Summarizing July, Saving Luma, Saving $ on Your Water Bill

Friends and Neighbors,

Let’s jump into our July newsletter where there’s something for everyone. Thank you for reading and caring!

  • District 4: Community Center Ribbon-Cutting in Magnuson Park; Save Luma the Cedar Tree in Wedgwood; Getting Your Goat; Exploring the Troll’s Knoll in East Fremont; and Traffic Challenges near Montlake Bridge.
  • Public Safety and Homelessness: Homicides Increased During First Half of 2023, National Night Out Block Parties; and City Attorney Leverages Her Office To Address Graffiti.
  • Taxes and Budgets: Support Gushing for City Hall to Stop Taxing Your Drinking Water; Asking for More Sidewalks Instead of Studies.
  • Land Use: For “Saving Luma” the Tree, see District 4 Updates; Seattle’s First Urban Forester Leadership Position Finally Open.
  • Transportation & Seattle Public Utilities Committee: We Passed Our Legislation to Reduce Dangerous Street Racing; Transportation Equity Report; Getting More Sidewalks For Aurora Avenue North; and Seattle Receives Federal Funds to Support Internet for All.
  • Providing Input: It’s Been Raining Surveys in Seattle!

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


“Welcome back to your Magnuson Park Community Center!”

Not trusting himself with sharp objects, Councilmember Alex Pedersen lends his ribbon-cutting scissors to the more able hands of the children. Our New Parks Superintendent AP Diaz is sporting the cool shades. Note that the size of Mayor Harrell’s big red scissors nearly match the size of his “One Seattle” biceps.

The big day finally arrived on July 6, 2023: the ribbon cutting symbolically reopened the Magnuson Park Community Center, after a COVID-delayed renovation that finally added community space, with more than $4 million in investments from the city, county, and State. I opened my remarks with, “Welcome back to your Magnuson Park Community Center!” I ended my remarks with, “Let’s promise to deliver the best and most affordable access to the low-income residents who call Magnuson Park home.”


Saving “Luma” the Cedar Tree: for Wedgwood, for Seattle

Councilmember Pedersen, during one of his visits in July to Luma the Cedar Tree. He finds it’s a good sign so many people want to save this tree and Seattle’s dwindling urban forest.

Background:  After local environmentalists at the site of Luma stopped the initial attempts by the developer to hire “tree service providers” (a.k.a. arborists) to chop down the massive exceptional tree, the Snoqualmie Tribe sent a letter, dated July 19, 2023, to city government officials:

We represent the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, a federally-recognized sovereign Indian tribe with inherent sovereign rights and reserved rights as a signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855. On behalf of the Tribe, we are writing to provide formal notice to the City of Seattle that the ’exceptional’ western red cedar located at 3849 NE 88th Street is a culturally modified tree (“CMT”) that delineated an ancient indigenous trail system connecting Puget Sound to Lake Washington, and an archaeological site subject to special protections under Washington State law. The Tribe has two specific asks in this letter. First, and most pressingly, we demand the City permanently withdraw or cancel development permit issued for the site that would allow this “exceptional” CMT to be felled as part of the proposed construction project by Legacy Capital. Second, we further demand consultation with the Tribe related to this CMT and the development of comprehensive measures to protect other CMTs within the City at the highest levels of City government…The focus of this letter is the “exceptional” CMT that is about to be felled on the City’s watch and because of the City’s negligence and incompetence...The Tribe is shocked that you informed us that the City lacks a review process or other means for the City to take action to protect the newly discovered and identified archaeological site and the CMT. The Tribe is also surprised to learn from the City that there was no process when the permit was issued in the first instance to conduct an environmental analysis which would have included a cultural resource review.

For the Snoqualmie Tribe’s entire July 19, 2023 letter urging City leaders to save this exceptional tree, CLICK HERE.

The crisis over Luma is more evidence of the weakness of the tree ordinance sent to the Council by the Mayor’s team and adopted by a majority of the City Council – legislation I voted against due to its shortcomings and failures to incorporate numerous meaningful recommendations by the Urban Forestry Commission.

For the July 20, 2023 response to the tribe from the Director of the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI), CLICK HERE. Rather than the Mayor’s Office working with their department to solve the problem, SDCI attempts to punt the problem to the State government, specifically to the State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP). The letter from the SDCI Director states, “The City does not have the authority to withdraw or rescind the final approved permit.”

Supporters of “Luma” and trees throughout Seattle show up in force (again) at City Council, July 25, 2023.Thank you for showing up!

What or who will save the 200-year-old massive, magnificent cedar tree “Luma” from a chainsaw in Wedgwood?

  • Will our Mayor unleash his energy and creativity to brainstorm a One Seattle solution to save the “Luma” tree with his Seattle Department of Construction (SDCI), or will they continue to insist that their “hands are tied because we already issued the building permit”?
  • Will the Snoqualmie Tribe succeed in asserting their rights to protect this Culturally Modified Tree (CMT) — a category of archeological sites — which likely served as a tribal guidepost 200 years ago on a trail between Puget Sound to Lake Washington?
  • Will our State Legislators of the 46th Legislative District (Senator Valdez and/or Rep Farivar or Rep Pollet) prevail upon the State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP), or will DAHP – with their own courage and expertise — deny the required State permit?
  • Will it be State Attorney General Bob Ferguson who will find another way to support the Snoqualmie Tribe by saving this cedar tree?
  • Will the property owner, real estate developer, and their contractor Bad Boyz (I’m not making that up) decide to do the right thing and simply redraw their lot boundary adjustment to make room for the tree when they build their housing?
  • Will the dozens of demonstrators continue to speak truth to power at City Hall (see photo above from July 25, 2023) and persuade politicians to take the action needed?
  • Will it be “Droplet,” the persistent person(s) bravely occupying the tree 24/7 for weeks (who has already helped to save the tree temporarily)?
  • Will it be our 2022 Tree Service Provider registration law, which requires public notice before any tree cutting can occur, thereby enabling environmentalists to continue convincing arborists to keep their chainsaws away as they already have with three generous arborists?
  • Will a City Councilmember who voted for the shaky new tree ordinance not only fix that legislation to protect tribal trees and require government-to-government consultation (with Indian tribes) in the future, but also save Luma the tree today?
  • Will someone on the competitive campaign trail conjure a creative solution and make it happen?

There’s more at stake than just this massive, magnificent cedar tree in Wedgwood. “Luma” has come to symbolize the importance of preserving Seattle’s dwindling tree canopy / urban forest.

To honor the pleas of the community, the Snoqualmie Tribe, and environmentalists, I believe our Seattle and State leaders must do everything we can to save this massive and magnificent cedar to prove that we appreciate the public health and environmental benefits of the urban forest — and to prove that we can build housing and save trees at the same time. As the City Councilmember representing this geographic area, I continue to reach out to other City of Seattle and State government officials, urging them to support the tribe and the hundreds of tree advocates striving to save these trees. I also stay in direct content with those at the Luma tree site to make sure I’m alerted if the developer’s chainsaws rev up.


U District/Wallingford:  Let Them Get Your Goat

Ever the fiscal watchdog, Councilmember Pedersen caught this grass-muncher taking an unauthorized break on the government’s dime on July 9, 2023. Instead of busting this Billy bovid, Councilmember Pedersen granted amnesty and declared, “Let them eat grass!”  To learn more about our creative and cost-effective method for removing weeds and preventing urban wildfires by tapping the insatiable appetites of goats, CLICK HERE for a 2022 Seattle Times article.

East Fremont: Explore the Enchantments of the Troll’s Knoll

On the western edge of our Council District #4 is the semi-secret oasis called the Troll’s Knoll forest trail. The Troll’s Knoll forest trail is on the eastside of the Aurora Bridge above N 36th Street, whereas the fancier Troll’s Knoll Park is on the westside with the famous Troll sculpture in the middle. Many thanks to the volunteers at Friends of the Troll’s Knoll as well as to our City government departments of transportation and parks for keeping this funky and fun area clean and beautiful. On Sunday, July 9, 2023, I encountered volunteer leader Leo on the forest side (District 4) cleaning the area. We observed many visitors to Seattle enjoying the adjacent Troll sculpture and this tranquil trail with trees that relax the roar of Highway 99 above.

“Pardon our Progress”: Frustrating Road Closures Enable Faster Work to Complete Projects

For Seattle residents who drive across “The Cut” on Montlake Blvd, this has been a frustrating time as the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) scheduled several temporary closures to accelerate their work on the various projects related to the western portion of State Route 520 (“the rest of the west”). While you can now see many new improvements, there will still be construction activities where Montlake Blvd meets Lake Washington Boulevard (southern side of 520), so drivers will probably want to use Boyer Ave E.

  • For more about the State Route 520 Portage Bay and Lid Projects, CLICK HERE.
  • For more about the temporary closure of a few key blocks of Lake Washington Blvd (between Montlake Blvd and 24th Ave), CLICK HERE.
  • To get email updates from WSDOT, CLICK HERE.


Seattle Times headline: “Homicide counts are falling in U.S. cities. In Seattle? Not so much”

As reported in the Seattle Times on July 21, 2023, “Bucking a national decline in killings, the number of homicides in Seattle grew 7% in the first half of 2023, according to a report released Thursday by the Council on Criminal Justice.  On average, the number of homicides reported across 30 cities has dropped by 9.4% this year, compared with the first half of 2022. Seattle was one of 10 cities to report an increase, with a percent change greater than New York (4.9%).”

According to the online Crime Dashboard from our Seattle Police Department (SPD), homicides in Seattle are actually up 12% this year compared with the first six months of 2022. In Seattle, it appears there have been several drug-related shooting fatalities and an increase in unhoused victims.

This is another reason why the King County Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) needs to work faster to bring people inside. Our City government also has a responsibility to optimize the number of low-income housing units available through our Office of Housing (OH). OH routinely reports a vacancy rate of 5% (excluding units under construction), which is higher than the national average (ranging from 2% to 2.6%) for low-income, below-market housing. Improving from a 5% vacancy rate to a 2.5% vacancy rate could immediately make available approximately 350 vacant units from OH’s 14,000-unit portfolio.

I appreciate the hard work our SPD is doing, despite being under-staffed for both 9-1-1 response officers and detectives needed to find the people committing each homicide. At our most recent Public Safety Committee meeting, I asked SPD to get back to the City Council with an update on their shortage of detectives by comparing the number of detectives active in 2019 (pre-pandemic) to the number of detectives now, after the department lost 400 officers in the wake of the ill-conceived, unproductive “defund the police” movement of 2020-21.


“National Night Out” Block Parties for Community Safety

“Night Out” is a national event on Tuesday evening, August 1, 2023, for neighbors to enjoy time together on side streets in their community to connect and share food while heightening crime prevention awareness.  As I do every year, I’ll visit as many of these block parties as I can in our District 4 in Northeast Seattle.

  • To register your block for the event or to find an event near you for National Night Out, CLICK HERE.
  • For more immediate crime prevention needs, contact a Crime Prevention Coordinator by CLICKING HERE. My office worked hard to secure funding for two Crime Prevention Coordinators in North Seattle: Sarah and Katelyn are ready to meet with you to share crime prevention tips.


Graffiti Abatement Efforts by our City Attorney

I’m grateful to our City Attorney Ann Davison for appealing the decision of a district court judge so that we can better address graffiti throughout Seattle.  Our City Attorney’s appeal asks that the court ruling be overturned on the grounds that the Seattle graffiti ordinance is, in fact, constitutionally valid. Davison said, “The victims of graffiti – the public as a whole, business owners, property owners, and others – must have a voice. Graffiti is a crime that has an enormously negative and costly impact.”

Seattle Municipal Code 12A.08.020 A2 makes it a gross misdemeanor if a person “…(I)ntentionally writes, paints, or draws any inscription, figure, or mark of any type on any public or private building or other structure or any real or personal property owned by any other person unless the person has obtained the express permission of the owner or operator of the property.”

For the City Attorney’s July 5, 2023 press release, CLICK HERE.

We look forward to the Mayor expanding the graffiti abatement efforts to neighborhoods in addition to downtown, and we urge the Governor and State legislature to provide the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) with more funds for graffiti abatement.

Many thanks to the City workers from Seattle Public Utilities and the teams hired by business improvement areas who get out there every day to clean up graffiti! More of that, please!

To report offensive graffiti, CLICK HERE or use the Find It, Fix It app.


Support is Gushing in to Repeal Seattle’s Regressive Water Tax:

On July 22, 2023, Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times wrote a thought-provoking column entitled, “Seattle speaks with poignancy and pain on rich-poor split.” He concluded with the following: “I think we can again be a city that works. More practical problem-solving and less ideological posing would help. More concern from Big Tech about its own impacts in all this is required. The bubbles and the wealth inequality are probably only going to grow with artificial intelligence. Mostly I thank everyone for telling their stories of how Seattle’s ground is shifting beneath their feet. It’s essential to the vital ongoing project of trying to settle it.”

I agree and I would add the following improvement: tax reform that frees everyone of regressive taxes. On June 7, 2023, I unveiled legislation that would – for the first time – eliminate a regressive Seattle tax:  repealing the tax on your drinking water.

The Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) consistently ranks Washington State as one of the most unfair systems in the country, where lower income residents pay a much higher percentage of their household earnings for taxes and fees than wealthier residents. Nearly 60% of Seattle voters said their taxes are too high and nearly two-thirds said they don’t trust City Hall to spend their tax dollars responsibly, according to a survey conducted by EMC Research in April 2023.

Support for repealing the water tax has been flowing faster. Here are some key statements of support:

NEW: Derrick Belgarde, Executive Director of the nonprofit Chief Seattle Club said, “Seattle’s water utility tax places a disproportionate burden on low-income communities and our members. Repealing this regressive tax will allow more of our members’ income to be focused on their healing & recovery as they move forward on a journey to being healthy & housed in supportive environments. We must break down all barriers that create homelessness or housing instability without limiting our resources to address these crises in our urban Native Communities.

NEW: Shalimar Gonzales, CEO of the nonprofit Solid Ground said: “There are many barriers to ending poverty that we must break down together and that includes the repeal of regressive taxes and fees that burden lower income households. Consistent with our nonprofit’s mission, I support policymakers repealing Seattle’s utility tax on drinking water and believe replenishing that revenue with a local capital gains excise tax is a solid option.


NEW: Joe Thompson, Executive Director of Mercy Housing Northwest confirmed that their nonprofit endorses this effort: “Our affordable housing communities have been especially burdened by escalating costs for necessities like utilities. We support the effort toward a more fair and equitable approach through the repeal of this regressive tax on drinking water.”


NEW: Sharon Lee, Executive Director of the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) said, “The affordable apartment buildings and tiny homes that our nonprofit LIHI builds and manages for low-income people are currently burdened by the city’s water utility tax, so we support local leaders repealing that regressive cost as they seek to make Seattle’s tax system more fair.”

NEW: Marcia Wright-Soika, Executive Director of the nonprofit FamilyWorks, reported that her board approved the following statement of support: “The vast majority of families we serve every day through FamilyWorks’ food banks and resource centers are marginalized by economic injustice. We support efforts to bring relief to low-income families and neighbors by repealing regressive taxes, such as the tax on our drinking water. We hope policymakers center just and progressive revenue options as the pathway to make our city affordable and inclusive for all.”

Local small business owner, Molly Moon Neitzel of Molly Moon’s Ice Cream said, “As a small business owner who sees her employees struggling with regressive expenses, I support extending the progressive capital gains excise tax to Seattle to eliminate the city’s tax on everyone’s water bills. Councilmember Pedersen’s legislative proposal is an important part of the solution, as we work toward a more fair economic system.”

John Burbank, founder and retired Executive Director of the Economic Opportunity Institute think tank, said, “Introducing a progressive tax to sunset a regressive tax on everyone is a welcome and elegant step forward in addressing economic inequities in Seattle. Lower income households that pay a greater proportion of their income for their utility bills, including many seniors on fixed incomes, will benefit from eliminating the water tax. I appreciate Councilmember Pedersen for swiftly recognizing this opportunity for greater fairness by leveraging the new State law to benefit the people of Seattle with meaningful tax reform.”



  • For Councilmember Pedersen’s press release on June 7, 2023, CLICK HERE. To see the visuals from the press conference, CLICK HERE
  • To watch the June 7, 2023 press conference, CLICK HERE.
  • For the initial article by the Seattle Times, CLICK HERE.
  • For the initial article by the Puget Sound Business Journal, June 7, 2023, CLICK HERE.
  • For initial concerns raised by the Washington Policy Center, June 12, 2023, CLICK HERE.
  • To hear journalists discussing the proposal on KUOW‘s “Week in Review,” CLICK HERE and advance it to 9:30 minutes remaining in the 52-minute segment.
  • For KUOW‘s “Seattle Now” podcast “Rethinking Seattle’s regressive taxes,” CLICK HERE.


PLEDGE FOR FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY: To address concerns raised by several constituents:  If City Hall colleagues attempt to introduce new taxes without reducing regressive taxes — including the water utility tax — then I would oppose those one-sided efforts, because a fair and truly “progressive” system needs to remove harmful taxes that impact the lowest income households the most. Seattle is long overdue for real tax reform so that it’s more fair in Seattle.


CALL TO ACTION: You can write to your elected officials at City Hall and tell them to stop taxing your drinking water. You can send your email to:

Tell City Hall to Repeal your Water Tax

Sample message: Please stop taxing our drinking water! Completely remove the harmful and regressive 15.54% tax for everyone in Seattle. Progressive reform means ending regressive taxes, too. Support Alex Pedersen’s legislation Council Bill 120602 this year! More information on his website:  Thank you.

Mid-Year Budget Boondoggle?  Let’s Prioritize Safety Over the “Downtown Disruptor” / “Mobile Money Pit” of the Center City / Cultural Connector Streetcar

Back in November 2022, the Council approved the budgets for this current calendar year of 2023. While our City Budget Office (CBO) is not typically a fan of the City Council proposing changes to their budgets, the CBO sent to the Council more than 150 changes and updates to the existing citywide 2023 budget, several of which are necessary technical updates — while some impact policy.

Here are my prepared remarks from the Finance Committee on July 19, 2023, which highlight my concerns if City Hall tries to spend $1 million on another study for a downtown streetcar:

“Thank you, Chair. Many thanks to our City Council Central Staff — they shine with their analysis all year round and especially during the review of all things budget. I appreciate their analysis pointing out that the ‘deficit’ is only for General Fund and it’s not actually a deficit for the City’s overall budget.

“In reviewing the more than 150 requested changes in this mid-year budget supplemental, I realize there’s a lot of work that’s been done by our City Budget Office and the various departments. I also support nearly all of the proposals for the Downtown Activation Plan and I support expansion of graffiti abatement.

“There is, however, at least one requested change in the approved budget that stands out like a sore budget thumb: Item 7.6 is a proposal from the Executive to spend ONE MILLION DOLLARS to study the expensive First Avenue streetcar proposal, aka the Center City Connector, which has been re-branded as ‘the Cultural Connector.’ As I’ve highlighted previously, I’m concerned that the Center City Connector streetcar proposal is becoming a mobile money pit, because it would cost more to build than originally budgeted, it would cost more to operate than anticipated, and now it continues to cost us money to study it again.

“When people who want to get from Point A to Point B on that single downtown arterial can already use a bus, light rail, or several other means of travel — and when we have so many other transportation needs across the city, including safety projects such as Vision Zero to protect pedestrians — I don’t understand why we would spend another dime to study how to tear up that vital street for two years; the project would end up being a Downtown Disruptor. This item 7.6 is requesting over a million dollars for a study. This would be spending more money to study a project that’s been investigated by the federal government and is nearly $100 million short of meeting its funding goals. Even if City Hall were to convince other levels of government that this single streetcar on a single arterial is a top transportation priority, this expensive, redundant project would tear up that key downtown street for 2 years — that’s not downtown recovery, it’s downtown disruption. Put simply, I don’t think it’s the best use of a million dollars when we have so many urgent transportation safety needs for the City.

“Let’s employ our own critical thinking here and our City Charter authority to amend the budget, by amending and redirecting these funds to more pressing transportation safety priorities, such as keeping more pedestrians safe in Seattle. I look forward to collaboration with anyone else interested in such an amendment to redeploy these dollars toward pedestrian safety.”

– Councilmember Alex Pedersen

Call to Action: You can ask your City leaders to fix this: Instead of spending another $1 million to study the expensive downtown streetcar, please redirect the funds so that we have more money for sidewalks, crosswalks, and other pedestrian safety measures. Please support the Pedersen-Herbold budget amendment to improve Council Bill 120618. Thank you! You can reach all 9 Councilmembers with this email address:

Redirect Funds to Safety Projects

    • For the mid-year budget supplemental proposal from the Harrell Administration, CLICK HERE for Council Bill 120618. For the more than 150 line items of the 55-page Attachment A, CLICK HERE.
    • For a Seattle Times history of the Seattle streetcars (updated in 2019), CLICK HERE.



    In case you missed my review of revenues and expenses for City government from May 2023, CLICK HERE.


    Save Luma the Large Cedar in Wedgwood and More Trees Throughout Seattle:

    Please see our discussion above in the District 4 section of this newsletter.

    More next month about ways we can improve our city laws protecting trees.

    For more on my website, CLICK HERE.


    Arborist Leaders:  Apply for Urban Forester Position in Seattle!

    We worked hard to create a citywide Urban Forester Leader. Applications for the position are due August 8, 2023. If you know an arborist who has strategic experience, CLICK HERE for the posting.


    (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.

    City Council Passed Our Legislation to Curb Dangerous Drag Racing

    Thanks to everyone who showed up to City Hall or contacted our offices to support our legislation. Here is our press release from July 25, 2023:


    Seattle City Council passes transportation safety legislation that discourages dangerous drag racing with automated enforcement

    SEATTLE – The Seattle City Council 8 to 1 passed legislation today to reduce drag racing and dangerous driving. The ordinance, sponsored by Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1 – West Seattle and South Park) and Councilmember Alex Pedersen (District 4 – Northeast Seattle), kickstarts the city’s plans to install speed enforcement cameras in key areas of the city that are heavily impacted by unsafe driving.

    “Our community has been pleading for help for years to stop drag racing. This month’s crash on Alki Avenue Southwest shows just how dangerous conditions have become,” said Councilmember Herbold, who chairs the Public Safety Committee. “I’m proud to have partnered with neighbors and pass this first-of-its kind legislation to make our streets safer.”

    “Automated cameras are an effective enforcement elixir that discourage reckless driving, increase pedestrian safety, and increase efficiency by reducing time-consuming interactions between drivers and our understaffed police department,” said Councilmember Pedersen who chairs the Transportation Committee. “This technology is another tool in our tool belt to reduce collisions and save lives on some of our city’s most dangerous roadways.”

    Anna Zivarts, a Seattle Public Schools parent said, “We have to stop prioritizing the speed of cars over safety and accessibility, especially the safety of students, seniors, people with disabilities and people who can’t afford to drive, and so I’m grateful that City Council has taken action.”

    New Restricted Racing Zones

    This is the first legislation of its kind in Seattle. Washington State authorized cities to use automated camera enforcement in restricted racing zones last year. This legislation designates 10 of those dangerous zones throughout the city. The zones include:

    1. Alki Ave SW between 63rd Ave SW and Harbor Ave. SW.
    2. Harbor Ave SW between Alki Ave. SW and SW Spokane St.
    3. West Marginal Way SW between SW Spokane St and 2nd Ave SW.
    4. Sand Point Way NE between 38th Ave NE and NE 95th St.
    5. NE 65th St between Sand Point Way NE and Magnuson Park.
    6. Roadways inside Magnuson Park including, but not limited to, NE 65th St and Lake Shore Dr NE.
    7. Seaview Ave NW between Golden Gardens Park and 34th Ave NW.
    8. 3rd Ave NW between Leary Way NW and N 145th St.
    9. Martin Luther King Jr Way S between S Massachusetts St and S Henderson St.
    10. Rainier Ave S from S Jackson St south to the city limits.

    (Councilmember Kshama Sawant voted No and stated her reasons at the City Council meeting on July 25, 2023.)

    What’s next?

    The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is in the process of completing the equity analysis as required by the State law prior to installing the enforcement cameras. The Council anticipates the Mayor’s Office will propose additional implementation details in the coming weeks, which should include collaboration between SDOT and our Seattle Police Department.

    # # #

    While some have raised concerns about the ability of the reckless drivers to pay for the traffic tickets if they have relatively low incomes, I believe it’s important that our concern for the victims of the collisions that we are striving to prevent take precedence over the reckless drivers.

    For those who may still have concerns, it is possible that the first speeding offense could be treated as a warning for a mistake, with fines being issued for the second offense which would be more clearly considered reckless.

    Increasing the use of automated enforcement is consistent with my proposal that City Hall adopted last year to double the number of speed cameras in school zones to reduce speeding to protect vulnerable pedestrians. For more benefits of speed enforcement, CLICK HERE for this video column.

    Next Steps:

    _ Adopt the companion legislation, Council Bill 120625, which will set the fines.

    _Urge the leaders of SDOT and SPD to install the cameras as soon as possible: and


    Transportation Equity Report:

    At our Transportation Committee on July 18, 2023, SDOT presented their transportation equity report (CLICK HERE).


    Getting More Sidewalks to Aurora Ave North

    At a regional transportation meeting in North Seattle, both King County Metro (buses) and our Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) presented next steps to improve pedestrian safety and transit along Aurora Avenue North: CLICK HERE. Currently there are at least 30 blocks on Aurora Avenue North without sidewalks! I’d like to redirect some money away from another consultant study for the downtown streetcar to install more sidewalks (see discussion on the mid-year supplemental budget).

    Seattle Receives Federal Funds to Support Internet for All

    On July 27, 2020 — exactly three years ago — 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 (ITD) unveiled a citywide Internet for All Action Plan.

    On July 12, 2023, ITD announced that the City received $393,200 to help connect Seattle residents to reliable, affordable high-speed Internet. The funding stems from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program.

    High-speed internet is essential for Seattle residents live, work, and learn,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “Improving digital equity is an issue that has been critical to our communities for decades, which is why we’ve championed solutions to close the gap and support those in need. Thanks to federal support and strong local partnerships we are continuing to make great strides in connecting communities who have historically been left behind.

    I also appreciate the leadership of citywide Councilmember Sara Nelson, who oversees ITD in her Economic Development Committee.

    The City’s Digital Equity Program will coordinate outreach efforts by partnering with community-based organizations with Spanish, Vietnamese, and Mandarin language and cultural expertise. Enrollment clinics will be set up in Seattle neighborhoods later this year to make access to this program more widely available. Local partners will include Seattle Housing Authority, the Chinese Information and Service Center, Urban League, and Villa Comunitaria.

    Enrollment in the ACP is now open for households with at least one member qualifying under any of the following criteria:

    • Has an income that is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
    • Participates in specific assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline.
    • Participates in Tribal specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
    • Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision.
    • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year; or
    • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program.

    To learn more about the ACP and apply, CLICK HERE.

    To explore the City of Seattle’s low-cost home internet options, CLICK HERE.

    WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU: Ways to Provide Input

    ICYMI:  In case you missed it from last month’s newsletter:

    What Seattle Thinks: A Steady Stream of Statistically Supported Surveys

    Thankfully, it’s been raining surveys in Seattle! To see what Seattle thinks, put away Twitter and TikTok and look at the professionally conducted, statistically valid surveys recently completed. All of these surveys are subject to a relatively small margin of error of less than 5 points (plus or minus).

    _ Here are some key findings from the June 2023 survey of “Seattle residents” commissioned by the Seattle Times:

    • SAFETY: Only 8% believe crime in their neighborhood has decreased. One-third of Seattle residents believe the amount of crime in their neighborhood has increased. Seattle residents identified drug use and gun violence as their “biggest public safety concerns” in Seattle. (CLICK HERE).
    • DRUGS: Nearly 60% “say they support police making arrests for the public use of illegal drugs” (CLICK HERE). (We found identical results in the survey my office commissioned in May 2023; see question 16.)
    • TAXES: 54% support a capital gains excise tax that mirrors the recently upheld State law (even without repealing other taxes) (CLICK HERE). (We would expect even more support if the survey had mentioned the corresponding repeal of City Hall’s tax on your drinking water, which is the essence of my legislative proposal from June 7, 2023.)
    • POLITICIANS: Only 34% of residents support “City Council” as an organization (CLICK HERE). (Note: a separate poll in December 2022 showed a wide range of favorability rankings for each individual Councilmember — with Alex Pedersen earning 59% support.)

    _ To review the June 2023 survey of registered voters (and who confirmed they are likely to vote in November 2023) commissioned by the Downtown Seattle Association, CLICK HERE. For a podcast interviewing the EMC Research pollster about this survey, CLICK HERE.

    • Key Finding: 73% say they are visiting Seattle’s downtown less often with their top reason being crime/safety concerns.

    _ To review the May 2023 survey of Seattle adults commissioned by my office, CLICK HERE. For my analysis of those survey results from last month’s newsletter, CLICK HERE.

    • Key Findings: 75% support transportation impact fees. 73% want Seattle bridges fixed now. The top 3 transportation priorities are (1) repave roads, (2) support public transit, and (3) fix bridges.

    _ To review the April 2023 survey of registered Seattle voters (“The Index”) commissioned by the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce, CLICK HERE.

    • Key Finding: 65% don’t trust the Seattle city government to spend their tax dollars responsibly.


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

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


    City Council Meetings on the Internet

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

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

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


    Meetings with Your Councilmember Pedersen: In Person Again!

    In-person office hours on most Friday afternoons are back to Magnuson Park’s Building 30 conference room at 6310 NE 74th Street, Seattle, WA 98115, just a couple of “blocks” into the park’s main entrance. You may continue to sign up through my website or by CLICKING HERE, so I can hear your ideas, concerns, and requests.  You can also just send an e-mail to

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

    With gratitude,




    Councilmember Alex Pedersen
    Seattle City Council, District 4
    Phone: (206) 684-8804
    Find It, Fix It

    © 1995-2016 City of Seattle