Budgets, Safe Streets, Trees, and More

Friends and Neighbors,

Falling into the Fall, the big issue is the big budget proposed by Mayor Harrell. Your City Council enters its 2-month process to review, amend, and adopt a balanced budget as required by State law. Here is the entire pile of topics you can peek into this month:

  • District 4: 50th Anniversary at Magnuson Park, FamilyWorks Ribbon-Cutting at Roosevelt, Community Party in View Ridge Park, U District and Wedgwood Public Safety and Economic Development Walking Tours, U District $4 Food Walk.
  • Public Safety and Homelessness: Police Problems, Homicides in 2023 Already Exceed All of 2022, Finally Passing Law to Discourage Illegal Hard Drug Use in Public.
  • Taxes and Budgets: What Would You Get from Mayor’s $7.8 Billion Budget? What’s Missing?
  • Tree Infrastructure: Let’s Not Wait to Prevent a Future “Luma” Tree Crisis!
  • Transportation & Seattle Public Utilities Committee: Comments Due on “Seattle Transportation Plan,” Vision Zero Safety Update, Bridge Maintenance, Water Conservation, Apply for Digital Equity Grants.
  • 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.


Happy 50th Anniversary to Seattle’s Community Gardens (P-Patches)!

At Magnuson Park September 9, 2023 celebrating 50 years of P-Patch community gardens. From left to right: Kenya Fredie (Department of Neighborhoods), Ben Wheeler (Seattle Housing Authority), Yao Fou Chao (receiving a City Proclamation), Israel Rios (Mayor’s Office), City Councilmember Alex Pedersen, and Director Jennifer Chao (Department of Neighborhoods). For more info, CLICK HERE.
FamilyWorks Opens Additional Site in Roosevelt

On September 16, 2023, FamilyWorks Executive Director Marcia Soika-Wright wields the celebratory scissors, as she’s flanked by board members, workers, parents, and children of the nonprofit she leads. Seattle City Councilmember Alex Pedersen stands between Governor Inslee’s new Director of Commerce Mike Fong and one of the founders of FamilyWorks State Representative Frank Chopp (43rd LD) while State Rep Gerry Pollet (46th LD) deftly anchors the end of the ribbon. 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, thanks in part to support from the city government.
View Ridge Party in the Park: Sept 10!

The annual “Party in the Park” in View Ridge was bustling on September 10, 2023. Councilmember Pedersen swears he was smiling one second before and after this photo, and he is definitely not frowning because the Concordia School ran out of popcorn early.  He is joined by the consistently happier President of the View Ridge Elementary School PTA and the President of the View Ridge Community Council. If you live near the park, you can get more involved by participating in the View Ridge Community Council: email address – info@viewridgeseattle.org and website – http://viewridgeseattle.org.

U District and Wedgwood Public Safety and Economic Development Walking Tours

High-level state government officials visited our University District this week to highlight the positive impacts created by recent grants to boost economic recovery. Specifically, the City’s Office of Economic Development (OED) and the WA Department of Commerce have invested over $5 million in U District small businesses this past year. The walking tour showcased key physical improvements at over 130 small businesses, many of which are owned by women or people of color.  If you stroll along “The Ave” (University Way NE) in the heart of the U District, you can see many of the new storefronts and shiny signage that proclaim, “We’re Open for Business!”

Background: 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 9/28/2023, CLICK HERE. The UDP’s previous 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).

A Sobering So Long: Just 72 hours before the walking tour to highlight the enhanced retail storefronts, we all received the grim news from the premier company Target, which announced its upcoming closure of two stores in North Seattle: Ballard and the U District.

A Seattle Times reporter asked me to comment and here’s what the reporter included in their article on September 26, 2023:

Councilmember Alex Pedersen, who represents the district that includes the U-District, said in a statement that Seattle is still recovering from an increase in crime because of defunding. Pedersen is not seeking re-election next year.

I encourage all businesses to stay here,” Pedersen said, adding the city needs to take steps such as restaffing the police department to “prove Seattle prioritizes safety to support its residents as well as the employers providing jobs and revenues to our city.”

However, here’s the full statement I actually submitted to the reporter, which provides important context to highlight key problems with our local government’s lackluster response to public safety:

“I encourage all businesses to stay here as our Mayor strives to improve our city, but we must acknowledge that Seattle is still recovering from the detrimental defund movement supported by a majority of my City Council colleagues. Homicides are up and several businesses continue to lose money after repeated thefts and safety concerns in North Seattle and throughout our city. Hundreds of officers and detectives departed Seattle and, during their exit interviews, many pointed to the damaging defund movement and elected officials who unfortunately supported it.

We also have a King County jail that refuses to accept many suspects accused of multiple thefts at retail storefronts.

As we put in place a comprehensive approach to public safety that includes compassionate alternatives and accountability, we must also re-staff the department and require the King County jail to honor its contract with our city, so we can prove Seattle prioritizes safety to support its residents as well as the employers providing jobs and revenues to our city.”

–Councilmember Alex Pedersen

For the Seattle Times coverage of the store closures in Ballard and the U District, CLICK HERE.
In addition to attention on the public safety and economic development challenges in the University District, I want to thank Wedgwood (and regional) leader Gabe Galanda, who has been advocating for basic and vital responsiveness from the 9-1-1 call center, from police leadership in charge of allocating scarce officers / detectives as well as maintaining key technology (such as the online crime reporting tool), and from King County officials who need to adhere to their contract with the City to accept repeat offenders. Mr. Galanda organized a walking tour with City Hall public safety officials to highlight the repeated burglaries, vandalism, and thefts that have occurred along 35th Ave NE as a stark reminder of the crimes that need attention in Northeast Seattle, too.

U District $4 Food Walk Returns Saturday, September 30 from 11AM – 8PM!

As UW students, staff, and faculty return to campus this week, the U District Partnership – District 4’s only Business Improvement Area (BIA) – is hosting the annual, fun event for foodies and the Northeast Seattle community. With $4 food and drink specials from over 70 participating businesses along the Ave and in the U District, it’s an invitation to every Seattleite to get out and chow down. Each location will be offering two unique menu options from 11AM – 8PM, available for $4 each – payment is made at each establishment.

From 11AM – 6PM, enjoy a blend of entertainment that will have you dancing in the streets. From the powerful beats of marching bands to the thunderous resonance of taiko drums, to the soulful tunes of outstanding local bands, the main stage delivers an array of mesmerizing performances.

  • For more information about the 2023 U District Food Walk, CLICK HERE.
  • For the 2023 U District Food Walk menu, CLICK HERE.


Acknowledging Police Problems

I share the outrage felt by so many after the insidious incidents from a handful of SPD officers. Here are links to news articles about these recent incidents:

While I continue to support the good work officers do to foster community safety in Seattle, advocate for a fully staffed department, and concur with the federal judge’s acknowledgment of progress made by the department as a whole with federal consent decree requirements to address individual use of force, data collection, and oversight, I also strongly condemn these abhorrent incidents this year. As Mayor Harrell said last week in reaction to one of these incidents, “I understand and recognize the community outrage – and disappointment – that recent incidents have inspired. Our police service is responsible for helping keep our communities safe when hate crimes occur – but that can’t happen when trust with those communities has been eroded. That’s why incidents like this demand a response that reflects our shared values and commitment to delivering public safety for everyone.”  

One of the concrete accountability measures we can reinforce this year is to ensure SPD renews its contract with a consultant who independently reviews body camera footage. This could be done with a budget tool called a “proviso” that would require funding within SPD to be used for this basic accountability measure.

Homicides in 2023 Already Exceed All of 2022

As The Seattle Times recently reported, “Seattle police investigated 33 homicides in 2019, 53 in 2020, 41 in 2021 and 54 in 2022, according to The Times’ data. With more than three months left in the year, it’s conceivable the city could break its 1994 record of 69 homicides in a single year.”

If you want to see more crime statistics for Seattle, you can explore SPD’s Online Crime Dashboard: CLICK HERE.

Blaming the rise in homicides on “the pandemic” is at best vague / unhelpful and, at worst, misleading / misdirection. We may never know the exact reasons. What we know, however, is that the trend is unacceptable and unusual (compared to other cities). Other hypotheses include the sharp increase in illegal drug dealing/use and the loss of police officers, particularly the detectives who catch bad guys before they commit worse crimes. 

For the September 25, 2023 Seattle Times article, CLICK HERE.


Finally Incorporating State Law on Illegal Drug Use: Two Months = Two More Votes

The multi-month saga to adopt the State government’s compromise on the illegal use of hard drugs was a painful reminder of the truism articulated by former City Councilmember Sam Smith: “Five votes is policy.”

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)


Seattle finally exits the “no man’s land” where no one would prosecute crimes of public use of hard drugs. Finally, our City Attorney’s Office can do its job to prosecute these gross misdemeanors, unless the individuals are successfully diverted to other programs.

If City Hall had simply adopted the State government’s compromise legislation (2E2SSB 5536) on June 6, as proposed by Councilmember Sara Nelson and me (Council Bill 120586), the sensible law would have been in effect and enforced by July 7. Instead, the dithering resulted in a Seattle-only bill that doesn’t even go into effect until October 20. That means there will have been approximately 100 days when our City Attorney was unable to prosecute these crimes and the additional leverage for diverting suspects into treatment was unavailable.

The Mayor’s original version of the legislation received in August introduced a difficult to define new concept (“harm to others”), which several officers said would make it very challenging for our understaffed police department to implement. 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 a 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.”

Fortunately, several Councilmember amendments helped to clarify and provide additional flexibility in the law. It appears, however, that the Mayor decided via his Executive Order issued on September 28, 2023 to be more prescriptive toward officers regarding the unique test of harm. 

Ultimately, I’m grateful we finally have the law on our local books and I’m grateful for Councilmembers approving my amendment to add reporting requirements so that City Hall and the public can assess in the future whether the new law is actually working as intended.

More Info:

  • For the legislation finally adopted (Council Bill 120645 / Ordinance 126896) on September 19, 2023, CLICK HERE.
  • For the September 28, 2023 Seattle Times article about the Mayor’s subsequent Executive Order, CLICK HERE.
  • 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 failed 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.


Budget Going Up to $7.8 billion

On September 26, 2023, Mayor Bruce Harrell delivered his annual budget speech to a room full of City Councilmembers and the heads of city government departments at the new low-income housing project in the First Hill neighborhood.

As required by our City Charter, the Mayor submitted his proposed budget for 2024 and the Council has approximately 60 days to review, amend, and vote to formally adopt it.  This budget proposal is not meant to be a dramatic change because it’s based on a draft budget already “endorsed” for 2024 by the City Council back in November 2022.  The official title of this year’s budget proposal seems as if it’s crafted to elicit yawns, even among budget nerds like me: “Mid-Biennial Budget Adjustments.” So, a key question will be, “Will the City Council adopt amendments that improve or tarnish the Mayor’s budget proposal?” Each Councilmember will have their own viewpoint, ideally informed by their constituents. Last year, the Mayor submitted a sound budget, which was both improved AND tarnished by the City Council amendments (in my view). I believe it was tarnished regarding some public safety items. This year, will the budget be tarnished by increasing taxes without repealing regressive taxes or without managing costs better?

Note: despite all the drama during Council’s annual budget amendments, some key financial decisions take place OUTSIDE of this 8-week budget review process, such as tax levies and union contracts. As you know, voters decide whether to tax themselves on several big-ticket items that supplement key City programs: libraries, parks, low-income housing, education support, and transportation projects. Property tax increases (levies) fund those programs, which appear in the budget document but are already decided by the votes of the people. (For an overview of the alarming increases in property tax rates, CLICK HERE.) In addition, the bulk of city government expenses in the budget document are for salaries and benefits for the 12,000 current employees that were negotiated as part of collective bargaining agreements (contracts) with multiple city government employee labor unions.

Here is a list of the 40 city government departments and offices and their budgets:

Note: the figures in the table above include both operating expenses (such as city government employee salaries) AND capital expenses (such contracts to rebuild / reconfigure streets). It’s unusual for a city to own its own utilities, and Seattle is blessed to own two of them: Seattle City Light (electrical power) and Seattle Public Utilities (freshwater, wastewater, and solid waste / recycling removal) comprising approximately $3 billion of the total. To see more details, you can use our ”Budget Dashboard”: CLICK HERE.

This is an unusual budget year for a few reasons:

  • LITTLE ROOM FOR SPENDING CHANGES? TAX REFORM? Last year, the City Council already endorsed the contours of the 2024 budget, so major changes are not expected (as noted above). Moreover, it appears that the list of new revenue ideas released last month by a task force might not be acted on this year because they are NOT in the Mayor’s proposed budget. I hope, however, that Councilmembers will at least repeal City Hall’s regressive tax on drinking water as I proposed earlier this year. (I proposed two pieces of legislation to achieve that overdue tax reform, if my colleagues muster the political will to get it done.)
  • SILLY SEASON? It’s an election year (a.k.a. “silly season”) where some incumbents are running for re-election and some are not. Councilmembers will propose their budget amendments BEFORE election day, but vote on those amendments AFTER election day. Therefore, which amendments are signaling to voters in a particular district and/or which are serious amendments to achieve good governance?
  • FUTURE DEFICIT? The flexible “General Fund” is flush with cash for 2023 and 2024, but 2025 and 2026 are likely to see a budget “deficit” in that General Fund due to the increasing personnel costs for the 12,000 city government employees – unless the funds raised by the relatively new tax on higher business salaries (a.k.a. the Payroll Expense Tax a.k.a. the “JumpStart” tax) are sensibly shifted over to close that gap. 

Questions I’ll Be Researching When Reviewing the Mayor’s Budget Proposal:

In addition to the questions you email to me, here are some of the questions I’ll be asking when reviewing the Mayor’s budget proposal:

DISTRICT 4: Are there cuts to projects or programs in our District 4 in Northeast Seattle?

ACCOUNTABILITY: Is our City Auditor adequately funded? Typically, this important oversight office is underfunded at $2 million each year, which means it struggles to monitor spending of $7.8 billion within more than 40 departments and offices.)


  • Is the police department’s staffing plan fully funded?
  • What is being done to boost the recruitment and retention of officers and detectives?
  • Does the budget cut public safety position slots (abrogation) and, therefore, send a negative message that City Hall does not value the positions (officers, 911 dispatchers, others)?


  • Is the City-operated “Unified Care Team” that addresses encampments on City property sufficiently funded?
  • Is there accountability with the investments in the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA)?


  • Is SDOT investing in safety improvements (such as “Vision Zero“) where they are needed most, especially at intersections on dangerous arterials in South Seattle and along Aurora Avenue N?
  • Are the bridge maintenance line items funded to levels recommended by the City Auditor in 2020? (The auditor recommended $34 million to $102 million annually just on bridge maintenance, not including seismic upgrades or planning for replacement bridges.)
  • Does the budget waste more tax dollars on the proposed downtown Center City Connector? (For more on that, see my newsletter from last month.)
  • Are your sales tax dollars invested wisely for the Seattle Transit Measure, so that SDOT is not making up questionable new programs from the “Emerging Needs” bucket, inequitably distributing transit dollars to pet projects, or stockpiling too many dollars in “Reserves” when we clearly need more bus drivers?
  • Is there sufficient start-up funding for new traffic safety enforcement, knowing that speed enforcement cameras ultimately pay for themselves?


  • Does the budget support the retention of large and healthy existing trees? (For example, increasing the number of compliance officers so that they can deploy during the weekends to stop illegal tree removals.)


  • Will City Hall finally repeal the unfair, regressive tax on everyone’s drinking water? ($40 million per year)? For more on my website, CLICK HERE.
  • Will City Councilmembers muster the courage to allow the basic procedural steps needed to fully discuss transportation impact fees as an option, so that City Hall could lower regressive property taxes?

Feel free to send your questions about the City budget to me at Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov


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

The views they expressed are consistent with the sentiments of the majority of the general public, according to recent polling:

As shown above from 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.

More Info:

  • For the Mayor’s budget proposal, CLICK HERE. For the Mayor’s September 26, 2023 press release with a link to his budget speech, CLICK HERE.
  • For the presentations at our kick-off Budget Committee meeting on September 27, 2023, CLICK HERE (for Executive’s 32-page Powerpoint summary of Mayor’s proposal) and CLICK HERE (for City Council Central Staff’s 10-page process overview).
  • For the website of the City Council’s Budget Committee, CLICK HERE.
  • For a “Budget Dashboard” that enables you to drill down into the budget of each City government department, CLICK HERE.
  • To review the August 2023 presentation by Seattle’s Office of Revenue and Economic Forecasts, CLICK HERE. This is the forecast the Mayor’s Office used to build their budget proposal for 2024. There will be a “final” revenue forecast on October 17, 2023. (Sometimes referred to as “The October Surprise” because the late-breaking revenue forecast results in either unexpected reductions requiring sudden “cuts” to the budget or unexpected increases spurring Councilmembers to scramble to grab/reach majority consensus on how to spend it.)
  • 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.


Saving Future Trees Like “Luma”: Will This Little Legislation See the Light of Day?

While we celebrated the saving of the single cedar tree called “Luma” on August 9, we all knew it meant we had more work to do. So I got to work.  I consulted with the Snoqualmie Tribe to craft the initial draft of legislation to protect culturally modified trees (CMTs). But that legislation did not appear on the Seattle City Council’s “Introduction and Referral Calendar” (IRC) on September 5th, 12th, or 19th. Therefore, I daylighted the legislation by having a presentation at my committee (even though my committee is about transportation and utilities). However, legislation needs to be formally introduced before we can amend and approve it. So, to advance the legislation rather than just talking about it, I had no choice but to leverage our parliamentary procedures to call for a special vote on September 19 to advance it. Thanks to the calls and emails of support from the Chairman of the Snoqualmie Tribe and dozens of tree advocates, a majority of Councilmembers voted to advance the legislation for consideration. Many thanks to Councilmembers Herbold, Lewis, Morales, and Sawant for voting YES to enable this simple bill to move forward for discussion. Now that it’s formally “introduced” and referred directly to the full City Council, Council Bill 120670 (formerly TMP-9902) will be discussed and voted on by the full City Council by December 5, 2023.

To watch the September 19 full City Council meeting (public comment and vote on the IRC), CLICK HERE. To watch the September 19, 2023 presentation at the Transportation Committee, CLICK HERE (and advance to minute 1:28:09).

To be frank, this CMT legislation that we advanced is very focused and, therefore, very far away from correcting all the flaws in the tree legislation approved by the City Council in a 6 to 1 vote in May 2023. The CMT legislation does not even address all of the risks to large significant trees like Luma, because I had to remove three related provisions so that the legislation focused solely on CMTs. (I removed my proposed restrictions on new driveways, and I removed the dripline measurement to supplement the tree protection area. That was after I had to exclude reforms to the lot boundary adjustment / lot splitting loophole because that requires a change in State law.) The legislative proposal remaining is simple and small, but vital:


Title: AN ORDINANCE relating to tree protections; adding new provisions related to trees that are part of an archaeological site; and amending Sections 25.11.060 and 25.11.130 of the Seattle Municipal Code.

WHEREAS, the amendment in this ordinance to Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 25.11 is exempt from State Environmental Policy Act review; NOW, THEREFORE,


Section 1. Section 25.11.060 of the Seattle Municipal Code, enacted by Ordinance 126821, is amended as follows:

25.11.060 Requirements for trees when development is proposed

* * *
E. Prior to approving the removal of any Tier 2 or Tier 3 tree, the Director shall: (1) notify the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) of the requested tree removal; and (2) receive confirmation from DAHP whether the tree is part of an archaeological site subject to requirements of chapter 27.53 RCW. If the tree is not part of an archaeological site, the Director may approve the removal of the tree. If an archaeological site would be impacted by the removal of the tree, and the applicant wants to proceed with the impact to the archaeological site, the applicant is responsible for obtaining approval for its removal from DAHP prior to the Director approving the removal of any such tree.

Section 2. Section 25.11.130 of the Seattle Municipal Code, last amended by Ordinance 126821, is amended as follows:

25.11.130 Definitions

* * *

Culturally modified tree” means a tree that has been determined by the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation to be an archaeological site or part of one subject to requirements of chapter 27.53 RCW.

* * *

Section 3. This ordinance shall take effect and be in force 30 days after its approval by the Mayor, but if not approved and returned by the Mayor within ten days after presentation, it shall take effect as provided by Seattle Municipal Code Section 1.04.020.

CALL TO ACTION FOR TREES:  Elected officials need to hear from their constituents because we know City Hall will hear from the tree-cutters and the paid lobbyists who contribute to political campaigns. After the City passes the budget on November 21, but before the vote on Council Bill 120670 on December 5, would be a good time to urge City Councilmembers and the Mayor to support the legislation. The sweet spot for timing would be after Thanksgiving but before Councilmember decisions crystallize. Please put a reminder on your calendar for Monday, November 27 to send emails to Council@seattle.gov and Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov urging them: Please support Council Bill 120670 to save culturally significant trees and repair some of the recent harm from flawed legislation that failed to fully protect Seattle’s dwindling tree infrastructure in the face 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.


(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.

Reminder: The Draft “Seattle Transportation Plan” (STP) Needs Your Input

Here’s a reminder that SDOT is seeking your input on their draft Seattle Transportation Plan (STP) by October 23 (and comments are due on their draft Environmental Impact Statement by October 16).

For my initial critique of the draft Seattle Transportation Plan (STP) from last month, CLICK HERE.

On August 24, 2023, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) released theirdraft Seattle Transportation Plan (STP). The STP is likely to serve as a guiding document for transportation decision-making in Seattle for the next 20 years. The STP will also serve as the “transportation element” of the Comprehensive Plan that State law requires cities to revamp every 8 years.  SDOT presented their draft STP at the September 5, 2023 Transportation Committee meeting (CLICK HERE). The community has various ways to provide feedback on the draft STP between now and when SDOT hopes to finalize the plan early next year. 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 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.

As I understand it, the 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.

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: STP@Seattle.gov
  • To review SDOT’s presentation at my Transportation Committee on September 5, 2023, 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.


Vision Zero Update at Transportation Committee*

The Chief Safety Officer/Traffic Engineer and the Deputy Director of our Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) provided their update on “Vision Zero” safety programs at our Transportation Committee on September 19, 2023.

Historically, pedestrians have comprised the most collision fatalities in Seattle. Since 2020, SDOT has also recorded an increase in the number of unhoused people being killed by vehicles – another urgent safety reason to not allow people to camp along roadways. The plurality of these collision fatalities has occurred in South Seattle, which is why I plan to join Councilmember Tammy Morales again in advocating for equitable transportation resources during this fall’s budget amendment process. *Tragically, as we were finalizing this newsletter, the news broke of two more pedestrian fatalities in South Seattle. 

  • To watch the video of SDOT’s presentation, CLICK HERE.
  • To review their Powerpoint presentation, CLICK HERE.

Spokane Street “Low Bridge” (West Seattle) Maintenance Continues; Requires Oct 7-14 Closure

Although my constituents are in Northeast Seattle, as Transportation Chair I wanted to pass along the fact that our Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is continuing major maintenance work on the Spokane Street Swing Bridge (“the Low Bridge”), which will require closure from October 7 through 14, 2023. For re-route suggestions, please read SDOT’s blog post: CLICK HERE. While SDOT continues to under-fund bridge maintenance (as compared to what our City Auditor recommended back in 2020 when the West Seattle “high” bridge cracked and closed), SDOT crews are taking care of some maintenance work each year.  Seeing this work get done is a reminder of how grateful I am to have had such a strong partnership with Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who advocated so strongly for her constituents during the West Seattle Bridge crisis. We also appreciate the workers out there in all kinds of weather sweating and straining and applying their skills to improve both of these bridges.


Water Conservation (Yes, During Rain Storms)


Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is asking people to voluntarily reduce water consumption until the region experiences another rainy season. Here’s part of the September 21, 2023 announcement by SPU: “While Seattle may be known for its rainy weather, the last few months have been anything but wet in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, the region has experienced an unprecedented stretch of dry weather. The unusually dry summer, coupled with a forecast of continued dry conditions including a potential delay in sustained fall rains, have the water supply managers at Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) concerned about having sufficient water for people and fish. Our hydrologic model suggests a deep drawdown of our mountain reservoirs. Water levels are already lower than average, and we are adjusting to sustain adequate water supply for our customers and the rivers this fall. We are also asking our customers to help, too, by voluntarily reducing their water use.”

Although it may turn out to be less urgent due to recent heavy rainfall, I appreciate the proactive and prudent efforts of Seattle Public Utilities to ensure that our Seattle region has a sufficient supply of fresh water for the remainder of the year by asking everyone to voluntarily reduce their water usage to the extent possible until the rainy season returns our water reserve levels back to a higher level.

  • For SPU’s blog post announcing the voluntary water conservation efforts starting September 21, 2023, CLICK HERE.
  • For tips on how to conserve water (and save money!), CLICK HERE.
  • For coverage by The Seattle Times, CLICK HERE.

Apply Now for 2024 Digital Equity Grants from the City of Seattle

On July 27, 2020 — more than three years ago — the Seattle City Council unanimously approved Resolution 31956 to establish the path for ALL Seattle residents to access and adopt broadband internet service that is both reliable and affordable: “Internet for All Seattle.”

Everyone needs access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet for education, jobs, housing opportunities, and even medical care. As required by our resolution, Seattle’s Information Technology Department (Ip) unveiled a citywide Internet for All Action Plan. The plan includes funding for digital equity projects.

The City of Seattle’s 2024 Digital Equity Grant cycle is now open for nonprofits and community groups working to close the digital pide in our communities. The grants will provide up to $35,000 to qualifying non-profit organizations and community groups in Seattle for digital equity projects. A total of $545,000 is available for the Technology Matching Fund (TMF) and Digital Navigator Grant. City dollars are matched by the community’s contribution of volunteer labor, materials, professional services, or cash. (The community match requirement is 25% of the funding request.)

Projects should aim to increase internet access and adoption by providing:

  • Digital navigator services: Provide one-on-one or small group, just-in-time assistance in person, virtually, via phone/text/email to help residents (1) use their devices, (2) connect to the internet, and (3) sign up for low-cost internet plans.
  • Digital literacy classes/workshops: Provide digital literacy skills training to new technology users.
  • Devices and technical support: Provide devices and the support needed to use them effectively.
  • Internet connectivity: Provide internet to low-income residents by expanding Wi-Fi or another means.

Applications must be submitted by noon, Thursday, November 9, 2023. Winners will be notified in February 2024. To learn more about the grants, including FAQs, scoring criteria, and grant guidelines, visit the grant opportunities page on Seattle.gov/tech.

Seattle IT is providing multiple virtual information sessions about the grants and the application process that interested applicants can attend.

  • Session #1 is on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023, from 10 – 11 AM.
  • Session #2 is on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023, from 12 – 1 PM.
  • Session #3 is on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, from 5 – 6 PM.

No registration is necessary; each session has the same information, and applicants do not need to attend to apply. Details on how to join either via Webex video or by phone are below.

  • For Seattle IT’s September 18, 2023 Press Release and Information Session details on how to join, CLICK HERE.
  • To access the City’s FLUXX portal and apply, CLICK HERE.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU: Ways to Provide Input


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

Here’s the link to the Find It, Fix It app:  https://www.seattle.gov/customer-service-bureau/find-it-fix-it-mobile-app

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 Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov or to all 9 Councilmembers at Council@seattle.gov. For the instructions on how to register and call into 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 alex.pedersen@seattle.gov.

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

With gratitude,




Councilmember Alex Pedersen
Seattle City Council, District 4

Email: Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov
Phone: (206) 684-8804
Find It, Fix It

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