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2013-2014 Budget: urban sustainability
FORESTS AND WATER
INVESTING IN OUR URBAN FORESTS
The 2013-2014 budget includes $1,000,000 of funding for the Green Seattle Partnership—a public private partnership to maintain and restore Seattle’s urban forests.
RESTORING THE DUWAMISH
The City plays a key role in restoring our urban waterways to make them safe for people, fish and wildlife. In 2013 and 2014, the City (through SPU and SCL) will invest nearly $18 million toward the cleanup of the Lower Duwamish Waterway, East Waterway, and Gas Works Park. These investments cover studies, design, and construction of cleanup actions to improve environmental quality and human health in our vital urban waterways and surrounding communities. Our investments are leveraged by contributions from our regional partners such as Ecology, King County, the Port, and Boeing.
COMBINED SEWER OVERFLOWS (CSOs)
Over the next six years the City will invest significantly in infrastructure for a cleaner Puget Sound. Seattle Public Utilities is expected to spend approximately $215 million over the next six years (2013-2018) on CSO reduction projects (currently, large storm events result in overflow in Seattle’s sewer and stormwater system, leading to outflow of dirty water). These projects will include a combination of underground storage tanks, Green Stormwater Infrastructure, system retrofits and the development of a long-range plan for CSO projects to be constructed from 2016-2025. These projects are a result of the City of Seattle negotiating a consent decree this year between the City, the EPA, and the DOE for compliance with the Clean Water Act and state regulations.
EFFICIENT LED STREETLIGHT INVESTMENT
The City will invest $462,813 in efficiency Improvements for Streetlights. City Light began replacing residential streetlights with energy-efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) streetlights in 2010, and will complete the conversion of the residential streetlight system in 2014. The new LED streetlights require less energy and ongoing maintenance, and will reduce the City’s streetlight bill by $463,000 in 2013 and $1.9 million in 2014.
COMMUNITY POWER WORKS
The City is continuing to invest in retrofitting our residential and business communities to improve their energy efficiency. So far over 2,600 homeowners have signed up for energy upgrades with customers seeing an average of over 25% energy savings. In the Large Commercial sector, 300,000 square feet has been upgraded with an additional 3 million square feet being evaluated for savings potential. Together, the program has reduced 45,000 tons of carbon – the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off the road for a year. 49% of Community Power Works grant funding has been spent or committed to projects. Community Power Works will continue to test new models, provide innovating financing opportunities, and boost demand for energy efficiency upgrades until June 2013.
PLANNING FOR CARBON REDUCTION
The Green Ribbon Commission comprised of 28 representatives from a range of sectors and perspectives, including business and industry, labor, government, academia, and nonprofit organizations promoting public health, community development and environmental sustainability, is developing recommendations to the Mayor and City Council on a bold Climate Action Plan to help guide city actions toward carbon neutrality. The City has been seeking community input throughout the planning process and will release a draft Plan in January to hear more community ideas about how the city can achieve this ambitious but critical goal. Many of the highlighted investments including those in transportation, building energy, and waste reduction represent significant steps in support of our carbon reduction goal.
BENCHMARKING OUR BUILDING STOCK
Nonresidential and multifamily buildings are now required to benchmark and report their energy use. Seattle’s legislation was one of the first of its kind in the nation, and the City has learned a lot about how to build a successful energy benchmarking program over the last three years. The proposed 2013-2014 budget adds $153,000 in 2013 and $178,000 in 2014 to the program for outreach and enforcement, which will help build a robust program to serve as an essential foundation for our efforts to achieve Seattle’s ambitious energy efficiency goals.
REDUCING OUR WASTE
The Solid Waste Utility’s budget includes funding for collection, processing, and disposal of the city’s waste including recyclables and compostables. After rising for seven straight years, by 2011 Seattle’s recycling rate had reached an all-time high of 55.4% overall and 70.6% for single family households. Planned spending in the Solid Waste Fund (SWF) capital program will allow us to continue this track record, by rebuilding the North Transfer Station between 2013 and 2017, demolishing the old South Transfer Station, and constructing a recycling/re-use facility at the South Transfer Station location between 2015 and 2018. Other significant projects include funding the investigation and closure of the South Park Landfill, and the replacement of the South Household Hazardous Waste facility.
Solid Waste rate increases are proposed in 2012 for the period 2013-2016, and include increases for the average residential and commercial customer of 2.7%, or $1.70 per month, in 2013. The rate increases are a response to declining volumes and the capital investments required to rebuild the City’s two transfer stations.
FAST AND RELIABLE TRANSIT
Nearly $6 million to connect our neighborhoods with high capacity transit
- $2 million for a corridor analysis of a high-capacity transit line from downtown to the University District, via Eastlake. If approved by the council, this work would begin next year.
- $850,000 for a corridor analysis of a bus rapid transit line on Madison Street, starting at Colman dock downtown.
- $500,000 for a study of a pedestrian, bike, and transit crossing of the ship canal. Identified as a need in both the Bicycle and Transit Master Plans, a north/south crossing of the ship canal between the Ballard and Fremont bridges would allow transit to flow more freely past this obstacle without getting stuck in traffic.
- A $2.5 million Transit Master Plan Reserve fund to help pay for the next phase of design work on these corridors, starting in 2014.
These additional investments complement work already underway with a study for a Ballard to Downtown via Fremont route, beginning later this year, and an alternatives analysis for a Center City Connector (connecting the First Hill and South Lake Union Streetcars), for which a consultant has already been selected. Read more about those studies.
When all these efforts are tallied up and combined with other planned resources, we’re investing nearly $21 million in transit and access-related improvements in 2013-2014, a necessary down payment now to ensure our transit system is able to deliver on our vision of livable neighborhoods and a robust local economy well into the future.
In addition to these funds, as part of Amazon’s Denny Triangle Development, they have agreed to fund $5.5 million for an enhanced South Lake Union Streetcar service, including purchase of a 4th streetcar. This will mean trains will come every ten minutes, twelve hours a day.
MAKING IT EASIER TO WALK AND BIKE
$325,000 to create a Center City Mobility Plan
The Center City Mobility Plan will review how all modes of transportation interconnect downtown. As part of this work, we will begin planning a downtown bicycle network, using best practices, to build on the Denny triangle cycle track. This study will help lead us to a safer and easier biking experience for residents and visitors alike in Downtown and beyond.
Moving forward on the Burke-Gilman Trail missing link: $300,000
The Hearing Examiner has required additional planning on the project. This funding allows us to move forward as quickly as possible with this long-awaited connection.
Amazon Cycle Track
Funds will allow for planning and construction along 7th in downtown in the Denny Triangle area. This is being made possible through Amazon’s public benefit package. In addition to construction of the Denny Triangle cycle track, there are also funds for design of a cycle track all the way from Denny to Pine Street, creating an incredible biking amenity through a critical area of downtown.
Greater investment in Neighborhood Greenways and Safe Routes to School projects: $1,256,000
Greenways make for safer streets for people biking and walking, regardless of your age or ability. In 2012, Seattle will have completed greenways in Wallingford, Delridge, and Beacon Hill. Of this $1.2 million, $836,000 is one-time funding for three significant projects at McGilvra Elementary, Beacon Hill Elementary, and West Woodland Elementary as well as increased staff support for these Safe Routes to School projects. These funds allow the City to step up its efforts significantly, helping schools on greenways corridors in a substantive and meaningful way. $420,000 over the next two years in additional general funding for greenway development will boost other efforts along greenways. We have also proposed funding a full-time staff position to assist with greenway development and community outreach.
Posted by: Nathaniel Merrill