Summary: All people — including seniors and families with children — need to be mobile to work, shop, play, and thrive in our city. But our city’s traffic and roads are a mess.  With meaningful input from residents, City Hall must focus its limited resources to ensure we have reliable roads, transit, and sidewalks to safely move the most people — while enabling freight to move efficiently throughout our region to benefit our economy. At the same time, City Hall can do more to leverage innovations and data to reduce carbon emissions to protect our environment. Please also join me in voting NO on Initiative 976 in November to stop Tim Eyman’s scheme that would harm public transit.

Click here for Alex’s plan to address climate change.

IMPROVING TRANSPORTATION:

Question: Congested roads make it too hard for people and freight to move smoothly through our city — what will you do about this as a City Councilmember?

Solutions: Big picture, City Hall needs to focus on moving the most people and freight in the most efficient and most cost-effective ways, all while doing more to reduce pollution. While I have guiding principles as a starting point, I will prioritize the concerns and needs of the residents I’m elected to represent in this district City Council position. I will use a problem-solving approach and not push any pre-conceived, rigid ideologies because that’s not who I am and I’m not beholden to special interest groups.

  • Get more people to ride Sound Transit’s light rail to make the most of those big investments:

I’ve doorbelled residents on every block in District 4 reaching over 18,000 people on foot. Many people, including busy parents and aging seniors, tell me, “I want to ride light rail, but there’s no easy way to get there.” Let’s make it easier for more people to ride Sound Transit’s light rail to make the most of those big investments.Our District 4 is unique because we are blessed with three light rail stations: Husky Stadium now as well as Brooklyn Ave (U  District) and Roosevelt in 2021. To reduce congestion and benefit our environment for everyone, we should focus on making it easier for more people to ride light rail. To make it easier to ride light rail, we need to:

    • Solve the problem of the “first and last mile by launching and measuring the success/failure of various, low-cost pilot projects. (The “first and last mile” is the beginning and end of an individual’s trip from their home to reliable public transit. It is typically the most logistically challenging leg of a journey, especially when it’s raining or dark or you are simply not able to walk one mile each way from your home to the Sound Transit station at Husky Stadium. For many, it’s just easier to drive.) Pilot projects to test “first and last mile” solutions could include:  shuttle vans, smaller/more frequent buses, discounts for those riding Uber/Lyft to a light rail station, bicycle greenways with increased bike parking, providing several safe drop-off/pick-up places, combining package delivery with “people delivery,” and other innovations learned from other cities.  King County Metro has an “Innovative Mobility” division which is piloting new technologies. Whichever pilot projects move the most people in the most cost-effective manner, City Hall should help to expand.
    • Improve several pedestrian paths to Husky Stadium station with better sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, and signage. If you’ve ever tried to walk bravely from Husky Stadium to U Village or to neighborhoods beyond, you know what we’re talking about! Let’s bring the University of Washington and U-Village to the table to create a win-win.
Be Practical Again About Parking:

While we should continually pursue cost-effective opportunities to make it easier to get around without a car, we need to be realistic and pragmatic about parking, including for electric vehicles.

    • Require at least a modest amount of parking spaces within new residential and office developments as are required in other successful cities. While we should not require excessive amounts and mass transit should be encouraged, the reality is that some residents as well as many workers sometimes need parking (and loading zones).
    • Preserve street parking that is vital for stores and restaurants in our neighborhood commercial districts.
Prioritize Simple Re-paving:

Many streets in Northeast Seattle are riddled with potholes and have been for years. SDOT should fill the potholes and repave the streets without the excessive expense and disruption that we have seen in the past few years. Start with streets near schools and businesses. Smooth roads are good for everyone no matter what mode of transportation they choose.

Remember Freight Mobility:

Seattle residents and businesses pay a lot in taxes to City Hall to maintain roads, sidewalks, and other transportation infrastructure. We need to invest those scarce resources wisely, which means creating the most benefits for the most people. A focus on mass transit and pedestrian safety should be coupled with moving freight smoothly. How stuff flows to and from local businesses and the Port of Seattle is critical for maintaining our economic engine of middle-class jobs for Seattle residents and economic growth for the entire State of Washington.

Support Supplemental Bus Service for Seattle Residents:

We should review, revise, and renew the special Seattle levy (approved by voters November 2014 as “Prop 1”) that funds supplemental bus service from King County Metro — as long as Metro and SDOT do a better job engaging riders to provide the bus service they actually want. For example, Metro should restore commuter bus lines cut since 2015 and maintain key bus lines such as the #70 that serves Eastlake and the U District. This $270 million “Seattle Transportation Benefit District” is up for renewal in 2020.

Increase Transit When Increasing Density:
    • City Hall should not rapidly increase population density where there is little to no transit. Because the best transit is often frequent bus service and the buses are owned/operated by King County instead of by the City of Seattle, City Hall needs to be both cautious about where it allows increased density and vigilant about getting transit service where and when we need it the most. For example, the growing number of residents in and near Magnuson Park / Sand Point need more frequent transit.
    • Large institutions, large employers, and large developments asking the city government for special treatment and variances to zoning laws should, in exchange, implement measures to transport their employees and/or residents in an effective manner so as to not overly burden existing transportation systems. For example, by providing shuttle services, building an extensive sidewalk network, and encouraging carpooling or telecommuting.
Explore Expansion of the “Commute Trip Reduction” program:

Bringing the business community to the table and respecting their knowledge, costs, and constraints, City Hall should explore incentives to expand the “Commute Trip Reduction” program which is currently required by our state government for sites with more than 100 employees. City Hall needs to be careful not to pile on requirements for businesses while also exploring reasonable ways to reduce single occupant vehicle trips.

Continue Innovation in Transportation:
    • Prudent Pilot Projects: Without chasing “pie in the sky” ideas, Seattle should learn from the mistakes and successes of other cities and methodically pilot/evaluate new ideas on a small scale before committing major tax dollars.
    • Water Ferry for Northeast Seattle. With the success of the West Seattle water-taxi service, Seattle should reexamine options to ferry people from Northeast Seattle to South Lake Union and, if successful, to other locations.
Accountability and Transportation:

Accountability means listening to residents and small businesses and obtaining cost-effective results. Accountability fosters affordability – when city officials are prudent and fiscally responsible they should not need an excessive amount of your tax dollars to accomplish our city’s goals.  Accountability should be applied to our transportation dollars and policies.

Listening:

No More 35th Avenues: With new leadership on City Council, we should never repeat the transportation fiasco on 35th Avenue Northeast in Bryant and Wedgwood. Until Mayor Durkan stepped in, “35th Avenue” symbolized City Hall not listening.  The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) proposed to spend $8 million to repave 35th Ave, remove parking, and install bike lanes (per the Bicycle Master Plan). Completing an interconnected bike network in our city makes sense, but details matter. In the case of 35th Ave NE, the vast majority of neighbors and small businesses, however, overwhelmingly wanted just the crosswalks — and they wanted to preserve the parking and bus stops.  After direction from Councilmember Rob Johnson, SDOT planned to ignore community concerns and proceed with the expensive project. Then the neighbors and small businesses got organized and — after volunteering huge amounts of their personal time — finally got the attention of the Mayor. With the increasing amount of taxes they pay, residents should not need to give up huge amounts of time and money to get their city government to listen. (For a March 26, 2019 Seattle Times article on that compromise, CLICK HERE].  The lessons of 35th Avenue — listening to impacted residents — should be applied to other large transportation projects.

Keep Side Streets Safe:

Another major concern ignored by City Hall is that constricting the width of the arterial roadways could encourage drivers to speed along residential streets where children play. SDOT must study the extent to which major street changes create negative unintended consequences and use that data to rethink expensive new proposals. For example, if data reveals negative results, SDOT should offer actions to mitigate the concerns before new projects are started or reinvest our scarce public dollars to other priority projects.

Transparency on Big Projects:

See 35th Ave discussion above. City Hall needs to stop springing surprises on residents and jamming through expensive transportation projects if residents and small businesses don’t want them. SDOT should not advertise to the public an expensive project as just “re-paving” but then add other changes (such as changing traffic patterns, eliminating parking, and removing greenery) without sufficient input from impacted residents and small businesses.  The city should post large signs (as they do with proposed developments) in addition to going door-to-door to inform residents with flyers. The communications from the city government should be clear, comprehensive, and objective about the pros and cons of transportation / roadwork proposals and not advocate or oversimplify the project.

Bridges:

We need to ensure the structural integrity of the various bridges in and near our District 4 including the Aurora Bridge, Montlake Bridge, University Bridge, 15th Avenue Bridge, 20th Avenue Bridge, and highway ramps including those near Eastlake.

Cost-Effective Results:

Instead of making proclamations about national and international events, City Council needs to get back to the basics. That means City Council needs to focus on providing city departments with the tools to be successful and the oversight to be held accountable for results, especially for our large transportation budget.

    • Minimize cost overruns, miscalculations, and disruptions. The repaving of 23rd Avenue in the Central District negatively impacted small businesses. The Central City Connector projected to benefit downtown has been riddled with cost overruns which drain away money from neighborhood transportation safety projects.
    • SDOT needs to use data to make decisions. SDOT failed to collect data on the Roosevelt Way investments before proposing them for 35th Avenue and Eastlake. We must use data to make informed decisions. City Hall should welcome and incorporate input from impacted residents and small businesses because they know their neighborhood streets better than anyone.

 

Addressing Concerns about Sound Transit 3 and the “Move Seattle” Levy:

Some folks naturally want to reconcile my strong support for mass transit with the concerns I raised over the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 (ST3) measure in 2016 and my strong support for road maintenance with my concerns over the $1 billion Move Seattle levy from 2015. My concerns were similar to those raised by the Seattle Times at the time. I explained my thoughts in detail in 2015 and 2016 and you can read them by CLICKING HERE (ST3) and CLICKING HERE (Move Seattle). In summary, I wished the policymakers would have crafted proposals that were more cost-effective, less regressive, more accountable — and with more buses.  It’s important to note that I supported Sound Transit 2 and the Seattle bus levy because I believe reliable mass transit is vital to the success of any city and for providing low-cost and climate-friendly transportation options. At the time, I did not work for city government and had only my personal research and opinion. Obviously, an elected City Councilmember representing a district of 100,000 has different roles and responsibilities, which include gathering a wide range of constituent and stakeholder input as well as gaining access to additional data and financial information. At the same time, I know my constituents will expect me to raise questions about any big spending measure to ensure we will get the best results by using their tax dollars wisely. Frankly, we need to change the organizational culture on the City Council to make it okay to ask tough questions when spending your tax dollars. The city government’s budget is $6 billion and much of a City Councilmember’s job is to review, amend, and approve that budget. While my critique of big-ticket items has upset folks who wholeheartedly supported those items, please rest assured that I share the values of expanding transit and maintaining our roads.  At the same time, I hope my track record of raising material questions is evidence that I will take fiscal responsibility seriously as Councilmember, if elected.  Ultimately, the majority approved both measures and it’s time to ensure implementation goes smoothly. On a related note, we should oppose Tim Eyman’s harmful proposal to reduce car tabs to a flat fee (Initiative 976) because flat fees are regressive and the low amount would decimate Sound Transit. We want and need more people to ride light rail to maximize the public’s investment, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to keep people moving throughout our region. No on I-976.


 

Alex’s 18- point Climate Plan:

 

 

ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE

Question: What will you do as a City Councilmember to reduce climate change and increase climate resiliency?

When I knocked on the doors of voters on every block in Seattle’s District 4, they told me they want more accountability from their city government, and I continue to emphasize accountability in my campaign. While voters are typically referring to the need for a City Council that is more responsive to residents and gets better results on the other crisis of homelessness, I believe we also need more accountability to address climate change for the survival of our planet and future generations.  The climate crisis is the world-wide, existential threat of our time and city governments must do their part, especially in the absence of leadership from the White House and U.S. Senate. While most District 4 voters recognize that climate change is a global problem that a single city government or Councilmember cannot solve alone, Seattle and our region are in a unique position to take a leading role in key areas based on the concern of its people, the innovation of its organizations, and the availability of clean energy.

Recently there has been a lot of talk about a “Green New Deal.”  I support the goals of the national Democratic Party’s Green New Deal (made famous by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “AOC”). While the expansive spinoff from the Seattle City Council lacked focus, lacked meaningful engagement with the general public or impacted stakeholders, and failed to specify how many of the proposals would be funded, the non-binding city resolution has generated excitement and expanded passion toward addressing climate change locally. While it’s productive to support the national Green New Deal, locally we must go further than a resolution and focus Seattle City Hall on concrete climate actions which include expanding our city’s existing Climate Action Plan and making more progress on the important basics of city government — such as expanding transit service and leveraging local clean energy sources. This must include working hard now to defeat Tim Eyman’s horrible Initiative 976 which would cripple our vital transit system.

I look forward to working with our Mayor, future City Council colleagues, and regional and state environmental agencies to address climate change, both to reduce carbon emissions (mitigation) and increase community resiliency in the face of climate change (adaptation). By focusing on effective solutions, we can more quickly achieve actual results as we tackle other pressing challenges such as homelessness and public safety. With an aim to be practical so we can achieve results, I have an 18-point accountability plan that I hope City Hall colleagues will consider as we attempt to focus on what we can achieve and as we await stronger leadership on climate change in the White House and U.S. Senate.

 

1. Implement Mayor Jenny Durkan’s 20-page “Seattle Climate Action” report:

For Mayor Durkan’s April 2018 update, CLICK HERE.

For the original 90-page “Climate Action Plan” from 2013, CLICK HERE.

While we hear folks talk about our city government addressing climate change, it’s important first to consult these documents as a baseline to see what’s already been in the works. But we can do much more…

2. Lead the world in leveraging technology that analyzes emissions data, confirms the best strategies, and tracks progress:

As a center of technology, Seattle can be a world leader by measuring which efforts are effectively reducing emissions and which are not. With the best data in the world on what works, we can hold our leaders and ourselves accountable, scale up what works best, and share emission-reduction solutions with other jurisdictions so that, together, we start ripple effects that reduce climate change. With advanced technology and modeling, we should be able to evaluate the before and after emissions impact of specific projects rather than just annual citywide trends.

3. Encourage more use of solar:

Our city government owns the electric utility, Seattle City Light, and it should encourage more people to use solar power. I support our Mayor’s efforts to expand electrification infrastructure for clean, zero-emission buses and cars. With input from stakeholders, we can also use the city’s building code to encourage more use of solar power for new buildings.

4. Protect and Expand our Tree Canopy:

We must protect and expand our tree canopy / urban forest by publishing reliable data and preventing the removal of most trees prior to and during construction projects. A stronger city ordinance and stronger enforcement is needed now. Politicians often say they will plant more trees, but we must also recognize that existing large trees have the most positive impact in absorbing harmful carbon emissions. The benefits of larger trees are explained in numerous studies and articles including those published in 2004, 2014, 2017. Yet another reason to strive to remain “The Emerald City.”

5. Convert City Fleets to Green Faster:

The city government should convert its fleet of vehicles to zero emission or low emission vehicles faster. City Hall should not expect residents and small businesses to change their transportation behaviors radically and rapidly if the city government and other large institutions are not leading by example. (There are approximately 4,000 city government vehicles but, as of April 2018, only 200 electric and 300 hybrid vehicles.)

6. Get more people to ride Sound Transit’s light rail:

We must solve the “first and last mile” to transit by launching and measuring the success/failure of various, low-cost pilot projects to get more people to the light rail stations. This should include vastly improving several pedestrian paths to Husky Stadium station with better sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, and signage. (Please see the Transportation proposals above for more detail on first-last mile strategies.)

7. Support Supplemental Bus Service for Seattle Residents:

We should review, revise, and renew the special Seattle levy (approved by voters November 2014 as “Prop 1”) that funds supplemental bus service from King County Metro — as long as Metro & SDOT do a better job engaging riders to provide the bus service they actually want. For example, Metro should restore commuter bus lines cut since 2015 and maintain key bus lines such as the #70 that serves Eastlake & the U District. This $270 million “Seattle Transportation Benefit District” is up for renewal in 2020.

8. Require Large institutions, large employers, and large developments to contribute to transit solutions, especially when asking the city government for special treatment such as variances to zoning laws:

In exchange for benefits provided by the public, these institutions should implement measures to transport their employees and/or residents in an effective manner so as to not overly burden existing transportation systems. For example, by providing shuttle services, building an extensive sidewalk network, and encouraging carpooling or telecommuting.

9. Expand the city’s “Commute Trip Reduction” program with large employers:

Bringing the business community to the table and respecting their knowledge, costs, and constraints, City Hall should explore incentives to expand the “Commute Trip Reduction” program which is currently required by our state government for sites with more than 100 employees. City Hall needs to be careful not to pile on requirements for businesses while also exploring reasonable ways to reduce single occupant vehicle trips.

10. Phase out gasoline-powered (two stroke) leaf blowers with a buy-back program: 

(quoted excerpts from the Roosevelt neighborhood newsletter, The Roosie): “According to the California Air Resources Board, 5 lbs of particulate matter per leaf blower per hour are swept into the air and it takes hours to settle.”  “California’s statewide Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an hour of leaf blower equals 1,000 miles driven in a 2015 Camry car.” “An air quality report from L.A. states by 2020, ozone producing emissions will be higher from lawn care equipment than from all cars in L.A.”  “Gas leaf blowers are identified as a source of harmful noise by the U.S. CDC, U.S. EPA, and the national landscape industry.” To address this, City Hall should explore a buy-back program to transition users away from gas-powered leaf blowers to electricity-powered leaf blowers.

11. Enable the Port of Seattle to use more clean energy (Electrification):

City Hall and Seattle City Light should help our Port of Seattle greatly reduce emissions from planes, ships, and trucks, including the use of clean electricity instead of traditional fuel while docking.

12. Facilitate a “Just Transition” to the cleaner, greener economy for today’s workers:

As we shift rapidly to a cleaner, greener economy and create new clean energy jobs, we must ensure that today’s workers and their families are protected and benefit from training and other tools for a smooth transition.

13. Require a “Carbon Note” with each newly proposed ordinance and program:

(a concept borrowed from former D-4 candidate Cathy Tuttle): Similar to the Fiscal Notes currently required to explain the funding impact of proposals, Carbon Notes could be included with newly proposed City programs and laws so the public and policymakers can consider the carbon impact.  The challenge is that quantifying the funding impact is easier than quantifying the carbon impact without before and after measurements of carbon emissions. To avoid conjecture or inaccurate claims that could minimize the crisis of climate change, we should have climate scientists help to craft the protocols that city government staff would use for meaningful Carbon Notes, which could leverage existing measurement protocols such as those from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

14. Recognize that climate change knows no boundaries and demand greater accountability and action from regional organizations such as the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency:

Both the Seattle Mayor and King County Executive serve on the board of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and they need to update their Strategic Plan to address new climate resiliency threats such as smoke from forest fires.  Local leaders should also support progress beyond our immediate geographic area if it can have a strong impact.  For a recent editorial about a new West Coast policy requiring automakers to increase fuel efficiency, CLICK HERE.  For a recent Op Ed co-authored by Governor Jay Inslee on statewide efforts titled “State-led climate goals — like Washington’s — will lead the way,” CLICK HERE.  For effective strategies for carbon reductions, excellent resources include the regional organization Climate Solutions and national / international efforts such as Project Drawdown.

15. Leverage the research and action plans for climate resiliency from science-based institutions such as University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group:

Governments at all levels in the Northwest, including our Puget Sound region, need to address systemic improvements to mitigate the harmful repercussions of climate change, including impacts to water supply and air quality with a focus on our most vulnerable communities (See the Climate Challenge Atlas complied by Futurewise in 2017 which overlays a social justice Equity Index with the geographic areas in Seattle most at risk of climate change impacts.)  The University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group is a leading resource local governments can leverage to increase climate resiliency.

16. Defeat Donald Trump! (“Dump Trump”):

President Trump’s policies have become the single worst thing for our environment. Seattle is jam-packed with people passionate about reducing climate change. To have the most impact, advocates should fan out to battleground, swing states in 2020 to help a Democrat become the next President.  Democrats with the boldest plans include our own Governor Jay Inslee whose “Climate Mission” leverages scientific studies to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and includes an “Evergreen Economy Plan” to create green jobs and infrastructure needed to address the problems before it’s too late. I crafted a resolution unanimously approved by the 43rd District Democrats to encourage a presidential debate dedicated solely to climate change, which you can read by CLICKING HERE.

17. Vote against Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976:

We should oppose Tim Eyman’s harmful proposal to reduce car tabs to a flat fee (Initiative 976) because flat fees are regressive and the low amount would dangerously gut Sound Transit. We want and need more people to ride light rail to maximize the public’s investment, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to keep people moving throughout our region. No on I-976. (For more on the importance of light rail — especially in our District 4, please see the section above about “Improving Transportation”)

18. Preserve and expand affordable housing, especially near reliable mass transit:

Affordable housing within cities is an important part of the solution to address climate change. Within the city itself, planners should make sure density is focused where there is frequent and reliable transit. Because the best transit is often frequent bus service and the buses are owned/operated by King County instead of by the City of Seattle, City Hall needs to be both cautious about where it allows increased density and vigilant about getting transit service where and when we need it the most. For example, the growing number of residents in and near Magnuson Park / Sand Point need more frequent transit.  I supported the doubling of the Seattle Housing Levy and ideally those new low-income housing projects are located near mass transit, such as the project to be built above the Roosevelt Light Rail station (funded by Sound Transit 2).

For my thoughts on making Seattle more affordable, CLICK HERE.