New Mayor, New Council, New Committees, New Hope

Friends and Neighbors,

Starting this January of 2022, Seattle has a new Mayor (Bruce Harrell), new City Councilmember (Sara Nelson), new City Council President (Debora Juarez), new assignments to City Council committees, and new City Attorney (Ann Davison). I am hopeful this resetting of the political climate at your City Hall will produce positive results for Seattle. Our new mayor Bruce Harrell highlighted our common ground with his inaugural speech about “One Seattle.”

To view the video of Mayor Harrell’s speech, CLICK HERE and to read his speech, CLICK HERE.

Overseeing nearly 40 city departments, 12,000 employees, and a combined budget of $6.6 billion, our city’s “chief executive” has a massive responsibility to implement budgets and policies already approved by City Council to address safety, homelessness, parks (including many in District 4), utilities, transportation (including bridges and pedestrian safety), and much more.

It’s hard enough to deploy tax dollars to accomplish improvements when we agree on goals and priorities — and it’s nearly impossible when public officials instead push pisive personal agendas. So I welcome the collaborative approaches of both Mayor Harrell and Council President Juarez.  As we strive to emerge from the worst of the COVID pandemic and homelessness crisis, I will continue to support action from the executive (the Mayor’s Office and their departments) to implement sensible solutions to these and many other Seattle challenges.


Inspired by a recent article in the Wallyhood neighborhood blog, I visited the grand re-opening of Fuel Coffee in Wallingford on January 22 and visited nearby stores and restaurants including Pam’s Kitchen. Wallingford’s entire neighborhood business district is a fun destination from Archie McPhee’s to Pam’s Kitchen to Murphy’s Pub to Ezelle’s Famous Chicken.

Earlier this month, I attended the Northeast District Council (NEDC) which has representatives from several community councils in District 4.  I also attended the University District Community Council.  We discussed public safety, homelessness, transportation, and land use.

In addition to the emails and phone calls my office receives, it’s often through these community council meetings that I hear of priorities and trends in the over 15 neighborhoods of District 4. For example, I know all the construction occurring in the U District has had the unintended downside of temporarily restricting access to many sidewalks. In response, my office worked with our Seattle Department of Transportation to dedicate a single point of contact (a “hub coordinator”) to ensure better coordination and access for residents, small businesses, and civic organizations such as the U District Partnership.

My office also arranged an urgent walking tour of the U District this week with the Mayor’s Office and public safety officials to see the challenges we face from repeated crime sprees that damage storefronts and harm small businesses, especially on The Ave (where 65% of small businesses are owned by women or people of color, per the study completed by Peter Steinbrueck).

If you’d like to get involved in your neighborhood, attending community council meetings is a great way to start. For more information on community councils in your neighborhood, CLICK HERE.  I’ll be attending more of these meetings in February.


Whether you support hiring more police officers and/or you want to re-allocate substantial sums to stand up alternatives to traditional public safety, many are concerned that City Hall has moved too slowly over the past year to produce positive results.  Nearly everyone I’ve heard from is dissatisfied with safety in their community. Many police officers who have dedicated their careers to serving the public in a high-risk profession remain demoralized by the negativity they believe several elected officials directed toward the department during the past two years. There are high expectations on the shoulders of the new Mayor Bruce Harrell and his team to implement positive change based on common ground for improved safety.  Before I launch into a lot of words to provide updates on various public safety topics, I just wanted to let you know, I get it; I understand City Hall needs to deliver positive results. I also believe we can and should do BOTH: hire more community policing officers now AND stand up effective emergency response alternatives for the subset of 9-1-1 calls that don’t warrant an armed response. To do both will cost MORE, not less money (at least initially) and we are behind schedule.

Federal Consent Decree Continues

2022 is the 10-Year anniversary of the Federal “Consent Decree” for our Seattle Police Department. Here’s the introduction to this key police reform document from 2012: “The United States and the City of Seattle (collectively “the Parties”) enter into a Settlement Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) (collectively, “Agreements”) with the goal of ensuring that police services are delivered to the people of Seattle in a manner that fully complies with the Constitution and laws of the United States, effectively ensures public and officer safety, and promotes public confidence in the Seattle Police Department (“SPD”) and its officers. The United States recognizes that SPD is also committed to these goals and has already taken steps to better effectuate them. The Parties also recognize that the City’s police officers often work under difficult circumstances, risking their physical safety and well-being for the public good.”

For the latest presentations to our Public Safety Committee by the federal monitor of the consent decree, Dr. Antonio Oftelie, CLICK HERE for an overview and CLICK HERE for their report on “crisis intervention.”

The federal consent decree, while innovative a decade ago and requiring many adjustments and advances by officers, has become just a baseline for constitutional policing. We also have new organizations to hold the department accountable:  the Community Police Commission, Office of Police Accountability, and the Office of Inspector General. In 2017, City Council passed a stronger, more detailed accountability ordinance, but not all those reforms were embedded into the employment contract with police officers. Outside of budgeting and contracts, City Hall has also adopted several policies in hopes of reducing negative outcomes that have disproportionately impacted people of color.  While the term of that labor contract ended December 31, 2020, it is still in effect until City leaders negotiate a new contract. Frustrated with lack of progress on updating that contract, I’m joining City Hall’s Labor Relations Policy Committee. Once that newly constituted labor committee starts its negotiations, my ability to comment publicly on the contract negotiations will be restricted, as required by federal labor laws. But my previous comments make clear that a just employment contract is vital for an accountable, affordable, and effective police department. While I collaborate with colleagues at City Hall to research, and ultimately fund, effective alternatives to traditional emergency responses (such as the S.T.A.R. response system in Denver, Colorado), I will continue to advocate to hire new officers so the department is sufficiently staffed. In addition to needing effective alternatives to respond to some situations, we still need a sufficient number of highly trained police officers for several reasons: we need to replace departing officers to fulfill our duty under the City Charter Article VI, Section 1 (“There shall be maintained adequate police protection in each district of the City”), we currently have no community policing officers to track/prevent crime trends, there’s a shortage of detectives to solve violent crimes, and implementing reforms (sufficient supervision, reviewing body camera footage, responding to charges of police misconduct, etc.) requires a lot of people.  Any money “saved” within SPD in 2022 should, I believe, be used to hire more police officers for the reasons stated above.


Community Police Commission partners with Federal Monitor to Engage Community

The Community Police Commission and Consent Decree Monitor are collaborating on a series of community engagement meetings regarding preliminary assessments of the Seattle Police Department. The goal of these meetings is to inform the public on overall progress of the Consent Decree as well as to get community input on what comes next in Seattle for police reform and how the City proceeds after the Consent Decree.

These sessions will occur on the following dates, on the following subjects:

  • Crisis Intervention: January 11, 2022 (already occurred, so for the report, CLICK HERE)
  • Stops and Detentions: February 8, 2022
  • Use of Force: March 8, 2022

For information on these sessions, CLICK HERE.


Reforming the SPOG Contract:

I am grateful for the good work police officers do and their willingness to continue to serve Seattle. Our department is understaffed and so we need to encourage good officers to stay here. The officers I have met in the community or at their roll calls to start their shifts have reiterated they want the reputation of their department to be stellar without misconduct.  This requires ongoing assessment of performance, which includes several independent reports made available to the public.  At our recent Public Safety Committee, the Office of Inspector General presented the findings of their audit of discipline at SPD. The purpose of this audit was to assess a key provision of the 2017 Accountability Ordinance which states, “SPD disciplinary, grievance, and appeal policies and processes shall be timely, fair, consistent, and transparent.” [section 3.29.420 (A)].

For the OIG’s audit, CLICK HERE.

Here is the important conclusion from the OIG’s audit (Note: “SPOG” stands for Seattle Police Officers Guild which is the police officer’s union, “SPMA” stands for Seattle Police Management Association which is the union for lieutenants and captains, and “CBA” stands for collective bargaining agreement, also known as a labor contract):

This audit found that current processes and practices, alongside SPOG and SPMA CBA provisions, have created gaps in the discipline system. These collectively impact the timeliness, fairness, consistency, and transparency of discipline for inpidual officers, and diminish transparency and fairness for community members affected by police misconduct. Observed examples of this included opaque application and recording of Not Sustained Training Referrals, inconsistent and untimely service of suspensions, inconsistent retention of disciplinary documents in personnel folders, and untimely resolution of cases filed for arbitration. Additionally, complainants were not consistently being identified in OPA cases or receiving timely notification of case status.

“This report also noted that Chiefs have demonstrated a clear preference for lower levels of discipline when presented with a proposed range by the Discipline Committee, and notably so when that range included termination. This trend may be in part because the relevant employees are entitled to a Loudermill hearing with the Chief, while complainants have not been presented an equivalent opportunity to have their perspectives heard.

“The disciplinary system appears to generally account for, and escalate disciplinary penalties according to, an officer’s disciplinary history. Appeals remain an area of great potential impact on inpidual officer accountability, and OIG notes no significant disciplinary actions were overturned or reduced in the period reviewed by this audit, though few appeals were actually heard.

“Further work should be done to assess the impacts of appeals once the backlog of cases is cleared and more robust conclusions can be drawn. Findings discussed in this audit may be topics for future follow-up review, along with as facets of the disciplinary system that were outside the scope of this audit, including the application of Rapid Adjudication and Mediation to resolve OPA cases, SPD compliance with SB 5051, classification and effectiveness of Supervisor Actions, discipline for EEO cases, and complainant communication for Not-Sustained cases.”

My take away from the OIG’s audit is that the police managers could use these audit findings to make some positive changes now in how they implement discipline for that small subset of officers who warrant it AND that implementing the audit’s remaining suggestions for improvement are more reason to be sure we update the existing labor contracts with both police unions.


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

Committee Updates for City Council

The City Council updated its committee assignments for 2022-23 under the leadership of new City Council President Debora Juarez.  I will continue to chair the committee that monitors the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) & Seattle Public Utilities (SPU). Per my request to enable my committee to give more attention to those important issues, Seattle City Light and Seattle Information Technology shifted to a different committee. Also, with the conclusion of Lorena Gonzalez’s term on the City Council, I’d like to welcome Councilmember Kshama Sawant to our important Committee. For the Council Resolution with the updated committee assignments, CLICK HERE (see “version 2” for the adopted version). For our assignments to regional committees, CLICK HERE.


Winter Storm Assessment: Discussing Improvements and Plague of Potholes

Both SDOT and SPU have accepted my invitation to present a joint “after action” winter storm report to our committee on Tuesday, February 1 at 9:30 a.m.  We received strong feedback from constituents as well as critical media reports about potholes and other road/sidewalk challenges exacerbated by the recent winter storms (December 26, 2021 through Monday, January 3, 2022). I feel the frustration of people throughout the city because the icy streets and freezing rain created dangerous conditions that delayed pick up of solid waste and the new plague of potholes continues to negatively impact cars, buses, freight, and bikes. This warrants City departments coming to our committee to provide a more detailed explanation of efforts taken to address these recent events and the plans and resources needed to address future storms.  Our committee can be viewed on Seattle Channel either live or after the recording is published a day later.

To report potholes, you can call 206-684-ROAD (7623) or the Customer Service Bureau 206-684-CITY (2489), send an email to,  use the Find It, Fix It app on a smart phone, or CLICK HERE. To view a map of recent potholes, CLICK HERE.

State Government Action (or Inaction) on Transportation

Last year, the State government was not able to deliver additional funding for transportation needs. If our State leaders are able to pass a transportation funding package this year, it is likely to be relatively small, with little impact on clearing the growing backlog of road and bridge maintenance and safety projects. For Seattle Times coverage, CLICK HERE and HERE. While we are thankful to have all the funds we need to repair/restore the West Seattle high bridge, State leaders should continue to prioritize bridge safety to prevent their I-5 bridge from deteriorating further and to catch up on the seismic rebuild of State Highway 520 connecting the portion from the Montlake Bridge to I-5. To reduce costs for the western portion of the 520 project (photo above), I support having the State use federal dollars, deferring State taxes, and prioritizing just the parts of the project needed for seismic safety.  The lack of action on bridges from the State is further support for the Harrell Administration issuing bonds for bridge safety later this year, as finally authorized by a unanimous City Council after a year of debate.


Sound Transit Seeks Comments on Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Jan 28 to April 28, 2022

Sound Transit encompasses King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties and is governed by a 19-member board with Seattle ably represented by Council President Debora Juarez and new Mayor Bruce Harrell. Sound Transit is releasing their draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the next major phase of their expansion of light rail service in our region as part of the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure approved by 54% of the region’s voters in 2016 (with a much higher percentage in Seattle): the West Seattle-Ballard Link Extensions, which will include additional construction in the Chinatown-International District.  The DEIS is a large collection of documents, including a 40-page cover letter/Fact Sheet/Table of Contents and 58-page Executive summary followed by six chapters, 30 appendices, and many more tables and figures.


The cover letter for the DEIS sets the table for this massive and vital construction to expand transit:  “The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Sound Transit (the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority) have prepared this Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions Project. Sound Transit is the project proponent. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (42 United States Code 4321 to 4370e) and the State Environmental Policy Act (Chapter 43.21C Revised Code of Washington) to inform the public, agencies, and decision makers about the environmental consequences of building and operating the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions in the city of Seattle…The major choices for the project involve the route of the light rail line and station locations. The Sound Transit Board will consider the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, public and agency comments, and other information before confirming or modifying the preferred route and station locations. FTA and Sound Transit will prepare a Final Environmental Impact Statement, which will respond to comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and include an evaluation of impacts and mitigation for the preferred alternative and other alternatives considered. After completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, the Sound Transit Board will select the project to be built. FTA will also issue a Record of Decision, which will state FTA’s decision on the project and list Sound Transit’s mitigation commitments to reduce or avoid impacts.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Here are excerpts from the 58-page Executive Summary of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS):

“The Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) proposes to expand Link light rail transit service from Downtown Seattle to West Seattle and Ballard. The West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions (WSBLE) Project is an 11.8-mile corridor in the city of Seattle in King County, Washington, the most densely populated county of the Puget Sound region (Figure ES-1). The WSBLE Project consists of two extensions: the West Seattle Link Extension and the Ballard Link Extension. The West Seattle Link Extension would be about 4.7 miles and include stations in the following areas: SODO, Delridge, Avalon, and Alaska Junction. The Ballard Link Extension would be about 7.1 miles. It would include a new 3.3- mile light rail-only tunnel from Chinatown-International District to South Lake Union and Seattle Center/Uptown. Stations would be in the following areas: Chinatown-International District, Midtown, Westlake, Denny, South Lake Union, Seattle Center, Smith Cove, Interbay, and Ballard. While both extensions are evaluated in this Draft Environmental Impact Statement, they are standalone projects that have independent utility from each other.

The WSBLE Project is part of the Sound Transit 3 Plan of regional transit system investments (Sound Transit 2016), funding for which was approved by voters in the region in 2016. Sound Transit and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are preparing this Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the WSBLE Project….”

The West Seattle Link Extension is scheduled to open in 2032, initially providing service between an Alaska Junction Station and a new SODO Station as the interim terminus. The Ballard Link Extension is scheduled to begin service in 2037….”

“In 2019, the Board identified preferred alternatives for the majority of the West Seattle Link Extension and the Ballard Link Extension. The Board did not identify a preferred alternative in the Chinatown/ International District Segment. The Board is not bound by its identification of a preferred alternative. After completion of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and public comment, the Board will confirm or modify the preferred alternative for evaluation in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. However, the Board will not make a final decision on the WSBLE Project to be built until after completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement. At that time, the Board can select from any of the alternatives in the Environmental Impact Statement. When the Sound Transit Board identified alternatives for study in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, early cost estimates indicated that some alternatives could require additional funding; that is, funding beyond what was assumed in the Sound Transit 3 financing plan. Alternatives requiring additional funding incorporate enhancements to the scope of the Sound Transit 3 Representative Project identified in the Sound Transit 3 Plan, such as tunnels in West Seattle and alternatives in the Chinatown/ International District that require replacement of the 4th Avenue South Viaduct. The additional funding for these alternatives would need to come from contributions from partner agencies outside of Sound Transit, such as the City of Seattle, the FTA, or others. These alternatives anticipated to require “third-party” funding are identified with an asterisk (*) throughout the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.”

THIRD PARTY FUNDING CONCERNS:  At first glance, the draft EIS is making it clear that Sound Transit may need additional dollars to complete their promised projects, especially if local officials prefer the most expensive alternatives. But these alternatives may be the best to provide a user-friendly transit experience (which encourages more people to use transit) AND to mitigate harmful construction impacts to communities. Here are my initial thoughts on Sound Transit raising the potential need for “third party funding”:  The debt service on bonds issued to fund Sound Transit 3 planning and projects is currently paid in large part from sales taxes and property taxes. (1) If Sound Transit needs more money to complete these projects, they could also consider having large successful employers benefiting from the new light rail to make financial contributions. This was my major concern with Sound Transit 3’s funding formula years ago: corporations directly benefiting should pay more than taxpayers who may never be able to use the system. (2) Moreover, Sound Transit should consider that the connections to be built within Seattle’s International District and downtown are regional, systemwide regional necessities and should be funded regionally rather than just by Seattleites who already have stations there.  While, several years ago, I expressed concerns about how Sound Transit was being paid for, I support the expansion of light rail in Seattle and regionally and I will do my part to make ST3 successful. We are already seeing the enormous benefits of Sound Transit 2 opening the new stations in the U District, Roosevelt, and Northgate. However, I don’t want to see Seattle residents paying more than they need to, especially by increasing regressive taxes. Due to Tim Eyman’s harmful efforts with I-976, we already had to increase our sales tax to renew the vital Seattle Transportation Benefit District for added bus service.

To learn more about the project and how to comment on the Draft EIS by April 28, 2022, Sound Transit asks that you visit the online open house at

SEATTLE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE DISCUSSIONS: Several of the City Councilmembers whose districts will be impacted by the locations and construction projects for the expanded transit service are members of our Seattle Transportation & Public Utilities Committee, which I continue to chair.  Sound Transit has accepted my invitation to return to our Transportation Committee starting Tuesday, February 15 at 9:30 a.m. to provide an overview of the draft EIS. Later this year, our Committee will hear from various City departments (including SDOT and SPU) on how they will coordinate efforts with Sound Transit to increase the likelihood of successful new light rail stations in Seattle. This is consistent with the Resolution creating our Council Committee and with Mayor Durkan’s Executive Order from December 2021. Our discussions will likely focus on the following questions: What are the most important parts of the voluminous draft EIS, especially regarding routes and station locations? How can the general public engage? How can we enable both City departments and Sound Transit to continue to collaborate effectively for successful implementation of Sound Transit 3? Learning lessons from Sound Transit 2, how can we ensure maximum accessibility to the new stations, create a delightful user experience so more people choose transit, and obtain ample local input regarding the “built environment” (including the station design and surrounding uses). Our committee is NOT planning to discuss funding.

In addition to the official comments that can be provided via the draft EIS process (due April 28) and the presentations our Seattle Transportation Committee will receive, the public can engage by attending the community advisory groups recently formed for each section of the new lines. For more on the advisory groups including their February 2022 meeting schedule as well as other ways to engage this process, CLICK HERE.


PSRC Regional Transportation Plan released for comments

(the Northgate regional transit hub in Council President Debora Juarez’s District 5)

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) has a major impact on large-scale regional plans and is an official conduit for the influx of federal dollars, including transportation. Seattle City Council members serve on the PSRC’s various committees but are outnumbered by elected officials from other jurisdictions in our region. Nonetheless, Seattle officials have a good track record of making sure Seattle gets a share of this funding. Much of this funding is based on planning documents agreed to by the PSRC officials.

“PSRC is developing the draft Regional Transportation Plan, which will respond to the priorities of VISION 2050 and describe how the region will meet transportation needs into the future, addressing existing needs and expected growth.  The plan outlines investments the region is making to improve all aspects of the transportation system – from transit, rail, ferry, streets and highways, freight and bicycle and pedestrian systems – and ensure the safe and efficient movement of people and goods. We want to hear from you!

“The draft plan has been released for public comment through February 28, 2022. Visit our online open house to learn more about the plan, watch short videos on the elements of the plan, view the full text of the document and make a comment. PSRC will host three public webinars with a live presentation and question and answer session:

Wednesday, February 2, 8-9 am
Tuesday, February 8, 12-1 pm
Wednesday, February 9, 5:30-6:30 pm”

You can also comment via email:


Join the Seattle Freight Advisory Board!

Photo source: Port of Seattle

There is still an opportunity to apply to the Seattle Freight Advisory Board. For the application, click the following link to apply:

The Seattle Freight Advisory Board was formed in 2010 by Resolution 31243:

“Section 7. Board members should, to the extent possible, live in Seattle and/or represent a business, organization or agency that has a significant presence in Seattle, and have an interest in improving the movement of freight in the City.”

“Section 8. Board members should be, to the extent possible, representative of:

  • Different modes and types of freight;
  • Different geographic areas of the City, including the Duwamish Manufacturing Industrial Center and the Ballard/Interbay Northend Manufacturing Center;
  • Businesses, organizations and public agencies that depend on the efficient movement of freight; and,
  • Seattle residents with an interest in improving the movement of freight and have experience with freight issues.”


Seattle Public Utilities

As one of his first acts as our new mayor, Bruce Harrell issued on January 12, 2022 an executive order extending an eviction moratorium for 30 days (to February 14). According to the Mayor’s Office, “Mayor Harrell’s extension also directs Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities to continue to maintain flexible payment plan policies and halt utility shut offs for 90 days until April 15.” To enroll in the Utility Discount Program for lower income households CLICK HERE for SPU/SCL or CLICK HERE to enroll through Seattle’s new “CiviForm” which provides access to multiple discounts/relief programs.

TREES: New Legislation as a Small but Necessary Step to Protecting our Urban Canopy

A small, but necessary step toward greater tree protections is a bill my office introduced to register arborists and others who cut down/remove trees in Seattle, Council Bill 120207. Land Use Committee Chair Dan Strauss is a co-sponsor. It is tentatively scheduled to be heard at his Land Use Committee on February 9 and 23.

We could benefit from public support to pass this bill, so please send an email to with a message to all 9 Councilmembers:  Please start to save Seattle’s trees by adopting Council Bill 120207, “AN ORDINANCE relating to land use and urban forestry; adding a tree service provider registration procedure and requirement.” Then let’s make substantial progress by completing and advancing a comprehensive tree protection ordinance to save our city’s dwindling urban canopy which is necessary for public health and the environment in the midst of the climate crisis, especially Seattle’s larger exceptional trees.

For more on the multi-year saga to try to get your city government to save Seattle’s trees with a more comprehensive update to our existing tree protection ordinance, CLICK HERE.


For the latest official data from King County Public Health, CLICK HERE or use this website:

Thanks, in large part, to our relatively high vaccination rate, cases in Seattle have decreased by 47% and hospitalizations have decreased by 30% as of the official data through 1/25/2022.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for King County, warned that people without vaccine protection continue to have a much higher risk for hospitalization and death from COVID as demonstrated by this local data comparing those who are fully vaccinated and those who are not:

In November 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) approved vaccine boosters for everyone over 18 years of age. For more info, CLICK HERE.

  • To register to receive the vaccine or booster in Seattle, CLICK HERE. Information is also available in Amharic, Chinese, Korean, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
  • For the most recent information on combatting COVID from King County Public Health, CLICK HERE.
  • If you need language interpretation, help finding a vaccination or testing site, or ADA accommodation, call the King County COVID-19 Call Center at 206-477-3977, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Deploying COVID Relief $$$:  Update from Budget Office

For the latest update from our City Budget Office on how your city government has been deploying COVID relief dollars, CLICK HERE for their PowerPoint Presentation from January 19, 2022. Seattle has received national recognition not only for its success in achieving high vaccination rates quickly but also in how it deployed its resources. The Brookings Institution noted, “Cities that got out of the gate with comprehensive plans bridging high -level goals with project level details—such as Boston, Buffalo, St. Louis, and Seattle—offer models for how other cities can approach this historic opportunity.” The good government organization “Results for America” analyzed 150 counties and cities and found Seattle to be among 8 jurisdictions with a 10/10 on “Data, Evidence & Outcomes Provision Assessment.”


Hazard Pay for Grocery Workers: Another Vote

As many of you know, I represent a City Council district with perse opinions and — whether or not you agree with every vote I take on inpidual pieces of legislation or budgets — I hope you’ll find that I at least try to explain some key votes, especially when I’m on the minority side of the vote. (And whenever you still disagree, hopefully there is some solace in the fact that we have a hybrid system – you also have two citywide Councilmembers who represent you: Teresa Mosqueda and Sara Nelson.)

The legislative journey of Seattle’s ordinance adopted a year ago (January 2021) to require owners of grocery stores in Seattle to pay their workers hazard pay of an additional $4 per hour continues:  just last month, the City Council voted 8 to 0 to sunset those additional payments, but former Mayor Durkan surprisingly vetoed Council’s reasonable sunset bill as she departed office. Then, this week, a majority of the Council reversed itself by voting to sustain (accept) her veto, citing the uncertain future of the coronavirus.

I want to acknowledge that grocery workers — and workers in numerous industries that bravely serve Seattle every day — should ideally be paid more and be able to work the quantity of hours they need. A key question for me is, when is it a city government’s role to intervene and require business owners to pay above their current compensation? The pandemic has spurred the creation and expansion of many relief programs funded by several different sources (the best from the federal government which does not need to balance its budget) — and I have supported nearly all these interventions because a pandemic is an extraordinary crisis warranting extraordinary responses.

While I voted for the original bill to support Seattle grocery workers with hazard pay AND I supported efforts to keep it in place for a full year due to the Delta variant, I was torn about whether to continue those payments into 2022.  Several of my colleagues made reasonable points to uphold Mayor Durkan’s decision.  Ultimately, however, I decided to be consistent with my December 2021 vote and so I voted to override Durkan’s veto so that the hazard pay requirements could sunset in 30 days. But only our newly elected Councilmember Sara Nelson and I voted to override, so the special hazard pay for just grocery workers will continue for an unknown amount of time – until Mayor Harrell ends the official civil emergency, unless another bill is introduced to sunset it sooner. (Budget officials may want us to keep the civil emergency orders in place even after the public health concerns have subsided to ensure maximum reimbursement from the federal government on virus-related programs.)

My original vote in January 2021 to support grocery workers received criticism from several constituents when the Cincinnati-based Kroger company announced the closing of its beloved QFC grocery store in Wedgwood. That was a difficult vote, but I stand by the decision. Tellingly, when the Council initially tried to end the hazard pay in December 2021, Kroger/QFC declined to reopen that store anyway.

Reasons to Phase Out Hazard Pay for Grocery Workers

  • Seattle has already imposed this special hazard pay for a year.
  • The supplemental pay would end not immediately, but rather after a 30-day notice period.
  • Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said this past Sunday, things “look like they’re going in the right direction right now.” This week, BOTH the University of Washington and Seattle University announced a return to in-person classes. For the current trends of COVID cases and hospitalizations, as reported by King County Public Health, CLICK HERE.
  • Beyond the government-imposed minimum wage and sick leave policies, workers and their employers should typically negotiate compensation and benefits without a local government dictating what it must be. The local union United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW, Local 21) is effective throughout Washington State in advocating for the grocery workers they represent, in organizing workers who may want to form a union, and in influencing many elected officials.
  • Temporary hazard pay for grocery workers already ended months ago in all 35 California jurisdictions that originally required it and it has also ended in about half of the Washington State jurisdictions that required it: Bainbridge Island, Federal Way and the unincorporated areas of King County and Snohomish County.
  • Ending the hazard pay in Seattle could make it more financially feasible for other stores to move into the Wedgwood location and to open new stores throughout Seattle.
  • Let’s continue to encourage requirements for vaccinations, boosters, the wearing of masks, and other preventative measures strongly recommended by public health authorities.

Even though the outgoing Mayor kept this intervention in place, her veto was over a month ago and her veto letter left open the opportunity to sunset it soon.  Unless the public health conditions decline substantially, I hope the new Mayor will support phasing this out for the reasons outlined above.

For the Seattle Times story on this vote, CLICK HERE.


City Council Meetings on the Internet

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

NEW IN 2022:  Our City Council meetings moved to Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. Even after we return 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 enable more people to visit us, but the technological upgrades to enable calling in we still enable more of the public to participate even with meetings remaining in the daytime.  We also updated our City Council Rules and parliamentary procedures in hopes of improving the efficiency of the City Council, including enabling Councilmembers to focus their work on city government business rather than international affairs.

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

Virtual Meetings with Your Councilmember Pedersen

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

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

We are getting through this together, Seattle!

With gratitude,




Councilmember Alex Pedersen
Seattle City Council, District 4

Find It, Fix It

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