The Seattle City Council is frantically putting a final budget together with a big day of hearings on Wednesday November 14th. The Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) coalition (of which we are a member) is urging action to preserve important transportation priorities.
We reported that Mayor Jenny Durkan’s budget went all in on adaptive signals–which in practice have put cars first at the expense of people walking, biking, and in transit. It appears adaptive signals will be rolled out in the University District and Denny Way despite concerns about safety and about prioritizing people walking and transit. That’s why MASS’ first ask is a proviso ensuring adaptive signals do not kick pedestrians to the curb like they have on Mercer Street.
Another green sheet that appears to need assistance to get in the budget is Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda’s green sheet funding a racial equity toolkit to look at whether the city’s urban village strategy squares with its racial equity principles, given that it appears to be siphoning growth away from some of the wealthiest areas of town, including wide swathes of North Seattle, Queen Anne, Magnolia, and Madison Park. We have repeatedly advised expanding the number of urban villages or doing away with detached single-family zoning that is putting much of the city off limits to low- and even middle-income folks. It’s also making it harder for low-income folks to afford to stay in Seattle near high quality transit. This suburbanization of poverty isn’t just inequitable, it’s bad for climate too since it forces people to drive more.
Late in the process, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (who is budget chair) added a proviso raiding the Safe Routes to School fund for the general fund in a balancing maneuver. Apparently the Safe Routes part of the budget looked fat because school zone and red light cameras have brought in more tickets and revenue than expected–hardly a sign our streets are already safe enough. The Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) rainy-day fund was also raided to the tune of $1.5 million in another “washing” maneuver as budget wonks call it. MASS advises against using Safe Routes and STBD money as a piggy bank for other causes. Use it as voters were promised.
Here’s a template letter if you’d like a guide to work off as you email your city councilmembers:
Dear Seattle City Councilmembers:
I care about safety and accessibility for people in Seattle who walk, bike, and take transit. I also believe the city needs to take urgent and meaningful action on climate change. That’s why I am writing in support of the budget asks outlined by the MASS Coalition.
A budget is an outline of our city’s priorities, and we need to act now to align the 2019 budget with Seattle’s stated values.
In the 2019 Seattle City Budget, please support:
- Priority for Pedestrians. Please support the proviso on SDOT spending on adaptive signals (GS 35-1-A-1-2019), and strengthen the language to ensure that future pilot programs are learning from each other, are prioritizing people walking, biking, and taking transit, and are mitigating delay in an equitable and accessible way.
- Traffic Calming. Please support the Home Zone Pilot project (GS 35-12-A-1-2019). Home Zones are a low-cost solution for creating safe, walkable neighborhoods for people of all ages and abilities in areas with no sidewalks or access to sidewalk funding.
- Equitable Street Parks. Please provide funding for formalization or transition planning for those Pavement to Parks projects that have been successful, particularly those in neighborhoods in need of community spaces. Many of these projects involved huge community efforts and there needs to be some kind of formalization or transition plan so that these engaged neighbors are not just dropped and brushed aside.
- Racial Equity Toolkit on Growth Strategy. Please support Councilmember Mosqueda’s budget request to fund a racial equity toolkit on the City’s growth strategy. Seattle needs to ensure equitable access to all of our neighborhoods and the infrastructure we’re investing in each of them.
Please support these budget amendments, as well as the others outlined in the MASS Coalition’s letter.
[Personal Statement: Why is this issue important to you?]