Levy to Move Seattle – A Recap and What’s Next

TransportationLevyDesign

In late June, the Seattle City Council’s Special Committee on Transportation Funding voted on over a dozen amendments to the Levy to Move Seattle legislation Mayor Murray sent their way in May. The city council then voted unanimously on June 29 to place the levy on the November ballot.

This is a major milestone in the Levy to Move Seattle’s life (it kind of reminds us of the process of a bill becoming a law…oh Schoolhouse Rocks…but we digress). We’d like to take a moment to recap the process for how we got here.

This past March, Mayor Murray announced a new strategic vision for transportation – Move Seattle. Move Seattle integrates the long-range plans that we’ve put together with the public – walking, biking, transit, and now freight ; each one sets a vision for our transportation system  over the next 20 years.

Each modal plan went through many months of public discussion and engagement. For example, from 2012 to 2014 we worked with the public to update the Bicycle Master Plan. Staff attended dozens of community meetings, district council discussions, and hosted open houses and online meetings. We conducted a statistically valid phone survey with 600 interviewees, received over 3,500 responses to an online survey and learned about thousands of routes via an online mapping tool. All of this helped us understand what improvements residents wanted and where they would like to ride but currently don’t. Through this work we heard from thousands of people throughout the city, providing key input into the plan and ultimately shaping this year’s levy package.

As we work to realize the vision set forth in each plan, as individual projects get started, they go through their own outreach and design processes. Through Move Seattle, we’ve been able to bring all our plans together, so we can work toward building a safe and connected system that works well for all people, whether they walk, drive a car, take transit, bike or move goods.

On the heels of the Move Seattle announcement, the Mayor unveiled a proposal for a new transportation levy to replace the expiring Bridging the Gap levy (which expires at the end of 2015). In developing the draft proposal for the levy, we drew from the Move Seattle project list (this list came from applying the prioritization criteria found in each plan).

Over the course of about 45 days, we took this draft proposal out to over 35 community groups, hosted tables at farmers markets, held coffee hours, conducted traditional open houses, and had one meeting in a local bar. We also engaged with community stakeholders via roundtable sessions with Mayor Murray and our director, Scott Kubly. This helped us hear directly from representatives of immigrant and refugee communities, transportation advocates, neighborhood leaders, and communities of color.

LevyOurVision

Graphic recording of ideas captured at one of our open houses – March 29 at the New Holly Gathering Hall in southeast Seattle.

What we heard in our outreach – in over 8,000 public comments submitted through an online survey and in-person discussions – were three clear community priorities:

  1. Safety is a top goal
  2. People want better access to transit, and they want buses to be more reliable
  3. People want more investments in making Seattle a more walkable city

We used public feedback to rework the proposal, and in May 2015, Mayor Murray announced a final proposal that included new elements to directly reflect what we heard:

  • Funding for the Accessible Mount Baker and Fauntleroy Way Boulevard projects
  • More funding for transit investments
  • Increased investment in new sidewalks

The size of the levy also increased, from $900 million to $930 million over nine years, due in part to growth assumptions (increases in population and property values) and the City’s ability to direct additional estimated revenue to the levy versus the City’s General Fund for all services.

And that brings us back to today. We want to thank everyone for participating and helping to shape the levy. Whether you emailed us with comments or ideas, or maybe you sat in on a coffee hour or community meeting, or stopped to chat at a farmers market – we value your time, and we’re continually looking for creative ways to reach and engage people.

If you have any questions about the Levy to Move Seattle, please contact the Levy outreach lead, Allison Schwartz, at allison.schwartz@seattle.gov or (206) 386-4654. You can also learn more at www.seattle.gov/LevyToMoveSeattle.