Active August: still working hard for you ✅

Friends and Neighbors,

I’m working for you throughout August, despite the City Council being on what we call a “recess” for the last two weeks of this month. The recess is not a vacation, but rather a time free from formal committee meetings and City Council meetings. This time enables our offices to catch up on responding to constituents, planning for our upcoming budget review season, and writing a very, very long-winded newsletter that I hope you’ll appreciate!

  • District 4: Northeast Seattle Little League Celebration in Laurelhurst, View Ridge Party in the Park, Wallingford’s Wurst Fest, Saving the Luma Tree in Wedgwood, Free School Supplies in Roosevelt, King County Councilmember in U District, and Grants to Revive Vacant Storefronts.
  • Public Safety and Homelessness: Still Waiting for Ordinance to Enforce Public Drug Use, SPD Officers Departing at Faster Pace, Gratitude for Good Work of Officers, Police Employment Contracts, Calling 9-8-8 for Mental Health & Substance Use Crises, Housing the Homeless, Extinguishing Encampment Fires, Homeless Outreach Stats, Report on the Collapse of a Hoteling Program.
  • Taxes and Budgets: Are More Revenues Really Needed?
  • Transportation & Seattle Public Utilities Committee: Become a Crossing Guard! Advancing More Traffic Safety Legislation, How to Comment on Bus Route Changes, Report on Seattle Transit Measure, A Streetcar Named Backfire, Fixing the University Bridge (or not), Shortcomings of the Long-Awaited “Seattle Transportation Plan.”
  • Providing Input

For my previous newsletters, you can CLICK HERE to visit my website / blog. Thank you for caring enough to demand better from City Hall.


Northeast Seattle Little Leaguers are National Stars! Celebration at Laurelhurst Park Aug 30!

You’ve probably been seeing news coverage about the Seattle baseball team capturing national headlines with their amazing winning streak. No, not the Mariners (although, yes, they are also winners.) We’re referring to the Northeast Seattle Little Leaguers! This Wednesday, August 30, you can celebrate with the young athletes at Laurelhurst Park at 5:00 p.m.

For coverage by King 5 News, CLICK HERE.

View Ridge Party in the Park: Sept 10!

Bring the family for fun at View Ridge Park on NE 70th Street on Sunday, September 10, 2023 from 2pm to 5pm.  If you live near the park, you can get more involved by participating in the View Ridge Community Council: email address – and website –


Wallingford Wurst Festival: Sept 15 and 16!

What:  The Great Wallingford Wurst Festival. The Wurst Festival is a fun and entertaining community event, hosted by St. Benedict, in Wallingford.  The festival includes live music from more than a dozen local musical acts and bands, great food and beverages, bouncy houses, a “Fun Zone” filled with games for kids with fun prizes, a variety of crafts and vendors, a sweet shop, and an outdoor beer garden (beer garden is open only for ages 21+).

When: Friday, Sept 15, 2023 from 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. and Saturday, Sept 16, 2023 from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.   

Where: St. Benedict Catholic School Grounds between 48th and 49th streets on Wallingford Ave.

Who: All are welcome.

For More Information:  For performance times and additional details, please visit the St. Ben’s website and the Great Wallingford Wurst Festival Facebook page.

Candy Cane Lane Yard Sale: Sept 16 

You love to see their blazing holiday lights every year at Candy Cane Lane. How do they do it? Dedication, artistic flair, love of the holidays, a welcoming spirit for everyone from all over Seattle – AND — to offset the cost of lights, displays, and maintenance — the families have a combined Yard Sale every Fall. All are welcome to see what they have to offer this year. Saturday, September 16 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. where NE Ravenna Blvd meets NE Park Road and Ravenna Ave NE, near the lower Ravenna Parking Lot. 


Luma Saved in Wedgwood! More Work Needed to Protect Seattle’s Trees

Aerial photo by Eli Vanderbilt, August 1, 2023

Visiting the site of Luma for the third time, Councilmember Pedersen is eager to have his photo taken with Seattle punk rocker and fellow tree hugger Suzanne Grant.  Photo by A. Stewart, August 1, 2023.

WE SAVED LUMA!  In my July newsletter (here), I described the controversy over the potential loss of a majestic Cedar Tree in the Wedgwood neighborhood (named “Luma”), and I listed several questions, including:

Will the property owner, real estate developer, and their contractor…decide to do the right thing and simply redraw their plans to make room for the tree when they build their housing?

Fortunately, the answer to this question is YES! We did it! The development will be redesigned to ensure that Luma continues to stand for many years. For the agreement, CLICK HERE and HERE. Here’s the good news I announced on August 9, 2023:

Today we celebrate the agreement to save the magnificent Luma cedar tree in Northeast Seattle, and tomorrow we have much work to do to improve tree protections throughout our city. I want to thank Mayor Harrell and all those who took actions to save this exceptional tree, including the tree advocates and Tribal Governments who understand that mature trees provide valuable public health benefits, environmental sustainability, and deep cultural significance — and we must do more to save more of these trees in the face of increasing urban heat from the increasing climate crisis.”

For coverage by KUOW News, CLICK HERE.

Tree Service Provider Registry Update: We received additional bad news about the beneficial Tree Service Providers (TSP) / “arborists” registry ordinance that we passed last year to improve notification, transparency, and accountability for tree removals from private property. City staff believes that once SDCI approves a Master Use Permit (MUP) for a development project, the weaker tree removal notification provisions in place at the time the MUP was approved are the provisions that apply to that project. In other words, if SDCI approved the MUP when it was still the “wild west of tree cutting,” then the property owner does not need to provide the more advanced notice to the public. Fortunately, in just a few months, this will be moot because MUPs approved after 2022 will be covered by the stronger Tree Service Provider Registry ordinance that my office originated. Thankfully, the Luma tree was covered by a stronger version of the Tree Service Provider Registry ordinance, which is one of the reasons it could be saved.

WHAT’S NEXT?  Unfortunately, the underlying problem—a comprehensive tree ordinance that “protects” very few large trees from being removed during development—has not been addressed.

The City Council passed Council Bill 120534 on May 23, 2023, by a vote of six to one, despite concerns raised by the Urban Forestry Commission and others. As you know, I voted against the bill. The legislation was originally drafted by the Harrell Administration and the Mayor signed the final version into law on May 31, 2023, to become Ordinance 126821, “AN ORDINANCE relating to tree protection…”

Due to my vote being the only vote against Council Bill 120534, it’s unrealistic to achieve drastic legislative changes this year. That said, I plan to sponsor legislation aiming to prevent future Luma scares by incorporating three reasonable improvements:

  • Proactively acknowledge that important trees like Luma — “culturally modified trees” (CMTs) — exist throughout Seattle, as indicated by Tribal governments and the State’s Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP). The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 27.53 already exists to consider CMTs, so at the very least the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections (SDCI) needs to incorporate that reality into its review of development applications. Our Seattle Municipal Code should reflect this.
  • Prevent new driveways designed for vehicles (off-street parking) from resulting in the removal of exceptional trees (now referred to as “Tier 2” trees).
  • Require a “tree protection area” that uses the method that best protects trees: the dripline method or the circular radius method — whichever is more likely to retain the tree.

As you may recall, in the case of the Luma tree, a “lot boundary adjustment” changed the tree from being safe on the border of the property to being “in the way” of the new development and subject to the ax. Therefore, I had wanted to require lot boundary adjustments to prioritize protection of these trees. Unfortunately, additional research by City staff seems to indicate that State law prevents the City of Seattle—or any other city in the state—from imposing such “development standards” on “lot boundary adjustments.” The problematic State law exists in RCW 58.17.040(6) [CLICK HERE].  Therefore, the Governor and State legislators would need to amend that provision to save trees facing the chainsaw due to lot boundary adjustments.  

Fix the Tree Ordinance to Prevent Another “Luma” Crisis

CALL TO ACTION:  If you want City Hall to amend its tree ordinance to make it stronger for trees, you can email the responsible officials: and You could ask them: Please amend Seattle’s 2023 tree ordinance (Ordinance 126821), so that City Hall prevents more threats to important trees like the Luma tree. City Hall should not allow companies to chop down important trees for profit when we need our urban canopy infrastructure to protect people during the heat waves of climate change.

More Info:

  • For a recent editorial by the Seattle Times August 27, 2023 critical of City Hall’s efforts on tree protections, CLICK HERE.
  • For a Seattle Times article dated August 5, 2023 titled, “Seattle’s growth is heating up the region — literally,” CLICK HERE.
  • For more about the attempts to achieve stronger tree protections during the past four years, CLICK HERE for my blog.


Backpacks with School Supplies: Thank You, FamilyWorks, in Roosevelt & Wallingford!

FamilyWorks Executive Director Marcia Soika-Wright invited their District Councilmember Alex Pedersen for a tour on August 22, 2023 of yet another one of that nonprofit’s programs to help low-income families in Seattle: free backpacks stuffed with supplies for little students getting ready for school this Fall.  As a school supply fanatic as a parent and as a kid, the Councilmember was particularly amazed by the variety of supplies offered by FamilyWorks. To serve even more families throughout the city, the local nonprofit FamilyWorks relocated most of their programs to the top of the Roosevelt light rail station within the new, low-income housing project Cedar Crossing. FamilyWorks’ busy food bank operation, however, remains in Wallingford where they are expanding.


U District Partnership / Business Improvement Area: Grants to Revive Vacant Storefronts

The manager of the U District’s Business Improvement Area (BIA) is the University District Partnership (UDP) and the UDP issues their own informative newsletter. To read their most recent newsletter from 8/22/2023, CLICK HERE. The UDP’s newsletter highlighted the 30th Anniversary of the U District Farmers Market (every Saturday morning, rain or shine, all year long). The UDP also announced another economic development grant program for small businesses: the 2023 U District Vacant Spaces Revival Grant (CLICK HERE).


King County Government Is Here to Serve You, Too!

Here’s a timely reminder that our King County government is here to serve you along with the Seattle city government. Much of Seattle’s District 4 represented by Alex Pedersen overlaps with King County’s District 2, which is represented by King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay. You can meet CM Zahilay the evening of Tuesday, September 12 at University Heights on NE 50th Street and University Way NE (”The Ave”). Bring your questions about County government such as Public Health, Metro Bus service, the King County Jail’s booking policies, and the wastewater portion of your SPU utility bill. The County also assesses the value of all property and collects property taxes for important issues such as the forthcoming ”Crisis Care Centers,” Harborview Hospital renovations, housing for veterans, and early childhood programs (”Best Starts for Kids”). For info about King County’s budget, CLICK HERE. (For the City of Seattle’s budget, CLICK HERE. Also overlapping with Seattle’s District 4 are County Councilmembers Rod Dembowski (Northeast) and Jeanne Kohl-Welles (Wallingford).


Illegal Drug Use in Legal Limbo:  Both City Hall Delays and New Rules Hamper Public Safety Enforcement

This month, the public witnessed another failure of the City Council majority to incorporate into our City code the State law compromise that makes public drug use illegal and to enable our City Attorney to prosecute these cases.  

June 6, 2023 vote on Nelson/Pedersen/Davison Bill to Curb Illegal Drug Use (failed 4 to 5)








August 15, 2023 vote to speed up Harrell Bill to Curb Public Drug Use (a tie vote of 4 to 4 fails)






(absent: Sawant)


Due to the delays, the City Council’s Public Safety Committee will discuss the Mayor’s version on September 12, which means the soonest the full City Council can vote on the legislation is September 19 – with the bill not becoming effective until October 20 – a full five months after the State passed the law (2E2SSB 5536) on May 16, 2023.

In addition to the frustrating delays, the new content embedded in the Mayor’s version potentially weakens the State law. Rather than simply adopting the State law compromise as other Washington cities have done, the Mayor’s bill (CB 120645) allows public drug use to continue with no consequences if “the user does not pose a threat of harm to others.” The Mayor’s version also introduces a new complex concept, which several officers say will make it very difficult for our understaffed police department to enforce. Rather than a police officer asking the question, is this person breaking the law or not, the officer must make an assessment that seems to combine physician, psychologist, and social worker.

A Seattle Times editorial, published August 4, 2023, raised similar concerns about the Seattle-only “harm” definitions stating, “If the goal of the state law is to get people into treatment, these extra Seattle-only restrictions mean drug users considered a threat only to themselves would continue to wrestle with addiction largely on their own. That hardly seems a laudable or progressive goal.

Here are the potentially problematic provisions:

“E. Threat of harm to others. When considering making an arrest for knowing possession or public use, officers will determine whether the individual, through their actions and conduct, presents a threat of harm to others. This determination is based on the totality of the circumstances and the officer’s training and experience. SPD policy will identify factors to guide officers when assessing the threat of harm presented by the individual. The threat of harm standard governs officer decisionmaking and is not an element of the crime to be proved during the prosecution of possession or public use offenses and cannot be used as a defense at trial.

F. Threat of harm to self. When an officer determines there is probable cause to believe public possession or public use of a controlled substance has occurred as described under this Section 3.28.141, and the user does not pose a threat of harm to others, the officer will then make a reasonable attempt to contact and coordinate efforts for diversion, outreach, and other alternatives to arrest. An officer will not arrest in this situation absent articulable facts and circumstances warranting such action. A determination of a threat of harm will govern officer decisionmaking and will not be an element of the crime to be proved during the prosecution of possession or public use offenses and cannot be used as a defense at trial.”

If this complicated protocol for officers survives the final vote on the bill, I believe it then warrants additional reporting requirements so future policymakers and the public can assess whether it’s helping or hampering public safety.

Delayed legislation and complicated legislation seem to go against the prevailing sentiment of Seattleites. A June 2023 survey of “Seattle residents” commissioned by the Seattle Times had the following key findings:

  • SAFETY: Only 8% believe crime in their neighborhood has decreased. One-third of Seattle residents believe the amount of crime in their neighborhood has increased. Seattle residents identified drug use and gun violence as their “biggest public safety concerns” in Seattle. (CLICK HERE).
  • DRUGS: Nearly 60% “say they support police making arrests for the public use of illegal drugs” (CLICK HERE). (We found identical results in the survey my office commissioned in May 2023; see question 16.)

My current plan is to vote in favor of the legislation (again) that incorporates the State law because it’s simply overdue and Seattle needs to end its harmful outlier status.

More Info:

  • For the original bill to curb public drug use announced by Nelson, Pedersen, and Davison on April 27, 2023, CLICK HERE.
  • For statements by Nelson, Pedersen, and Davison after a majority of the City Council fails to pass the drug use bill (CB 120586) to incorporate the State law (2E2SSB 5536) on June 6, 2023, CLICK HERE.
  • For the Mayor’s July 31, 2023 press release announcing his revised bill (CB 120645), CLICK HERE.
  • For the official legislation from the Mayor (Council Bill 120645) as it appeared on the Aug 15, 2023 Introduction & Referral Calendar, CLICK HERE.
  • For a Seattle Times editorial that questions that addition of the Seattle-only “harm” definitions, CLICK HERE and for their September 1, 2023 editorial titled, “While Seattle fumbles, other King County cities take decisive action on drug legislation, CLICK HERE.
  • For an August 4, 2023 column about the harm of Portland’s disastrous decriminalization efforts, CLICK HERE.


SPD Steps Up Recruitment Efforts as More Officers Leave Seattle at Faster Pace

Our Seattle Police Department (SPD) has stepped up its recruitment efforts in the second quarter of 2023, and their recruitment efforts come just in time because more officers are leaving Seattle at a faster pace. An update from SPD dated July 31, 2023 covering the 6-month period of January through June 2023 included a brief statement on retention: “Through June 30, [2023] recruit hires are up 37% year-over-year and separations are down 45%. The result is negative 20 officers year-to-date [2023], compared to negative 80 during the same period in 2022 year-to-date.”

While these statistics are presented in a positive way by the executive branch by comparing 2023 to 2022, they actually reveal a negative trend during 2023: While SPD is hiring officers, it is losing more officers than it is hiring AND the pace of that “net” loss INCREASED at a disturbing rate during Q2 of this year when compared to Q1.  This is another example of where a calculator comes in handy:

  • Jan through June 2023: net negative 20 officers (net loss of 3.3 officers per month).
  • Jan through March 2023: net negative 6 officers (net loss of 2 officers per month)
  • Therefore, during the 3 months of April through June: net negative of 14 officers (or 4.6 officers per month).

That means the pace of net loss increased from a net loss of 2 officers per month in Q1 to a net loss of 4.6 officers per month in Q2. That’s more than a doubling of officer loss (130% more loss) when comparing those two periods. In response to my office’s follow-up inquiry, the Mayor’s Office said the cause could be the spike of retirements that sometimes occurs in the month of June because certain kinds of cost-of-living adjustments (C.O.L.A.) for police pensions kick in July 1. The data seem to support this hypothesis because there was a spike in both June 2022 and June 2023. We encourage the Mayor’s Office and SPD leadership to continue their recruitment and retention efforts by reviewing all the Exit Interviews of departing officers and attend roll calls of existing officers to seek any patterns that can be addressed as soon as possible.

The urgency to re-staff our police department with officers and detectives after the detrimental defund movement continues after a slew of unsolved armed home invasions in South Seattle, as reported by several media outlets this past week (CLICK HERE) and another shooting death in North Seattle (Lake City): CLICK HERE.


Gratitude for the Good Work of Our Police Officers: Attending Roll Calls

Every year, I have visited the roll calls at the start of police officer shifts to thank officers for the good work they do and to encourage them to stay in Seattle. Each year, I would see fewer faces because so many officers AND detectives had left the department since the detrimental “50% defund the police” movement recklessly pledged by a majority of my City Council colleagues.

In addition to these city government frontline workers being insulted by the harmful defund movement fueled by several City Councilmembers, one of the most frequent complaint was directed at King County leadership: why is King County jail preventing officers from booking suspects for thefts, trespassing, and other crimes occurring throughout Seattle?

CALL TO ACTION: If you share this concern about this issue, you could write to and  and tell them: Please fully honor your contract with Seattle by allowing Seattle Police Officers to do their jobs and book into jail each individual who is arrested due to probable cause of violating the criminal provisions of the Seattle Municipal Code, rather than turning them away even when space is available. Ironically, King County’s policy to turn away criminal suspects burdens the emergency medical staff at Harborview Hospital when officers are forced to bring suspects, instead of having medical staff at the jail evaluate the suspects, as is the best practice at other jails in the region. To the extent that the County’s overly restrictive booking policy results in financial savings, reinvest those savings to hire and retain frontline County government correctional officers so that staffing levels cannot be used as an excuse.


Police Employment Contracts:

As authorized by federal labor law, negotiations occur behind closed doors for public employee contracts that impact most city government employees, services, and budget expenses. Some believe that the limited oversight from taxpayers and the media results in less than ideal outcomes for the general public, while others believe frank and productive negotiations require management and their employees to have the ability to discuss terms without a daily spotlight. The labor contracts with police unions are particularly relevant, considering the concerns today over public safety, police reforms, and challenges with recruitment and retention of officers and detectives.  See above for an updated version of the PowerPoint slide presented by City Council’s Central Staff at the Public Safety Committee public hearing on August 8, 2023, which highlights some of the negotiation process.

For the current collective bargaining agreements, CLICK HERE.

Who You Gonna Call? Think 9-8-8 Before It’s Too Late

If you see someone experiencing what appears to be a mental health or substance use crisis, you now have a choice of 24/7 emergency numbers to call: 988 or 911.  If you feel unsafe, if someone is physically injured, and/or criminal activity is involved, you would still call 911. If it appears to be solely a mental health or substance use crisis, you can now call 988.

Operators from the 988 Line can refer the 24/7 King County Mobile Crisis Response, which is currently operated by the nonprofit Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC). (We originally reported on the coming of the new 988 number back in April 2022.)

  • For a presentation about 988 from our City Council’s Public Safety Committee on July 25, 2023 (thank you, Chair Lisa Herbold!), CLICK HERE.
  • For a July article by the Seattle Times on 988, CLICK HERE.


University District: Housing People Most in Need; Progress on A New Transit-Oriented Development

I’m pleased to report that the Transportation Committee passed my legislation on August 15, 2023 to enable more low-income housing to be built in the University District near the light rail station. Here’s how I described the good news:

I am eager to create additional permanent low-income housing in my district so that more people in need have a safe place to call home, including many who have been experiencing homelessness. By creatively optimizing our public infrastructure to reconfigure this public alley, we can enable the construction of many more units affordable to extremely low-income people at this centrally located intersection, where future residents can walk to jobs, education, health care, and, of course, public mass transit, including Sound Transit’s U District Station. After the space has served approximately 35 residents of a Tiny Home Village for several years, it should serve as a permanent home for dozens of additional low-income residents, including housing-ready individuals who have experienced homelessness (at 0% to 30% of the area median income). I’m grateful to have partners in Sound Transit and our City’s Office of Housing that understand it’s imperative to create as much housing as possible for extremely low-income people, so we can finally move beyond the homelessness crisis toward a more sustainable city for everyone.

— Councilmember Alex Pedersen, August 15, 2023

Many thanks also for the hard and creative work of SDOT, the Design Commission, and City Council’s Central Staff for enabling this important milestone for future low-income residents housing in the heart of our district.

  • For the presentation by Sound Transit on August 15, 2023, CLICK HERE.
  • For Clerk File 314496, which allows for the reconfiguration of the public alley to maximize future low-income housing, CLICK HERE.
  • For my press release celebrating the approval of my legislation at the Transportation Committee, CLICK HERE.
  • For more about the Tiny Home Village called Rosie’s, CLICK HERE.


Urge Governor Inslee to Stop the Encampment Fires at the Gateway to University of Washington

“Residents of a tent camp attempt to put out a brush fire along northbound Interstate 5 near the Northeast 45th Street exit in the University District on June 30,” as reported in the Seattle Times August 22, 2023. Photo credit: Karen Ducey / The Seattle Times.

After months of asking the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) to address the growing homeless encampments along I-5 in Seattle’s District 4 (essentially from NE 42nd Street to NE 65th Street), I finally got them to tour the locations with me in July. So far, this has not resulted in any action, so I’m asking you to help me by emailing some of the responsible officials.

The fire in the photo above — one of dozens of fires over the past year – is on WSDOT property, just north of NE 45th Street and adjacent to 7th Ave NE, which is essentially the gateway to our world-class University of Washington, where the city has encouraged small businesses and housing producers to grow near the new light rail station.  In addition to the $200 million KCRHA receives from the governments of King County and Seattle each year, the regional agency receives millions of dollars to address homelessness on State property from the State’s Department of Commerce (which is in charge of housing and shelter programs).

As I told the Seattle Times earlier this month:

People are fed up with soothing words and misdirection that solve nothing, while illegal activity damages our city. To improve safety before a tragedy occurs, our governor needs to instill urgency in his departments — from WSDOT to State Patrol to the Housing Fund — to protect our bridge infrastructure from damage, to prevent fires along our greenways, and to offer shelter to those camping illegally on State property from Sodo to the U District.” 

— Councilmember Alex Pedersen, Chair of Seattle’s Transportation Committee

CALL TO ACTION: Suggested message: Governor Inslee, please direct your senior advisors and State government departments to address unsheltered homelessness on state government property with the urgency the emergency warrants, instead of the “unfunded mandate” of relying on local fire fighters and understaffed police departments after fires, shootings, and overdoses have already occurred.  Housing providers receiving money from the State’s Department of Commerce and/or Washington State Housing Financing Commission have vacant units which can take housing ready individuals from our tiny home villages, thereby freeing up tiny homes for people suffering unsheltered on State greenways. 

To send the email, go to:  

More Info:

  • For the article in the Seattle Times on August 21, 2023 titled, “Seattle Fire Department report ‘significant increase’ in human-caused fires,” CLICK HERE.  

  • For an editorial by the Seattle Times on August 25, 2023 titled, “WSDOT, partners must act to avoid calamity of encampment fire under I-5,” CLICK HERE


Disturbing Revelation: 60% of Homeless Individuals Decline Offers of Shelter 

Thank goodness for our city government’s “Unified Care Team” (UCT), which is the partially reconstituted “Navigation Team” that a majority of City Council recklessly sought to terminate in 2020. The UCT is in the field every day trying to address unsheltered encampments along with our fire department, which is diverted there to extinguish four fires a day.

During the most recent period studied (April through June 2023), a whopping 60% of people living outside refused shelter offered by the UCT. (Here’s the math: 1,352 total offers of shelter minus 554 accepted offers = 798 offers NOT accepted.  Then take the 798 offers NOT accepted and divide it into the 1,352 total offers = 59%). Their press release accentuates the positive trend of a 21% increase above the number of offers accepted during the same quarter last year, stating that, “In the second quarter of 2023, the Unified Care Team coordinated 554 referrals to shelter, a 21% increase over Q2 of last year.”

But the burden on City resources, the distraction for our frontline emergency responders, and the harm to encampment occupants is made clear by the other stats from the press release:

  • “The UCT also completed over 2,628 visits to sites in Q2, removing approximately [1.6] million pounds of debris
  • Between January and June 2023, 6,435 emergency medical calls were responded to in connection to individuals experiencing homelessness, a slight increase to 36 calls averaged per day, compared to Q1.
  • A total of 700 fires at tent/RV encampments were reported in the first two quarters of 2023, with a decrease from 4.5 fires averaged per day in Q1 to 3.9 per day in Q2.
  • Between January and June 2023, 31 shots fired or shooting incidents were connected to homelessness, an average of one incident per week (consistent with Q1).”

More info:

  • For the August 2, 2023 presentation by the UCT’s homelessness team, CLICK HERE.
  • To activate the UCT, you can use the Find It, Fix It app for your smart phone or contact the Customer Service Bureau (website or phone: 206-684-CITY)


Evaluation Shows Homeless Program Failed Due to Lack of Qualifications / Plans for Organization Awarded the Tax Dollars

“After a program using hotels to shelter homeless people financially collapsed this spring, leaving nearly 300 people temporarily facing eviction, everyone involved shares some blame, according to a draft report released this week.” That sobering news is from the Seattle Times article published August 25, 2023.

The Lived Experience Coalition, an organization with no fiscal experience, no case management professionals, and no exit strategy was given $1 million in federal tax dollars, but ended up costing another $3 million, including $2 million from local tax dollars.

According to the official EFSP website under “Funded Organizations,” the local King County board that awarded the $1 million from FEMA’s American Rescue Act allocation for the EFSP to the Lived Experience Coalition was coordinated by the nonprofit United Way of King County, which has historically used rigorous criteria for awarding funds. [The official decision makers who served on the local board for the ESSP and made the decision to award the funds did not appear in the Seattle Times article or on the websites of FEMA or United Way.]

I think this is an example of how “lived experience” should be utilized and valued for informed decisions, but not relied upon as the sole criteria to handle the tax dollars or to produce and report on the outcomes sought by official programs.

We should better understand their success for moving people from the streets to hotel rooms and other shelter, but heed the lesson for the future to fund only organizations that can handle the tax dollars responsibly and have plans to exit people from the temporary shelter into permanent housing.

The King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA), already burdened with its own challenges, thankfully came to the rescue of that operation, but at the cost of diverting KCRHA away from its other priorities. The public wants positive results to help those suffering unsheltered and deserves positive results with its tax dollars. New leadership at the KCRHA will be vital for ensuring the success of these important programs going forward and should lean into their professional expertise and national best practices rather than putting the burden of success on those who have already suffered and are not prepared to run government-funded programs.  


Revenues, Revenues, and More Revenues — Really?

An updated forecast of City revenues came at a bad time for people wanting to introduce new taxes: the new August 2023 forecast now expects revenues for 2023 and 2024 to be HIGHER than originally predicted in April 2023 and HIGHER than estimated in November 2022 when City Hall adopted its current budget.  I believe City Hall should prudently save this additional revenue to address cost increases anticipated in 2025.

There is no budget deficit for 2023 or 2024. Moreover, the “deficit” starting in 2025 is just in the “General Fund” and assumes that City Hall not only fails to manage its costs (primarily costs from granting additional raises to City government employees), but also refuses to use the new “JumpStart” payroll tax to plug the deficits.

Nevertheless, some City Hall officials (not me) asked for a “Revenue Stabilization Work Group” to flesh several ideas for new City taxes. According to the Mayor’s press release from August 9, 2023, “The nine identified revenue sources for further consideration are:

  1. Changes to JumpStart Payroll Expense Tax
  2. City-level Capital Gains Tax
  3. High CEO Pay Ratio Tax
  4. Vacancy Tax
  5. Progressive Real Estate Excise Tax
  6. Estate Tax
  7. Inheritance Tax
  8. Congestion Tax and
  9. Income Tax.”

For the full 15-page report exploring new taxes, CLICK HERE.

If we use new revenues to repeal existing unfair taxes (such as City Hall’s tax on your drinking water), I might support a reasonable and fair progressive tax, such as a small capital gains tax that mirrors the new State tax exempting real estate transactions and retirement accounts. (On August 8, 2023, the Seattle Times editorial board called my revenue-neutral tax reform proposal “a solid idea.”)

It’s difficult to take seriously this effort to find new taxes, when City Hall is not managing existing costs, through prioritization. For example, in response to dozens of emails from constituents, the City Council prudently stripped $1 million from SDOT’s budget to halt another study on an expensive, redundant, unnecessary project called the “Center City Connector” streetcar. But, apparently, SDOT is going to find the money within their existing budget to finish the study anyway.

The Seattle Times editorial board astutely criticized this spending mentality in two recent editorials:

This is consistent with how the majority of the general public feels, according to recent polling:

As shown in the April 2023 poll,

  • 57% say taxes in Seattle are too high already.
  • 65% don’t trust the Seattle city government to spend their tax dollars responsibly.

I’ve observed that policymakers and pundits tend to consciously and/or subconsciously frame the economic situation in a way that supports their policy goals. For example, I think City Hall taxes and spends too much, so I’ll tend to present numbers in a way that emphasizes there’s no current deficit and we can manage future deficits. For those worried about meeting the growing expectations of organizations that receive City dollars and/or who want to provide pay raises to all city government employees, they might emphasize the need to raise additional revenue.

I’m hopeful we can at least find common ground by having the Office of Revenue and Economic Forecasts present their underlying figures in a more understandable and comprehensive fashion: (1) combine the numbers that are currently separated (General Fund and other revenues) and (2) compare the August 2023 forecast to the originally adopted/endorsed budgets (November 2022) rather than to the April 2023 forecast.  After re-organizing the numbers, we see an actual surplus of $93 million over the next 16 months (before subtracting out grants) compared to what the City Council originally budgeted just 9 months ago (in November 2022).

More Info:

  • To review the August 2023 presentation by Seattle’s Office of Revenue and Economic Forecasts, CLICK HERE.
  • For the report from the “Revenue Stabilization Workgroup,” CLICK HERE.
  • For Councilmember Pedersen’s legislation to repeal City Hall’s tax on drinking water (Council Bill 120602), CLICK HERE and for his blog post with endorsements for his tax reform proposal, CLICK HERE.
  • To review the April 2023 survey of registered Seattle voters (“The Index”) commissioned by the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce, CLICK HERE.


(This is the Committee currently chaired by Councilmember Pedersen, so we provide extra information on its issues.)

To distribute the workload of city government, each of the nine Councilmembers chairs a committee. The Committee I chair (Transportation & Seattle Public Utilities) meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall (and on Seattle Channel), except during the two-month budget review season in October and November.


Become a Crossing Guard Hero to Keep Kids Safe! Apply Today

We had the volunteers of the School Traffic Safety Committee present to our City Council Transportation Committee earlier this month. Their annual report had several recommendations and, once again, pointed out the need for crossing guards.

As of June 2023, 46 out of 114 crossing guard positions (40%) were vacant. SPS [Seattle Public Schools] has long struggled to fill crossing guard positions. It’s a tough job with short, nonconsecutive hours, a low hourly rate, cold and rainy environment, and frequently dangerous traffic conditions. Prior to the pandemic SPS made real strides in filling crossing guard roles through more active advertisement, particularly to hourly staff in food service and playground monitor roles who can add-on crossing guard duties before and after school…The crossing guard program needs to be better linked into SPS networks for additional support.” (Source: 2023 annual report of the School Traffic Safety Committee)


Transportation Committee Advances Additional Traffic Safety Camera Enforcement

Thanks to everyone who showed up to City Hall or contacted our offices to support our legislation to use new cameras to help reduce dangerous speeding. To see how the enforcement cameras (are or will be) distributed throughout Seattle, you can click on the following links:  Block-the-Box (intersections), Drag Racing Zones, Red Light Cameras, School Zones, Transit Lanes.

While the City Council already passed Council Bill 120600 to designate drag racing zones, our Transportation Committee advanced two other important pieces of legislation:

Allowing Warnings for First Infractions:  Council Bill 120625 incorporates into our municipal code the 2022 camera enforcement provisions in Washington State law, including authorization to issue a warning for a first infraction. Studies show the tickets from automated camera enforcement are sufficient to change behavior. Issuing a warning first will mean a positive change in driving behavior and a reprieve for low-income drivers for a first infraction. For SDOT’s presentation from the August 15, 2023 Transportation Committee, CLICK HERE.

Reinvesting Local Revenues for Traffic Safety: Council Bill 120638 directs City owned revenue from speed zone cameras to go toward Vision Zero safety efforts including infrastructure benefiting pedestrians, cyclists, and traffic-calming. As required by the 2022 State law, half of all new revenue from this additional automated enforcement camera authority is set aside for the state’s “Cooper Jones” bicycle safety awareness program. Without Councilmember Pedersen’s bill, the other half of the revenue would have blended into the City of Seattle’s General Fund. With the passage of Council Bill 120638, the net revenue will be reinvested in the community to increase traffic safety in two ways. First, automated enforcement will change behavior and reduce reckless driving. Second, any drivers who do not learn from their first warning, will be ticketed with all the locally kept revenue invested back into traffic safety projects. For City Council Central Staff’s presentation at the August 15, 2023 Transportation Committee, CLICK HERE.

“As part of a comprehensive strategy to increase traffic safety, we know automated cameras are an effective tool because they reduce reckless driving, reduce collisions, and reduce direct interactions between drivers and police. We will use the net revenue from the new cameras to build more sidewalks, crosswalks, and to narrow dangerous arterials. Many of those projects will take years to design and construct at a large scale across our city, so this needs to be a “Yes AND” effort to increase safety. If we’re serious about reducing the harm of traffic injuries and deaths today, we need to use the tools available to us today and that means installing this technology along dangerous roadways and intersections especially where our most vulnerable residents are trying to cross the street.” 

— Councilmember Alex Pedersen, chair of Seattle’s Transportation Committee

Doubling the School Zone Camera Program: Via Council Bill 120618, the City’s midyear supplemental budget ordinance, Councilmember Pedersen sponsored an amendment to transfer $500,000 to the Seattle Department of Transportation to expedite the doubling of school zone cameras as contemplated in the 2023 Adopted Budget (SDOT-103-B-001-2023). To prepare for additional school zone camera installations, SDOT is evaluating potential camera locations, designing the installations, and conducting other up-front work. This transfer would fund work in 2023 to support the goal of installing cameras in time for the 2024-2025 school year.

Potential Forthcoming Legislation: The City Attorney’s Office, with support from the School Traffic Safety Committee and Councilmember Pedersen, is exploring the potential for the City of Seattle to help with enforcing the Seattle School District’s Bus Stop Paddle Ticketing (Betsy Gates) Program. This program has small cameras attached to the stop paddles on display when children are getting on and off their school buses and would photograph the vehicles illegally zipping past the school bus. After the City Attorney completes the necessary arrangements, Councilmember Pedersen will work to ensure it passes the City Council.

What’s Next?  On September 26, 2023, the Mayor will transmit his proposed budget for 2024. As Chair of the Transportation Committee, I’m expecting to see sufficient revenues to fund any upfront costs for the expanded automated camera enforcement program, as the program quickly pays for itself with net revenue available for safety infrastructure. In addition, as we expand the use of this efficient technology, we need our State legislators to clarify State law so that ANY city government employee sufficiently trained is able to issue the tickets created by the automated enforcement because State law currently restricts that to only sworn police officers.

Ride the Bus? Make Your Voice Heard: The Routes, They Are A Changin’ (again)

As you know, we are fortunate to have an extensive local bus network and it is operated by King County (not the City of Seattle). Every six months, King County Metro updates its bus routes and frequencies, based on their calculations of what riders need. But a bus planner’s interpretation of what riders need depends, in part, on whether you provide input. Seattle has influence on the county’s bus system because most riders are coming from or to Seattle AND Seattle pays an extra sales tax to supplement about 10% of Metro’s bus service (aka the Seattle Transit Measure).  If you are seeing changes or conditions you don’t like about the bus routes, frequency, bus stops, etc. TELL METRO!

Save the 20! As reported in Wallyhood, there’s a deadline of August 27 for public feedback about the Bus #20, which is on Metro’s list for either elimination or reduced frequency. (The Route 20 line runs from the U District, through Wallingford, to Northgate and Lake City.)

Save the 70!  if you reside in Eastlake, you might want to tell King County Metro to “Save the #70!”, rather than allowing Metro to scrap that local route with the excuse that Metro will install a “rapid ride” bus line using federal tax dollars to remove bus stops from Eastlake Ave with the goal of speeding commuters through Eastlake. Is this an equitable way to spend federal and local tax dollars?

Here’s how to provide feedback to King County Metro about the bus system and upcoming changes:

From King County Metro: “…Metro’s current reliability has been impacted by workforce and fleet availability challenges, which has been very frustrating to riders. This fall, instead of riders experiencing an increased level of sometimes unexpected trip cancellations, we are adjusting our schedules to allow for more predictability and less uncertainty for riders.”


Seattle Transportation Benefit District: 2022 Report of the “Seattle Transit Measure”

Back in 2020, I sponsored the legislation that enabled voters to overwhelmingly renew the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD), which SDOT refers to as the “Seattle Transit Measure.” As you know, the Seattle Transit Measure supplements bus service provided by King County Metro. A lot has changed since November 2020:

  • a new State law enables free fares for people 18 and under, so that we no longer direct Seattle Transit Measure revenues toward that expense.
  • Three new light rail stations opened to handle large volumes of transit riders from Northgate to the airport.
  • The West Seattle Bridge reopened and the pandemic era of COVID is over, so the Seattle Transit Measure’s category called “Emerging Needs” has less of a purpose.

The Seattle Transit Measure is funded by the most regressive of taxes: the sales tax. Therefore, policymakers have a tremendous obligation to think carefully about how to invest this revenue and justify why we should not lower the sales tax for people and businesses.

Unfortunately, SDOT has previously sprung upon the City Council and the general public how it (SDOT) would like to spend those sales tax dollars. SDOT has also not yet presented a detailed spending plan for 2024. As Chair of the Transportation Committee, I have urged SDOT to proactively provide detailed line items with sufficient time to consider and justify those expenditures, which I believe should focus on delivering more of the basics, rather than searching for new ways to spend other people’s money. For example, there is common ground in wanting more frequent transit service (a goal specified in the voter-approved measure), but we know King County Metro is having trouble recruiting new bus drivers. Why not use some of the Seattle Transit Measure funding to solve that problem, rather than chasing shiny new objects or inventing new uses for the money that grab headlines, but ignore the basics?  

  • For the 50-page annual report covering 2022 of the Seattle Transit Measure, CLICK HERE. (To see how SDOT selects which bus routes to boost, start on page 16.)
  • For the SDOT blog post about the Seattle Transit Measure annual report, CLICK HERE.
  • For the original 2020 ordinance renewing the Seattle Transit Measure, CLICK HERE.


A Streetcar Named Backfire: a fiscal tragedy of streetcar stubbornness?

Thanks to the many constituents who wrote to City Hall urging City Council to stall the expensive, redundant, disruptive 1st Avenue streetcar proposal, which many people agree is less important than the other transportation projects we have, especially transportation safety projects.  We heard also from Pike Place Market and many 1st Avenue businesses that oppose the concept.

Councilmembers Herbold and Nelson and I were successful in directing the additional $1 million away from that new streetcar project, although I understand SDOT might still scrape together the funds from its existing budget to complete the study.

We know many of our Northeast Seattle and West Seattle constituents aren’t interested in spending money on a streetcar for 1st Avenue downtown when they don’t even have sidewalks, and they are painfully aware of how fragile our aging bridges are. So, the next time you ask SDOT to install a crosswalk in your neighborhood that costs only $5,000 and they say they don’t have the money, you’ll scratch your head like the rest of us: if they cannot afford a crosswalk, then where is SDOT finding the money to finish a study that costs more than $1,000,000?

Our budget effort this summer was short and simple: cancel the mid-year request to spend another $1 million on the study and redirect those funds back to the General Fund, which is supposed to experience a deficit in 2025.

The Seattle Times editorial board took a longer term view of the troubled project, writing on August 10, 2023, “Here’s a bit of advice for Mayor Bruce Harrell and the Seattle City Council: If you pour money into plans to build a new streetcar down First Avenue, scrap any notion of asking voters to renew a transportation levy in 2024.

“The nine-year, $930 million Levy to Move Seattle was passed in 2015 to tackle vital infrastructure projects (its former name was Bridging the Gap, a nod to fixing the city’s deteriorating bridges). Next year, City Hall will likely ask voters to renew it.

“Whether or not the transportation levy achieved its promises is fair game. But voters should have deep misgivings about city priorities if they are being asked to pony up more property taxes for fundamental services while streetcar fantasies continue.

“So far, the council has shown appropriate skepticism. In its supplemental budget passed on Tuesday, council members cut funding earmarked for a study that would have provided updated streetcar cost estimates and timelines.

“No one knows a final price tag of the proposed First Avenue streetcar, but the project is likely to cost over $300 million and take several years to complete.”

That’s why I’m deeply disappointed to see the draft Seattle Transportation Plan (STP) released on August 24, 2023 still touting the problematic project (STP: Part 1 PG3 on page I-61 and Part 2, page T-34).

Proceeding with the Center City Connector streetcar project for 1st Avenue jeopardizes future transportation funding for priorities such as pedestrian safety (such as crosswalks and sidewalks), overdue repairs to our aging bridges, and overdue repaving for our crumbling streets (needed for all modes of travel including cyclists).  Note: the priority of public mass transit is funded mostly through Sound Transit and King County Metro, although Seattle taxpayers supplement bus service with a sales tax from the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District (Seattle Transit Measure). A streetcar boondoggle is an irresponsible distraction.  Sometimes we need a competing catch-phrase to get people’s attention, so I refer to the “Culture Connector” as a Mobile Money Pit or the Downtown Disruptor.

Councilmember Herbold of West Seattle said it well: “It’s important that we recognize that this project has been on hold. There is no plan for construction of the streetcar…the only viable source for construction funding would be dipping into the Move [Seattle transportation property tax] levy renewal next year, which I believe will hinder the ability to fund safety and maintenance projects and perhaps it would threaten voter approval.

  • For coverage from The Urbanist website, CLICK HERE.
  • For coverage from the Seattle Times, CLICK HERE.
  • For SDOT’s official website for the “Center City Connector,” CLICK HERE.
  • For the 2019 update to costs, CLICK HERE.
  • For the mid-year budget supplemental proposal from the Harrell Administration, CLICK HERE for Council Bill 120618. For the more than 150 line items of the 55-page Attachment A, CLICK HERE.
  • For a Seattle Times history of the Seattle streetcars (updated in 2019), CLICK HERE.


Urge SDOT: Fix the University Bridge

Our city-owned University Bridge is a transportation infrastructure workhorse for our region and has taken on heavier volumes of traffic each time the State-owned Montlake Bridges closes (which has been A LOT during the past 3 years). The University Bridge expends energy and suffers wear-and-tear throughout the day whenever it stops road traffic to raise its two center pieces to accommodate single boaters, due to absurd rules enforced by the Coast Guard that provide preference to yachters over buses.

Unfortunately, repair work on the 100-year old University Bridge was excluded from the 2015-2024 Move Seattle Levy so that money could be provided to “shinier object” projects sought by interest groups. In 2020, SDOT also removed the Ballard Bridge and Fremont Bridge from their priority list for seismic upgrades, claiming those safety projects would cost too much ($61 million). When the City Council authorized $100 million in bonding authority in November 2021, SDOT rejected the funding on March 31, 2022, saying they weren’t ready.

While SDOT’s survey about the bridge is closed, you can still send an email to: You can urge them: Please fix the University Bridge ASAP before it cracks like the West Seattle Bridge!


The new “Seattle Transportation Plan” Needs Your Input: Did the 720-Page Plan to Pave the Way for a Transportation Infrastructure Funding Package Forget the Paving Part? and Bridges? and Impact Fees? You Decide!

One of the best things about the draft “Seattle Transportation Plan” is the cover photo, because it features District 4 in the heart of the U District. For Councilmember Pedersen’s initial assessment of how the Plan needs improvement and for ways YOU can provide input, keep on truckin’.

On August 24, 2023 the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) released their draft Seattle Transportation Plan (STP). The STP, once finalized, is likely to serve as a guiding document for transportation decision-making in Seattle for the next 20 years.

I have asked SDOT to present their draft STP documents at the September 5, 2023 Transportation Committee. The community has various way to provide feedback on the draft STP between now and when SDOT hopes to finalize the plan early next year. But there is a quicker deadline: only 45 days to comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that accompanies the draft STP. 

In order to fund the work outlined in the STP, the Mayor is likely to ask the Council early next year to ask the voters to approve a new funding package in November 2024 when the current $930 million, 9-year “Move Seattle” property tax expires. Due to what appears to be a mismatch between the draft STP’s priorities and what statistically valid polling shows about actual transportation priorities among the general public, it’s likely the STP draft will need revising to earn community buy-in beyond interest groups, especially if voters are going to be asked to pay for it.

The draft STP includes two parts: Part One is a 110-page “summary” document that unveils a vision statement: “In 2044…moving around is safe, fair, and sustainable.” Part One then outlines its six main “goals:” Safety, Equity, Sustainability, Mobility, Livability, and Maintenance / Modernization. Part One then summarizes outreach conducted thus far and provides cursory ideas of how the STP could be implemented. In Chapter 4, SDOT notes they are unsure how to best weigh the importance of these six goals and are asking for community input (page I-90). Part Two is 610 pages and details eight “elements” of transportation: Transit, Freight and Urban Goods, Bicycle and E-Mobility, Pedestrian, People Streets and Public Spaces, Curbside Management, Vehicle, New and Emerging Mobility. Part Two provides details on the elements with suggested project lists, connections to the Transportation Equity Framework, lists of challenges and opportunities, and some measurable outcomes to define success.

Some Good Stuff: Clearly, SDOT conducted a lot of anecdotal outreach and invested a lot of staff time into preparing this 720-page draft. I appreciate their focus on safety and equity. The STP also strives to consider freight more frequently than we have seen in the past, though I will be eager to hear what the freight stakeholders think. I am grateful the STP lifts up the need for more street tree infrastructure, especially when other City departments are allowing trees to be removed at an accelerated rate. The STP finally (and thankfully) synthesizes what have been separate modal plans for bikes, freight, pedestrians, and transit. The STP will also serve as the “transportation element” of the Comprehensive Plan that State law requires cities to revamp every 8 years.

As I understand it, a key purpose of the STP is to envision a utopian Seattle 20 years from now. While I appreciate the aspirational vision, I wish there were more emphasis on addressing our everyday transportation priorities now and in the near term. The Biden Administration has been making strides across the nation with their “Fix-it-First” focus. The statistically valid poll I commissioned for Seattle in May 2023 indicates that people’s top priority is fixing potholes and repaving roads for all vehicles, but that priority seems to be missing from the STP.

Here are the results from my statistically valid poll in May 2023:

In contrast to SDOT’s draft STP, the statistically valid survey I commissioned in May 2023 found that the top 3 transportation priorities receiving majority support were: fixing roads, supporting transit, and fixing bridges. Here’s the survey question I asked:  Thinking now about transportation in Seattle. Of the following, which three transportation investments do you think are the most important for Seattle to make?  

  • Fixing potholes and repaving roads for all vehicles: 66% picked among their top 3.
  • Supporting buses and other public transit: 64% picked among their top 3.
  • Fixing Seattle’s older bridges: 52% picked among top 3.
  • Installing new sidewalks and crosswalks: 30% picked among top 3.
  • Building bike lanes for safer streets: 27% picked among top 3.
  • Prioritizing freight to transport food, household products, and other items: 17% picked among top 3.
  • Something else: 6%
  • None of the above: 1%

One of the biggest themes in SDOT’s draft is continuing the tired “war on cars” rhetoric, despite the advances toward cleaner electric vehicles and that fact that many of Seattle’s crumbling roads are used by multiple forms of transportation. It appears that SDOT cherry-picked anecdotal quotes from their online surveys and their tabling at community events, rather than using statistically valid input to emphasize the STP’s goals and elements. In contrast to the statistically valid survey results from May 2023, here is a typical quote from SDOT’s draft August 2023 STP:

Car-free zones would encourage me to walk around more and would make me feel safer on my bike.” — Anonymous Contributor, Online Engagement Hub.

“I want to be able to move quickly from one neighborhood to another without driving.” — Anonymous Contributor, Online Engagement Hub. (a quote selected by SDOT and highlighted on page I-75 of the STP, Part One.)

In addition, SDOT hurried to release this STP, but we’re still waiting on their Bridge Asset Management Plan — two years after the audit of City-owned bridges showed so few of our aging bridges in Good condition after the sudden closure of the West Seattle Bridge, which ironically boasted a condition rating of “Fair.”)  The STP seems to minimize the importance of our bridge infrastructure with lack content and how bridges are visualized:

In contrast to how the bridges are portrayed in the STP, a statistically valid poll from May 2023 shows 73% of Seattle wants bridges fixed now.

Despite all the hard work from SDOT staff, input from online surveys and “tabling” at community events,  and the beautiful layout of the documents, the Seattle Transportation “plan” has several substantive problems that I hope can be addressed before it is finalized:

Some Improvements Needed for the Seattle Transportation Plan (STP):

  1. Fails to include the asset management details of a full plan. The STP is more of an aspirational 20-year vision, than an actionable “plan.” The STP should include the frequent caveat that it’s incomplete because the holistic planning from SDOT will also include the bridge asset management plan and SDOT’s other asset management plans. Those caveats — and the forthcoming asset management plans — are key to provide the public with a complete and compelling picture of Seattle’s transportation infrastructure needs.
  2. Shortchanges much of what the public wants according to polling, such as Road Maintenance (see polling results above).
  3. Barely mentions bridges and minimizes the need to fix bridges now, despite 73% support for that among the general public. (For one of just a handful of references to bridges among the 720 pages, go page I-70 of Part One). The STP also de-emphasizes the dangerous condition of our bridges. On page I-93, the STP notes a goal of ensuring key infrastructure is in “Good” repair, but then lumps in the “Fair” condition bridges to try to imply that 84% of the City’s bridges are fine. But the West Seattle Bridge, which cracked and closed for two years, was rated as “Fair.” Therefore, it’s disconcerting the STP would think “Fair” bridges are fine, especially when lifting up “Safety” as an overarching goal.  A more prudent and accurate baseline would note that only 22 of the 77 City-owned bridges (or 28%) are in “Good” condition and STP’s goal should be to ensure 100% of our bridges are in “Good” condition. By listing the baseline as 84% rather than the more accurate 28%, I continue to worry that SDOT is not acknowledging the drastic need to invest in our bridges now.
  4. Rehashes the tired “War on Cars” Rhetoric even though a growing number of vehicles are being powered by clean electricity.
  5. Forgets “Fix It First”: The STP seems to be all about shiny new things, rather than the Biden Administration’s national policy to “Fix it First.” Will that make it harder to obtain future federal grants?
  6. Touts the expensive, redundant, disruptive 1ST Avenue “Culture Connector” Streetcar (STP: Part 1 PG3 on page I-61 and Part 2, page T-34). See my critique of the “downtown disruptor” earlier in this newsletter and CLICK HERE for a recent Seattle Times editorial which bluntly states, “Here’s a bit of advice for Mayor Bruce Harrell and the Seattle City Council: If you pour money into plans to build a new streetcar down First Avenue, scrap any notion of asking voters to renew a transportation levy in 2024.
  7. Ignores a Key Funding Source that Vast Majority Supports: Impact Fees. One of my big concerns from the draft STP is SDOTs portrayal of potential funding opportunities. Page I-91 of Part One of the STP lists 13 current funding sources and implies that “developer fees” are an existing funding source. I worry this is incredibly misleading for the public, as the City Council prepares to consider adopting Developer Impact Fees, which are NOT currently authorized by the City, which makes Seattle a conspicuous outlier compared to the 70 other cities that charge them to help pay for infrastructure. Excluding developer impact fees from the STP is, I believe, unwise when people are tired of seeing their property taxes increase by multiple recent local levies. Moreover, impact fees garner a whopping 75% support in polling. 

These are just my initial thoughts as I continue to work my way through the 720 pages and as I await input from District 4 constituents and others to supplement the poll I commissioned during May 2023.  


More Info about STP and Ways to Provide Input:

  • For the main website for the Seattle Transportation Plan, go to SDOT’s online to read the full draft of the Seattle Transportation Plan and provide feedback to SDOT: CLICK HERE. You can also email your comments to:
  • To sign up to comment at our Transportation Committee on Tuesday, Sept 5, 2023 at 9:30 a.m. to provide feedback to City Councilmembers, CLICK HERE.
  • For SDOT’s blog post releasing the draft Seattle Transportation Plan, CLICK HERE.
  • To see the survey results from May 2023 that gauged public priorities for transportation in a statistically valid manner, CLICK HERE.
  • To review the 2022 survey report from the organization Commute Seattle, CLICK HERE.
  • To read the view of the Friends of the Market regarding the proposed 1st Avenue streetcar (a.k.a. Center City Connector a.k.a. Culture Connector), CLICK HERE. (For more on the streetcar, see other mentions in this newsletter or in my July 2023 newsletter.)
  • For our 2020 audit of Seattle’s bridges in the wake of the West Seattle Bridge closure, CLICK HERE.
  • For a popular and vital funding source ignored by the Seattle Transportation Plan, CLICK HERE for my blog post on Impact Fees.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU: Ways to Provide Input

“Find It, Fix It” App: updated user interface from Seattle’s Customer Service Bureau

Your city government has made it a bit easier for residents to report an issue. New improvements launched in November 2022 to the City’s Find It, Fix It mobile app will make it easier to report an issue, track reports, and view your service requests on anything from a pothole to an abandoned vehicle.


City Council Meetings on the Internet

Viewing & Listening: You have a few options to view and hear Seattle City Council meetings. To view Council meetings live on Seattle Channel, CLICK HERE. You can also listen on your phone by calling 253-215-8782.  To view the recordings of City Council meetings that have already occurred, CLICK HERE.

Our City Council meetings are held Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. Even after returning to in-person meetings, the public will still be able to call in their comments at City Council meetings – this is an important upgrade for public input. I would have supported moving our main Council meeting to the evenings to make it easier for people with day jobs to visit us, but the technological upgrades now enable anyone to call into the public comment periods. Last year, we updated our City Council Rules and parliamentary procedures to improve the efficiency of the City Council by enabling Councilmembers to focus their work on city government business rather than on Resolutions on other issues such as international affairs.

Commenting: You can submit comments to me at or to all 9 Councilmembers at For the instructions on how to register and call in to a meeting, CLICK HERE. Sign up begins two hours prior to the meeting start time.


Meetings with Your Councilmember Pedersen: In Person Again!

In-person office hours on most Friday afternoons are back to Magnuson Park’s Building 30 conference room at 6310 NE 74th Street, Seattle, WA 98115, just a couple of “blocks” into the park’s main entrance. You may 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

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

With gratitude,




Councilmember Alex Pedersen
Seattle City Council, District 4

Phone: (206) 684-8804
Find It, Fix It

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