Amazon Halts Downtown Construction Pending City Council Vote on Head Tax

Comments

1

Capitalist extortion marches apace.

2

FUCK AMAZON.

3

Screw Amazon and the money they bring into the area! We can live without them! I hope they all move out of Seattle then we can have a real paradise!!

4

There's always plenty of cheap housing in a ghost town.

5

Maybe if the City Council and Mayor's office actually managed to improve the homeless situation with the hundreds of millions already collected from private citizens and businesses there wouldn't be so much skepticism about this tax.

6

@5 I';d really love to see the salaries of the various organizations that collect money from the City to deal with the homeless crisis. Given that the CEO of Seattle City Light was earning over $300K a year I'm sure those non-profits are allowed to pay handsome salaries "to attract the best talent possible".

7

I wonder what people's honest expectations were? Yea, I guess having few jobs go to to HQ2 is one way to make a very, very small dent on housing prices. And you'll still net some money. Large firms would have to cancel $75B worth of construction to cost you the whole $75M a year.

But still, it's entirely predictable that a new tax would change financing decisions at Amazon, et al. You're regressive payroll tax (the opposite of a robot or automation tax) was always going to have this effect. It was on you to price the cost in from the start.

8

It's extortion from the City council rather than from Amazon.

9

"Community leaders"? does she mean screaming SJW's who will call business leaders fascists who are worse than Hitler? I do hope those hearings and meetings are put on the Seattle Channel.

10

The region - including the nutcases on the council - haven't forgotten the Boeing Bust. Kiss the head tax goodby.

11

...or you could kiss it goodbye. That would probably be more appropriate.

12

@3:

We were doing pretty well before Amazon came on-the-scene, and it's not like they're the "only game in town" these days, as I note below.

@10:

Sure, but that was back in the day, when Boeing was literally the only major for-profit employer in town. Before Microsoft, before Amazon, before CHI Providence/Franciscan, before Zymogenetics, before Fred Hutch/SCCA, before Starbucks, before Costco, and Kroger, and Google, and - well, let's just say our local economy is far more diversified than it was roughly a half-century ago.

13

I was planning on coming over to your house and shitting up the bathroom but I'm reconsidering since you asked me to flush after I'm done.

14

"The council proposal would tax businesses grossing more than $20 million a year $0.26 cents per hour per employee."

Is this 26 cents per hour, or 0.26 cents per hour?

15

Tell 'em if they halt construction, the city will revoke the permits.

16

You already hold our streets for hostage with all your employee's driving further and further into work because they can't find housing close because you have already overrun our city. We're turning apartments into micro-aparments trying to create more living space but you demand it be close to Downtown.

Why can't you have an office in Mt. Vernon and have employee's there and spread your offices all over the state instead of glutting up Downtown.

Petty threats we'll take our business away; oh no. There's tons of other companies wanting to leave California who will replace the tax money.

Stop letting big businesses extort our city for tax dollars and every other kind of relief only to make them more rich.

17

@15:

Not to mention the developers, contractors, et al who they're still going to have to pay to sit on their butts...

18

Amazon and it's employees and all the others connected have been choking the City coffers with record tax money for years at record rates. But, it's not enough.

@12, So, you think these other companies you mention are cool with it? What until the County decides to go with a similar tax.

19

Quote: "I asked Amazon if they’d be willing to engage in a dialogue about a fairer tax system in Washington State. They said they’d have to get back to me on that,” O'Brien said.

Well, our state constitution does not allow an income tax. So if you want to change it, here's how: "Amendments may be proposed in either branch of the legislature. The Legislature must approve the original proposal or an alternative to the proposed initiative with a 2/3 vote. The approved proposal is then placed on the ballot at the next state general election, and becomes law if approved by a majority of the electors. The state constitution may not be amended by voter initiative" (Article XXIII).

If we want to make taxes more equitable, then it's up to voters to elect representatives who will enact a change to the law, and then we have to convince our fellow voters to approve it. So why is Amazon or any other business responsible for Washington State's crappy tax system? I fail to see O'Brien's logic here.

20

You have to wonder if the new HQ2 city will want to pull out lest it be dictated to by a corporate HQ. I know other parts of the country are watching the fiasco that is this game of chicken play out very closely. Will the liberal and socialist leadership of the city flinch first, or will the hypocrisy of “Hope-and-Change-but-dont-tax-us-to-make-it-happen” “progressive” corporations flinch. Either way the concensus seem to be that the taxpayer and vulnerable will be caught in the middle and will pay dearly - yet again.

21

Good comments here on both sides. My only addition is that I believe Amazon is more concerned about uncertainty and future legistlation than they are about this head tax. This mentality is what kept Microsoft and Google in the burbs and prompted Boeing's HQ move to Chicago.

22

Glad to see a major employer is calliing our Council on their policymaking malpractice. Actual human beings are dying on the streets of our city because of the failure of our current policies to house everyone. Our Council’s proposal? Continue our current policies, but spend even more money, with the wholly unsubstantiated belief this will produce a different, better result.

Until and unless proponents of spending more money tell us why our previous expenditures have made the problem worse, they deserve no credibility.

23

I hope the first job transfers come from workers who live in Cap Hill, First Hill, and CD. Then you'd see comrade shwarma be on the unemployment line.

24

I wish the story had said where they really parked at.

25

Uh, never mind post #24

26

@3, @12, Wow, you guys sound like NIMBY's.

27

@26 you don't grasp sarcasm do you?

28

@12 I have no love for Amazon, but the long-term implications of "fuck Amazon" don't seem particularly great for anyone. Even with a more diversified job market, it's still mostly highly-paid, high-skilled labor market. There's no middle-class, working-class jobs in that mix, so there's no real benefit to people here that are struggling.

In fact, a disruption in the tech job market probably makes it worse for the homeless in the short-term, with an unclear long-term benefit. You're actively throwing out a large tax base---employees of those tech companies are paying a buttload of taxes even if the companies aren't paying their fair share---and services will still be required. With a lower number of people paying taxes, the tax rates will have to increase to fill the gaps. That will keep rental markets from adjusting, and keep the cost-of-living extremely high. So... cool?

And then there's the domino effect. A lot of tech companies---and even some of those non-tech companies you give as examples---are here or have been growing here because of the influx of skilled workers If you stop that influx, or send them elsewhere, all of those companies start to face hard decisions. And those workers who leave those companies to found other companies that employ workers will also consider doing that elsewhere.

So maybe it's cool if Amazon, Google, and Facebook bail or scale back. But that's a loss of tens of thousands of jobs, and probably hundreds of millions in tax revenue from property and sales taxes from those employees. How will that help the homeless situation again?

29

Am I crazy or did this story get completely removed from the Stranger home page?

30

@12:

I haven't seen any public statements one way or the other from any of those companies, so I wouldn't know - and in any case isn't germane to the point I was making to Mrs. Vel-DuRay in response to her implication that Seattle was still a "one company town", as it had been during the "Boeing bust" of the early 1970's.

@21:

Microsoft wasn't pushed into the 'burbs because of an onerous business climate in Seattle in the early 1980's, but because at the time land was a lot cheaper on the Eastside (the ORIGINAL original MS campus was located in Northup, at the junction of 520 and 405, and just a few minutes drive from Laurelhurst where both Gates and Allen grew up).

Boeing moved to Chicago because, when they merged with McDonnell Douglas back in 1997, they made the fatal error of retaining most of the McDD board, which basically took over the company, ousting then CEO Phil Condit (Granted, Condit wasn't a terribly good manager and Boeing itself has to shoulder the burden of the blame for what they allowed to take place under his watch). While the move was touted publically as a way of "diversifying operations", it also conveniently placed the new HQ a mere 300 miles from McDD's old HQ in St. Louis and more than 2,000 miles from the HQ of the company that had only recently purchased them. Coincidence? I think not.

@29:

Pshaw, anyone who seriously thinks Amazon is simply going to pull up stakes after Bezos has invested something on the order of around $5,000,000,000 on capital investment and operational expenditures in Seattle the past few years needs to have their head examined.

The construction slow-down is just him trying to throw his weight around as the self-selected "800 pound gorilla" in town. Even adding the HQ2 chip to the pile one can see it's more bluff and bluster than an indication he actually has the upper hand here. For one, he still hasn't selected a final location and it will be years and years before there's enough infrastructure in-place to absorb even a fraction of the current Seattle-based workforce. And even if he were to let his bluff be called and he decided on a massive relocation - what's he going to do with the approximately 9 mm square feet of office space that he's suddenly vacated? That amount of surplus would send commercial prices into the toilet, and with that much fallow real estate in his own hands he would be hard-pressed to rent or sell off enough of it to make it profitable. I suppose he has the resources to hold it for some time, but how much stomach will his board and investors - they ever-seeking the quick quarterly dividends - have for playing a long-game?

31

Sorry, @29 should read @28...

32

I love it, Amazon is calling out the city council in there bs. Amazon has donated 40 million to the homeless problem and is dedicating some of their property to housing the homless, they have already done more than the city council ever has. Business in Seattle pay 60% of the taxes already and what would the city council do with the head tax once they collect it. Bruce even admitted its not exactly clear where the tax would go specifically for the homeless problem. Kingco already spends 200 million a year on the homeless issue, 40% more than just a few years ago and guess what the homeless population has increased at almost the same percentage during that time. Another 75 million would just be another 75 million wasted and another drastic increase in the homeless population. Amazon is standing up to our inept city council, hopefully others will follow suit and we can finally vote these crazies out of office!

33

Yes, Comte dear. I realize that we have other companies now. But the lesson of the Boeing Bust is still relevant. Amazon throttling back their development would not only make a dent in the economy and local tax base, it would severely irritate the people who vote.

Speaking of that, I hear that the people who wield the hammers and sickles shut down CM Sawant’s press conference today. How can you be a leader of the proletariat if the proletariat gets in front of you?