February 2020 Newsletter

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Although February is a short month, it was very busy and exciting for our team, both at City Hall, and in District 4!  This marks our first 90 days in office.  We have been continually working hard to represent you and all 20 neighborhoods of our district.

Community Connections in District 4

SMALL BUSINESS: This month I held D4 Restaurant Round Tables to hear about the challenges facing small businesses in our district.  Thank you Sushi Kappo Tamura, Arriba Cantina, Agua Verde Café, Dick’s Drive-In Restaurant, Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, and others. I heard concerns that city government does not take into account how its cumulative regulations and street projects can adversely impact the small businesses we cherish.

SUPPORTING OUR FIRST RESPONDERS: After meeting with constituents, I attended the police officer roll call. The North Precinct covers, by far, the largest geographic area of our city (Council Districts 4, 5, 6) and is under-staffed and in need of at least one new station. I believe we need to support the good work of our first responders while we require constitutional and data-driven policing that effectively prevents crime. 

PEDESTRIAN AND BIKE SAFETY: I met with constituents to discuss ways we can improve pedestrian and bike safety along NE 45th Street which connects the U District and Wallingford. Thank you to community leaders and Bike Happy Cascadia for joining me on site to see this corridor firsthand!  Each road project requires careful consideration to improve safety, keep the most people moving, manage costs, reduce carbon emissions, and minimize impact to small businesses.

PROTECTING OUR HISTORIC ARCHIVES: This month I conveyed my disappointment with federal government agencies for failing to properly engage the public about their push to sell the National Archives building located at 6125 Sand Point Way NE in District 4.  I’m happy to report that, after reviewing the case and hearing the concerns raised publicly by me, the congressional delegation, many stakeholders, and our mutual constituents, our State Attorney General Bob Ferguson boldly joined in the efforts to try to preserve the archives. Please read my blog posts for more information.

INCREASING TRANSIT IN DISTRICT 4: Before meeting with constituents for “Fridays in 4” office hours, I toured the amazing new Roosevelt Light Rail Station, funded by Sound Transit 2.  I’m excited this station (and Brooklyn Ave) will open in D-4 during the Fall of 2021. The added light rail service will connect tens of thousands to mass transit, helping to reduce congestion and fight climate change. For more info, click here.

“SAFE CAR LOT” FOR HOMELESS: Mayor Durkan recently authorized University Heights Center in the U District to launch a “safe lot” parking pilot for approximately 5 families or individuals experiencing homelessness. It could open this Spring to host the families sleeping in their cars overnight in the parking lot, however RV’s would not be allowed. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to Jason Johnson at HSD (jason.johnson@seattle.gov) and/or Mayor Durkan (jenny.durkan@seattle.gov). U Heights is hosting a community meeting on March 9, 2020 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. To register/RSVP, use this link.

Committee Work at City Hall

  • SDOT: We heard from Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) about the status of implementing the Move Seattle Levy that voters approved in 2015.  After considerable problems with projects being over budget, projects are now much better managed thanks to a relatively new SDOT Director and ongoing oversight by a citizen-led Levy Oversight Committee. My City Council committee also approved three ordinances for SDOT to accept funding for a new pedestrian/bike bridge coming to Northgate, to improve pedestrian access to the current Mt. Baker and future Judkins Park light rail stations, and to move ahead with landslide prevention barriers on Rainier Avenue South.
  • Seattle City Light: This month we discussed City Light’s energy conservation plan, which will be adopted at a future meeting, in addition to reviewing their climate adaptation planning activities.
  • Seattle Public Utilities: Our committee also discussed a priority I share with Mayor Durkan: how to keep your utility bills from growing too fast in the face of our city’s affordability crisis.
  • Technology: We heard from our city government’s Information Technology (IT) team about their plans for the year. In a region leading the world in technology, we have high hopes that our city government’s technology teams can make our delivery of services to the public more efficient and effective.

Click link here to watch the full February 5th committee meeting, and click the link here to watch the February 19th committee meeting.

Recent Legislation

Transitional Encampments (Council Bill 119656):

On February 18, 2020, the City Council voted 6-1 to approve Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s bill to expand the number of city-sanctioned “transitional encampments” – which includes tents, cars and RVs – from three to 40.  While Councilmembers Sawant, Herbold, Juarez, Lewis, Morales, and Strauss voted in favor of this encampment bill, I opposed it for several reasons.  In my opinion, this bill was falsely advertised as “tiny home villages” when, in fact, it dramatically expands an ineffective tent encampment model that fails to sufficiently reduce homelessness. My amendments to modestly expand the actual Tiny Home Village model did not pass.

As someone who served the Clinton Administration at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, I know that homelessness is a regional crisis that requires regional solutions.  I’m proud that one of my first votes on the Council was to join Mayor Durkan, the previous City Council, and King County officials to create the Regional Homelessness Authority.  Aggressively expanding tent encampments—just within our city limits — seems to ignore the strategy our region is crafting to address this regional crisis.  For more on my decision to vote ‘no,’ please visit my blog.

Big Business Tax (Resolution 31934):

In February, my colleagues and I voted against Councilmember Sawant’s resolution regarding taxes on big businesses because it was unnecessary.  Sawant’s resolution was introduced after my City Council colleagues and I had already sent a unanimous letter to the State legislators sponsoring House Bill 2907 (now HB 2948). HB 2948 would authorize counties to enact a payroll tax on large businesses, but only for salaries over $150,000. The letter, crafted in a collaborative fashion, expressed the Council’s support of this bill, but also said that the City Council does not want the State government to cut off the City’s ability to consider such revenue sources in the future (in other words, we don’t want the State to “pre-empt” the City). Thus, I believe Councilmember Sawant’s resolution was redundant and I joined a majority of my colleagues in voting ‘no’ so we could get back to the basics of serving our constituents.

Fiscal and Environmental Note (Resolution 31933):

I formally introduced my bill to revise the Fiscal and Summary Note to consider all future legislation through a climate lens. I am proud to carry forward the “carbon note” concept first introduced by Dr. Cathy Tuttle, a District 4 candidate in the 2019 primary.  Because we are in the midst of a climate crisis, every decision our city government makes should examine climate considerations. By enhancing our fiscal and climate analysis, Councilmembers will be better informed when making decisions. To read my press release, click here.

Recent Media Coverage

This month I was interviewed at Seattle CityClub’s Civic Cocktail.  I talked about the importance of renewing the Transportation Benefit District, public safety, and what City Council can do to protect the environment.  You can find the full interview here, with our City Council segment starting at 28:14.

I was also quoted in the Seattle Times this month, briefly explaining my vote against expanding tent encampments across the city.  Please find the full article here.

To reach more constituents, I was interviewed by former City Councilmembers Jean Godden and Sue Donaldson on SPACE 101.1 FM in Magnuson Park. I talked about my priorities for reducing homelessness, increasing safety, improving transit, and representing the 100,000 residents of District 4!

Fridays in Four

Getting out of City Hall and spending time in our district during the work week is vital for any District Councilmember. Every Friday, I’m here. Request a meeting during our District 4 office hours.

Thank you so much for reading! Our team hopes you enjoyed our February 2020 newsletter.

For more information or if you have any questions, please send an email to alex.pedersen@seattle.gov, or call our office at (206)684-8804

As always, I hope to see you Fridays in 4!

Councilmember Alex Pedersen
Seattle City Council, District 4 / Northeast Seattle
Email: Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov
Phone: (206) 684-8804
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