VIDEO: City Councilmember Rob Saka puts his ‘King of Potholes’ nickname into action

(WSB photos/video)

If you’re going to be The King of Potholes, you might as well go get a firsthand look at your kingdom. That’s what District 1 City Councilmember Rob Saka did this morning, joining an SDOT “Pothole Rangers crew at work in South Park and West Seattle. We heard him mention the plan during yesterday’s meeting of the Transportation Committee, which he chairs, so we contacted his staff and arranged to meet up at his first stop.

In this case, the Pothole Rangers had a fairly deep rut to deal with immediately south of the city transfer station in west South Park – an industrial area heavily traveled by trucks. Saka put on a hard hat and vest and joined the crew.

The rain stopped just in time, but SDOT’s crew told us they work in every kind of weather except snow/ice. So first task was to dry out this pothole best as they could.

Then came the application of “tack,” to which the asphalt fill would adhere. And finally the asphalt itself, with which the councilmember assisted:

Here’s the “after” view, and how the process concluded:

As recently noted here, SDOT crews – which are based regionally, including one assigned to West Seattle – filled more than 25,000 potholes around the city last year. And there’s always more waiting to be filled – here’s a screengrab from the map of reported-and-waiting potholes:

(Go here for options on how to report one.) Saka told us this is just the first visit he plans to make to a variety of frontline crews – he’ll be visiting bridge-maintenance workers too. He also reiterated that he’s well aware the underlying cause of potholes needs to be addressed too – streets in desperate need of repaving. The next transportation levy is expected to address that, though Saka said he hasn’t been involved yet in specific project lists, so he doesn’t know whether, for example, SW Roxbury (which was supposed to be repaved with Levy to Move Seattle money, then got shelved) will be addressed.

36 Replies to "VIDEO: City Councilmember Rob Saka puts his 'King of Potholes' nickname into action"

  • Al King February 21, 2024 (12:25 pm)

    Would be far fewer potholes needing filling if SDOT actually took proper care of the roads/sidewalks in the 1st place. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  • Thomas February 21, 2024 (1:11 pm)

    Has the City used all the funds from.the last two transportation levy?

    • Rick February 22, 2024 (9:09 am)

      I wouldn’t know but I do know the key word here is always “more”. They’ll find a way to spend it.

  • WestSeattleBadTakes February 21, 2024 (1:33 pm)

    “Granddad! What did you do when it became clear that climate change was real and that we needed to take action?”

    ”I was the King of Potholes.”

    • WS Transit Wonk February 22, 2024 (6:18 am)

      One thing I’ve observed in politics recently is politicians are actually not as stupid as they seem. They are playing politics, or the currency of votes. Some may say something stupid, seemingly in the face of climate action, but are actually doing the right thing quietly. District 1 is notorious for NIMBYs who generally approve of climate and social issues as long as it doesn’t affect their way of life. Saka represents a majority of the voter base outwardly. He is in a position to do something meaningful though. Potholes are a stunt for his voters. Let’s keep pressure on him and the rest of council to do the right thing.  

  • DC February 21, 2024 (1:41 pm)

    Nearly three months into the job and he hasn’t looked at projects list for the levy!? Isn’t the draft supposed to come out in a few weeks? Really seems like this new council is sitting on their hands hoping simply not being progressive will solve the cities problems. 

    • Jort February 21, 2024 (3:43 pm)

      Oh, come on, why can’t you just be happy?! Potholes! Potholes! Potholes! Look at the pothole repairs!!!! Rainbows and smiles! Good vibes all around!

      • Rick February 22, 2024 (9:13 am)

        Better than the constant “But,but,but Trump’! Surprised he hasn’t been tied to this situation. Yet.

  • 4thGenWestSide February 21, 2024 (1:47 pm)

    Curious.  Honest question and not trolling.  Why don’t they fill the potholes with concrete instead of blacktop? Assume it’s cost but it seems like the holes become “potholes” a lot faster than if they were done with concrete.  

    • Alki resident February 21, 2024 (2:41 pm)

      Concrete takes days to dry and settle. Putting concrete in a deep hole and then allowing cars to drive over it will destroy the work done. Asphalt hardens fast. 

    • West Seattle Commuter February 21, 2024 (3:17 pm)

      I also wonder this. I ride my bike all around west seattle and there are so many local streets that have been ripped up due to new construction houses, and the patching is all asphalt that invariably sinks and creates a “pocket” in a few weeks/months.

    • 937 February 21, 2024 (3:52 pm)

      Asphalt weak. Concrete strong.

      With the seeps, high water table and springs, the asphalt will deteriorate around the concrete and now you have a hole with a post in it.

      Saw a motto a while back – “nothing beats concrete streets”. Love that new pour going up the hill (and down) on 35th and Alaska.

      Oh and asphalt cheap. concrete expensive.

      • 1994 February 21, 2024 (10:25 pm)

        But oh those Metro buses sure beat up the concrete slabs! Drive the concrete roads where the bus routes are and you will know what I mean, clunk, clunk, clunk as you driver over the slab ends. 

  • KG February 21, 2024 (2:02 pm)

    Thanks Rob for addressing the problem, I would like to talk to you about getting some responsible work boots however.

  • Amorfati February 21, 2024 (2:45 pm)

    Rob won because he was willing to deal with issues that impact our day to day lives. You can rant all you want about climate change but the reality is normal everyday working people want someone who works from the bottom up. Climate change is important but I want my local council member to fix the damn pot holes. 

    • West Seattle Commuter February 21, 2024 (3:18 pm)


    • Jort February 21, 2024 (3:44 pm)

      I really feel like this comment should be framed and set aside in a museum for future generations to ponder and study. “Climate change is important but …” the epitaph for human civilization, right there. Courage.

      • Amorfati February 21, 2024 (8:30 pm)

        Keep fighting the good fight Jort! lol

    • Lauren February 21, 2024 (9:52 pm)

       Climate change is important but I want my local council member to fix the damn pot holes. ”If it wasn’t so depressing I’d have this embroidered on a throw pillow. 

  • 98126res February 21, 2024 (3:31 pm)

    Appreciate council member Saka addressing everyday problems, incl potholes that need to be fixed. Story, photos and map were great too.  Thank you. 

  • Rico February 21, 2024 (3:34 pm)

    Fixing just one pothole = already done more for West Seattle than his predecessor did in  8 years 

    • Lagartija Nick February 21, 2024 (4:20 pm)

      Yes, because everyone knows that zero potholes were fixed while Herbold was in office. You guys are insufferable. 

  • nds February 21, 2024 (3:45 pm)

    Climate change is important,  traffic safety is important, and multimodal transportation access is important.  It’s all about priorities and funding all these things appropriately. Please please please do not forget about those of us who walk, bike, and take transit places. 

  • Wendell February 21, 2024 (4:14 pm)

    The hole in the EB bridge to 99 onramp is starting to reappear.  It won’t be long until the rebar starts to show again.

    • Jones February 21, 2024 (5:25 pm)

      I think that’s the State’s responsibility, SDOT doesn’t usually mess with State Highways. 

  • Jort February 21, 2024 (4:34 pm)

    I sure hope Rob Saka was able to tamp the asphalt down enough so that it does not in any way resemble the concrete traffic divider on Delridge. In a 2021 e-mail to SDOT, Saka compared the divider, which  prevented left turns into a preschool parking lot, to the Trump Administration’s border wall, calling it  “triggering” and “traumatizing” to immigrant communities. Every single voter in West Seattle should read the e-mail exchange, located here. It may help to clarify what our newest elected official might be thinking when pondering transportation-related decision-making. 

    • CAM February 21, 2024 (9:04 pm)

      I can only hope for my own sanity the linked PDF (a heads up for those clicking) is farce. Because if he can get that detailed and polite of a response to that kind of complaint than I find it even more egregious that he has continued to ignore my very professional and polite email asking him to address the enormous hole some random company dug in the sidewalk and has now left there for weeks forcing pedestrians to cross an arterial at an unregulated (which to drivers means no stopping ever) intersection by either providing crossing assistance during commuting/business hours or filling the hole. He’s living up to all my expectations already and it’s only been 2 months. 

      • Jort February 21, 2024 (10:17 pm)

        The email is very real and was obtained via public records requests for communications Rob Saka had with SDOT prior to his campaign. As for your request to Rob, have you considered re-sending it and instead calling it a “pothole?” That might move your request to the top of the queue! Maybe that’s how things work for the “King of Potholes!” Seriously though, this seems like the only thing he cares about. Not the transportation levy, not the street safety crisis and resulting record-high deaths and injuries … it’s … the potholes. Courage. 

        • 1994 February 22, 2024 (9:51 pm)

          But potholes are a safety hazard for pedestrians, bikers, and motor vehicles….potholes full of water don’t look like a hole until you fall into one.  Bikers and motor vehicles may take sudden unexpected swerve to avoid a pothole. 

      • System February 22, 2024 (9:11 am)

        CAM,Please try Find-It-Fix-It  


        send  your professional and polite request to SDOT and file a complaint with Seattle DCI. 

  • Mike February 21, 2024 (8:58 pm)

    Wow! A city council member who prioritizes city issues which affect us, rather than posturing about national/world issues best left to national governments. I really like this guy. 

  • House calls? February 21, 2024 (11:08 pm)

    Thanks for remainder about the pothole rangers! Wave hello in a few days if you spot them along 35 Ave SW quaint ~ a simpler time 

  • flimflam February 22, 2024 (7:13 am)

    Potholes and general infrastructure upkeep is very necessary and also sort of boring compared to equity and social justice issues that many local politicians lean on for approval. Infrastructure maintenance should be every local politicians top priority in my opinion. After streets are smooth, clean, traffic lights timed, bus stops regularly cleaned and maintained THEN branch out to the other stuff….

  • Jay February 23, 2024 (10:11 am)

    I’m here from the link in Rob Saka’s email… naming himself pothole king and taking credit for this program? If you put in a find-it-fix-it request the pothole rangers will fix a pothole, that’s been true for long before Rob considered running. And he’s linking that to West Seattle Bridge maintenance… which is WSDOT. I was mostly neutral on city council, but that email felt pretty greasy taking credit for the work of others. It feels like he’s attaching himself to this initiative for a quick win that he didn’t contribute to.

    • WSB February 23, 2024 (10:21 am)

      No, West Seattle Bridge maintenance is **NOT** WSDOT – the bridge is a city facility, so it’s SDOT, which is why the bridge repairs were an SDOT project. (The ramp to 99 belongs to the state, but that’s once you go past the bridge’s edge and onto the ramp.)

  • Kathy February 23, 2024 (12:43 pm)

    Who is dying or getting injured because of potholes? If you aren’t speeding and are attentive to road conditions, you won’t even damage your car. A pothole in a crosswalk or a bike lane might injure or kill a pedestrian or a cylist, and cyclists and pedestrians are much more likely to report potholes that are threatening their safety. I regularly report potholes as a cyclist. Pre-Rob Saka, they were always filled within 3-4 days. On the other hand, there is something that is killing and injuring people besides guns. That is scofflaw drivers who drive10, 20, 30 +++ miles per hour over the speed limit and arterials (such as Admiral Way) that are designed like freeways to allow them to do that. The pothole “epidemic” is a political red herring, just as the “armies invading us” at the southern US border. I would like to see Seattle citizens get as fired up about unsafe road design as they seem to be about potholes.

Sorry, comment time is over.