Mayor Harrell Nominates Greg Spotts to be Next Director of Seattle Department of Transportation

Experienced transportation leader with proven background in safety, climate, and infrastructure, Spotts will bring new energy and approach to lead one of the City’s largest departments 

Seattle (July 27, 2022) – Today, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that he will appoint Greg Spotts to be the next Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), pending confirmation by the Seattle City Council. Spotts currently serves as the Executive Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer at the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services. 

“Seattle deserves a transportation system that is safe, reliable, and equitable, and our SDOT Director is instrumental in implementing that vision. Greg understands that we must embed safety across all projects, view every decision through a climate lens, and build a transportation system centered on equity, quality infrastructure, and multi-modal solutions,” said Mayor Harrell. “Greg is a champion for innovative thinking, sustainable solutions, collaborative partnership building and transparent public engagement. My sincere thanks to Interim Director Kristen Simpson for her tremendous leadership and willingness to step up to keep critical projects and priorities on track. I know she’s excited to help the new director hit the ground running during this transition period.” 

“I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to lead one of the most forward-thinking transportation departments in the nation,” said Spotts. “I have visited Seattle several times in recent years and have been deeply inspired by the urban transformation taking place. I intend to draw upon my years of infrastructure experience to ensure that SDOT is an effective and responsible steward of Seattle’s streets, sidewalks, bridges and street trees. I’m inspired by Mayor Harrell’s inclusive vision for One Seattle, and I will lead SDOT’s skilled and motivated staff to continuously improve mobility, equity, sustainability and safety.”   

Spotts currently serves as the Executive Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer at the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services, which oversees 1,500 staff positions, an annual budget of $230 million, and a capital program of more than $350 million. He has led the delivery of over $600 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects as well as efforts to make Los Angeles more walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly and sustainable. 

Spotts will begin at the department in early September as acting director until Council confirmation. Later today, he will join SDOT crews to tour current bridge infrastructure and see maintenance efforts in action. As he settles in at SDOT, Spotts will tour Seattle’s vibrant neighborhoods by riding transit, cycling, and walking with neighbors and community groups 

Mayor Harrell’s search process included a search committee of local transportation experts including former and current SDOT employees, government partners, advocates, and economic development and community leaders. Committee members were selected for their technical expertise and vision, lived experiences with the transportation system, and ability to leverage networks to market the position, collect feedback, and provide information to support the process and selection. The search committee played an integral role in the hiring process, both identifying and evaluating candidates. 

“I’m grateful our search committee elevated Greg’s candidacy, I’m thrilled to welcome him to our One Seattle team, and I’m excited about what this means for people of Seattle and the future of our city,” said Mayor Harrell. “Community input has been integral to our search process, and, as a result, we are bringing on board a director who understands local priorities and recognizes how community voices can enhance and improve our transportation system.” 

SDOT is responsible for maintaining and operating Seattle’s transportation network including about 1,700 miles of roads, over 100 bridges, 2,300 miles of sidewalk, 200 miles of bike facilities and trails, 500 public stairways, and 640,000 street trees. SDOT is currently planning, designing and building over 60 major capital projects and also actively manages a variety of ongoing programs to keep people and goods moving safely. SDOT’s infrastructure is estimated to be worth approximately $28 billion, and the department’s 2022 budget includes $422 million for capital projects and $308 million for operations and other programs. With approximately 1,200 dedicated staff, SDOT maintains an operational presence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in all weather conditions to serve and ensure Seattle’s public mobility. 

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING 

Councilmember Alex Pedersen (District 4 – Northeast Seattle) 

“The Mayor’s nomination to lead and manage the Seattle Department of Transportation, its $700 million budget, and its 1,000 employees will dramatically shape how people and freight travel throughout our city safely and efficiently as we battle climate change. As Transportation Chair for the legislative branch of city government, I will conduct a thorough and transparent process for this important nomination. Together, we will follow the methodical confirmation process outlined in Seattle Resolution 31868. Seattle deserves a department director with a balanced and practical approach to urban transportation as well as a focus on safety and mobility that includes fixing our city’s aging bridges. When I combine my confidence in the Mayor and his search committee with this nominee’s impressive credentials, I believe we can have a positive confirmation process to keep our city moving forward.” 

Ryan Calkins, Port of Seattle Commission President 

“We look forward to working with Greg as he takes the helm at SDOT. He brings an innovative spirit to the role at a time when the way people move around our city is changing. We all rely on our roads and transportation system in multiple ways. In addition to our own personal travel, our roads carry the food, materials, packages, and other goods that we use every day. It’s vital to maintain the basic transportation infrastructure necessary for an efficient freight network, and foster innovation to move goods even more efficiently and sustainably.” 

Yordanos Teferi, SDOT’s Transportation Equity Workgroup Co-chair and Search Committee Member 

“I am excited that we were able to find a transportation director who recognizes the urgency of addressing environmental justice and equity in our transportation system. Greg clearly understood the history of how race has shaped and distorted cities across America, and how this has led to lasting consequences which still plague our communities to this day. He expressed a sincere commitment to stand by the department’s Transportation Equity Framework and advocate to make sure the department follows through on its promises.”   

Mark Watson, Union Representative at PROTEC17 and Search Committee Member 

“The new director has his work cut out for him, but I feel confident that he is up for the job. Seattle needs a transportation director who understands the importance of skilled workers designing and maintaining our roads and bridges. Greg made it clear that he believes the department working collaboratively with the department’s workforce and the community must get the basics right and must make sure that we are caring for the infrastructure which carries people and goods throughout the region and keeps our economy running.” 

Amy Grotefendt, Transportation Lead, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Search Committee Member 

“Mayor Harrell made an excellent choice in selecting Greg to be the nominee for SDOT Director. Greg’s commitment to being an inclusive leader who listens to all voices as we advance our transportation network was clear. We are thrilled that Greg understands that a safe and reliable transportation system is important for our economic recovery and a key component of building a more just, equitable, and thriving Seattle.”  

Lee Lambert, Executive Director, Cascade Bicycle Club and Search Committee Member 
“Greg impressed me with his knowledge and passion, and I believe he is the right choice for the job. Now more than ever, Seattle needs a transportation leader who understands the importance of equitably delivering on the City’s commitments to Vision Zero. Greg’s commitment to safety is evident by his founding of the Los Angeles Vision Zero Steering Committee. Vulnerable road users, like people biking and walking, need a leader like Greg in Seattle.” 

Alex Hudson, Executive Director, Transportation Choices Coalition and Search Committee Member 

“Seattle needs a transportation leader that values the experience of our daily transit riders that depend on a robust transit network. I am confident that Greg is that leader. His recent work during the pandemic to prioritize new investments in underserved communities shows he is both skilled at leveraging additional resources and investing them wisely for the folks that need them the most. I look forward to working with Greg and improving the transit rider experience for our hundreds of thousands of daily riders in Seattle.” 

SDOT Interim Director Kristen Simpson 

“I am honored to have worked with dedicated staff to lead SDOT while the selection process was occurring and look forward to working with Greg as he transitions to our new director and beyond. I am confident we are in good hands, and I appreciate Mayor Harrell’s thoughtful approach to selecting a person with the right experience, know-how, and dedication to keep our department running smoothly.”   

ABOUT GREG SPOTTS 

Photo of Greg Spotts

Gregory J. Spotts is an innovative and inclusive leader committed to designing, constructing, and maintaining sustainable transportation infrastructure to meet the evolving needs of communities.     

Greg currently serves Los Angeles as Executive Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer for the Bureau of Street Services, shaping policies supporting active transportation, climate change adaptation, vehicle emissions reductions, and the adoption of sustainable construction practices. As Executive Officer, he has led three constituent-facing divisions that respond to more than 135,000 annual service requests, providing pothole repair, motor sweeping, tree trimming, and the enforcement of laws pertaining to use of streets and sidewalks.  

As the Bureau’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Greg launched the city’s first bike lane cleaning and maintenance program which includes a $4M annual program of bike lane resurfacing and the cleaning of the downtown bike lanes by a zero-emissions electric sweeper. During the pandemic, he identified more than $50M for new investments in underserved communities, including mobility improvements, tree planting, solar-reflective pavement coatings to reduce urban heat, and new median islands featuring native plants that support biodiversity. 

Greg graduated cum laude from Yale University and received his Master of Public Policy from the UCLA School of Public Affairs. He has been recognized and awarded for this his work in urban planning, climate, and mobility.