FAQ for New Office of Planning and Community Development


The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) is a new office that will support the Mayor’s vision of building thriving communities with a mix of amenities, open space, transportation, utilities, affordable housing, and economic opportunity. This new office will work across our City departments to assess community needs, prioritize resources, develop a vision for how our neighborhoods grow and develop, and ensure that we are coordinating and implementing our plans with a cohesive vision. We are excited about the work ahead. This FAQ provides further details about how the new office will improve planning coordination across the City.

FAQ for New Office of Planning and Community Development

  1. Why are we creating a new executive Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD)?

The City of Seattle is growing rapidly. By 2035, Seattle is expected to have 120,000 new residents and 115,000 new jobs. While these factors support our robust economy, some residents are concerned with how growth has affected their neighborhood character; others are concerned about displacement or traffic congestion. As a result, the Mayor recognizes that to build thriving communities with a mix of affordable housing, open space, transportation, utilities, and economic opportunity, the City must have one office that will help truly integrate planning and community development.

While the current Department of Planning and Development (DPD)—to be renamed the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI)—manages site-specific land-use planning and permits new development, current ownership of the City’s vision for comprehensive planning and implementation at the neighborhood and city level often is unclear and distributed across multiple departments. By restructuring how the City plans and then implements those plans, the intent is that City departments will be more strategically aligned to deploy resources to meet current and future needs. Our goal is to accommodate growth while maintaining a high quality of life for all and improving equity in the City.

  1. What are the key divisions of OPCD and what are examples of their work?

OPCD will be comprised of three divisions and two commissions:

  • Director’s Office
  • Research and Analysis Division
  • Planning and Implementation Division
  • Seattle Planning Commission
  • Seattle Design Commission

The Director’s Office will manage OPCD and provide leadership and support in the areas of finance, community engagement, administrative assistance, and communications with Councilmembers, staff, and constituents. The Director will be a member of the Mayor’s Cabinet.

The Research and Analysis Division will inform long-range planning activities. This division will assess best practices research, and assemble and present data on growth, equity and other issues to help guide decision-making and support the planning and investment priorities. This Division will directly inform the work of the Planning and Implementation division. Examples of their work may include:

  • Working closely with capital department liaisons to align long-range capital planning investments;
  • Coordinating with the City’s revenue team, economists, the fiscal and capital manager within CBO, Citywide GIS, and staff liaisons from capital departments to support work on equitable growth analysis and community investment strategies;
  • Establishing criteria for neighborhood priorities;
  • Developing GIS resources to monitor and track citywide capital investments; and
  • Monitoring and updating the Comprehensive Plan and tracking citywide growth and development.

The Planning and Implementation Division will develop, update and implement plans and citywide initiatives, as informed by the Research and Analysis Division. Given its focus on planning and implementation, this division will develop and implement plans, and align City investments to enhance community benefits. Examples of their work may include:

  • Leading cross-departmental efforts supported by staff liaisons from other City departments to develop community plans and citywide initiatives for implementation;
  • Coordinating with the Department of Neighborhoods on outreach and engagement;
  • Implementing key planning recommendations including the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA); and
  • Managing a capital subcabinet to align capital investments.

The Seattle Planning Commission will remain an independent body that continues to advise the Mayor, City Council and City departments on broad planning goals, policies and plans for the physical development of the City.

The Seattle Design Commission will remain an independent body that promotes civic design excellence in capital improvement projects that are located on City land, in the City right-of-way, or constructed with City funds, and will continue to advise the Mayor, City Council, and City departments on the design of capital improvements and other projects and policies that shape Seattle’s public realm.

  1. What are the biggest challenges that this new office will address for the City? How will this new office accomplish this task?

OPCD will support the Mayor’s vision of building thriving communities with a mix of amenities, open space, transportation, utilities, affordable housing, and economic opportunity. To help achieve the Mayor’s vision, there are three core challenges that this new department must address:

  1. Current ownership of the City’s vision for comprehensive planning and implementation at the neighborhood, regional, and city levels is distributed across multiple departments;
  2. Departments have identified that the lack of comprehensive information about where projects are being planned often results in project plans, implementation, and capital investments of departments being misaligned; and
  3. Departments prioritize budgets and resources differently, which can result in competing priorities and less focused use of resources.

The new department will address these core challenges by:

  • Assessing neighborhood needs, and identifying opportunity areas and priorities for neighborhood development and implementation;
  • Ensuring that department priorities are aligned with the Mayor’s priorities and the goals of the comprehensive plan;
  • Ensuring that Council priorities are also in alignment and reflected in policies, regulations and budget resources; and
  • Establishing, vetting and executing implementation plans.
  1. How is this new office different? How will it operate with other departments to ensure that Seattle will plan holistically and meet future needs?

We recognize that in the past, the City of Seattle has reorganized various departments and established new offices to coordinate and strengthen City planning services. While some past efforts helped, they were not sufficient. The current era of unprecedented growth and development only underscores the need for a truly coordinated planning office that will strategically address current and future challenges.

OPCD is a priority for the Mayor; and the team working in OPCD will have the significant task of planning comprehensively to support both current and future residents. The new office must work closely with all City departments to establish strong communication, align work plan priorities, leverage resources, and develop tangible implementation plans that address neighborhood needs. OPCD will work with other City departments to accomplish tasks that include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Assessing neighborhood assets and needs, the impacts of growth, and strategies to support more equitable development;
  • Identifying opportunities and establishing priorities for community development;
  • Focusing on implementation by identifying capital investments, strategic partnerships, assets, and equity issues that are consistent with City objectives;
  • Staffing a Capital Subcabinet to ensure that short- and long-range department plans drive capital investments and leverage city resources effectively to address community needs;
  • Collaborating with the Mayor, City Budget Office (CBO), and Council to ensure that City goals are aligned with proposed priorities and resources; and
  • Ensuring significant planning activities and development projects are reviewed to ensure alignment with community development priorities.

In addition, some examples of interdepartmental coordination work led by OPCD may include:

  • Aggregating data that defines where capital investments are planned by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), Seattle City Light (SCL), Seattle Parks and Recreation, and other capital departments to align and leverage strategic priorities;
  • Aligning area plans, Urban Design Frameworks, transportation plans, and community development strategies; and
  • Coordinating with SPU and SCL to plan for adequate infrastructure in water, sewer, drainage and power when new development occurs to ensure sufficient capacity.
  1. What parts of DPD (to be renamed to SDCI) will change? How will different components of DPD work together?

The planning functions that oversee comprehensive planning, area planning, and community development, as well as the Seattle Planning and Design Commissions, will be moved to OPCD and restructured to develop and promote integrated planning and community development. The other core regulatory functions of DPD will remain in DPD, which will be renamed to SDCI.

We also recognize the importance of the close relationship between the divisions currently in DPD. OPCD will continue to work closely with the regulatory component, as it would with all other departments to facilitate and implement comprehensive planning. For example, because the regulatory function manages the permitting process, OPCD will work closely with the regulatory side to help monitor current, future, and potential development to identify and assess capital investment needs in neighborhoods, regulatory changes that may be warranted, etc.

  1. Who are liaisons and what will be their role?

To strengthen interdepartmental coordination, staff from City departments will work with OPCD as subject matter expert “liaisons” to facilitate cross-department coordination. Such staff will remain in their home departments and will work within OPCD to ensure that OPCD has sufficient department expertise and remain coordinated with department priorities. As a result, liaisons may take on the following roles:

  • Work with OPCD planners by providing guidance and recommendations on department priorities, planning efforts, and capital projects to ensure cross-department alignment and project implementation;
  • Serve on a Capital Subcabinet led by OPCD to guide long-range planning and capital investment decisions;
  • Communicate emerging issues and priorities of their home department; and
  • Identify additional subject matter experts within their home departments when necessary.
  1. Who was involved in the creation of OPCD?

As a new office with the primary objective of strengthening coordination across all departments, it was critical to Mayor Murray that multiple departments help to shape and frame the scope and mission of OPCD. In June, Mayor Murray announced an Executive Order directing all City departments to work with the Mayor’s Office, DPD, CBO, and the Seattle Department of Human Resources (SDHR) to develop OPCD.

  1. How will this change be implemented? What is the timeline? What will be the impact on the City budget?

The legislation and budget changes to implement OPCD will be sent to City Council with the 2016 Proposed Budget at the end of September. The total proposed budget for OPCD in 2016 is $7.9 million, all supported by the General Fund. This includes $6.6 million that currently supports existing functions within DPD and $1.3 million in new resources. City Council will review and hold hearings on the proposed budget and legislation as part of their budget deliberations in October and November. The final vote on the 2016 Budget legislation package is expected in late November. All adopted changes will be effective January 1, 2016.

Statement after Council advances Move Seattle

Today Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after the Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to advance the Transportation Levy to Move Seattle:

“Thank you to the City Council for its work to advance Move Seattle. We are one step closer to providing more transportation choices, addressing critical safety issues and improving congestion. As we renew our levy, it is essential that we develop better multi-modal corridors to serve buses, cars and freight. Seven new bus rapid transit lines will speed commuters through our densest neighborhoods to work and school. And we must address ongoing street and bridge maintenance priorities, invest in new sidewalks and build out our bicycle master plan.

“I appreciate the Council’s priority of funding for Safe Routes to School, an issue I first championed as a legislator many years ago. The levy’s accountability measures further strengthened by the Council will also bolster confidence that our investments will yield solid results.

“A unanimous vote by the Council in committee sends a great signal to Seattle residents. I’m looking forward to Council giving its final approval and sending the levy to the voters. We’re ready to get to work.”

Seattle Celebrates Largest Metro Expansion in 40 Years

Today Mayor Ed Murray, King County Executive Dow Constantine and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen celebrated increased King County Metro bus service in Seattle. The increased service riders now enjoy are a direct result of Seattle residents passing Proposition 1 in November 2014. The first increase went into effect in early June with more services coming in September.

“Thanks to Seattle voters, we’re one step closer to getting the transit system the City wants and needs,” said Murray. “Expanded transit options helps us grow our economy, reduces traffic and protects our environment. Residents and visitors are now seeing more bus service, reduced overcrowding and increasing reliability.”

Proposition 1 allowed the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and King County Metro to add 9,000 service hours per month in June and will add 9,000 additional hours per month this coming September. These new hours will be added to both weekday commute and off-peak periods, enhancing services to 85 percent of in-city routes. In total, 223,000 bus hours will be added annually to existing bus service.

“Metro’s record ridership—nearly 121 million last year—shows the strength of our economy and a transit service that adapts to constant growth and change,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “By putting more service on the road in partnership with the city, and making it accessible to those who need it most through ORCA LIFT, we ensure that transit works better for everyone.”

SDOT’s route improvement identification process was designed to meet the demands of a growing city and an always-on economy that requires trips for work, shopping, recreation, and other purposes outside of traditional commute hours.  The new transit is the equivalent of more than 50 buses operating 12 hours per day, 365 days per year.

“As a regular rider of the Route 41, I am enjoying the benefits of added transit service during my daily commute,” said transit rider and North Seattle College employee Darryl Johnson. “By using funds provided in Proposition 1, this expansion is improving bus rides of everyone who works or studies at our college.”

In addition, in-city transit is now more accessible for everyone, and more affordable for low-income residents through King County’s ORCA LIFT program, which provides up to a 50 percent discount on fares for income-qualified riders. Starting this summer, in addition to enrolling people in the Utility Discount Program, the Seattle Human Services Department will also be able to connect eligible people in Seattle to a variety of affordability resources including the $20 car tab rebate program and the ORCA LIFT card.

“Transit is often the only option for many of our lower-income residents,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “Especially when combined with the new ORCA LIFT card, the additional service that is now available makes transit more viable, reliable and affordable for Seattle’s low-income communities.”

In total, the route improvements expand Seattle’s portion of Metro’s system by approximately 15 percent. They are funded through a combination of car tab fees and a 0.1 percent sales tax that will annually provide $45 million over the next six years.

“I enjoy working with Metro because it is a great job and I get to be part of a team providing an essential community service to King County,” said Metro Bus Operator Eric Jones who carries afternoon commuters on the 28 Express from downtown to Ballard and North Seattle. Eric was hired earlier this spring as part of Metro’s recent hiring blitz to implement new service in the city of Seattle.

Seattle routes with added, restored or revised service, or adjustments to improve on-time reliability: 1, 2, 5, 5E, 7, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15E, 16, 17E, 18E, 19, 21, 21E, 24, 25, 26, 26E, 27, 28, 28E, 29, 31, 32, 33, 37, 40, 41, 43, 44, 47, 48, 49, 55, 56, 57, 60, 64E, 66E, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74E, 76, 83 Night Owl, 99, 120, 125 and the RapidRide C & D lines. In addition, the Proposition 1-funded Regional Partnership program is helping fund new commuter Route 630 from Mercer Island into Downtown.

View the All Aboard infographic or visit www.Seattle.gov/Transit for additional information.

Mayor presents revised Transportation Levy to Move Seattle

Move Seattle press conference

Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle City Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Mike O’Brien and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly today announced details of the City’s revised nine-year Transportation Levy to Move Seattle.

The revised Levy to Move Seattle reflects community priorities expressed in nearly 8,000 comments received during numerous public meetings, coffee hours and an on-line survey that followed the release of the draft levy proposal in March.

“This levy reflects the needs of our communities and improves the day-to-day realities of getting around our city,” said Mayor Murray. “Over the past several weeks, the people of Seattle told us that safety is the top priority. We will invest more in transit reliability and access, improved connections to light rail, and making it safer for people of all ages to walk in Seattle.”

The revised levy proposal, which Mayor Murray will submit to City Council next week, would fund $930 million in investments over nine years – $30 million more than the draft proposal released in March. The additional funding committed to transportation comes from the projected increase in assessed value due to new construction. The cost to taxpayers ($275 annually for the owner of a median valued home) would remain the same as proposed earlier.

In response to community feedback, the Transportation Levy to Move Seattle now includes:

  • $110 million – an increase of $35 million from the initial proposal – to build new sidewalks in high-demand areas and pilot alternative street designs that making walking safer and more comfortable in residential areas without sidewalks.
  • An enhanced focus on improving transit in seven high-priority transit corridors, while at the same time adding multimodal improvements that benefit people walking, biking, driving and moving goods.
  • Increased funding for small neighborhood priority projects focused on safety and connectivity.

“The proposed package reflects the priorities and projects that I have heard are important to our neighborhoods including the Lander Street overpass for the SODO area and the Fauntleroy Way improvement project, which is an important part of the neighborhood plan and which is designed and ready for construction,” stated Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Chair of the City Council Transportation Committee.

Roughly 5,300 people shared their transportation priorities through an online survey, and the City also spoke with residents through three open houses, three stakeholder roundtables, an online meeting, more than 30 community briefings, six neighborhood coffee hours, and participation at nine neighborhood farmers markets.

“Our many conversations about the proposal show that Seattleites care about transportation. It impacts each of us daily, whether you walk, drive, bike, use transit, or move goods around the city,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “The revised levy proposal is a comprehensive package that aims to meet the needs of our city today and tomorrow.”

The revised proposal was unveiled at 14th Avenue S and Beacon Avenue S, the site of a recently completed safety project funded by the Bridging the Gap transportation levy that expires this year. The project improves safety for children at a nearby elementary school, and also makes it safer to access neighborhood businesses and the light rail station. The Levy to Move Seattle would fund Safe Routes to School projects for every public school in the city, with an emphasis on those schools that need safety improvements the most.

The levy would help fund goals outlined in Mayor Murray’s 10-year transportation vision, Move Seattle, which integrates the City’s long-term plans for walking, biking, freight and transit into a comprehensive strategy.

The Seattle City Council will need to submit the proposal to King County by early August for it to be on the ballot this November.

Visit the Levy to Move Seattle webpage to stay up-to-date on the levy proposal: www.seattle.gov/levytomoveseattle.

Seattle Mayor Murray’s statement on House Transportation Proposal

Mayor Murray issued the following statement on the House’s release of a transportation package yesterday:

“I continue to be encouraged by the state legislature’s recognition of our state’s dire need for transportation investments.

The package released yesterday by the House of Representatives under the leadership of House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn builds on what the Senate passed a few weeks ago. The inclusion of funding for the westside of 520 is good news for Seattle. The House proposal also invests $1.29 billion in multimodal funds, which is a nearly $500 million improvement over the Senate package. I will continue to tirelessly advocate for increasing the funding allocation for the Lander street overcrossing, because it is crucial to improving freight mobility in Seattle’s SODO industrial area.

The House package correctly acknowledges the critical importance of Sound Transit 3 funding authorization at the $15 billion level. Sound transit needs this full authority to continue to meet the tremendous public demand for expanding light rail to reach regional destinations including Everett, Tacoma, Downtown Redmond, while also providing additional capacity within the City of Seattle with connections to Ballard and West Seattle. Anything less than full authority would rule out voter consideration of some of those priorities.

Finally, I was pleased to see that the House removed the restrictions placed by the Senate on our collective efforts to address climate change.  I thank the House for recognizing this, and also for removing the sales tax exemption.

I remain eager to work with lawmakers and the Governor in a bipartisan, bicameral way to ensure that a transportation package reflective of our values is passed and signed into law this session.”

City proposes Transportation Levy to Move Seattle

Transportation Levy announcement

Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly today outlined details of a nine-year, $900 million Transportation Levy to Move Seattle.

Transportation Levy At-A-Glance-ProposalThe draft levy proposal would help fund the priorities that Mayor Murray announced earlier this month with Move Seattle, his 10-year transportation vision that integrates the city’s long-term plans for walking, biking, driving, freight and transit into a comprehensive strategy.

“This levy recognizes we have needs that we must address now, including street maintenance, sidewalk repair and bridges at risk in the next earthquake,” said Mayor Murray. “We must evolve our transportation system with affordable, convenient travel options that work for everyone. We will build for the future, to provide people more transportation choices and help freight move, even as our city grows.”

The $900 million Transportation Levy to Move Seattle would:

  • Seismically reinforce 16 vulnerable bridges and eliminate the backlog of needed bridge spot repairs, meeting a critical safety need
  • Repave up to 250 lane-miles of arterial streets, minimizing future maintenance costs and improving safety for all travelers
  • Repair up to 225 blocks of existing sidewalks and improve curb ramps and crossings at 750 intersections throughout the city, making it safer and more comfortable for people of all ages and abilities to walk
  • Invest in 12-15 corridor safety projects, improving safety for all travelers on all of the city’s high-collision streets
  • Complete 9-12 Safe Routes to School projects each year, improving walking and biking safety at every public school in Seattle
  • Fund a targeted freight spot improvement program, improving mobility for freight and delivery vehicles
  • Complete 7-10 multimodal corridor projects, redesigning major streets to improve connectivity and safety for all travelers
  • Optimize traffic signal timing on five corridors throughout the city each year, improving traffic flow
  • Create seven new high-quality bus rapid transit corridors, providing convenient and affordable travel choices for more people

“The current levy has helped us pay for many important transportation projects, but there is much more to work to be done,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “The Council will review the proposal and place the final package on the fall ballot after holding public hearings and after receiving public comments and recommendations.”

“This draft proposal supports basic improvements to our streets, sidewalks and bridges while making targeted investments to address the wave of growth Seattle is experiencing,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “The funding proposal also aims to create a safer system that provides residents more high-quality, low-cost travel options. I look forward to the public discussion to come and encourage everyone’s participation.”

“Transportation Choices is excited to see a bold transportation vision for Seattle to give people more choices to get around,” said Shefali Ranganathan of Transportation Choices. “Investing in our streets, sidewalks, bike lanes and freight corridors will keep our growing city vibrant and connected.”

“Our overextended transportation systems all too frequently leave our patients and employees stuck in traffic or stranded at their bus stops, as full buses pass them by,” said Betsy Braun of Virginia Mason. “We are pleased to see that Move Seattle goes beyond maintaining the transportation infrastructure we already have, and proposes growing our transportation systems to meet the booming regional demand.”

“This levy proposal makes the right investments in our transportation system and in local jobs,” said Monty Anderson, Executive Secretary of Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council. “These local construction projects will support hundreds of middle-class jobs and help local residents work in their own communities. It’s a win-win.”

The Transportation Levy to Move Seattle includes meaningful accountability, including measureable outcomes so the public can track the progress of projects. An online “dashboard” where SDOT will chart its performance will bring enhanced transparency. The city will continue the strong legacy of accountability on the use of levy funds with a public oversight committee.

“Seattle’s expiring levy has been very successful in making our sidewalks, bridges, stairs, trails and streets safer for all users in every community in the city,” said Ref Lindmark, past-chair of the levy oversight committee. “With the mayor’s new “Move Seattle” initiative and the renewal of the levy this fall, we have the opportunity both take care of our basic transportation infrastructure and realize our vision of Seattle as a great place to live, work and play.”

Before Mayor Murray submits the levy proposal to the Seattle City Council in May, SDOT will seek public input on the draft proposal to ensure that it is informed by community priorities. A feedback survey, detailed proposal information, and a full public outreach calendar are available online at www.seattle.gov/LevytoMoveSeattle. In addition to briefing close to thirty community groups, SDOT will host three community conversations in late March to engage the public and ask for feedback on the proposal.

Schedule of Community Conversations

Saturday, March 28, 10 AM – 12 PM
New Holly Gathering Hall
7054 32nd Ave S

Monday, March 30, 6 – 8 PM
Roosevelt High School
1410 NE 66th St

Tuesday, March 31, 6 – 8 PM
West Seattle High School
3000 California Ave SW

After incorporating feedback from the public, the Mayor will submit the proposal to the Seattle City Council in May 2015. The City will need to submit a final levy proposal to King County by early August for it to be on the ballot in November 2015.

This proposal would replace the current nine-year, $365 million Bridging the Gap transportation levy that expires at the end of 2015. The Transportation Levy to Move Seattle would be paid for through a property tax that would cost the median Seattle household, valued at $450,000, approximately $275 per year. By comparison, the cost to the median household for the Bridging the Gap levy was about $130 per year.

Press conference video

Mayor Murray’s State of the City speech as prepared

2015 State of the City

Seattle Mayor Edward B. Murray
February 17, 2015
Download speech as PDF


President Burgess, members of the Seattle City Council, City Attorney Holmes, and residents of Seattle.

President Obama said in his State of the Union address last month that the state of the nation is strong.

It is strong, I believe, in no small part because our cities are strong and vibrant and innovative centers of change that are helping to drive the national agenda.

And Seattle is as strong, vibrant and innovative as any city in the country, leading on issues of equity, transportation and the environment.

The diversity of our residents, the energy of our businesses, the creativity of our arts together have created a unique moment in the history of this growing city.

We are in the midst of a moment rich with opportunity to shape dramatically the Seattle of tomorrow.

Last year, we showed how progressives can work together to make government function and improve the lives of the people of this city.

This year, we will start to see the results of last year’s great successes.

In April, because of our action, Seattle’s minimum wage will rise to $11 per hour.

And in April, because of our action, we will begin increasing park maintenance and expanding park programming…

In June, because of our action, we will begin to see the largest increase in bus service in the city of Seattle since Metro Transit was created in the 1970s.

In July, because of our action on priority hire, when the City invests in infrastructure, we will also invest in local workers.

In September, because of our action, we will see three- and four-year-olds attending new City-funded preschool programs…

We must remain committed to implementing these achievements: Following through and getting it right is just as important as getting it in the first place.

But while Seattle is strong and, I believe, getting stronger, we must recognize that the benefits of our thriving city are not jointly shared.

We see inequities…

…in how we experience growth – between those who benefit from it and those displaced by it …

…in prosperity – between those who can afford to live here and those being pushed out …

…in our schools – between those who are coming to school ready to learn and are graduating on time, and those who are not…

…in public safety – between those who are safe from crime, and those who are at greater risk of crime because of who they are or where they live…

And, of course, cutting across all these inequities is the most challenging inequity of all – and that is racial inequity.

We must keep working together so that we can keep driving better outcomes on each of these vital issues.

Our city is many things, including a city of young people – nearly half of Seattle residents are younger than 35.

And so I have invited high school students from around the city to join us here.

Let us take this opportunity to welcome all of you to City Hall.

You are coming of age at a time of unprecedented growth and change in your city.

This can be exciting and energizing – and it can also be confusing and unsettling.

But it does present us right now with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to define the future of this city while each of you is beginning to define your own future.

So let us define both together.

Together, we can determine the destiny of our city to ensure that Seattle is a safe, affordable, vibrant, interconnected city for all.

[Growth and planning]

Seattle is growing faster than its surrounding suburbs for the first time in over a century.

Over the past twenty years, the City set goals for growth in designated areas, and we met have those goals: three quarters of all growth occurred in urban villages.

In the next twenty years, Seattle is expected to add 120,000 new residents.

And as we grow, our City must ensure that we become a more livable and sustainable city.

In Ballard, for example, population has increased by 25 percent in the past decade but investments in transportation have lagged far behind.

In Rainier Beach, where the unemployment rate is three times the city rate, we must plan for growth in jobs as we plan for growth in population.

So this year, we will launch a different approach to these issues as we restructure City government to meet our rapidly changing city.

As we provide plans for new density in a neighborhood, we will also provide plans for how the City will invest to ensure the neighborhood continues to thrive.

To the students in the room, take a moment and think out twenty years from now.

You will be in your mid-30s. You’re likely to have a job. A spouse. Perhaps children.

Where will you be living? Near light rail? Will it be a house with a yard? Will you be able to walk to work or to a park?

Those are the questions before us. And we want to hear your answers. Your vision for the next chapter in Seattle’s story.

This year, we as a City are asked to look 20 years ahead to envision Seattle in 2035.

The revision of our Comprehensive Plan is a chance for all of the city – for millennials, families, and seniors – to discuss and decide…

… where we should grow…

… how we can grow sustainably…

…and, as new housing and new businesses grow…

…how we will prioritize our investments.

In keeping with one of the fundamental tenets of my administration, I am putting a new emphasis on equity in planning.

Growth must be about placing without displacing.

Therefore, in the coming weeks I am sending a resolution to Council that recognizes race and social justice as one of the core values for the Plan.

It will call on all of us to develop new equity goals and practices, and build in public accountability through more inclusive stewardship.

And since these questions affect everyone, we will redouble our outreach efforts to ensure all voices are heard.

Evening meetings in community centers are simply not enough.

So we will conduct digital outreach, telephone town halls and find other ways to engage those deeply affected by these questions but seldom heard from – immigrants and refugees, those working evenings or those at home taking care of their families.

And this spring, I will host my second annual Neighborhood Summit to continue this citywide conversation about our major initiatives, such as…

…updating the Comprehensive Plan,

…renewing transportation funding, and

…creating more affordable housing.


With a vibrant economy, our challenge is to continue creating more transportation choices for everyone, while also reducing carbon emissions.

In the year since I took office, we have made a series of moves to give Seattleites more options.

We created a legal and safe framework for taxis and rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft.

We added miles of new protected bike lanes throughout the city.

Last year, we brought in Pronto bike-share, and this year, we are funding its expansion into under-served neighborhoods.

We are allowing car-share companies like Car2Go to expand.

Last November, the voters of Seattle generously voted to tax themselves to expand bus service in this city.

This is major progress.


As I said in these chambers last year, this City has many worthy individual plans for bikes, freight, cars, transit, and pedestrians.

But we lack a unified, modern, interconnected transportation plan. A philosophy for how to get our city moving.

Until now.

By the end of this month, I will release a new comprehensive vision for how Seattle approaches transportation….

…a vision that integrates our many transportation plans into a single strategy that is greater than the sum of its parts, which I have named Move Seattle.

Move Seattle is a vision for growing and expanding our transportation choices to meet the needs of all users, for today and tomorrow.

We will use Move Seattle to guide our investments as we renew our transportation levy this year.

We will get the basics right by improving our aging roads and bridges and sidewalks.

And we will make the investments necessary to build a safe, integrated transportation system with an expanding variety of choices available to all.

Seattle, it bears mentioning, is not an island. To keep our city’s economy moving, we must also keep our region moving.

With Sound Transit opening two new light rail stations in the coming year – one at the University of Washington and the other on Capitol Hill – now is the time to build on this momentum.

We are working with leaders throughout the three-county region to pass authority for Sound Transit 3 in Olympia this year.

Sound Transit 3 is our path forward to build new light rail connections within the city, including to Ballard and West Seattle.

These vital connections would link our growing light rail system to Puget Sound’s largest job centers.

Together, these efforts will have profound impact on our transportation future.

But there’s no denying it: our transportation future will look different without the leadership of Tom Rasmussen on the City Council.

Councilmember Rasmussen has been a part of civic life in Seattle for as long as I can remember.

He’s been a champion for seniors, for human services, for civil rights, and for innovative transportation solutions, including our successful transit campaign this past November.

Councilmember Rasmussen, we thank you for your years of dedication to serving the people of Seattle.

[Affordability in housing]

Income inequality is real, and it’s growing in Seattle.

In 2013, the income of the top fifth of Seattle households was 19 times that of the lowest fifth.

Everyone who works in Seattle should be able to afford to live in Seattle…

Our strategies to address this challenge have included reinventing our City’s utility discount program, where we have seen a 21 percent increase in household enrollments in one year, and are on track to meet my commitment to double enrollments by 2018.

And I look forward to partnering with Councilmember Sawant to continue this important work.

Our strategies have included raising the minimum wage for workers like Malcolm Cooper-Suggs, a 21-year-old fast-food worker.

Malcolm is excited to soon be able to start setting money aside for emergencies his future.

He is doing his part – working hard to make a better life for himself. He deserves a fair wage for a full day’s work.

Malcolm is here with us today – Malcolm please stand and be recognized…

In time, our action on minimum was will directly impact the lives of over 100,000 individuals like Malcolm working in this city.

Women are disproportionately represented among those who stand to benefit from the rising minimum wage.

And there are steps the City can take to address the gender equity issues among our own employees.

With Councilmember Godden’s leadership, we will move forward on a number of initiatives this year that will help close the gender pay gap and promote women’s participation in the City workforce.

We are also establishing an Office of Labor Standards to educate workers and businesses on how to comply with our new minimum wage law and enforce other important worker protections.

This Office in many ways is the crowning achievement of a remarkable two-decade-long career of service to the people of Seattle.

Councilmember Nick Licata, you have been a voice for the voiceless, and a tireless advocate for a more affordable city.

If, as Jonathan Raban has written, living in a city is an art, then you have brought the vocabulary of art to our ongoing efforts to make this city a better place for all…

Our next great challenge to affordability, of course, is housing.

Seattle now has the fastest growing rents among all major cities in the country.

To address this massive challenge, I worked with Councilmembers Clark and O’Brien to establish an advisory committee to take action.

As with our minimum wage task force, we have brought together people with very different perspectives who often do not agree, to work together on a definitive proposal just as rigorous as the solution we developed on the minimum wage.

Their recommendations, due in May, will help ensure people – and especially families –can live in this city no matter their income.

People including the mother I met who works downtown and lives in South King County, but spends hours a day commuting.

Hers is a common story that is often lost, but experienced by thousands of other workers across Seattle. These stories represent the true cost of a lack of affordability in our city.

I have made it clear to the members of the committee – and will reiterate here today –that we are not going to get there with a single tool.

To address our affordability challenges, everyone must play a part: from developers to landlords to nonprofits to employers to the construction industry… to City government.

That’s why I am committing 35 million dollars of City resources to enact the recommendations of this Advisory Committee.


As we grow as a city, we cannot allow the opportunity gap between white students and students of color to persist.

Nearly 90 percent of Caucasian third graders are meeting math and reading standards in this city, compared to approximately half of African American students.

About one-quarter of African American and Latino students do not graduate on time, compared to 8 percent of Caucasian students.

We can no longer allow so many of our children to leave school unprepared for college, for work or for life.

The City has partnered with Seattle Public Schools for 20 years through the Families & Education Levy.

Thanks to the leadership of Council President Burgess, we are deepening our partnership through the Seattle Preschool program.

And there are still more opportunities to partner.

Building a school system that works for all of our children is not the responsibility of the school district alone.

It is the responsibility of all of us.

This fall, I will be convening an Education Summit to re-envision how a 21st Century urban public school system can work successfully for all students.

The City, the school district, the state, the private sector, teachers and parents – all must engage in frank and honest conversation, and unite around a shared vision.

Together, we will close the opportunity gap in our public schools.

[Economic development]

Seattle is home to one of the most unique business environments in the country.

We have a diverse economy that is creating jobs and keeping unemployment low.

Amazon continues to grow before our eyes. Weyerhaeuser is moving to Pioneer Square. Juno had a very successful initial public offering.

But we as a City lack a more focused approach to economic development.

Too often, we have rested on our luck and our geography.

In the coming months, we will be asking our local business owners:

What do we need to do to make the task of running a local business easier?

What can we as a City do to help businesses thrive?

Over the last year, we have taken some initial steps…

We held an industrial and maritime summit to explore ways to build upon Seattle’s strengths as a manufacturing center, and as a trading hub.

As a result, my budget invested in a Heavy Haul Corridor in Sodo, an essential step to help boost the competiveness of our industrial freight sector.

And we will continue this engagement to create a longer-term vision for the role of manufacturing, maritime, and trade in Seattle’s economy.

We are building our strategy to attract foreign direct investment.

We are expanding access to broadband to support start-up businesses.

Our Office of Economic Development launched an effort to help restauranteurs navigate the City, County and State regulations necessary to open and run a restaurant in Seattle.

And, we are making investments in business retention for medium-size business in growing industries.

All of these elements and more will be part of the conversation as we develop a shared strategy with the business community for how the City can play a more active role in nurturing our business environment and in creating jobs.

[Government performance]

A rapidly changing city requires a City government that can adapt right along with it.

If Seattleites are to have confidence that City Hall can meet today’s challenges they must be able to measure the City’s performance.

In September, as part of my budget, I made a promise to provide greater transparency into City government, and make more information and data accessible to the public.

And we have some results to share.

Today, we are launching a new tool called Performance Seattle, an interactive website found at performance.seattle.gov

Currently, nine of our departments are contributing data about how well they are meeting their goals, such as reducing traffic fatalities, reducing our carbon footprint and responding quickly to fires.

In the coming months, all City departments will set performance targets and report regularly to the public on their progress.

Today, we are also launching OpenBudget, another interactive website that presents budget data for the entire City government.

Located at openbudget.seattle.gov, it is a leap forward in budget reporting for our City.

Taken together, both of these resources will help us as a City achieve better goal-setting, better tracking, better use of data, and better outcomes.

These sites also highlight the great accomplishments of our hardworking City employees, who confront and manage complex and contentious issues each and every day.

I want to highlight the strong leadership of Christopher Williams, a long-time Parks employee who served as acting superintendent for more than four years, and is returning to his deputy role.

Christopher saw the department through a difficult time in the economy, and today, because of him, our department is stronger than ever.

Thanks to his leadership, and the leadership of Councilmember Bagshaw, we were able to secure long-term funding for Seattle’s parks and community centers.

[Public safety]

Last year in this chamber, I committed to using a data-driven approach to address our city’s complex and ongoing challenges in public safety, the paramount duty of local government.

Under Chief O’Toole, in August the Seattle Police Department launched the Seastat program, which uses data and community input to identify spikes in crime, address them, and evaluate police response.

In the fall, after a rash of robberies on Capitol Hill and in the Rainier Valley, we coordinated precinct and department-wide resources in the hardest-hit areas.

These focused efforts resulted in a 25 percent drop in robberies on Capitol Hill and a 40 percent drop in the Rainier Valley.

And after a spike in car thefts and car prowls last year, these same smart policing techniques led to a 12 percent drop in car thefts and a 16 percent drop in car prowls.

They also led to a 26 percent drop in burglaries.

This is good police work, and is the result of the dedicated efforts of our Seattle police officers.

These are early steps in addressing our public safety challenges, but they are positive steps in the right direction.

To build upon this momentum, I have set ambitious crime reduction goals for the Police Department, which are featured at Performance Seattle.

We will continue to grow and expand these strategies as we develop the best model for urban policing in the nation.

As I committed in these chambers last summer, I will provide the Council with a fuller presentation in late spring, consistent with our work to…

…ensure a safer built environment,

…foster more active public space and

…generate more economic opportunity for youth.

[Youth employment]

The fact is, the City can reduce youth crime and violence through a robust youth employment program.

In Chicago, for example, young people from high-crime neighborhoods were nearly half as likely to be victims of violent crime when they had summer jobs.

This year, we will create a Mayor’s Youth Employment Task Force to build the most vigorous youth employment program this City has seen in decades.

This program will help our young people – especially youth from our most under-served communities – develop the skills necessary to compete in the 21st Century economy.

We know what a successful program looks like.

Shawnteal Turner was in and out of juvenile detention when she attended a career fair and learned about the Youth Green Corps, a partnership between our Seattle Parks and Goodwill.

She liked learning about the environment and wanted help forming her life goals.

Shawnteal completed the program, and because of her dedication, passion and hard work, she is now working with both Seattle Goodwill and Seattle Parks & Recreation.

Shawnteal is here with other members of Youth Green Corps.

Shawnteal, please stand and be recognized…

We want to provide more opportunities like Shawnteal’s.

Our immediate goal is to double the number of summer youth served to 2,000 this year.

Additionally, Seattle was selected to receive a significant grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The staff hired with these new resources will first focus on addressing the disparities affecting young African Americans, particularly men, in Seattle.

We will align our participation in national efforts to address youth violence –including Cities United and President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper – with our local efforts, such as the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative.

In the spring, we will convene a Youth Opportunity Summit, working with African American and other community-leaders, experts in academia, the non-profit and private sectors to eliminate the educational opportunity gap, increase long-term employment and reduce juvenile crime rates.

[Police accountability and police reform]

Every community deserves to be served well by its police service.

Our efforts to reform the Seattle Police Department remain a top priority of my administration.

This City will continue working with the federal judge and the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice to address patterns of excessive use of force.

That is non-negotiable.

While we still have far to go, we need to acknowledge when progress occurs.

For the first time, the federal monitor has commended us for our progress. All officers are receiving consistent training. And, we are now collecting consistent, reliable, court-approved data for all uses of force.

Last year, I worked with Councilmember Harrell, the Community Police Commission, the Office of Professional Accountability and City Attorney Pete Holmes to develop reforms that will bring greater fairness, independence and transparency to the police discipline and accountability process.

Chief O’Toole and I have already implemented some of these reforms to ensure that disciplinary appeals are handled properly and efficiently.

This spring, I will introduce legislation to implement the remaining reforms.

All together, our comprehensive efforts will change the experience between our police and our community, and rebuild public trust.

They include…

…improved recruitment of a more diverse police force…

…significant training in de-escalation tactics and bias-free policing…

…extensive reporting and data-collection to identify potential misconduct…

…a streamlined complaint process for Seattleites to report issues …

…increased civilian oversight of every aspect of the police discipline and accountability system…

…and significant new transparency to instill public confidence and ensure that incidents of misconduct are not swept under the rug.

These changes are essential elements in our ongoing effort to create the best model for urban policing in the nation.


This is a historic moment in America and in Seattle as we confront the issue of race.

We must acknowledge how far we have come, but this is the side of the mountain, not the summit.

The poet Maya Angelou said:

“History despite its wrenching pain,

Cannot be unlived,

and if faced

With courage,

need not be lived again.”

It will take courage to address the deeply troubling issues of policing and race in this country.

It will take courage to acknowledge that the police are often at the receiving end of the failure of other systems to address race…

…failure in our education, criminal justice, foster care, mental health and political systems.

On the night of the Ferguson Grand Jury decision I pointed to the results of those failures.

… African Americans are incarcerated at nearly 6 times the rate of Caucasians…

… Homicide is the leading cause of death of young African-American men …

… 40 percent of African Americans will fail to graduate on-time from our high schools — or at all — …

…the numbers for Latinos, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans are hardly better.

To the young people here, everything I have spoken about today, everything we have accomplished this past year…

…pre-k, the minimum wage, transit, priority hire, parks and community centers, police reform, summer youth employment…

…they are the response of the people of this City to addressing the issue of race and inequality.

But much work remains and it will not be easy. It is time to begin again to climb that mountain.

It is time for Seattle to talk with each other about how we heal the wounds of race.

Maya Angelou goes on in her poem to say.

“Lift up your eyes upon

this day breaking for you

Give birth again

To the dream.”


Thank you.

Mayor delivers ‘State of the City’ address

State of the City 2015

In his “State of the City” address before the Seattle City Council today, Mayor Ed Murray dedicated $35 million in City funding to support affordable housing in Seattle, doubled the City’s commitment to summer youth employment and unveiled government performance and budgeting websites to bring new transparency to City departments.

The mayor cited 2014 advances in city policy on minimum wage, parks funding, transit, preschool and other issues, underscoring the need to deliver these initiatives in 2015.

“Last year, we showed how progressives can work together to make government function and improve the lives of the people of this city,” said Murray, “We must remain committed to implementing these achievements: following through and getting it right is just as important as getting it in the first place.”

After raising the minimum wage, Murray called housing “our next great challenge to affordability.” The mayor and city council launched a work group of housing experts last September, which is developing a slate of policies to support affordable housing for individuals and families across the income spectrum.

The mayor is reserving $15 million from the Seattle Housing Levy and $20 million in incentive zoning funds to implement the recommendations of the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee, which are due in May.

The mayor today unveiled Performance Seattle, found at performance.seattle.gov, a government performance website where the public can review city department goals and track outcomes. The site is launching with nine departments, and others will be added throughout the year. The public will also have better access to information about city finances through OpenBudget, located at openbudget.seattle.gov.

The mayor invited high school students from around the city to attend the speech, noting that they “are coming of age at a time of unprecedented growth and change” as Seattle grows faster than surrounding suburbs for the first time in over a century.

After increasing the city’s commitment to summer youth employment by 50 percent last year, the mayor pledged to double it in 2015 to 2,000 jobs.

The City is revising its Comprehensive Plan this year to guide the development of housing for 120,000 additional city residents over the next 20 years. The mayor committed to digital outreach, telephone town halls, a second Neighborhood Summit and other ways engage the public in the process. In the coming days, the mayor will send a resolution to Council that recognizes race and social justice as one of the core values for the Plan.

After expanding transportation options in 2014 with Uber and Lyft, Pronto bike share, car-share services and additional bus transit, Seattle will renew its expiring transportation levy later this year. The mayor announced a new unified transportation strategy, called Move Seattle, which will map out future infrastructure improvements to be funded in the next levy.

The levy will fund maintenance of existing roads, bridges and sidewalks, and make additional investments “to build a safe, integrated transportation system with an expanding variety of choices available to all,” said the mayor.

Seattle will continue to seek authority in Olympia needed for further expansion of Sound Transit’s light rail system to Ballard and West Seattle, even as the Capitol Hill and University of Washington stations come on line within a year.

Calling public safety “the paramount duty of local government,” the mayor noted Chief Kathleen O’Toole’s implementation of data-driven policing and how it is beginning to yield results. After a spike in robberies and property crimes, the department refocused precinct and department-wide resources to the hardest-hit areas. As a result, robberies dropped 25 percent on Capitol Hill and 40 percent in the Rainier Valley. Similarly, property crimes like car thefts, car prowls and burglaries have declined.

“Every community deserves to be served well by its police service,” said Murray. “Our efforts to reform the Seattle Police Department remain a top priority of my administration.”

The City continues to implement reforms to support police discipline and accountability. The Seattle Police Department has already made changes to the disciplinary appeals process, and the mayor is sending more reforms to the council in coming weeks. The mayor committed to additional changes at the department to rebuild the public trust, including:

  • recruitment of a more diverse police force;
  • continued training in de-escalation tactics and bias-free policing;
  • improved data-collection to identify potential misconduct of officers;
  • a streamlined complaint reporting process;
  • increased civilian oversight of police discipline and accountability; and
  • increased transparency in incidents of officer misconduct.

“These changes are essential elements in our ongoing effort to create the best model for urban policing in the nation,” said Murray.

In his address, the mayor renewed his call for shared responsibility to address the persistent educational opportunity gap between white students and students of color. The City partners with Seattle Public Schools through the Families and Education Levy and, beginning this year, through the new Seattle Preschool Program. In 2015, the mayor will convene an Education Summit to discuss solutions to inequities in academic opportunity and the resulting gaps in student math and reading scores and graduation rates.

“We can no longer allow so many of our children to leave school unprepared for college, for work or for life,” said Murray. “Together, we will close the opportunity gap in our public schools.”

The mayor concluded with a call for a renewed community conversation on the many challenges of racial inequity in the City and across the country. The mayor will convene a Youth Opportunity Summit in the spring to work with African-American leaders and to eliminate the educational opportunity gap, increase long-term employment and reduce juvenile crime rates.

“We must acknowledge how far we have come, but this is the side of the mountain, not the summit,” said Murray.

The mayor’s complete State of the City remarks as prepared are available here.

Video of the speech

Murray statement on Senate Transportation Revenue Proposal

Mayor Murray issued the following statement on the statewide transportation package introduced by the State Senate today in Olympia:

“I am pleased that Senate leaders have acknowledged the need for new revenue to fix our state’s transportation system and proposed a transportation package that will actually raise these new dollars.

Today’s proposal is a good first step, but it can be better. While it’s encouraging that the Senate proposal includes regional taxing authority to expand Sound Transit’s light rail system – I will continue to fight for the full local taxing authority requested by the region. I also believe that the package can go farther to support local freight projects such as the Lander Street overcrossing in Seattle’s SODO industrial area.

Being an economic lifeline for the region, the inclusion of funding for the Westside of SR-520 is good news for Seattle. The multimodal funds in the proposal will also benefit the City as we update our infrastructure to provide more transportation choices for our growing population.

As the legislature debates this proposal and negotiations continue, I am eager to work with lawmakers and the Governor in a bipartisan, bicameral way to improve the measure and hammer out an agreement that will get Washington – and Seattle – moving.”

$470,000 in matching funds offered for technology projects; applications due March 19

Apply now 000024468147XSmallThe City of Seattle invites community organizations and nonprofits to apply for nearly $500,000 in funding to increase digital equity. The Technology Matching Fund awards are matched by the community’s contribution of volunteer labor, materials, professional services or funding.

“As a city, Seattle is known for technology and innovation, yet too many residents do not have sufficient internet access or the skills necessary to participate fully in today’s economy,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This funding leverages the resources of the community by matching time and funding.”

The Technology Matching Fund has been in existence since 1997 and this year the City has $470,000 available for matching awards of up to $30,000 each to community groups and nonprofits. The deadline to apply is March 19, 2015.

The funding will be awarded in July to organizations who will improve digital equity by connecting traditionally-underserved populations, empower residents with digital literacy skills, and encourage diverse communities to use technology for civic participation.

Application materials and more information are available at www.seattle.gov/tech/tmf/.

Two workshops will be held for those interested in applying for the matching funds. The free workshops will provide an overview of the grant program, explain how to apply and detail characteristics of a successful application. First time applicants are encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, Feb. 10: 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
2100 Building, 2100 24th Ave South, 98144

Thursday, Feb. 12: 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Solid Ground, 1501 N. 45th St, 98103

Interpretation and accommodations are available upon request by calling 206-233-2751 or emailing communitytechnology@seattle.gov by February 6.