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Expert: $30 car tabs initiative could be ‘catastrophic’ for housing market

$30 car tabs could end up hurting the state's housing market. (Windermere Real Estate)

As the debate rages over I-976 — an initiative to reduce car tabs in Washington state to $30 per vehicle — one expert has concerns about possible downstream effects the measure would have on Washington state’s housing market.

Can Washington survive $30 car tab measure if it passes?

“I think (I-976) is terrible,” Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien. “The effects are going to be potentially catastrophic.”

Gardner’s argument centers around the effect $30 car tabs would have on transit. Opponents have estimated the $30 car tabs measure would wipe out over $4 billion total in state, regional, and local transportation funding over the next decade. Officials also forecast being forced to delay or cancel various transportation projects.

If that happens, Gardner warns it could significantly affect the way people approach the home-buying process, both in Western Washington and across the state.

“Where we talk about price of homes, the further you are away, the cheaper it becomes,” said Gardner. “You still have to get to your jobs, and the trouble is it’s going to cut back significantly on buses, but not just buses on our existing road system — half of our ferry system will become obsolete by 2040.”

“If (I-976) passes, it’s only going to further decrease affordability — people live closest to where they need to be,” he added.

Dave Boze: No on I-976 campaign forgets how popular $30 tabs are

In places like King County, expensive housing prices could continue to rise, as people become less willing to buy further away from where they work.

“Very disconcerting,” he noted.

On Monday, Seattle City Council passed a resolution voicing its opposition to I-976, claiming that it would torpedo nearly $20 billion needed in funding for West Seattle and Ballard light rail construction.

“Puget Sound residents have voted to tax themselves to address their own transportation needs by building light rail for traffic relief, improving safety and maintenance of the existing right-of-way, and expanding bus access,” it reads.

 

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