Something missing in ‘Transportation Levy to Move Seattle,’ say West Seattle advocates: Stairways

After we reported Friday night on SDOT‘s plan to use goats to clear weeds/brush from the SW Holden stairway between 20th and Delridge, our area’s best-known stairway users/advocates pointed out two things: For one, this isn’t the only stairway that needs TLC, note Jake and Cathy Jaramillo, the West Seattleites who wrote “Seattle Stairway Walks.” For two, a stairway plan is missing in the draft Transportation Levy to Move Seattle. With a city survey about the levy open right now, they say it’s an opportunity to fix that:

An Open Letter To Our Stairway Friends:

The mayor’s proposed Transportation Levy has a lot of things going for it, but it completely misses one of Seattle’s most important everyday modes of transportation: our stairway network.

West Seattle is particularly blessed with numerous stairways that play an important role in the everyday life of our community. Some of them are sadly deteriorating, and all of them need ongoing TLC!

Seattle possesses a historic built legacy of more than 650 publicly accessible stairways. Many of them are more than one hundred years old, yet even today they still connect our citizens to transit, parks and everyday neighborhood businesses.

Stairways provide scenic byways in the city for exploration and outdoor exercise. They’re a “third place” for neighbors to meet casually. In short, our stairway network remains incredibly relevant to our city’s function and quality of life.

Back in 2011 the city’s budget for stairway maintenance was only about $1.1 million. This inadequate level of funding shows, despite the hard work done by SDOT rehab and replacement crews (see picture below).

Roughly forty percent of this amount will be lost when the current Bridging the Gap levy expires, leaving a yawning gap in the funds needed to keep up our stairway network.

We’re appealing for concerned residents to do two simple things, right away:

1) Please take a moment to give your feedback to Mayor Murray and the city, using the brief SDOT online survey, at

There’s a key juncture where the survey asks: “Are there other transportation investments you feel should be a top priority for funding through this levy?” Adding a quick note here, such as “To make walking easier and safer, the levy must add specific funding for our deteriorating public stairways” can go a long way to putting stairways on the city’s radar – provided enough of us speak up.

2) Please forward this message to your own networks, to get others to amplify your voice!

See you on the stairs,

Jake and Cathy Jaramillo
Seattle Stairway Walks: An Up-and-Down Guide to City Neighborhoods

While stairways were mentioned when Mayor Murray announced his overall transportation vision in early March, they did not get a specific shoutout when the draft levy to fund part of that plan was made public a few weeks later.

4 Replies to "Something missing in 'Transportation Levy to Move Seattle,' say West Seattle advocates: Stairways"

  • Chas Redmond April 5, 2015 (3:47 pm)

    Jake and Cathy are correct, we should be speaking up at the Move Seattle events and asking for maintenance and construction funds for stairways. They connect pedestrians and cyclists across difficult geography and make Seattle one of the top stairway cities in the country – SF and Seattle I believe are tied for #2 with Pittsburgh at #1.

  • Carl Barnard April 5, 2015 (7:40 pm)

    You have to take care care of what you have before expanding. Seattle tries so hard to please everyone, they serve no one. We are taxed to the hilt. Take care of what you have. Make it great. Then expand.

  • wb April 5, 2015 (9:30 pm)

    Took the survey thanks!

  • KM April 5, 2015 (10:04 pm)

    Well said, Carl. I would love to see our existing stairways and walkways maintained before we think about expanding and adding new projects.

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