As I noted in my column this week, state House Speaker Frank Chopp's elevated waterfront tunnel is fiscally irresponsible, aesthetically disastrous, and virtually unfunded (Chopp's plan pays only for a six-lane elevated viaduct; amenities would be paid for by a tax on businesses that move under the freeway). All of which is reason enough to oppose it—and to hope the state Legislature endorses the more fiscally responsible surface/transit solution.
One thing I didn't mention about Chopp's scheme is that, if it somehow did work, it would constitute a massive expenditure of government resources—taxes levied on the businesses underneath the viaduct—on behalf of private enterprise (the Gaps and condos and god-knows-what-all Chopp says will want to move under his viaduct). Hmm... where have we heard that idea before?
Seattle has a long history of activist opposition to government expenditure on behalf of private development. More recently than the aforementioned Commons, there was last year's battle over the viaduct, in which supporters of a new elevated structure argued that the alternatives would just lead to condos and shopping malls for
While I don't agree that development for wealthy people is de facto bad (and I certainly don't agree that "the people's option" is a new elevated viaduct on our waterfront), it would be hypocritical and bizarre for the people who opposed the tunnel and surface/transit options last year to rally behind Chopp's playground for the rich. Whatever you think of the alternatives, Chopp's retail-palace-in-the-sky is not a "populist" option. People who want to "save our waterfront from development" shouldn't get behind the man who's promising a mile-and-a-half-long mall along the waterfront.