UP #314 Seattle Transportation Implementation Review Panel (STIRP)

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UP # 314, 10-17-2011

By City Councilmember Nick Licata

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.



Today I placed Resolution 31330 on the Council’s referral calendar to create a Seattle Transportation Implementation Review Panel (STIRP) which will oversee spending of funds raised by the vehicle license fee, should voters approve Proposition 1. A vote on Resolution 31330 is planned for Monday, Oct. 24.  To view the Resolution go to http://clerk.seattle.gov/~public/RESN1.htm and type 31330 in the Resolution No. field.

I introduced this legislation because I want funds raised by the vehicle license fee to be directed to serve those who are most reliant on a strong city wide transit system. This legislation is designed to reach that objective; it creates a citizen oversight committee that SDOT would be required to notify if it plans to propose changes of 5% or more to the figures listed in the annual spending plan. The STIRP can make recommendations to the City Council, including requesting that the Council hold a public hearing or briefing.

The three main categories of the spending plan are: 1) Transportation System Repair, Maintenance and Safety; 2) Transit Speed, Reliability and Access improvement and 3) Pedestrian, Bicycle and Freight Mobility. Each category includes subcategories; for example, the first category includes Pavement Preservation and Traffic Safety. The 5% threshold applies to the sub-category line items as well as the main categories.


I modeled the STIRP on the Citizen Implementation Review Panel (CIRP) that I sponsored in 1998 to provide strong citizen oversight of the Libraries for All bond’s measure. Similar concerns had been raised regarding potential re-directing of planned expenditures in that measure (see UP #49). Many citizens served on the CIRP over the years and overall I received positive reports from them on their experience, and satisfaction in helping the Library Board and the City rebuild our entire library infrastructure.


Like that panel, the STIRP would include six members appointed by the City Neighborhood Council to represent the geographic regions of the City. To provide transportation expertise, it would include six members appointed by the Bridging the Gap Oversight Committee, including representation from the City’s transportation-related oversight committees; and one member appointed by the Office of Civil Rights to assure that the City’s Race and Social Justice objectives are pursued. Similar to the function of the 1998 panel, the STIRP can make recommendations to the Council regarding any proposed changes to the spending plan categories or subcategories, and may request that the City Council hold a public hearing or briefing on changes to the spending plan. The STIRP can also comment on SDOT’s proposed geographical distribution of project spending.


The City Neighborhood Council consists of the 13 District Councils, which include nearly 100 neighborhood community councils, as well as chambers of commerce, non-profit organizations, and PTSAs. It reviews and recommends Neighborhood Matching Fund projects to the Mayor and Council, after receiving recommendations from its Citywide Review Team subcommittee.

In the last two decades, this citizen-led and citizen-staffed process has distributed $39 million to community groups which provided nearly $50 million in volunteer match.

Equity, social justice and geographic distribution are underlying criteria during the Citywide Review Team process; the annual award recommendations are then reviewed again by the full City Neighborhood Council and those approved are sent to City Council and the Mayor for approval.


In creating the STIRP mechanism, I believe that the Council can inject vigorous citizen oversight into our process of allocating and spending vehicle license fee revenues. This approach helped complete Libraries for All projects on time and within budget; it could have a same effect in assuring that our City completes our transportation improvements in a similar manner.












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