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City council approves LID process for Seattle waterfront properties

Construction along Seattle's waterfront continues as the city makes improvements to the area. (File, Associated Press)

Update: Seattle City Council passes resolution on waterfront LID

The Seattle City Council voted Monday on a resolution establishing its intent to form a Local Improvement District (LID) along Seattle’s waterfront.

The resolution passed after public comment was filled with voices for and against the LID. Some want the LID to raise money for waterfront improvements after the Alaskan Way Viaduct comes down. Others object to the increase in taxes targeted at one community.

The resolution establishes the council’s intent to pursue a LID. It does not create or implement a LID itself, rather, it begins the legislative process. The city will conduct a series of public hearings on the proposed LID — July 13, July 17, July 18, and July 28. A hearing examiner will preside over the meeting on July 13, then produce a report for the council. The review process will continue into 2019.

Councilmember Debora Juarez said that this is the culmination of about 10 years of work on the waterfront project. She said that the waterfront project will total about $700 million when completed. That breaks down to: About $400 million from public funding ($193 million from the state, and $195 million from the City of Seattle); $200 million from the LID; $100 million from the Friends of the Waterfront (they have raised $28 million to date).

“It isn’t just a LID being proposed for a park, it is part of a much larger picture,” Juarez said, noting that the waterfront project is part of many other projects.

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said that the LID payments break down to about $119 per year for properties such as condos, or about $10 a month, over the next 20 years. She said a total of 88 percent of the LID will be paid from commercial properties.

“I have to admit that the testimony we heard this afternoon from people who are impacted and people who don’t feel their valuation is in sync with what they will pay is very impactful,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “… those arguments don’t fall on deaf ears by any stretch of the imagination. I am confident that this is the beginning of a process to understand those concerns.”

MyNorthwest contributed to this report.

Original article from KIRO 7:

The Seattle City Council will vote Monday on a plan to create a Waterfront Local Improvement District that would tax nearby property owners.

RELATED: Homeowners worried about pricey waterfront tax

Money raised would go to waterfront improvement and pay for what the city calls “special benefits.”

The benefit is that once the viaduct is torn down and the SR 99 tunnel opens, property owners, both residential and commercial, will have unfettered access to the waterfront and its new promenade.

Those property owners will likely see higher property values after projects like the waterfront renewal.

The city says the waterfront renewal would cost nearly $690 million and $200 million of that money would be raised with the new tax.

The tax has some feeling the money crunch, while others KIRO 7 spoke with support it.

“I would be honored to do that, to support the LID, because I believe that it greatly benefits our downtown neighborhood,” Kim Rorschach, director and CEO of the Seattle Art Museum, said.

But not everyone agrees.

Karen Gielen, who has owned a condo on Western Avenue for years, isn’t supporting the project. Gielen said she doesn’t like the mechanism designed to pay for the local improvement district.

“We’re being asked to pay a special share — or 100 percent — of this new park improvement for the downtown area,” said Gielen.

In addition to property owners, tenants in buildings in the area could also see rents rise if owners decide to pass on the cost.

The full City Council will take the issue to a vote on Monday.

If it passes, the city would be obligated to deliver $200 million of improvements.

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