Seattle Councilmember Rob Saka kicks off Council review of 2024 Transportation Levy renewal

Seattle City Councilmember Rob Saka (District 1) kicked off the first meeting of the Council’s Select Committee on the 2024 Transportation Levy this morning.

Mayor Bruce Harrell announced his levy proposal on Friday. The select committee, which Councilmember Saka chairs, is tasked with reviewing and amending the proposed Transportation Levy renewal before it is sent to the ballot this November.

What to expect from the Select Committee on the 2024 Transportation Levy

Over the next two months, the select committee will host five committee meetings, two public hearings, and take comment from community members as it works to finalize the levy renewal package.

  • May 7, 10:30 AM | Committee Meeting
  • May 21, 10:30 AM | Committee Meeting
  • May 21, 4:30 PM | Public Hearing
  • June 4, 10:30 AM | Committee Meeting
  • June 4, 4:30 PM | Public Hearing
  • June 18, 10:30 AM | Committee Meeting
  • July 2, 10:30 AM | Committee Meeting

Councilmember Saka’s opening remarks for the committee:

Welcome to the very first meeting of the Select Committee for the 2024 Transportation Levy.  

This is truly a momentous day for this Council. The work we do here in this committee will be some of the most impactful work any of us do during our entire time on the Council. It’s an opportunity that comes just once every decade to build a better future for Seattle.  

I thank the Mayor’s Office and the Seattle Department of Transportation and for their initial proposed levy. This proposal was a tremendous amount of work. It will serve, no doubt, as a strong foundation for the Council to build upon in the weeks ahead.  

However, I also have to say, what I am most excited by is the unique opportunity we have right now to watch the democratic process play out – live right here in plain sight. We have an opportunity to showcase our transparent process, passionate and collaborative discussions about this levy right here in plain sight, in this chamber. We’re going to put our own democracy to work over the next few weeks. 

To that end, between now and July 2 we will have five public committee meetings, two public hearings, and hundreds of individual discussions, all to help us shape the future of Seattle’s transportation infrastructure. There are no smokey back rooms, just these conversations, happening right. Again, happening in plain sight in Council chambers, and our whole community is invited. And, I thank some folks who are showing up and attending in person today and watching on television as well.  

The work of building transportation infrastructure may seem like the boring, dull, dry work of government, but to the contrary — there’s very few things that we do every day that impact our city and our community more.  

This Transportation Levy about building and maintaining sidewalks. Too many of our communities don’t have sidewalks at all. 27 percent in this city missing sidewalks to be exact, and many others that do have sidewalks that are in desperate need of repairs. We know that burden, sadly, is felt disproportionately in Districts 2 in South Seattle and District 7 in North Seattle.  

This Transportation Levy is also about safeguarding the future of our bridges. As the Council representative whose district includes West Seattle, my community learned firsthand, the hard way just how important our bridge infrastructure truly is, to our city, to our communities, to our economy. But, we’re not alone. Our bridge maintenance study in 2020 revealed that bridges across the city, especially the Magnolia Bridge in District 6 and University Bridge in District 4 are also in critical needs of repairs. 

This Transportation Levy is about making our roads safe for everyone and better connecting our neighborhoods, no matter whether people are walking, biking, rolling, driving, or using transit—choices to do all these things. There were a number of those improvements, especially in District 3, called out in the Seattle Transportation Plan we passed and adopted just a few weeks ago. Now, is the time for us to fund a plan to achieve those goals.  

This Transportation Levy is about supporting our local economy by activating our streets and public spaces. This is especially true for District 7. We have an amazing opportunity to envision a new future for our downtown and its related corridors and create truly people-centered spaces and experiences there.  

Most of all, this Transportation Levy is about keeping our communities safe. Just a few weeks ago, the Council’s Transportation Committee received a Vision Zero update from SDOT. Unfortunately, it showed that 22 percent of fatal and serious injury crashes happened in my own, District 1, closely followed by District 2. Every individual district has some alarming stats. Colleagues, that’s unacceptable. It puts into context exactly how important the work we do here is. Its well understood at this point that transportation, and growth management, and land use policy are tightly connected and interwoven. They go hand in hand. Transporation safety is also a broader public safety issue.  

We have an incredible opportunity right here, right now to roll up our sleeves and build a better future for Seattle. Building and maintaining our bridges, roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, and buses may seem like the boring work of government, but again few things shape the way we interact with our city and connect with each other more. We have a tremendous, not just opportunity, but responsibility to get this right and deliver the everyday basics in an extraordinary way. Bold basics, if you will.  

I’m looking forward to a transparent, open dialogue, where voices are heard about what this plan should ideally include, and ensuring that all communities’ voices are heard before we vote on a plan in this body, in this chamber.