$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.

Murray applauds priority hire, car share passage

Today, Mayor Murray issued the following statements on legislation passed by the Seattle City Council:

Mayor Murray on priority hire:

“I salute the entire City Council and the leadership of Committee Chair Sally Clark as our city adopts strong priority hire legislation based on my proposal from last September. This win is an important piece in our shared agenda to make Seattle more affordable and equitable for all communities. When we invest in our community centers, streets and city buildings, we must also invest in the people of our community. This ordinance not only helps someone land a family-wage job, it also opens the door to training and support that can launch a construction career. This partnership benefited from much work from faith leaders, trade unions, community advocates, contractors, apprenticeship programs and others who envision a more prosperous Seattle for all.”

Mayor Murray on expanded car sharing:

“I applaud our City Council for unanimously passing my office’s proposed expansion of car sharing permits in Seattle. This is another step in making Seattle a more livable and interconnected city for those who don’t own vehicles.  This legislation also provides important resources for us to assess the benefits and impacts of car sharing in Seattle. I especially would like to thank Transportation Chair Councilmember Tom Rasmussen for his work on this issue.”

Murray proposes more pedestrian zones to strengthen local business districts

Pedestrians

Photo courtesy of SDOT

Mayor Murray has sent to City Council a plan that will help foster vibrant business districts in neighborhoods throughout Seattle. Changes have been proposed to encourage more commercial businesses that support compact and walkable communities, while allowing flexibility in design to better meet the changing needs of our neighborhood business districts.

“These proposed changes will help ensure active storefronts in our neighborhoods and more design flexibility to accommodate a range of business types,” said Murray. “This helps minimize vacancies in some commercial areas but also helps to provide better access to the goods and services our local communities rely upon. Promoting pedestrian zones just make sense – a more walkable Seattle is good for the economy, good for the environment and good for public health.”

A key element of the proposal is an effort to identify, encourage and protect pedestrian-oriented commercial street fronts in neighborhood business districts by evaluating where additional pedestrian zoned areas are appropriate. The pedestrian zone designation serves to identify neighborhood business districts where active commercial use would be required at street-level. In neighborhood commercial zones outside of these areas, a wider range of uses is allowed at street level including a broad range of commercial, residential and live-work properties.

This proposal provides recommendations on those areas and includes modifications including:

  • Rezone 39 neighborhood commercial areas around the city to add or expand a pedestrian zone designation;
  • Expand the list of allowed active street-level uses;
  • Modify design review departures available in pedestrian zones for ceiling height, transparency requirements and residential uses at street level;
  • Clarify the transparency requirements to specify that transparent areas must allow views into and out of the structure at eye level;
  • Add a standard to require overhead weather protection along 60 percent of the building facade for new development along a Principal Pedestrian Street;
  • Eliminate waivers to minimum parking standards specific to pedestrian zones; and
  • Add standards for live-work units.

More convenient, more reliable, less crowded: Major boost coming for bus service in Seattle

To ease bus crowding and improve reliability, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine are moving forward with a major contract to expand Metro Transit bus service in the City of Seattle.

Murray and Constantine today sent the Seattle City Council and King County Council a proposed three-year, $120 million contract to increase bus service, renewable for an additional three years.

Funding for the new service comes from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District Proposition 1 ballot measure approved by Seattle voters in November. The measure will raise an estimated $45 million a year for six years by collecting a 0.1 percent sales tax increase and a $60 annual vehicle fee in the City of Seattle.

“By adding more than 200,000 more hours of bus service annually, we can ensure that transit expands along with our growing city,” said Mayor Murray. “This voter-approved investment in additional service will help make transit a better choice for everyone in Seattle, and is the first major expansion of bus service in our city in almost a decade.”

“Reliable, all-day bus service is the key to keeping our region’s economy moving forward, and this expansion will relieve overcrowding and delays so our riders can get to their schools, jobs, and services,” said Executive Constantine. “Our task now is to keep working to bring service in the rest of the county up to the new standard that Seattle is setting.”

Under the terms of the proposed contract, Seattle residents would see expanded bus service beginning in June and then again in September. As proposed, the City of Seattle would purchase from Metro additional peak, off-peak, weekend, and night service totaling 223,000 annual service hours in 2015. Planned service improvements draw from needs identified in Metro’s Service Guidelines and Seattle’s Transit Master Plan, and include significant investments in top priority routes that are chronically overcrowded such as the RapidRide C and D Lines serving West Seattle, Downtown and Ballard.

Under the city contract, the voter-approved funding will:

  • Add new buses to all 16 Seattle routes that are chronically overcrowded
  • Fix the schedules of all 48 routes that are chronically unreliable
  • Add frequency to 34 high-demand routes
  • Regularly provide detailed ridership and performance data

The City of Seattle also included $3 million dollars in a partnership program for jurisdictions who are interested in sharing the cost of service for routes that connect with the city. In addition up to $2 million dollars will be used to increase access to Metro Transit’s ORCA LIFT program, its new reduced fare for low-income riders to be implemented in March.

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s new Transit Division, working collaboratively with Metro Transit, will provide oversight to ensure that Seattle’s investments are supporting improved service in Seattle on the City’s highest-priority routes.

Executive Constantine created the framework for the proposed transit service contract last year when he initiated the Community Mobility Contract Program. The City of Seattle is able to contract directly with Metro Transit for service using this program. The Community Mobility Contract Program is intended as a bridge to keep buses on the street until the state legislature provides a sustainable funding tool for local transportation needs.

Seattle hires new SDOT Transit Division director

Today, Mayor Ed Murray, along with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly, announced the appointment of Paulo Nunes-Ueno as the new SDOT Transit Division director. Joining the department’s executive team, Nunes-Ueno will lead a newly created SDOT division focused on addressing the city’s and region’s current and future transit needs.

“It’s critically important that we deliver expanded transit services efficiently and cost-effectively after Seattle voters said yes to Proposition 1,” said Murray. “We’re stepping up to work with Metro to identify the routes and increased service that will roll out this summer. The new Transit Division will help ensure that we get the most from our investment.”

In this new position, Nunes-Ueno will lead a team of transportation professionals focused on delivering safe, efficient and cost-effective transit solutions for Seattle. This division will be responsible for four main areas:

  • Transit policy, planning and procurement
  • Transit design and construction oversight
  • Transit operations and interagency coordination
  • Mobility options and parking programs that support transit.

Nunes-Ueno will also provide subject matter expertise to SDOT leadership, the Mayor’s Office, the City Council and other City departments.

“Making transit better helps everyone who lives in, works in or visits Seattle,” said SDOT Director Kubly. “With the creation of a new Transit Division and the hiring of Paulo Nunes-Ueno, we will have the right team in place to guide our short- and long-term transit efforts. He is a strong hire due to his success at Children’s Hospital, where his transit and commute trip reduction work resulted in sixty percent of employees walking, biking or taking transit.”

Nunes-Ueno joins SDOT after having served as the director of Transportation and Sustainability for Seattle Children’s Hospital, and manager of King County Metro’s Commute Trip Reduction Services Project/Program. He will start at the City on December 17 and will receive annual salary of $144,500.

Mayor, Executive, Council celebrate transit, announce bus service agreement

Metro bus service agreement

The day after voters approved the largest expansion of bus service in Seattle since the Great Recession, Mayor Ed Murray, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen celebrated the victory and announced the framework of an agreement on transit funding and service delivery between Seattle and King County.

“As the fastest growing city in America, these investments are a huge step forward,” said Murray. “With this accountability agreement with the county, Seattle residents will know that they are getting value for their investment in Metro service.”

“The message from voters is clear: Seattle riders value Metro Transit, and with this vote, Metro will have the means to deliver more transit for the people of Seattle,” said Constantine, who in May created the program for cities to purchase bus service through Community Mobility Contracts.

The funding approved by voters will make key routes in Seattle less crowded, more reliable, and more convenient. A full service plan will be made available in the spring. As expanded service rolls out in June and September of 2015, Metro will:

  • Add new buses to all 16 Seattle routes that are chronically overcrowded
  • Fix the schedules of all 48 routes that are chronically unreliable
  • Add frequency to 28 high-demand routes

“With these investments Seattle will have the best bus service in the history of our city,” said Rasmussen. “I’m grateful to the voters for approving this much needed expansion and can’t wait for the new service to start.”

Today, the City of Seattle and King County announced the elements of a proposed Community Mobility Contract to govern Seattle’s investment in bus service improvements and ensure accountability. The agreement will be submitted for approval to the City and County Councils by the end of the year.

The proposed agreement will:

  • Require robust ridership and performance data reporting by Metro
  • Allow independent third-party audits of Metro’s cost allocation process and service data
  • Reduce City responsibility for county administrative overhead
  • Credit Seattle for higher fare box revenue produced on city trolleybus routes
  • Pay only the annual share of new buses required for increased service
  • Protect against supplanting

A new operating reserve fund will reduce the likelihood of cuts in service in Seattle if system revenues fall as a result a future economic downturn. Each year, $3.5 million will be added to the fund for future needs.

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s new Transit Division will provide additional oversight to ensure that Seattle’s investments are supporting improved service on the city’s highest-priority routes.

In October, SDOT began rolling out a series of other transit-related investments that will help speed bus riders to their destinations. The city is making additional infrastructure investments to support the efficiency of the system, including:

  • New bus lanes and extended bus lane hours;
  • More red-painted transit lanes to help educate car drivers;
  • New bus-only signals and signal upgrades;
  • Real-time arrival information so that riders can plan their journeys.

“I don’t have a car, so I depend on transit to go shopping, get to the doctor and visit friends and family,” said Marci Carpenter, a transit advocate and frequent bus rider.  “Nobody likes to wait in the rain for a bus only to have it pass you by because it’s overcrowded. For me, more frequent, reliable bus service from West Seattle is going to make it easier and more affordable to live in the city.”

Mayor Murray declares victory on Transit Proposition 1

Mayor Murray released the following statement on the passage of Transit Proposition 1:

“Great cities need great mass transit – and Seattle is a great city.

Seattle voters understand that, and today’s passage of Prop 1 is the next step to getting the transit system that Seattle wants and that Seattle needs. With today’s vote, we are now able to do something that has eluded elected leaders of this City for decades, and that’s significantly add to existing transit service in Seattle.

Better transit will help everyone who lives, works or visits Seattle, while helping us grow our economy, reduce traffic delays and protect our environment.  This funding will help us improve bus service to South Lake Union, West Seattle, Ballard, UW and neighborhoods throughout the city.

Seattle voters have entrusted us with new resources, and taxpayers must have confidence that they will get value for their money. I pledge that the City will use this money responsibly. We are working with Metro on strict accountability measures that ensure that this funding is used to improve transit services here in Seattle in areas of greatest need.”

Mayor Murray hosts inaugural ride of Seattle’s new Pronto bike share program

Pronto Cycle Share

Mayor Murray today hosted the inaugural ride of Seattle’s first ever bike share program, Pronto Cycle Share. The ride, which started on the new 2nd Avenue protected bike lane at University St. and ended at Occidental Park, included representatives from King County and the City of Seattle, as well as sponsors of the program: Alaska Airlines, Seattle Children’s, Group Health, REI, Vulcan and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“This is an important day for the city of Seattle as we introduce new, progressive transportation options for residents and visitors alike,” said Mayor Murray. “I am proud that the city could help make this milestone a reality. We look forward to expanding the program to additional Seattle neighborhoods next year.”

The bike sharing system is the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and brings an initial 500 bikes and 50 stations to neighborhoods across Seattle. Beginning today, users can rent one of Pronto’s seven-speed commuter bikes from solar-powered docking stations located in the University District, Eastlake, South Lake Union, Belltown, Downtown, Pioneer Square, the International District, Capitol Hill and First Hill. Pronto is the first bike share program in the nation to launch with a helmet distribution system to promote rider safety and to ensure users can easily comply with Seattle’s helmet laws.

You can view more photos from today’s event on our Flickr page and you can learn more about Pronto Cycle Share at www.ProntoCycleShare.com.

Murray proposes 2015-16 budget

mayor before council budget speech

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today presented to the City Council his proposed budget for 2015-16 that brings more transparency, more innovation, better organization and better performance to City government.

Murray outlined several major reform proposals, beginning with key reforms to the City’s budgeting process itself.

“We will move toward a performance-based budgeting system and begin paying for outcomes,” said Murray in his budget address to Council. “This will lead to streamlining of services, better use of resources and greater performance from our departments. And, perhaps most importantly, it will drive better service for the people of Seattle.”

Murray’s additional proposed reforms to the City’s budgeting process include:

  • moving City departments to a standard accounting system;
  • conducting a zero-based budgeting exercise for a least two City departments for a better accounting of baseline expenditures;
  • launching an interactive, online “Open Budget” tool on the model of the City of Boston’s tool for greater transparency in City spending;
  • developing performance metrics for all City departments for more efficiency and accountability;
  • launching an online dashboard to track department performance and provide greater transparency and accountability; and
  • establishing an advisory committee on the model of the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council to provide greater transparency and better performance.

“We will use data – not tradition – to drive how our government functions,” Murray said.

Murray also proposed what he said will be ‘a major restructuring of how we as a City plan for our future.’

“We will look across departments to establish new best practices of coordinated planning,” said Murray, “so that as we plan, we plan together, and when we build new housing, we are also planning new jobs, parks and transportation to support them.”

And, Murray said he has tasked Human Services Director John Okamoto to conduct an audit of the City’s nearly $35 million annual investment in homeless services and to compare City spending against national best practices.

“On any given night, there are at least 2,300 unsheltered individuals on our city streets – and very likely there are more,” said Murray. “It is time for us to learn if a better budgeting approach here in City Hall will create better outcomes for individuals living right now on the streets of this city.”

In his address to Council, Murray restated his priorities of a safe, affordable, vibrant and interconnected city for all. Highlights of Murray’s 2015-16 budget by priority area are available by clicking here.

Murray also said his budget shows how cities can be ‘an incubator of change’ and ‘a laboratory of democracy’ by funding ‘bold policy experimentation,’ including:

“These budget commitments demonstrate a City government flexible enough to reorganize around our priorities and support new policy that reflects the evolving needs of our communities,” Murray said.

As the centerpiece of his agenda for a more affordable city, Murray said that he would announce with Council the members, structure and timeframe for action of his Affordable Housing Advisory Committee on September 23 at 10:30 a.m. on the Seventh Floor of City Hall.

City Council will begin the hearings on the budget proposal on October 2nd.

To learn more about Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed 2015-16 budget please visit here.

Watch the speech:

New protected bike lane triples bike riding on Second Avenue; nearly 1,100 cyclists daily using new facility

2nd Avenue Bike LaneThe Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) today released data for the new Second Avenue Protected Bike Lane that shows bicycle ridership has tripled due to the new facility. With the conversion of the former one-way bike lane to a two-way, protected bike lane, an average of 1,099 bicyclists a day used the new lane on September 9, 10 and 11 according to electronic counters. This is three times the daily number of cyclists that had previously used the former one-way bike lane.

“I am pleased that the new Second Avenue bike lane is addressing Seattle’s need for a safer, more predictable route through downtown,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “These changes help enhance safety for everyone and make Seattle better prepared for the launch of Pronto! Cycle Share in October.”

Installed by SDOT, the facility opened Monday, September 8 with new pavement markings for two-way bike traffic, green pavement markings where turning cars cross the bike lane, separate traffic signals for bicyclists and motorists turning left, and plastic posts separating the bike lane from the left turn/parking lane.

SDOT and the Cascade Bicycle Club teamed up for an education/outreach campaign, and staff was positioned at left turn locations to remind motorists and bicyclists to observe the signals. Based upon feedback obtained during the initial few days, SDOT made additional changes on September 11 to reduce confusion.  “No turn on red” signs replaced “turn on green arrow only” signs and a green straight arrow replaced the solid green circle light. After these changes, an observation of 52 vehicles on Second Avenue at Spring Street revealed that only two drivers made an illegal left turn when their left turn arrow was red, a 96.2 percent compliance rate.

“A better organized Second Avenue means a more predictable roadway for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians, and makes it safer for all users,” said SDOT Direct Scott Kubly. “Signals and signs make the rules of the road more clear.”

Since the bicycle lanes opened, travel times for drivers on Second Avenue have been better than originally forecasted. On the first day of the bike lane’s operation, it took drivers approximately one minute longer to travel the 0.71 miles on Second Avenue than before the conversion. With numerous events occurring that first week, to include opening day of the National Football League season at CenturyLink Field, engineers expect travel times to decrease further as drivers become accustomed to the new roadway configuration.