Seattle council votes to approve controversial tax for waterfront project

Jan 28, 2019, 7:29 AM | Updated: 9:06 pm
viaduct, Alaskan Way Viaduct closure...

The Seattle City Council voted 8-0 to approve a controversial tax for a new waterfront project after the Alaskan Way Viaduct is demolished.

RELATED: Durkan unveils plan to fund Seattle waterfront post-viaduct

The vote came as we head into the third work week of the viaduct closure, and while some waterfront residents say the tax is worth the improvements, some feel they would be forced to pay for a project they don’t want.

“I work weekends, I work holidays, I don’t have thousands,” said a downtown Seattle condo owner, who asked not to be identified.

But she could be forced to pay thousands for Seattle’s proposed waterfront redesign through a local improvement district, or LID.

“I don’t need to pay for a walkway for the cruise boat people,” she said.

Funding for this project will total over $700 million, with Seattle taxpayers fronting $248 million of the costs. Over $110 million will come from the Friends of Waterfront Seattle nonprofit, over $193 million will come from the state government, and $160 million from the downtown property owners’ Local Improvement District (LID).

“It’s well worth paying for — I believe that this is fair, it’s reasonable, and I look forward to paying my share,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw.

On Monday, the Seattle City Council voted to approve it after Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the finance plan is ready to go. It’s expected to cost the median condo owner $1,900 spread over 20 years, or about $95 a year plus interest.

Commercial properties would be responsible for $3,500 each over 20 years, or $24 a month.

“This will be transformative for Seattle,” Durkan said.

Groups like the Downtown Seattle Association fully support a redesigned waterfront, as a post-viaduct waterfront takes shape.

The post-viaduct plan for the area includes a 20-acre park and public space, and a new elevated pathway connecting Pike Place Market and downtown to the waterfront.

Meanwhile, Monday marks the beginning of what’s expected to the be last full week closure of SR 99, with new parking restrictions planned around First Avenue and Battery Street as WSDOT plans to put up new fencing at the south portal to the Battery Street Tunnel that’s scheduled to close to drivers on Friday at 10 p.m.

People should expect detours and additional parking restrictions starting this week along the waterfront for utility work.

RELATED: Not the first time the Seattle waterfront was saved by a tunnel

Commuters are happy to see the end in sight.

“Hopefully it doesn’t get any worse. I can handle an extra five to 10 minutes on my bus route,” said commuter Harrison Kliegl.

The condo owner, however, said she doesn’t see a happy ending to a plan the city anticipates will boost property values.

“If the mayor feels that it’s such a boon for the entire city, and this is a once in a lifetime thing, then why are few paying for it?”

The money collected from nearby property owners will only pay for a fraction of the $712 million water project. The city says the majority of the money will come from public funding sources.

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Seattle council votes to approve controversial tax for waterfront project