Comments

1
I'm still not sure I understand why the city has to build your sidewalk. They didn't build mine.
2
The stated purposes of the original TBD was enhancement and improvement in light of a crushing backlog of needs. When you fail to address growing needs, you end up chasing those to the detriment of needed repair. The core network suffers and suddenly you have a case of fixing that when you need to fix other problems.

In the case of the funding from voting yes on Prop 1, you are addressing a crushing need for enhanced corridors, improved service and basic safety upgrades. This is the purpose of the TBD. If we punt, yet again, our needs may become so overwhelming that any future funding authority will be sucked up in accommodating these needs.

Prop 1 is straightforward. Voting Yes accomplishes far more and does more good than your dire negativity suggests.

And it's affordable.
3
@1

Because building more sidewalks makes the whole city better?

Are you really telling me your neighborhood's sidewalks were built out of the goodness of some developer's heart? Or was it mandated by zoning ordinance or other arm-twisting?
4
@3: That's how it works in most cities. Individual property owners are required to build (and maintain) the sidewalks in front of their property.
5
So the theory here is that if voters reject this measure, that Olympia will grant us authority to levy a less regressive tax.

That is not the Olympia I've been watching, to say the least.

If you're wealthy enough to afford a car you're wealthy enough to afford this fee.
6
@1 REALLY? goddamn that is incredibly stupid. Did you build your own water line too? If so, congratulations Bob fuckin' Vila. Not to mention the big fuck you to all the renters.

Looking forward to voting against this waste of money.
7
@4 [Citation needed]

I don't believe you. I think you're confusing a sidewalk easement with the process for how sidewalks originally got built. Once built, the property owners have a duty to maintain it. The question is, did the developers put them there in the first place out of love and generosity? Or law?

And if so, why didn't they build them on the north side? I contend the problem is that the north side had no ordinances forcing sidewalks (much of it was unincorporated when first developed), and now we have to figure out how to go back and put them in. Comparing that with how they got built in Wallingford is apples and oranges.
8
Can't we just start over after the inevitable earthquake wipes the construction slate clean?
9
So wait - this costs too much and doesn't do enough? Should we spend 10 times as much for the sidewalks we need and tell everyone that magically no one will have to pay? Prop 1 doubles what we're spending now on sidewalks and paving. If we don't pass it there will be zero more done. I'm voting YES because it costs a tank of gas and I know I don't get a free lunch.
10
@7, property owners were required by the city to build them at their own expense.

The city could require property owners to build them in your neighborhood, too, but you want the city to build them for you. That's a free sidewalk to you!

@6, property owners are in fact required to build their own water connections to the city main and side sewers as well. It's part of the cost of building a house, and if they break, which they do sometimes, the property owner has to arrange for and pay for the repair. My neighbor had to pay a plumber a ton of dough last year when her water supply broke and started gushing water in through our basement wall.

It's also part of the value of that house when it's sold later. You're asking me to pay to increase the value of you (or your landlord's) property. Why, again?
11
The writer is correct: Tell me where my $60 is going and I'll consider voting for it. Tell me it might build a few sidewalks, or a few bike lanes, or maybe an added bus or two -- we'll figure that out later (which in Seattle means after years of haggling) -- and I'm voting no.

I'm all for more sidewalks, and the cost should be shared. A sidewalks down a busy thoroughfare benefits all of that community, not just those who happen to live on that street.
12
Seattle has roughly 12,200 block-faces that lack sidewalks. Sidewalks cost roughly $100,000 per block-face to build. Not every block-face in the city necessarily needs a sidewalk though. The Pedestrian Master Plan identified $840 million in pedestrian needs citywide just in its top tier (of five). In order to fund all the Tier 1 PMP improvements, a vehicle license fee would need to be more like $250 per car, if that were your only funding source, and all the revenue went to PMP projects.

Olympia didn't only give us authority to create $100 vehicle license fees. We're also allowed to impose tolls and I think gas taxes. CTAC and City Council chose the VLF mainly because they think it has the best chance of passing.
13
I vote yes. 60$ isnt unreasonable for a person to drive a car. I would have hoped motorcycles and scooters would be less. but still. bus it if you can afford your tags. Its a tank or two of gas. or 6 packs of cigarettes.
14
Fnarf, most of the area north of about 85th was built before the city annexed it, and was built without a sidewalk requirement. When the city annexed the north end, the residents were promised sidewalks as part of the deal, a deal which the city has reneged on for half a century. Long time residents are still bitter about it, and feel it is unfair to ask them to pay for sidewalks themselves when the city promised them as part of the annexation deal.
15
As to Prop 1, yes it's regressive as hell, and a bit vague on specific plans, but $60 is less than the cost of one tank of gas for the average sedan or SUV.

I don't think this is a great proposal, but it is the best of the funding options available to the city right now. Sitting on our hands doing nothing and hoping Olympia will give us a more progressive funding option next year (or maybe the following year, or the year after that) is a worse option.

I will grudgingly vote yes.
16
When I pay $60 for a tank of gas, I'm getting a tank of gas. What does this buy me?
17
@10

So how did you come to believe that your sidewalks were originally built this way? Did it come to you in a dream? A scroll fell from heaven? Inborn knowledge?
18
@16 moral superiority over those damn scuffaw cyclists!

( cause $60 fees pay for all roads or something )
19
@15

$60 is about 15 tanks of gas for a scooter, enough to go 1,000 to 1,500 miles. Like a half a year's gas budget.

I know it sounds like a pittance to someone who puts 15,000 miles a year on a land yacht commuting across Lake Washington, but there's a class of people who find this to be a lot of money out of their pockets.
20
@3: Here's pretty much how it works.

An undeveloped piece of land inside the city limits gets bought.
The owner decides to build a house on it. The owner may be the person who is going to live in the house, or a developer who plans to build the house and then immediately sell it to someone else.
The city reviews and approves the plans. One of the (many) city requirements is that whoever's building the house puts a sidewalk in front of it. That sidewalk has to be built according to the city specifications (remember this bit).
The builder builds the sidewalk. $$$!
When they sell the house to the next owner (say, the person who will actually live in it), they include the price of building the sidewalk in the total selling price.
The new owner is responsible for the upkeep and repair of the sidewalk.
Eventually the house gets sold again.
The new owner is now responsible for the upkeep and repair the sidewalk.
Etc.

So, what about all those houses north of 85th that don't have a sidewalk? Well, the city limits used to be at 85th. North of 85th, you weren't living in Seattle any more, so Seattle couldn't require you to build an expensive sidewalk in front of your house when it was being built.
Houses without sidewalks are cheaper to build than houses with sidewalks (remember this bit also).
Years later, the neighborhoods north of 85th get annexed into Seattle. The city does not retroactively require existing homeowners to add sidewalks ($$$!). Also note that the city never 'promised sidewalks after annexation'--this is an urban myth.

I live on NW 83rd, two blocks south of The Great Sidewalk Divide. I have a sidewalk in front of my house--it was there when I moved in. Unfortunately I am responsible for keeping it clear (trimming foliage, shoveling snow) and for any repairs. The repairs have to be done by city-approved contractors. They are not cheap.

Now, my neighbors two blocks to the north, they have no sidewalks. Well, some of them do--they added them to their property, at their expense. Of course, one house with a sidewalk in front of it isn't much use to anyone except for the owner of the house, or people parking in front of that house to visit the owners. For a while now, some folks who live in that neighborhood have been agitating for the city to install sidewalks where they live, with the city (i.e. the rest of us) footing the bill. The very, very large bill.

There's several problems with that scenario--the first being that the rest of the city isn't keen on paying for those sidewalks, and the other being....where to put them. Neighborhood sidewalks in Seattle are generally one of two types--right next to the street, or set back about seven feet with a 'planting strip' in between the sidewalk and the street. If you walk around the north-of-85th neighborhood, you'll note that many people have already made use of the ten feet of property next to the street with trees, landscaping, drainage ditches, mailboxes, cars, boats, junk, etc. All that would have to go to provide a uniform code-compliant sidewalk. A lot of people don't want that--they bought larger, cheaper lots so they could use all of them, not have ten feet hacked off the side by the City.
21
"Sidewalks cost roughly $100,000 per block-face to build."

This has got to be a joke, please provide a citation for this cost.
22
@ 15 and others concerning solving the regressive nature of this tax...

We hope the City of Seattle and the TBD would make that a legislative priority for 2012, but we recognize the difficulties better than most since some of us have a decade of experience with MVET/tab fees at state and local level.

The TBD side-stepped the issue by saying they would figure it out later. That is unacceptable. The proposal to voters should include specifics. For one thing, TBD could "deal with it" by rebating only $10-20 of the total $80 the TBD adds to our taxes. That doesn't cut it in our view.

Also important is how the solution affects spending levels. The spending levels in this measure are built upon the assumption everyone pays $60. We need to have spending levels that include the social justice adjustments. This is again an issue of not knowing what we are voting for and Seattle taxpayers deserve better.

Just like in 2007/09 we should vote it down, fix it, and bring a better measure back to voters.

David Miller
Sidewalks and Streets for Seattle Campaign
23
@21 - It's way worse than that once you include drainage. SDOT assumptions use $220,000.

24
@20

Thank you.
25
I get the feeling that Mr. Miller still has a "Let's Move Forward!" campaign sign in his yard, and is unable to appreciate the irony in that.
26
[citations needed]
27
@14: Please provide some documentation that the city ever promised sidewalks as part of the annexation.

I've never been able to find proof of this, and a few years ago I asked the PI to dig around the city records, and they couldn't find anything either.

So, citation or it's an urban myth.
28
@21. seattle block faces are either 200' or 600'. let's use 600' so we get our money's worth.

600' of 5' wide sidewalk is 3,000 sf. at 4" deep, this is 990 cubic yards of concrete. @ $70/cubic yard, that's $69,300 just for the concrete.

plus a stable compacted surface to put it on, plus curbs, plus labor, plus equiptment costs, plus traffic mitigation measures, plus landscaping, plus SDOT tormwater connections, plus SCL grates, plus light poles. plus i forgot something, having to do with bicycles probably.

there's a reason the developers north of 85th cheaped out.
29
@28, 3000 square feet by 1/3 foot is 990 cubic feet, not cubic yards. You're off by a factor of 27; it's 36-1/3 cubic yards, not 990; @ $70/cubic yard that's $2,566.67, not $69 grand.

The major cost is surely labor. Or maybe it's the stormwater stuff; the environmental impact of sidewalks is heavy.
30
Also, I recall that for quite some time there's been a four hundred year backlog on sidewalk additions. That's not a typo--the funding and manpower budgeted for all the current work would take four hundred years to complete. A few years back there was some budgetary cuts which bumped it up to 1200 years. Yes, more than a thousand years. Six guys (or whatever it is) can only do so much in a year.

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/M…

According to Licata's fact sheet, the costs to fill in all sidewalks would range anywhere from $270 million to $4.5 billion. That figure does not account for drainage requirements.
According to Seattle Transportation, the city has about $3.43 million set aside for this year for sidewalks in its neighborhood street and sidewalk development funds. That figure will decrease to $2.4 million next year because the sidewalk development fund will decrease, spokeswoman Megan Hoyt said.
When Kate Martin, a landscape planner and designer from Greenwood and pedestrian activist, takes $2.4 million and divides it by the city's 13 districts, she ends up with roughly $185,000 per year, per district.
"At that rate, it's a 400-year plan to fill in all the sidewalks in the city," she said.


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