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Big Wins from the 2022 Seattle City Budget

12 Big Wins for the 2022 Seattle City Budget!

Advocates like you across Seattle have rallied allies, given public comment, and written to elected officials to push for a city budget that aligns with our values and priorities. On Nov 22, City Council finalized the 2022 Seattle City Budget. And it includes substantial gains, including tripling the budget for Vision Zero — Seattle’s goal to have zero traffic deaths or serious injuries by 2030 — which has been chronically underfunded.

Street Safety:

1. Vision Zero: $5.1 million increase for Vision Zero street safety projects in 2022, via ongoing vehicle licensing fees and a new increase in the commercial parking tax championed by Councilmember Lewis. This increase nearly TRIPLES the current Vision Zero budget.

2. Home Zones: $1 million for this low-cost solution for traffic-calmed neighborhood streets championed by Councilmember Morales.

3. New sidewalks in District 2: $2 million for sidewalks accessing the IDIC Filipino Senior & Family Services Center, Rainier View Elementary School, and other locations in D2  championed by Councilmember Morales.

4. Maintenance: $1.5 million for sidewalk repair and curb ramps, and $800,000 for active transportation maintenance including sweeping bike lanes, planter box maintenance, replacing flex posts, and more, included in Mayor Durkan’s proposed budget.

5. NE 45th Street crossing of Interstate 5: $150,000 for this vital connection, in addition to the funding last year, which has not been used due to delays. Championed by Councilmember Pedersen.

6. MLK Jr Way Safety: A request that SDOT draft a plan and cost estimate to make this high crash corridor where 8 people have been killed in the last 2 years safer for people walking, biking, and accessing transit. This report, requested by Councilmember Morales, will be returned in September, 2022 in time for next year’s budget deliberations.

Public Space for People:

7. Lake Washington Boulevard: $200,000 for equitable outreach and permanent design for this beautiful public park space for people championed by Councilmember Morales.

8. Ballard Ave NW: $270,000 for designing permanent pedestrian and streetscape improvements, building on the successful temporary Cafe Street, championed by Councilmember Strauss.

Policing and Traffic Enforcement:

9. Parking Enforcement: 120 full-time positions moved from the police department to the department of transportation, which will now be conducted by un-armed city employees and governed by SDOT’s values and goals.

10. Data Collection: A request that SDOT analyze what it would take to collect street safety and crash data in order to move this work away from the Seattle Police Department. This report, championed by Councilmember Morales, will be returned by Sept, 2022 in time for next year’s budget deliberations.

Ongoing Planning:

11. Transportation Equity Workgroup: $1 million in continued funding for this important workgroup that has just released their initial Transportation Equity Framework.

12. Seattle Transportation Plan: A proviso on the $2.5 million funding this long-term, multimodal planning effort will allow Council and the public an opportunity to see plans and provide comment, and ensure that our values and priorities are incorporated. This opportunity, championed by Councilmember González, will open up this opaque process and have huge impacts on our abilities to make streets safer.

Click here to thank the City Council for doing the right thing, and get involved in Seattle Neighborhood Greenways by volunteering with us or donating to support our work.

What’s Next:

Read more about what this means and what’s next for Vision Zero, Home Zones, Lake Washington Boulevard, and Traffic Enforcement.

Vision Zero

This past weekend, we remembered and honored the 30 people who have been killed by speeding vehicles so far in 2021, including 5 people killed just in the last month. In 2015, the City of Seattle committed to Vision Zero — the goal to have zero traffic deaths or serious injuries on city streets by 2030 — but those numbers have been increasing, due in part to the program being chronically underfunded.

Advocates like you successfully increased the budget for Vision Zero street safety projects by $5.1 million via vehicle licensing fees and a commercial parking tax increase. Rather than a one-time increase, this revenue is ongoing, and will continue to fund street safety year after year.

The Vision Zero budget has strong safety and equity filters, so this funding makes a real difference to the streets and intersections where it’s needed most. Big-scale street re-designs make the most impact on safety, but small safety infrastructure like new sidewalks and crossings, traffic signals that give pedestrians a head start at intersections, protected left turns for vehicles, pedestrian refuge islands, and protected bike lanes can make our streets significantly safer for a fraction of the cost.

Home Zones

Home Zone is a low-cost, holistic plan that pushes through-traffic to surrounding arterials and traffic-calms a whole neighborhood of residential streets at once. After SNG and neighborhood organizers worked on a successful DIY Home Zone in Licton Springs, City Council adopted an official pilot of the program in 2019.

This program has been plagued by projects that are only partially completed and funding that has dried up, and people are demoralized. Councilmember Morales, advocating for her constituents in Holly Park and Rainier Beach that have been clamoring for a Home Zone since the program was paused due to Covid-related budget cuts last year, initially proposed an increase of $3.7 million. This number was cut down through the rebalancing process, but we will continue to advocate for increased funding so that we can fulfil promises and make real changes to neighborhoods desperate to calm speeding cut-through traffic.

Lake Washington Boulevard

In the summer of 2020, three miles of Lake Washington Boulevard, from Mt. Baker Park to Seward Park, closed to vehicle through-traffic and opened to people walking, running, rolling, and riding bikes. It was a wild success. During intermittent openings since, SDOT’s survey of nearly 7,000 people found that 65% supported keeping the street open to people all the time (not just on weekends) including a majority of 98118 residents, and respondents who identified as BIPOC.

In 2022, the City will conduct equitable community engagement that will create a design for permanent improvements to Lake Washington Boulevard.

And, SDOT just announced that Lake Washington Boulevard will open again this weekend, from November 25 – 28. If you get outside and enjoy it, share a photo and tag us on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), use #AccessLWB, or email [email protected]. You can also join our volunteer workgroup to help create an Accessible Lake Washington Boulevard by emailing [email protected]

Policing

Although changes to the police department budget were not as dramatic as some might have hoped, the Solidarity Budget coalition (which SNG endorsed and collaborated with) did win many improvements (read the press release here). Despite promises nationwide after protests in the summer of 2020, Seattle will be the only major city in the country that divested from policing two years in a row, allowing investment in community health and well-being.

The biggest change came from permanently moving parking enforcement from the police department into the department of transportation. Parking enforcement will now be conducted by un-armed city employees and governed by SDOT’s values and goals. Seattle also took the first tentative step towards moving street safety and crash data collection into SDOT as well, as recommended by our Whose Streets? Our Streets! Workgroup.

Recent polling shows that traffic enforcement is an area of wide public consensus for the movement to divest from policing. The public is very supportive (73%) of transferring traffic enforcement duties away from SPD and to SDOT. This is a common sense solution that would both result in more equitable outcomes (traffic stops are the #1 way the public interact with the police, which as we know can escalate with deadly consequences) and result in a more pragmatic approach to traffic safety that will save lives and keep people moving safely. Our Whose Streets? Our Streets! Workgroup is continuing this advocacy.

As we celebrate these hard-fought wins, we also look ahead to the coming year, and continue to push for the #SolidarityBudget that would divest from policing and invest in community health and safety, including safe streets and thriving, walkable communities. We thank you for your tireless energy in helping to make it happen. You are making a difference!

Click here to thank the City Council for doing the right thing, and get involved in Seattle Neighborhood Greenways by volunteering with us or donating to support our work.

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

 

Clara Cantor
she/her

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook