Results and Budgets during challenging times

Friends and Neighbors,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

City Council Unanimously Adopts Councilmember Pedersen’s Climate Change Policy

Presenting the climate change analysis to my Council colleagues.

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

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

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

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

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

We Must Revamp the Police Union Contract to Revamp Public Safety

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

New Police Reform Monitors Appointed by Federal Judge Robart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read more about the bridge audit HERE.

Concerns About SDOT’s New Scooter Rentals

Photo from SDOT blog

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

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

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

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

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

West Seattle Bridge Closure Assessment and Mitigation Continue

Photo: SDOT

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


New in D4: Christie Park is Open!

Photo: Seattle Parks & Recreation

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

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

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

For more information about the project please visit


Eviction Moratoria and Rent Relief

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

New Round of Help for Small Businesses

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

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

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

Internet Access Opportunities

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

Where to Find More Updates on COVID and Relief

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


City Council Meetings on the Internet

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

Commenting: You can also submit public comment by sending an e-mail to me at 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.

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

Virtual Meetings with Your Councilmember Pedersen

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

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

We will get through this together, Seattle.

With gratitude,




Councilmember Alex Pedersen Seattle City Council, District 4 Email: Find It, Fix It  

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