May 19, 2024 7:21 pm

The premier news source for Snohomish County

Shoreline mayor meets President at National League of Cities

Washington D.C.—Shoreline Mayor Chris Roberts had the opportunity of personally thanking several federal partners at the National League of Cities event, including U.S. President Joe Biden, for making key infrastructure investments to the city and region.

Chris Roberts
United States President Joe Biden meeting with Shoreline Mayor Chris Roberts at the National League of Cities event in March of 2024. SOURCE: City of Shoreline.

The National League of Cities (NLC) is an organization comprised of over 2,700 cities whose leaders are focused on improving the quality of life for their current and future constituents.

The NLC’s mission is to “relentlessly advocate for, and protect the interests of, cities, towns and villages by influencing federal policy, strengthening local leadership and driving innovative solutions.”

This year’s NLC event ran from March 9 through March 12 in Washington D.C., also falling on the NLC’s centennial year, featuring workshops, panels, and opportunities for leaders across the country to network and share their successes and challenges.

“I’ve learned a lot from council members and other city members from across the nation [from this event],” Mayor Roberts told the Lynnwood Times. “Just one example: I went to a NLC event in Los Angeles pre-pandemic and there was a workshop there about the film industry and how to attract the film industry to your city. As the workshop went on a lightbulb went off in my head of how we could streamline the permit process to make it attractive for producers to film in the city of Shoreline.”

Mayor Roberts returned to Shoreline with his idea, introducing a more streamlined process for directors and film producers to film in the city. In 2023 alone there were approximately 98 film productions filmed in Shoreline—a product of just one idea that stemmed from attending an NLC event.

“It’s just networking, learning from council members across the country and seeing that cities large and small, east coast and west coast, have similar challenges. Each city has their own unique way of dealing with those problems, but we learn better when we collaborate,” said Mayor Roberts.

Mayor Roberts, who sits on the NLC Board of Directors and its Membership Committee, spent his first day this year attending committee meetings, he shared with the Lynnwood Times, with his second day spent discussing rail safety and youth engagement with the Board.

On Monday Mayor Roberts had the opportunity to meet with both President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to personally thank the two of them for their investments in the local region’s transportation infrastructure.

Shoreline Mayor Chris Roberts (second left) with fellow members of the Local Indigenous Leaders circle. SOURCE: National League of Cities.

Mayor Roberts was chosen to meet with President Biden as a member of the Local Indigenous Leaders circle. Roberts is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

Shoreline is set to receive a new Link light rail station with the Lynnwood extension opening later this year. The announcement of the extensions official opening date is set to be this Thursday.

Shoreline Link Station South at 148th St. SOURCE: Sound Transit.

Secretary Buttigieg included $88.4 million for the Lynnwood Link Extension in his $4 billion funding recommendations for the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program and Expedited Project Delivery (EPD) Pilot Program last month.

Additionally, the City of Shoreline recently received a $20 million federal RAISE grant, which will help fund multimodal transportation improvements west of I-5, including an off-corridor bike network, a bicycle/pedestrian bridge across I-5 at 148th, and better sidewalks and a roadway.

Washington received approximately $2 billion for Sound Transit’s Lynnwood and Federal Way light extensions as part of its Capital Investment Grant. Nationwide about $4.5 billion will be distributed from this grant this year. 

“Sometimes navigating through the federal procurement system is difficult,” said Mayor Roberts. “So these opportunities to meet directly with federal officials is really helpful, especially for smaller systems who don’t work regularly with the federal government.”

The next day following meeting President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg, Mayor Roberts also attended a panel on expanding behavioral health services. He added it was a “packed agenda” and he really didn’t have an opportunity to do anything else, separate to the conference, other than visit with family who live in the D.C. area for one evening.

Many federal agencies also had mobile workshops which Mayor Roberts said the city of Shoreline did not take advantage of this time.

Within the last year, the city of Shoreline launched its Regional Crises Response Agency (RCR) program in partnership with Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell, and Kirkland—an embedded response to behavioral health issues the region faces.

Building on the success of the RADAR program, first launched in Shoreline in 2017, the Regional Crisis Response (RCR, pronounced ‘racer’) Agency is a newly formed, collaborative effort that provides consolidated and standardized regional mobile crisis response services for the five-city region.

The regional mobile crisis services provided by RCR begin with a person-centered approach focusing on compassionate and immediate crisis response, de-escalation, resource referral, and follow-up tailored to the specific needs of those experiencing behavioral health challenges.

The RCR program has 13 full-time staff, an initial $5 million biennial budget, and deploys Crisis Responder Mental Health Professionals (MHPs) to serve community members in the region who are experiencing behavioral health crises. Just last Monday, on April 1, the Shoreline City Council heard a presentation from city staff on just how this program has been successful since rolling out.

Going forward the City of Shoreline’s big efforts for the remainder of the year is to finish its Comprehensive Plan, continue to leverage existing infrastructure and local investments to introduce more affordable housing, and all of the growth and opportunity that will come with the opening of light rail.

Mayor Roberts shared with the Lynnwood Times that what he, personally, is looking forward to the most about light rail opening in his city is how easy it will be to get to a Seattle Mariners game.

About Shoreline Mayor Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris graduated from Willamette University in 2000 and earned a PhD from the University of Washington in 2012 in the field of public law.

Chris serves as a member of the National League of Cities Board of Directors and the Puget Sound Regional Council Executive Board. He is the vice chair of the Sound Cities Association Public Issues Committee and is a member of the National League of Cities Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee and the Race, Equity and Leadership Council.

Before his election to the Council, Chris served as the Legislative Assistant to Oregon State Representative Bill Garrard. He currently teaches political science classes at Pierce College.

Mayor Roberts shared with the Lynnwood Times that his role as Mayor of Shoreline helps in his teaching of political science because he can relay “real life experiences.”

Chris is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. With his wife Heather and their child, Chris resides in the Ballinger neighborhood.

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