Your Voice, Your Choice: How the city will ask you to help decide how to spend $2 million

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Another big change resulting from the mayor’s severing of ties with neighborhood-district councils is about to go public.

Those citizen groups had helped the city solicit and vet proposals for spending Neighborhood Park and Street Fund money.

This year, both the proposals and decisions are going to go through a citywide “participatory budgeting” process called “Your Voice, Your Choice.”

After hearing it mentioned at last week’s Morgan Community Association meeting, we arranged to talk with the Department of Neighborhoods point person, Jenny Frankl, to find out how it’s going to work.

To set the stage, here’s the list of Neighborhood Park and Street Fund projects chosen last year, through the 13 neighborhood districts (West Seattle has two, Delridge and Southwest). This year, it will include $2 million for projects in all seven City Council districts.

Frankl explained that suggesting, reviewing, and deciding on how to spend the money will be a four-phase process, and the first phase is expected to be announced next Monday. That phase will collect ideas from community members in a variety of ways. Frankl said some small-group invitation-only meetings already have been held, and an online survey-style form will be ready soon. Ideas also will be sought at various meetings involving city departments next month, so look for those opportunities. And in particular, they’re hoping to encourage youth to participate too.

In phase 2, city departments will review the ideas to see what’s possible and what’s not. The parameters this year will include a requirement that the proposals be capital projects, costing up to $90,000, to be built in a city street or park right-of-way.

Once lists of possible projects are grouped by council district, they will go to Project Development Teams, one for each district (West Seattle and South Park comprise District 1, as you probably know). These teams will be open to community participation, supported by city staff, and assisted by “neutral facilitators” assigned by the city. The teams will meet in the districts, and there also will be “an online component,” Frankl says, so you can participate in the reviews even if you can’t get to a face-to-face meeting.

Phase 3 will involve voting on proposed projects that will be on lists developed by the aforementioned teams. Each of the seven council districts will have a distinct ballot, Frankl says, and while she says there will be “voter authentication” – so it doesn’t become a popularity contest with one project possibly benefiting from an extensive campaign, for example – you can choose which district you want your vote to be in. Maybe you live here in District 1 but spend more of your time working/playing in another district, for example, and would prefer to cast your vote there.

Voting will be done in person as well as online, with ballots available at libraries and community centers, and with the chance for people to sign up to have a voting site – at a school, for example. Details are still being worked out, but the voting phase is likely to happen in June, before school gets out for summer.

Then phase four will be the final funding of winning projects, with each district having up to $285,000 to spend, as its share of the $2 million. The projects will be built in 2018.

“It’s exciting,” says Frankl, whose work expands on what she did with the Youth Voice, Youth Choice participatory budgeting project last year. And, she stresses, there’s “still a lot to figure out” – but this is the framework. For next year, she says, the process won’t be quite as compressed, and they’ll likely get going in September instead of next January. But first – watch for that upcoming announcement about the start of “idea collection,” soon.

20 Replies to "Your Voice, Your Choice: How the city will ask you to help decide how to spend $2 million"

  • Chuck Jacobs January 26, 2017 (3:33 pm)

    Re-stripe the arterials to two lanes each way and re-sign for 40 mph. Spend any leftover money on pavement repair.

    • Mark32 January 26, 2017 (7:10 pm)

      Chuck, I’ll give you two thumbs up!

    • verdant January 26, 2017 (9:01 pm)

      Extra patrols to triple-fine speeders on the arterials.  And lessons in drivers stopping and slowing down for pedestrians.

  • Orca January 26, 2017 (3:54 pm)

    Better save it to replace the Federal funds the city will lose due to the Mayor and City Council grandstanding and selectively ignoring the federal law.

    Our already unaffordable taxes will skyrocket.

  • West Seattle Hipster January 26, 2017 (3:56 pm)

    I could use a new car.

  • wetone January 26, 2017 (4:37 pm)

     4 phase process that involves multiple city departments, personal and seven council districts and more to review the proposals and make decisions. Would like to see spread sheet on all money city spends on this crazy process for spending $2 mil.  Don’t get me wrong I think it’s great for communities to get some money for needed projects, but a 4 + phase process really ?    and people wonder why it’s so expensive to live in Seattle…….

  • anonyme January 26, 2017 (4:38 pm)

    “The parameters this year will include a requirement that the proposals
    be capital projects, costing up to $90,000, to be built in a city street
    or park right-of-way.”

    WTF??  I thought the right of way was for pedestrians and vehicles.  What kind of “capital project” can be built in a right of way?  Let’s paint some more rainbows, that would be an AWESOME use of taxpayer money.  This entire freakin’ country has gone insane, all the way from left to right.

    • WSB January 26, 2017 (4:50 pm)

      That means, traffic signal, crosswalk, something like that. Not a building.

  • Amanda January 26, 2017 (5:07 pm)

    I wonder if the city will actually listen to the citizens is the real question. Highland Park citizens have been begging for years to fix Holden and Highland Park Way. Unfortnately, the funding of this is way to small to fix the intersection. 

    • WSB January 26, 2017 (5:42 pm)

      As I think you know, that came up at last night’s Highland Park meeting, which is one of the next stories we will be publishing, though first it’s off to the Junction HALA meeting. Definitely too little. And the denial of the federal grant, as mentioned, is unfortunate, but supposedly the city vows to try again…

      • Double Dub Resident January 26, 2017 (6:10 pm)

        To try what again?  I heard ole grand pooba Murray was talking about putting  up another vote to raise taxes in order to try and make up the difference from federal money.  To that I give the finger 

      • Amanda January 26, 2017 (7:02 pm)

        Thank you for your notes! 

        • Amanda January 26, 2017 (7:09 pm)

          Thank you for reporting the news in West Seattle. 

    • Alan January 26, 2017 (5:50 pm)

      I am completely in disbelief that nothing is done about the Holden/HP Way intersection. We have been asking that it be fixed for decades. SDOT has acknowledged that it is a problem.  This is not just a neighborhood problem. This intersection is used by people across West Seattle. It is also used by students and staff at South Seattle College. I’m surprised that SSC hasn’t put pressure on SDOT to fix it, as it endangers their people.

      Public safety should not be up for a vote.

  • WSB January 26, 2017 (6:24 pm)

    Just so those who haven’t paid attention to these projects in the past are not confused:

    This is not new. This is not added spending. This has been done annually for quite some time. The only thing changing this year is that the process of seeking ideas and deciding on them is being thrown open to a new process. – TR

    • Mark Schletty January 26, 2017 (6:38 pm)

      I have to admit that, after watching the HALA “invited” member committee do what it did, and who was “invited” , i am cynical about this new process when it begins with an “invited only”  first imput. Who was invited, what did they recommend, have they already narrowed the choices? Why in the world would the city start a “citizens input” process start this way.

      • McBride January 26, 2017 (9:09 pm)

        Because it’s theater. This administration cannot tolerate input it cannot control. 

  • harna deryk January 27, 2017 (12:24 am)


  • wetone January 27, 2017 (8:41 pm)

     Don’t worry nothing all the common sense folks want fixed or should be high on the list to do, won’t happen till Mayor Patchworks next levy is approved. Move Seattle money’s already gone. Get ready for higher taxes. Only way to stop this is vote……..

  • Greg Showalter January 27, 2017 (10:00 pm)

    Establish a new crosswalk at 57th and Admiral Way

    Improve the crosswalk at 59th and Admiral Way

    Improve the crosswalk at Lander and Admiral Way

    Improve the crosswalk at 49th and Admiral Way 

    All of the above were neighborhood requests to improve pedestrian safety alone Admiral Way. SDOT committed to the Admiral Way citizens these actions would be done as phase two of the Admiral Way Bike Lane configuration as a means to improve pedestrian safety. However SDOT has totally blown off the neighborhood request. More people walk Admiral Way than ride bikes on Admiral Way so we now have bike lanes that are underutilized and no improvement whatsoever for pedestrians trying to cross Admiral Way. So much for SDOT’s big talk about pedestrian safety. The SDOT contact people will not even return emails.

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