enjoying this lovely new connection to our waterfront, thanks to our Seattle Parks Department.

More Information:

  • For the Seattle Times article about this new park, CLICK HERE.
  • For our Parks Department official websites about this park, CLICK HERE and HERE. For the original announcement from our Parks Department, CLICK HERE.


Annual Budget Process with City Council: reviewing, amending, and adopting by December 2020 (for 2021)

October 8th, 2020

[NOTE:

  • Final Budget: The blog post below discusses the beginning and middle of the Fall 2020 budget process (for 2021). For the separate blog post that details the final results of that process, CLICK HERE.
  • Public Safety: While public safety is a key component of our city budget and is discussed below, you can also view my separate posts about reimagining and revamping policing in Seattle by CLICKING HERE.]

Fall 2020: It’s Budget Season (again)! Although “budget season” officially kicked off Tuesday, September 29, 2020 when Mayor Durkan transmitted her budget proposal for 2021, your city government has been working on this budget for months, with each of the mayor’s department heads and her budget office determining how best to invest tax dollars for Seattle next year. City Council then has two months to review, obtain input, amend, and adopt a balanced budget for 2021. Washington State law requires “not later than thirty days prior to the beginning of the ensuing fiscal year the city council shall, by ordinance adopt the budget submitted by the mayor as modified by the city council.” In other words, the Seattle City Council’s deadline is December 2, although the Council has traditionally adopted the amended budget on the Monday before Thanksgiving. As is typical for cities across the nation, our city MUST adopt a budget that is balanced.

The total (all funds) budget is $6.5 billion. Yes, that’s BILLION. That includes the $1.5 billion General Fund, Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, and transportation and other capital projects. See pie charts and links below. Due to the COVID pandemic, revenues fell by $300 million in 2020 and $200 million for 2021 forcing departments to reduce some programs and projects to balance the budget even as the Mayor’s budget uses the new payroll tax.

My Initial Thoughts on Chair Mosqueda’s Balancing Package (Nov 9, 2020):

“I appreciate the hard work our Mayor, City departments, City Council staff, and Budget Chair invested into this 2021 budget proposal and the flurry of initial amendments. There are many important choices made when crafting a budget of $6.5 billion covering 40 departments and 12,000 government employees and the final result is never perfect as the law requires a balanced budget under a tight deadline. I remain concerned this amended budget would allow pay increases for city government when we still have so many needs in our communities, such as sheltering more people experiencing homelessness, preventing displacement from Seattle, quickly scaling up BIPOC-informed strategies for public safety, cleaning up litter, and repairing our aging bridge infrastructure for safety, transit, and economic recovery. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make this budget as strong as it can be before final passage.

Thoughts on Mayor Durkan’s Budget Proposal (Sept 29, 2020):

Based on my initial review, I believe Mayor Durkan and her team have put forward a thoughtful and responsible balanced budget and I hope my colleagues on the City Council choose to consider it in a collaborative and constructive manner. Nevertheless, instead of spending up to $30 million to increase the salaries of many city government employees, I strongly believe we should invest those dollars to provide housing and case management for people experiencing homelessness and to maintain the safety of our city’s aging bridges. In addition, the City Council and executive branch leaders in charge of labor negotiations should immediately revamp the dysfunctional police union contract that has become a disservice to good police officers and all communities. Rather than distracting everyone by stirring up a budget process high on drama and low on results, those in charge of labor negotiations at City Hall should tackle the real work of redoing that expensive, inflexible, and unjust contract so that we can truly reimagine public safety. I stand ready to support them.

My Remarks on SDOT’s budget proposal, as Chair of the City Council Committee on Transportation & Utilities (Oct 2, 2020):

As we see at all levels of government throughout our nation, the budget for our Department of Transportation is facing the reality of back-to-back budget deficits as transportation revenue sources drop dramatically due to the COVID pandemic and the related economic recession. In light of the budget deficits, I know Director Zimbabwe and his executive team of transportation experts at SDOT have been working hard to prioritize our investments to make the hard choices of where to trim expenses and pause projects while giving extra attention to the West Seattle Bridge. Despite temporary reductions elsewhere, I’m glad to see the Mayor and SDOT striving to maintain funding levels for maintenance of our city’s aging bridges, similar to 2020 investment levels. However, it’s important to remind everyone that our City Auditor’s recent report on all bridges throughout our city calls for substantially MORE spending on bridge maintenance to keep them safe and functional. I appreciate SDOT concurring with the auditor’s recommendation on this need.

Therefore, if there are any increases or changes in SDOT’s budget between now and when the Council adopts it (for example, if the revenue forecast improves or we find savings elsewhere in the City budget), I would expect more dollars to go into bridge maintenance, so that we truly acknowledge the alarming “wake up call” from the sudden closure of the West Seattle Bridge and the poor condition of several City bridges. While I’ll have questions about SDOT’s budget throughout our budget process, I believe SDOT is off to a sensible and solid start in dealing with our fiscal constraints.  Despite the fiscal constraints, I believe SDOT is overall doing their best to keep people and freight moving, to encourage transit to benefit both our environment and those who rely on transit, and to keep pedestrians safe throughout our city. I look forward to hearing from SDOT today as they summarize their 2021 operating AND capital budget proposal.

My Remarks at “Issue Identification” Overview (Oct 15, 2020):

Thank you, Budget Chair Mosqueda, and thank you to our City Council Central Staff for analyzing all the ideas and comments that we have on this budget. I appreciate Chair Mosqueda identifying some common ground to expand the Health One program with firefighters and social workers. I also appreciate the forward-thinking approach by considering not just 2021, but also 2022. One of the strong points about the spending plan for 2022 from the Jump Start revenues is the focus on creating permanent affordable housing to address homelessness.

Considering the multiple crises we are facing, including back-to-back deficits for 2020 and 2021, I believe Mayor Durkan and her team have put forward a budget that is thoughtful and reasonable and I hope my colleagues on the City Council choose to consider it in a collaborative and constructive manner. Fortunately, we already have laws on the books that govern how we build up our Rainy Day reserves over time. If now is not the time to deploy our Rainy Day funds with a global pandemic and back-to-back deficits, I cannot imagine when that would be. I would, however, like to strengthen the current savings policy so that we build up future reserves faster.

An important critique that I believe we must put on the table for discussion is whether we really want to increase salaries by $42 million — on top of pay raises received by city government employees this year and last year. When so many people are out of jobs and our city has such deep needs, I don’t think it’s the right time to increase the pay of city government employees again. So if you look at page 28 of tomorrow’s Miscellaneous Issues memo, you’ll see a range of options to save anywhere from $15 million to $42 million simply by forgoing those pay increases next year. Let’s reinvest the millions of dollars of pay raises to provide shelter and mental health support for people experiencing homelessness so they are no longer living in our parks. Let’s reinvest the millions of dollars in pay raises to invest further in BIPOC communities. Let’s reinvest the millions of dollars of pay raises to increase the safety of our city’s aging bridges. City government can and should invest more in our most vulnerable populations and our aging infrastructure, instead of putting more money in our own pockets. In addition to helping the homeless and our bridges, forgoing pay raises now could also help to save city jobs and prevent layoffs in the future.

Your Input — Budget Town Hall for D-4, Public Hearings, and More: There are many opportunities to provide input on the city budget throughout the year and especially during this fall budget season when it’s squarely in the court of the City Council:

  • Budget Town Hall for District 4: Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom hosted by me. The City Budget Director Ben Noble will join us to provide an overview of the proposed budget along with Community Police Commission co-chair Reverend Aaron Williams. We’ll strive to answer as many budget questions as we can. To sign up, CLICK HERE. [Update: Thanks to those who joined us for our Budget Town Hall! For the presentation from the City Budget Office, CLICK HERE.
  • Public Hearings: The entire City Council is also holding two special public hearings on the budget:
    • Tuesday, October 6 at 5:30 p.m. (for the Seattle Times article and video/audio on the first public hearing, CLICK HERE).
    • Tuesday, October 27 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Budget Meetings: You can call into the public comment periods during the budget meetings (for the calendar, CLICK HERE).
  • Contact Us: If you are not able to attend my town hall or a public hearing, you can also e-mail my office Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov and/or e-mail the entire City Council at council@seattle.gov.

Media Reports:

  • Seattle Times
    • Sept 29, 2020 article, “Durkan’s 2021 budget would use cuts, reserves and big-business tax to close revenue hole and invest in communities of color”: CLICK HERE.
    • Sept 30, 2020 article, “Seattle council members raise questions, concerns about Mayor Jenny Durkan’s 2021 budget plan” CLICK HERE.
  • Crosscut
    • Sept 29, 2020 article, “COVID-19, unrest shape Durkan’s ‘difficult’ 2021 budget for Seattle”: CLICK HERE.
    • Oct 1, 2020 article, “Union negotiations loom over the future of policing in Seattle”: CLICK HERE.

Resources:

  • City Budget Office website, CLICK HERE.
  • Operating Budget as proposed by Mayor Durkan on September 29, 2020 for the calendar year 2021, CLICK HERE.
  • Capital Improvement Program (budget) proposed by Mayor Durkan for 2021-2026, CLICK HERE.
  • Mayor’s press release and speech when transmitting her budget proposal, CLICK HERE.
  • For this fall’s budget calendar, CLICK HERE.
  • City Council Budget Committee website, CLICK HERE.
  • For Council Bill 119811 (original “JumpStart” spending plan) adopted by City Council on July 6, 2020, CLICK HERE.
  • For the 2020 audit of Seattle bridges that reinforces the need to invest more dollars in bridge maintenance/safety, CLICK HERE.
  • Powerpoint Presentations:
    • Overview from City Budget Office, CLICK HERE.
    • Seattle Police Department Budget (as proposed), CLICK HERE.
    • Reimagining Public Safety (from Mayor’s Office), CLICK HERE.
    • Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), CLICK HERE.
    • Homelessness Response, CLICK HERE.

Related Issues:

  • Summer 2020 Budget “Re-Balancing”: If you’ve been following City Hall activities over the past few months, you’ll recall that we recently finalized some budget actions this year, but those comprised a unique summer effort to re-balance this year’s 2020 budget that fell out of balance from the sudden mid-year drop in revenues due to the COVID pandemic. To learn more about my votes on the previous 2020 re-balancing, CLICK HERE for my blog (and then type the word “budget” in the Search box on the top right corner of that website).
  • Reimagining Public Safety: If you’re seeking more details on efforts to revamp the police department (including the police union contract), address institutional racism, and expand community-led crime prevention and harm reduction solutions in the wake of the unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Charleena Lyles, John T. Williams, and countless other Black, Indigenous, and people of color, please also see my other blog post: https://pedersen.seattle.gov/injustice-anywhere-is-a-threat-to-justice-everywhere/ For a Crosscut news article highlighting the importance of revamping the police union contract — which is needed to make the most meaningful changes to the SPD budget — CLICK HERE.

# # #


COVID at the University of Washington

October 7th, 2020

Media Reports:

From the Office of the President at UW, October 7, 2020:

“Minimizing the spread of COVID-19 is a university priority, and critical to the overall health of our community.  We share your concern and frustration about the recent outbreak in the Greek community.

The University implemented a variety of measures to protect and promote health in our student population as they returned for Autumn quarter.

  • The University announced early that it would be primarily online.  Only 5% of our classes are currently meeting in person.
  • In follow-up to a similar outbreak this summer, Greek chapters now have COVID-19 safety and prevention plans informed by state and local public health requirements.
  • The University offered “move in” testing to the Greek community at the beginning of September, with over 1200 members tested. The University also offers the opportunity for all students to get tested through the Husky Coronavirus Testing program. Nearly 2,000 Greek members are enrolled and have the opportunity to receive testing every 72 hours.
  • The University is working in close partnership with Public Health Seattle King County on contact tracing, isolation and quarantine procedures and ongoing education.  King County and university public health officials meet regularly with the leadership, advisors, and house corps to share information, reinforce expectations, and answer questions.

The majority of Greek students and leadership are taking the pandemic seriously and complying with public health measures.  We recognize, however, that some are not.  Each sorority and fraternity house is privately owned by a board of alumni/ae and the UW does not have the authority to close them.  Suspending university affiliation, as some have suggested, also does not close the facility nor require anyone move out of the residence.  In response to ongoing concerns about continued social gatherings, UW & King County Public Health have recently informed the Chapter Presidents of Residential-based Fraternities and Sororities, Chapter Advisors, House Corporation Presidents, Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association of additional enforcement actions if a student or group of students continue to fail to comply with UW guidance and Public Health guidance. You can read more (here). The Interfraternity Council (IFC) issued a moratorium on all social related activities and any reported will be adjudicated and appropriate sanctions levied.

If you see activities of concern, please do not hesitate to refer those to pres@uw.edu, or to David Hotz, Director of the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life, at dhotz@uw.edu. Our highest priority is ensuring the health and safety of our community and working diligently to prevent further transmission of COVID-19.”


Electrifying our Transportation System Supercharges Seattle’s Ability to Tackle Climate Change

October 5th, 2020

Press Release: Celebrating passage of our Transportation Electrification Plan to guide Seattle City Light’s investments in an electrified transportation system 

Seattle City Light’s Transportation Electrification Strategic Investment Plan will guide equitable investments to electrify all forms of transportation

SEATTLE (September 28, 2020) – Mayor Jenny Durkan today applauded City Council’s passage of Seattle City Light’s Transportation Electrification Strategic Investment Plan, an important step in committing resources and making investments to modernize our electric grid and enable a once-in-a-century transformation of the Seattle area’s transportation ecosystem.

“We envision a future Seattle where the movement of people, goods and services in and around the city is electrified,” said Mayor Durkan. “This is an essential piece of Climate Action Plan, Drive Clean Seattle Initiative and the Green New Deal. With this plan, Seattle will lead the way to a healthy future that is carbon-neutral, equitable and modern, while supporting customer choice and fostering new economic and workforce opportunities.”

In 2019, the Washington State Legislature passed House Bill 1512, granting public utilities the authority, already established for investor-owned utilities, to offer incentives and services to their customers to electrify transportation. Development and adoption of the Transportation Electrification Strategic Investment Plan, required by the law, ensures City Light can capitalize on that new authority to use these future offerings,  our prior learnings and stakeholder engagement to ensure the benefits of transportation electrification are accelerated and maximized for all the communities we serve.

The plan sets the priorities for future programs and services and describes how the utility will bolster and modernize our electric grid to enable public transit charging, support freight and commercial fleets and provide flexibility for personal mobility. City Light centered this plan on three key values:

  • Equity – to ensure benefits are focused to support and uplift underserved communities.
  • Environment – to improve air quality and public health.
  • The grid – operating the electricity delivery system as a community asset to deliver public good.

It reflects City Light’s engagements with the cities in its service area, with communities it serves, and with partner agencies to further its modernization- and customer-focused missions, including ensuring that investment in transportation infrastructure results in equitable outcomes.

Seattle must continue the hard work to address climate change, and owning Seattle City Light enables us to expand opportunities to use clean hydroelectric power to decarbonize our economy, including throughout our transportation systems,” said Councilmember Alex Pedersen, chair of the Council’s Transportation and Utilities Committee. “Adopting this thoughtful Electrification Strategic Investment Plan also builds upon the collaboration between Seattle’s executive and legislative branches of government, including the Green New Deal resolution and the new ‘Climate Note’ that requires us to consider all new legislation through the lens of climate change.”

A quickly growing electric vehicle (EV) market offers an opportunity for City Light to play an important role in reducing the climate and environmental impacts of our transportation sector, the region’s largest source of hazardous air pollutants. However, while personal vehicles – including cars, bikes and e-scooters – make up one part of the EV market, the largest benefits of transportation electrification are expected to accrue from modes that move large numbers of people – electrified transit buses and ferries – as well reduced emissions from vehicles that drive a large amount of miles, including commercial fleets, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, and other high-mileage vehicle drivers.

City Light’s planned strategic investments fall in two categories: program offerings, including customer-facing incentives, services, education and promotions; and electrification enablement, including the development of future-focused infrastructure needed to support transportation electrification.

“At Seattle City Light, we are redefining electricity services to meet the evolving demands of our customers and our rapidly growing metropolitan area,” said Debra Smith, City Light General Manager and CEO. “City Light envisions a utility of the future that is responsive to the wants and needs of community members most impacted by environmental inequities, operates a modernized grid that enables real-time smart technology interaction and provides economic opportunities through infrastructure investments and upgrades. A modernized electric grid will accelerate electrification of transportation and other sectors, allow for resource optimization and prepare the region to withstand growing climate impacts.”

City Light has been working on transportation electrification over the past five years, conducting in-depth transportation electrification analyses as well as piloting public and residential EV charging, partnering with regional public transit agencies, and launching time-of-day electricity rates to better understand potential impacts of this growing market. Based on these analyses, City Light anticipates both financial cost and benefit from the transition to transportation electrification. As more EVs charge within the service area, the utility sells more electric power. The retail revenue from the new sales are expected to be greater than the costs required to procure and deliver the additional electricity, eventually stabilizing rates and providing overall benefit to customers.

Transportation electrification also offers significant opportunities to address the environmental inequities that exist in our region. Neighborhoods where marginalized populations are a relatively large share of residents are more likely to be located near the city’s major transportation routes, especially the city’s high-volume freight routes. City Light’s Transportation Electrification Strategic Investment Plan is a component of the City’s work to address these inequities and City Light will focus on the wants and needs of environmental justice communities, which includes Black, Indigenous, and people of color as well as immigrants, refugees, persons experiencing low incomes, English language learners, youth, and seniors, in advancing the transportation electrification plan.

In developing this plan, City Light engaged with more than 40 community leaders and stakeholder groups to align investment priorities with community needs, with a focus on environmental justice communities. This strategic plan defines the process for how City Light will collaborate with customers and communities to develop a portfolio of transportation electrification offerings, and develop metrics for success reflective of our customers. Following approval of the plan, City Light will do additional work with communities to co-create program offering designs.

City Light has closely collaborated with several other City departments – Office of Sustainability and Environment, Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, Seattle Department of Transportation, Office of Planning and Community Development, Office of Economic Development, Department of Neighborhoods, Finance and Administrative Services – in development of this plan and a broader citywide transportation electrification strategy.

“City Light’s strategic investment plan is a critical component of the citywide transportation electrification strategy.  In order to achieve our ambitious climate goals, it is essential that the utility have authority to offer customer incentives and services for transportation electrification, as well as the authority to promote electric vehicle adoption and advertise the utility’s services,” said Jessica Finn Coven, Director, Office of Sustainability and Environment.

# # #


Results and Budgets during challenging times

September 24th, 2020

Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this newsletter finds you looking forward to the season of Fall — here at City Hall that means budget season.

Despite sometimes expressing policy perspectives different from several of my City Council colleagues, I have enjoyed crafting important measures to benefit our district and our city–and then working with those colleagues to adopt those measures including:

  • an Internet for All action plan focused on achieving equity,
  • an audit of Seattle’s bridges focused on safety, and
  • a vital analysis focused on addressing climate change.

These accomplishments are in addition to the basic work we need to do as chair of our Council’s Transportation & Utilities Committee, which includes next steps to repair and replace the West Seattle Bridge.

These professional relationships with my Council colleagues and our Mayor are important as we head into a difficult discussions on how to close the growing gaps in our city government’s budget which, due to the economic recession, will likely include reductions for government programs and projects. As the Mayor transmits her budget proposal for 2021 on September 29, I hope to use my extensive financial management experience to help our city navigate these troubled fiscal waters. We recently previewed how challenging it can be to agree on policies and budgets.

This past Tuesday, the City Council reconsidered the three pieces of budget legislation that our Mayor vetoed last month: Council Bills 119825, 119862, and 119863. Mayor Durkan explained her vetoes in a letter to the City Council. The City Council discussed the vetoes on September 21 and 22 and ultimately overrode the vetoes on all three bills. While I joined my colleagues on two of the bills, new information about the negative impacts of Council Bill 119825 convinced me (and Councilmember Debora Juarez) to vote to sustain (support) our Mayor’s veto on that particular bill.

Council Bill 119825 was concerning to me and many constituents because it contributed to the early retirement of our city’s first and only Black police chief Carmen Best and it deleted funding for our city’s “Navigation Team” for those experiencing homelessness. It has become even more clear that we need this interdepartmental team of dedicated city employees who offer housing and services to people living in unauthorized encampments. I know many of us are eager to hear from my colleagues who voted to defund the Navigation Team about how they intend to replace the organized and coordinated efforts we had to address homelessness. We also need a better understanding of how the changes proposed in this legislation, combined with the accelerated attrition (loss) of police officers, will impact response times from our police department and our ability to adhere to the consent decree for police reforms.

This entire budgetary battle, unfortunately, avoided the hard work of what we really need to revamp public safety: City Hall must revamp the inflexible, expensive, and unjust labor contract with the police union (which I discuss more below).

The remarks I made at the City Council meeting explain my rationale for my various votes and you can review them on my blog: pedersen.seattle.gov. My blog also provides details of this historic issue of revamping public safety and the various votes and events stretching back to May.

Read on for more updates about my recent work for District 4 and other news.

City Council Unanimously Adopts Councilmember Pedersen’s Climate Change Policy

 
Presenting the climate change analysis to my Council colleagues.

This past Monday, the City Council unanimously approved Resolution 31933, which I crafted and introduced. My Resolution will, for the first time, require City Hall to formally consider the crisis of climate change when crafting new legislation. The recurring wildfires that choked Seattle’s air with harmful smoke were an ominous backdrop as Councilmembers recognized the urgent need to contemplate all new legislation through the lens of climate change.

Currently, all Council legislation requires a “fiscal note,” which summarizes the financial implications to the City. Resolution 31933 expands this analysis by asking City departments to assess whether new legislation would increase or decrease carbon emissions and whether it would strengthen or weaken Seattle’s resiliency to climate change. By the end of March 2021, the City Budget Office and the Office of Sustainability and Environment will be reporting on how well the new reporting requirement is working. Thank you to everyone who called and emailed City Council in support of the resolution, and especially to Dr. Cathy Tuttle, a climate activist and policy expert who ran for City Council in 2019 and whose “Carbon Note” concept inspired this new policy.

CLICK HERE to read the resolution and HERE to read a statement from Dr. Tuttle in support of it.

Mayor Durkan Transmits her Budget to City Council Tuesday, Sept 29

Due to the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, we must be prepared for significant reductions to Seattle’s $6.5 billion budget. In the face of these reductions necessary to balance the city’s budget as required by State law, I will still be working hard to secure funding for projects that will serve the over 100,000 constituents who call District 4 home. I hope you’ll join me at a virtual town hall to discuss the Mayor’s budget, its impacts on District 4, and to voice your priorities for our city government budget process. City Budget Director Ben Noble will be with us to provide an overview and to answer questions. RSVP HERE to receive the Zoom call-in link and submit your questions. See you on October 8 for the virtual Budget Town Hall for our District 4 !

We Must Revamp the Police Union Contract to Revamp Public Safety

The 100-page labor contract with the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) is an expensive, inflexible, and unjust document that has become a disservice to both good police officers and all Seattle communities and it is the #1 impediment to reallocating additional resources to BIPOC communities, improving public safety, expanding police reforms, and ending institutional racism in policing.  While that dysfunctional contract expires in only 90 days, both the Executive and Legislative branches of city government have, unfortunately, spent months dramatically tinkering with the police budget when we must first attack the root cause of the problems: the SPOG labor contract. I hope we can all encourage those in charge of labor policy for City Hall to roll up their sleeves to rebuild a better contract so that we have the flexibility and funding to revamp public safety in Seattle. For the entire contract, CLICK HERE.

New Police Reform Monitors Appointed by Federal Judge Robart

I am grateful for the years of hard work by Merrick Bobb and look forward to the efforts of the new police reform monitors Antonio Oftelie and Monisha Harrell. For the Seattle Times article, CLICK HERE. No matter the size of our police department budget or number of police officers, we need to sustain and expand the reforms, such as improving the disciplinary process. The monitors provide important independent oversight and analysis in addition to the Community Police Commission, Office of Police Accountability, and Inspector General (for Public Safety).

City Auditor Completes the Bridge Audit I Requested and Concludes—We Need More Funding to Keep Our Bridges Safe

 
The University Bridge that connects the U District and Eastlake in District 4 was among the bridges ranked in “poor” condition along with the Magnolia Bridge, 2nd Avenue South extension, and the Fairview Avenue Bridge (which is being reconstructed). Photo: by SounderBruce on Wikipedia

As a result of the closure of the West Seattle Bridge in March, I requested a review by the City Auditor of the rest of Seattle’s City-owned bridges to determine their condition and ongoing monitoring and maintenance status.

In a city defined by its many waterways, our bridges connect us and this audit report proves city government must do a better job investing in this basic infrastructure,” said Councilmember Pedersen. “Vital for transit, freight and our regional economy, bridges require relatively large investments to build and maintain to ensure they remain safe for generations. I requested this audit of our bridges because the rapid deterioration of the West Seattle Bridge underscored the need for City officials and the general public to have a clear, thorough, and independent understanding of the condition of major bridges throughout Seattle, including the adequacy of the City’s preventative maintenance investments and practices.

The auditor’s staff did a remarkable job and produced the audit report in mid-September. It is published HERE. In addition to identifying the serious shortage of funding for needed bridge maintenance, the auditor recommends several changes to how SDOT assesses the condition of each bridge, including the importance of evaluating individual components of each bridge. The auditor also recommends that SDOT bridge crews spend less time helping other agencies and jurisdictions, so that SDOT can stay focused on Seattle’s bridges.

The Seattle Times editorial on the audit said, “New City Councilmember Alex Pedersen deserves kudos for requesting the audit after the West Seattle Bridge closure. It gives the council facts and improvements to consider, and has already prompted change at the Department of Transportation.”

SDOT has agreed with almost all of the audit’s conclusions and recommendations. I will continue to monitor SDOT to improve its care for our bridges and to encourage my Council colleagues to get City Hall back to the basics of our city’s infrastructure.

You can read more about the bridge audit HERE.

Concerns About SDOT’s New Scooter Rentals

 
Photo from SDOT blog

On September 8, 2020, I voted against scooters in Seattle and here’s why:

I support improved mobility options by encouraging environmentally friendly alternatives to gas-powered, single occupancy vehicles.  Ideally, electric scooters (e-scooters) would provide an alternative for some trips for some travelers. At the same time, the City government is essentially authorizing a new mode of transportation — thousands of scooters traveling within our streets and other rights of way. This is big change that warrants a careful tracking of the results.

I had been looking forward to a standard ‘pilot project’ on scooters that would measure results as we are seeing elsewhere in King County but, unfortunately, this SDOT legislation is not a real pilot project. The legislation transmitted by SDOT to the City Council did not explicitly and fully address safety, financial liability, infrastructure costs, or measures for success.

SDOT, however, said this legislation was time-sensitive, so I fulfilled my role as Transportation Committee Chair to facilitate discussion, ask questions, and enable my fellow Councilmembers to vote on it. While a majority of my colleagues approved it at my Committee on August 19 and at the full City Council on September 8, I was personally not willing to vote yes for something that, in my opinion, lacked details. “

Both Council Bill 119867 and Council Bill 119868 totaled only 2 pages in length. To retain some oversight role and to encourage a more standard pilot program that evaluates initial results, as Chair of the Transportation Committee, I sent a letter asking our SDOT Director to return to our Committee by next June and next December to report on specific metrics from the first 6 months and 12 months of the new program.  To view my letter to the SDOT Director, CLICK HERE.

West Seattle Bridge Closure Assessment and Mitigation Continue

 
Photo: SDOT

Impacts from the West Seattle Bridge closure in March continue, with no near-term replacement of the lost capacity. Numerous measures have been put in place to reduce the impacts of traffic flowing through Georgetown and South Park. Engineering work to assess the best paths forward continues. The City Council also retained an engineering firm to provide input. After a cost-benefit analysis, we are expecting the Mayor to announce a decision on SDOT’s preferred path forward in October. The two likely choices: repair with replacement in about 15 years or begin replacement as soon as possible.

For more information on the status of the West Seattle Bridge, please see SDOT’s West Seattle Bridge page. District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold also posts insightful articles on the bridge on her blog, and the West Seattle Blog contains regular and in-depth reporting.

 

Internet for All Plan, Called For By Councilmembers Pedersen, Gonzalez, and Juarez, Now Available

I was pleased to hear the details of the Internet for All Seattle report at my Committee, including the Gap Analysis and Action Plan presentation at my Transportation & Utilities Committee on Wednesday, September 16; the recording of the presentation is available on the Seattle Channel. Our Internet for All Resolution requested Seattle’s Information Technology Department to provide its first report last week, followed by subsequent reports for the longer term, sustainable solutions of the Action Plan. For our original Resolution (31956) that launched Internet for All, CLICK HERE. For the presentation, CLICK HERE and for the Action Plan report, CLICK HERE.

The Resolution, which I crafted and sponsored with Council President Gonzalez and Councilmember Juarez, was adopted unanimously by the Council in July. It outlined a vision and requested a plan to make broadband internet service accessible, reliable, and affordable to all residents. Increased access to the internet will increase access to key services and opportunities such as education, job training, unemployment assistance, and resources for those seeking relief during times of crisis.

Seattle is a city that rightfully prides itself on world-class technology, but the COVID crisis has laid bare the inequities and injustices of the Digital Divide. I called for this action plan with my colleagues to achieve Internet for All because we can no longer allow limited access to the internet to prevent learning, to impede our workers, or to hinder our small businesses. It’s time to provide reliable and affordable access to the internet as part of our city’s vital infrastructure for social justice, education, and economic development. This ambitious report from the Mayor and her team, in collaboration with the City Council, spurs Seattle’s long-term efforts to provide affordable and reliable internet to low-income, BIPOC, and all communities, so that we can finally achieve Internet for All.

Building on the strong foundation created by the Mayor and her team, Seattle’s IT Department worked diligently to establish strategies and objectives as concrete steps toward universal internet access and adoption. As we know, the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated and exacerbated inequities in society, including the digital divide with disparate outcomes for low-income and BIPOC communities. Especially during the pandemic, access to the internet has become a fundamental way people participate in society and this shift may have longer term impacts on how and where we conduct business, attend school, and participate in civic life.

For the joint press release on the Internet for All report from the Mayor’s Office and City Council CLICK HERE, and for more on previous Internet for All efforts, please see my blog post by CLICKING HERE.

Seattle Channel Honored with Excellence Awards for Government Programming in National Competition

 
In an appearance on the Seattle Channel show “Council Edition” with Councilmember Herbold, Host Brian Callanan, and Councilmember Strauss during happier times before the COVID pandemic.

As Chair of the Transportation & Utilities Committee, which includes Technology, I’m proud to share the news that the Seattle Channel was recently named among the best municipal television stations in the nation when it received the prestigious Overall Excellence award for government programming from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors. As I hope you all know, Seattle Channel is a local, public TV station that reflects, informs and inspires the community it serves. Seattle Channel presents programs on cable television–channel 21 on Comcast (321 HD), Wave (721 HD) and 8003 on CenturyLink (8503 HD)–and via the internet to help residents connect with their city. To access Seattle Channel online, CLICK HERE. Programming includes series and special features highlighting the diverse civic and cultural landscape.

Whether it’s increasing access to City Council meetings or producing original in-depth content focused on Seattle’s diverse people and places, Seattle Channel is an important resource. Seattle Channel provides transparency and accountability in city government, sparks civic engagement and helps deepen understanding of local issues. Congratulations to everyone at the channel, whose hard work and dedication led to these prestigious awards.

I’m grateful that the Seattle Channel broadcasts the City Council briefings and City Council hearings every Monday at 9:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. so that people across the city can see what is happening in their government.

 

New in D4: Christie Park is Open!

Photo: Seattle Parks & Recreation

Seattle Parks and Recreation is happy to announce the Christie Park renovation is complete and open to the public. SPR purchased land directly adjacent and south of Christie Park, 4257 9th Ave. NE, in 2012 to increase the open space for the University District urban village.

As noted on the Park’s website, “The larger renovated park features an open lawn, plantings, trees, a multi-use plaza with donated art, a loop trail, and a fitness area. The Friends of Christie Park, formed by the Taiwanese American Community in Greater Seattle, provided the funding for the “Explorer Voyage” art piece by Paul Sorey. The three stainless steel art boat sculptures celebrate the explorer spirit and friendship between the people of Seattle and Taiwan. The park art includes Paul Sorey’s boats modeled after Taiwanese Aboriginal’s boats “Tatala”, that offer seating areas, cultural tiles installed at the entrance to the park and decorative lighting for the boats. The word “EXPLORE” is written in different languages around the entry circle reflecting many cultures all sharing the same values and steel “ribbon” in the concrete represent water.

The opening celebration will occur next July during the Tribal Canoe Journey along Pacific Northwest coast when many Taiwanese Native Tao people come to Seattle and can join the celebration.”

For more information about the project please visit seattle.gov/parks/about-us/current-projects/christie-park-addition.

UPDATES ON COVID PANDEMIC AND RELIEF

Eviction Moratoria and Rent Relief

Moratoria on evictions are currently in place through the rest of 2020 at both the city and federal levels. More information is available HERE about the nationwide order and HERE about Mayor Durkan’s order for Seattle. Governor Inslee’s eviction moratorium for the state is currently in place until October 15. Additionally, King County has a new Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program which you can learn more about HERE.

New Round of Help for Small Businesses

During this time of COVID-19 impacts, our small businesses are especially impacted and yet we need them to thrive to provide jobs for our neighbors, vitality for our neighborhoods, and products and services for all of us. The Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce, which serves as the King County Associate Development Organization, opened a new round of grant funding Monday to ensure that $580,000 in federal funding reaches King County small businesses and 501 (c)(6) non-profit business service organizations (e.g. neighborhood chambers of commerce and tourism bureaus).

I hope that eligible D4 businesses with 20 or fewer full-time employees apply for awards of $5,000, $7,500 or $10,000 through the program, called the Federal CARES Act Small Business Emergency Grant Program.  The Chamber estimates that it will be able to make grants to 60-115 businesses/organizations within King County and is accepting applications through Monday, September 28 at 5:00 p.m. Please view full details about business eligibility and the application form are available HERE.

Priority will be given to applications that fall within these categories:

Internet Access Opportunities

I wanted to share some resources for helping secure internet access. For those with students in Seattle Public Schools, CLICK HERE for the District’s internet assistance program. And the City of Seattle website has information on low-cost options HERE.

Where to Find More Updates on COVID and Relief

The Seattle City Council continues to update its COVID-19 webpage which includes resources supporting workers, childcare, small businesses, and tenants/landlords. You can also visit Mayor Jenny Durkan’s centralized COVID-19 webpage, as well as the Mayor’s blog for additional updates. Additionally, our Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs has been translating and sharing information on COVID-19 in several languages. For links to OIRA’s fact sheets and other translated materials, go to their blog: https://welcoming.seattle.gov/covid-19/. And for the latest from Public Health Seattle-King County, you can visit their website to track our region’s response to the virus.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

City Council Meetings on the Internet

Listening: Even though City Council is not currently holding meetings in person in order to follow public health guidelines, you can still follow along by listening on your computer or phone by CLICKING HERE. You can also listen on your phone by calling 253-215-8782.

Commenting: You can also submit public comment by sending an e-mail to me at Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov or to all 9 Councilmembers at council@seattle.gov. Please remember to add “For City Council Meeting” in the comments. Now you can also phone into the meeting to speak directly to the Council live. For the instructions on how to register and call in, CLICK HERE. Sign up begins two hours prior to the meeting start time.

We are still receiving a very high volume of e-mails (for example, over 1,000 e-mails about the Mayor’s recent vetoes), so I ask for your patience as we try to respond to those District 4 constituents who asked for a response. Either way, we read your e-mails and they have an impact. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Virtual Meetings with Your Councilmember Pedersen

I continue to schedule virtual in-district office hours, so we can chat by telephone or via Skype. Please continue to sign up through my website or by CLICKING HERE so I can hear your ideas, concerns, and requests. You can also just send an e-mail to alex.pedersen@seattle.gov

For previous e-newsletters, visit my blog by CLICKING HERE.

We will get through this together, Seattle.

With gratitude,

     

 

 

Councilmember Alex Pedersen Seattle City Council, District 4 Email: Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov Find It, Fix It  


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