On September 7, 2022 in Washington state, the City of Seattle’s Green New Deal reached a critical milestone as Mayor Bruce Harrell released a funding proposal that would invest $6,491,539 in 2022 toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, supporting community resilience to climate change, and increasing net zero affordable housing.
“Seeing record heat waves in Seattle, floods in Pakistan, and worldwide droughts, wildfires and food scarcity, there is nothing more pressing for our City’s future than investing in equitable climate resilience,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda.
“Thank you to the Green New Deal Oversight Board, staff at the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, and the Mayor’s Office for your work in fulfilling the JumpStart Seattle spending plan investments in the Green New Deal. We need these, and more, investments in climate resilience and forward-thinking, creative solutions to the extreme crisis that faces our communities,” she added.
These investments are the first set recommended by the City’s Green New Deal Oversight Board of 19 community representatives, established by Ordinance 125926 through the Jumpstart payroll expense tax legislation passed in 2020.
“As a councilmember, I voted to establish a Green New Deal — with a goal of ensuring Seattle continues to be at the forefront of innovative policies to reduce emissions and center climate resilience and justice,” said Mayor Harrell.
“We stand at a tipping point where bold action must be taken to meet the scale of the climate crisis, and this set of investments reflects that ambitious thinking and commitment to strong and healthy communities. I want to thank City staff and community members, who have worked together to develop this set of strategic and community-driven Green New Deal investments. This is an important first step that will be followed by sustained efforts in our future budgets and policy proposals to create jobs, foster healthy communities, and support a clean environment,” he explained.
Investments for the $6.5 Million Green New Deal Opportunity Fund include:
- $2.4 Million to Identify and Develop Resilience Hubs in Seattle: Seattle is facing a climate crisis, but not all bear the burden equally. Resilience Hubs are an innovative approach to help ensure communities are supported in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from climate change related emergencies such as extreme heat events and wildfire smoke. The city is working to address community needs at nexus of resilience, emergency management and response, climate change mitigation, and social equity. Mayor Harrell has also proposed $2 million in his Parks District budget proposal toward the Resilience Hub effort;
- $2.3 Million to support efforts to get all City-owned buildings off fossil fuels by 2035. The City of Seattle owns 650 buildings, including 27 public libraries which are increasingly on the front lines of community care during climate emergencies. In addition to supporting the decarbonization of all municipal buildings, these investments strategically invest in providing heating, cooling, and clean air at the NE and SW Library branches to support communities during times of climate crisis;
- $2 Million to increase the number of city-funded affordable housing projects. Investing in multi-family affordable housing electrification avoids installing new fossil fuel systems that will lock newly created affordable housing – and its residents — into decades of climate pollution;
- $300,000 to support climate data and Community Health Indicator project. As the City continues to make exciting investments to address climate change, Seattle is developing the infrastructure to track our impact. This investment will collect critical data needed to see the full picture of climate impact on transportation, community health, and more – allowing the city to further efforts to advance climate justice and reduce greenhouse gas impacts; and
- $100,00 for community engagement to inform climate elements of the One Seattle Comprehensive Plan update. This investment sets aside funds to support community engagement that will inform climate components incorporated into the One Seattle Comprehensive Plan – an effort fundamental to shaping land use, transportation, and infrastructure investments over the next 20 years.
“We at the Oversight Board have been working for months gathering community priorities, consulting with City departments, and building on our own expertise to develop the 2022 budget recommendations,” said Maria Batayola of the Green New Deal Oversight Board. “Through these investments, we are humbled to accelerate Seattle’s transition off fossil fuels while improving the resilience of our impacted overburdened communities during this climate crisis.”
The 2022 Green New Deal Opportunity Fund investments are the first to be funded by proceeds from Jumpstart funds.
“Communities in Seattle—specially in places like the Duwamish Valley—need places to go and ways to connect to each other and services during times of climate emergencies,” said Paulina López of the Duwamish River Community Coalition. “Resilience hubs are exciting community driven investments and we look forward to engaging with the City to pilot resilience hubs in the Duwamish Valley where community members are experiencing compounding impacts of sea-level rise, air pollution, and urban heat island effect.”
As part of the 2022 budgeting process, the Green New Deal Oversight Board was asked to make recommendations on $6.5 million for investments to help to advance the principles of the Green New Deal for Seattle.
“Most climate pollution and environmental harm happens where BIPOC and low-income individuals reside,” said Patience Malaba of the Housing Development Consortium.
“It’s critical that Seattle’s climate investments are designed to make our buildings safe, healthy, and resilient for our communities and that they prioritize job training and career development for those who have been most impacted by the extraction and burning of fossil fuels,” she concluded.
The Oversight Board has also provided recommendations for 2023 funds.
Photo courtesy of the Office of the Mayor of Seattle.