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Seattle Prop. 1

Photo of Seattle from Magnolia. Nice Madrona tree with red bark in foreground.

(October 10, 2011, Tom Lane) PRELIMINARY POST UNDER REVISION

The City of Seattle Wants To Raise Your Car Tabs by $60 !

To Stop Them, Vote NO on Proposition No. One !

Q & A – What Is Seattle Proposition No. 1?

King County Local Voters’ Pamphlet

November 8, 2011 General And Special Election

http://your.kingcounty.gov/elections/contests/measureinfo.aspx?cid=40328&eid=1249

King County Voters’ Pamphlet, November 8, 2011 General and Special Election

Seattle Transportation Benefit District,Simple Majority (RCW 36.73.065), Proposition No. 1, Increased Vehicle License Fee of $60 –

The Seattle Transportation Benefit District’s Proposition No. 1 concerns an increased Vehicle License Fee of $60 for transportation improvements.

If approved, this proposition of $60 per car would fund transportation facilities and services benefitting the City of Seattle, including: transportation system repairs, maintenance and safety improvements; transit improvements to increase speed, reliability and access; and pedestrian, bicycle and freight mobility programs, all as provided in STBD Resolution No. 5.

It would authorize a $60 increase in the Vehicle License Fee beginning in 2012, allowing collection of approximately $20.4 million annually for ten years for the City of Seattle.  Should this proposition be approved?

2. Why should I vote NO on Proposition No. One?

Vote NO on Seattle Proposition No. 1 since it’s a regressive tax, unfair to the poor.  Whether you are poor, middle class, or rich, you have to pay $60 per car, per year, for ten years.  And, most of the money will not pay for improvements to roads such as potholes and more sidewalks. Most goes to bicycling and mass transit:

  1. Approximately 29% will be allocated for transportation system repair, maintenance and safety.
  2. Approximately 49% will be allocated for implementing transit speed, reliability and access improvement projects and programs.
  3. Approximately 22% will be allocated for implementing pedestrian, bicycle and freight mobility projects and programs.

 3. Why is voting NO on Proposition No. 1 a Vote for the Children of Seattle, and for the tread on your SUV’s Tires?

From the Seattle voters guide link above:

“Elementary school kids in north and southeast Seattle, are walking to school in the middle of the street, because of lack of sidewalks.”

“Seattle is spending record amounts to reimburse drivers for pothole damage.”

“Seattle’s Proposition No. 1 specifically allocates money for only 30 street spot repairs, and 9 block faces of sidewalks per year.”

“Voters rejected an unbalanced road and transit levy in 2007, and approved a better package in 2008.  Reject this measure and help us achieve a more balanced and affordable proposal.

“$60 for tabs is affordable for some, but it’s horribly regressive. The low-income owner of a $700 car pays the same as the owner of a $70,000 car.”

“Proposition One has no allocation for the 60% of Seattle’s bridges in poor (or worse) condition.  Less than 50% is specified for our $1.5 billion backlog in roads/sidewalks.”

 Therefore, vote NO on proposition one, if you favor social justice, better roads with less potholes, and more sidewalks for your kids.

Statements quoted above from the voters guide are from David Miller, Rusty Williams, and Brad Cummings: http://sidewalksandstreets.org/links.html

Seattle Skyline, looking east, from West Seattle, January, 2011.

4. Who Else is Opposing Proposition No. 1?

In addition to the above web site, see John Fox and Carolee Colter, Seattle social justice advocates who oppose smart growth, from the Seattle Displacement Coalition: http://www.zipcon.net/~jvf4119/index.html#Call%20your%20Councilmembers%20Now!

Recently, John Fox wrote this on his email distribution list:

“To our good friends, neighborhood activists, and responsible transportation advocates,

“We are writing to ask for your support and a contribution to help us in our fight to turn back the City’s proposed 10-year $60 Car Tab Increase (Prop 1) –  From David Bloom and John V. Fox  

By defeating Prop 1, we can send a strong message that it’s NOT OK to continually hit low income people, working families, and seniors with excessive and regressive charges, taxes, and add-ons every time there is a shortfall – especially not while the City is giving away literally millions in property tax breaks to large corporate developers (to the tune of over 38 million since last year and at a rate rising to $150 million in giveaways by 2013!).”

Also, see Citizens Against Car Tab Increaseas: http://citizensagainstcartabincreases.com  Quoting:

“A diverse coalition of Seattle residents and businesses have joined together and formed a PAC to oppose the City’s levy to increase car tabs by $60.

Retired residents, small businesses, low-income advocates, Democrats and Republicans, and concerned residents have formed the “Citizens Against Increasing Car Tabs”.  Today, the group under this name, filed its papers with the State and soon also will file papers and conform to the City’s disclosure guidelines. We have now formally launched our “Vote NO” Campaign.

Our broad coalition from across the city is concerned about how City government spends money and the lack of concern by City leaders about the impacts of the recession on Seattle residents and businesses.

This broad coalition is opposed to the $60 car tab fee because we do not want the City’s transportation infrastructure to become one big South Park Bridge.”

Note: The South Park Bridge was an aging bridge in a poor neighborhood in South Seattle that The City demolished and refused to replace, dividing an poor neighborhood in half on opposite sides of the Duwamish River.

How can we allow the Liberal Elite to continue to destroy our local communities with mass transit and smart growth?  Vote NO on Proposition One.

5. I’m not convinced. Shouldn’t we vote yes to increase buses and mass transit?

No, because even if you want more buses and mass transit, Propostition One does not increase bus routes.  Instead, it spends 18 million on “transit studies.”

And, remember, it’s a regressive tax on the poor.  The poor will have to pay $60 a year for car tabs, for 10 years. That’s $600 over ten years!  That’s enough to buy two quality Mountain Bikes for your two kids that will last 10 years!   Furthermore, most people drive, and a significant percentage of residents of Seattle, including schoolchildren, require safe sidewalks.

From http://sidewalksandstreets.org

“There are no new bus hours or routes in this plan despite spending nearly $100 million on “transit improvements”. $18M is spent on “studies” instead of giving us real transportation improvements.

Seattleites are told this is a transit measure, but it only improves 0.89 (less than one) corridors a year. We badly need better bus service in Seattle, but this measure doesn’t give it to us.”

6. OK, but hiring experienced PhD’s and Urban Planners to do transit studies is great. So, why should I vote NO on Proposition 1?

The City Limits of Seattle with areas of missing sidewalks. From: http://sidewalksandstreets.org Accessed: Oct. 9, 2011/

It’s for the safety of your kids.  See the map of unsafe sidewalks in the Seattle City limits.

“Elementary school children across much of north and south Seattle have to walk in the middle of the street to get to school because of a lack of sidewalks. The graphic to the right shows the need to build our pedestrian infrastructure, yet this measure builds only nine (9) sidewalks block faces a year.”

6. Isn’t this another Tim Eyman proposal, like his Initiative 1125?

If you vote YES on Tim Eyman’s 1125, then this will ban higher tolls during the peak time commute hours, that cause the poor to pay more to drive.  If you vote NO on Proposition No. 1, then the poor will not have to pay $60 ever year for 10 years for car tabs.

Voting YES on Eyman’s 1125, and NO on Prop. No. 1, are steps for a progressive transportation agenda favoring more buses and better roads, without excessive tolls and taxes on the poor.

Our roads are full of potholes, and children have to walk to school in the dark on roads full of potholes – not on safe concrete sidewalks. The group “Sidewalks and Streets for Seattle” says this, at their very own Q and A page, says: http://www.sidewalksandstreets.org/questions.html

“We absolutely believe Seattle should be investing in our transportation future. Too much infrastructure is missing (sidewalks), falling apart (bridges and roads), or doesn’t work well enough (buses) to ignore the problem any longer. Seattle TBD Proposition No. 1 is a bad measure. Defeating it is the first step in fixing it.”

7. Proposition One increases bike lanes. So aren’t bicyclists and the Sierra Club behind Proposition No. 1?

Not all of us!  I’m not only a cyclist, but in my spare time, I also test and improve the design and safety of cycling equipment!  So I consider myself a well informed person on cycling safety.  While David Hiller, past president of the Cascade Bicycle Club, and now the Bicycling Coordiinator for the City of Seattle, was originally for Proposition One, along with Tim Gould of the Sierra Club, not all bicyclists want to pay the $60.

And, MOST cyclists, myself included, are tired of running into potholes!

Furthermore, MOST cyclists are terrified of running over streetcar tracks. Proposition 1 plans to spend your tax dollars on more streetcars. These streetcar tracks will also make it more dangerous for your kids to trip when walking to school.

Finally, streetcars will never take more than 1% of all vehicle trips in the City of Seattle. The web site citydata.com shows that about 10% of Seattle residents walk to work.  We could double this figure in 20 years, with more sidewalks and walking paths.  However, Proposition 1 will only add 9 block faces of sidewalks, per year.

Seattle Streetcar and DANGEROUS streetcar tracks, for both cyclists and your children walking to school.

These tracks continue in front of the South Lake Union Whole Foods. This is ironic, a health food store in front of dangerous streetcar tracks that cyclists will have to bike over.  And, not a bicycle in sight:

Whole Foods Market in South Lake Union area and dangerous Streetcar tracks for cyclists and pedestrians.

8. Who is this bike lobby and what do they want?

They want all of us to live in Smart Growth Towers and bike to work, since they’re afraid of “urban sprawl.”  Indeed, Seattle, San Francisco, and Dubuque Iowa are part of the “Preservation Green Lab” smart growth model from Dr. Lizz Dunn, see my post discussing her work here: https://smartgrowthusa.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/seattle-san-francisco-dubuque-iowa-to-become-smart-growth-carbon-taxed-meccas-preservation-green-lab/

However, we are not running out of land. Dr. Bill Fischel, Land Economist at Dartmouth University, found that even if every family of four had ONE ACRE OF LAND, that only 3% of the entire lower 48 would be covered by urban development.

The calculations appear free on the web, in Fischel’s book “The Economics of Zoning Laws: A Property Rights Approach to American Land Use Controls.“  A free google preview of his calculations is found on pages 1 and 2 at this link: http://books.google.com/books/jhu?id=wlKAfvuP59EC&pg=PA1&dq=one+acre+per+house&cd=1#v=onepage&q=one%20acre%20per%20house&f=false

That’s only 3% of all land in the lower 48.  Even if the number of familes were to double (and that will not happen for decades), it would be just 6% of the lower 48.

And, Dr. Fischel considered one acre lots.  If he considered standard quarter acre lots, then it would be:  3% divided by 4 = 0.75%.   Again, if every family of four had a quarter acre lot, this would cover under 1% of the lower 48 – at just 0.75%.  So the fears of the anti-sprawl / pro-smart growth lobby are irrational. Here’s there “Zip Car” approach in the Lake Union area of Seattle:

Zip Cars, Green Lake Neighborhood, Seattle. Smart Growth Towers in the background.

9. Now come on. After all that, are the potholes really that bad?

I’m afraid so. And I wish that Proposition No. 1 would take care of each and every one. Here are some on Capitol Hill. The cracked pavement is also dangerous, given that it’s uneven and prone to further potholes.  You’ll also see how narrow the streets are, clogged with parked cars.  Would you want to sprain your ankle in one of these potholes walking at night?  Shouldn’t we spend our money to widen and repave our streets?

Capitol Hill in Seattle – Potholes and Dangerous Cracked Pavement.

10. Doesn’t the Mayor’s new high parking rates pay for potholes?

The answer could be YES, if the City was fiscally conservative. However, the City is controlled by Special Interest Groups, like many other corrupt “smart growth” cities on the West Coast.  Seattle operates as a terrific example of “corporatism,” with the control of politicians by powerful special interests, as described by Economist and Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Edmund Phelps, http://www.lindau-nobel.org/AbstractDetails.AxCMS?AbstractID=1276

“Self-interested legislators are apt to use their votes, and agency heads their powers, to award projects, in order to win the support of interest groups that can keep them in office. For those in office dispensing patronage, it is more convenient to award clients and cronies monopoly power than to award them contracts paid with scarce tax revenue.”

However, even special interest groups such as the Cascade Bicycling Coalition do not speak for most cyclists.  Most cyclists are recreational, as we live in the suburbs. We want safe roads free of potholes. We don’t care about racing down bike lanes in the City Limits of Seattle.  We want wide streets with wide shoulders and sidewalks to walk alongside our kids, as they’re learning to ride with training wheels. We don’t want tree roots and potholes in the sidewalks and streets.  We also want mountain bike and hiking trails in the suburban greenbelts.

In other words, we don’t want to cycle in the City Limits of Seattle.  That’s why people in Seattle have bike racks, to drive to Issaquah to bicycle!

And on that note, that’s why the most dedicated cyclists move out of Seattle to small town America.  New census data found that Corvallis, Oregon has the highest rate of cyclists and pedestrians of any US city, with 20% of all trips by foot or bicycle.  See the new census data at my recent post:    https://smartgrowthusa.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/corvallis-oregon-smart-growth-commuting-in-united-states-2009/

If the City would clean up the potholes and tree roots, and widen the streets, then we might cycle in the Seattle City limits!

The Mayor’s new Parking machines, for lack of a better word, with a dangerous cracked street.

11. All right, I think you’ve convinced me to VOTE NO on Proposition One.  However, do the Yuppie Suburbs REALLY take better care of their streets?

Absolutely. Look at this wide, safe street in Maple Valley, with speed bumps and sidewalks.  In fact, note the sidewalk in front of the lots for sale. It appears that new Maple Valley City rules require that the developer place a grass strip, between the very wide street and the sidewalk. This makes things even safer.

SAFE street with sidewalks and speed bumps in Maple Valley, a suburb 25 miles SE of Seattle.

12. Where can I read all of Proposition No. 1?

Check this City of Seattle Government PDF File for more on Proposition Number one:

http://your.kingcounty.gov/elections/elections/201111/measures/SeattleTBD1.pdf

13. Where Do I get a Yard Sign to Vote NO on Proposition No. 1?

Check this link for the blue and white yard sign pictured below, where you may print it, or even order one:  http://citizensagainstcartabincreases.com/signs/

14. Is there an Email List?

Yes, from John Fox, of the Seattle Displacement Coaltion, http://www.zipcon.net/~jvf4119/ and also of Citizens Against Car Tabs, http://citizensagainstraisingcartabs.com/

With permission, John authorized my request to reprint his October 8, 2011 recent email on this specific post. This email has been reprinted verbatim with the exception of adding paragraph returns and this web site’s colors. The photos were inserted from my smart growth photo archives.

From: John V. Fox <jvf4119@zipcon.net>
To: Tom Lane
Sent: Saturday, October 8, 2011 1:41 PM
Subject:
Help us STOP $60 Car Tab Hike in Seattle

*  please circulate    *    please circulate     *     please circulate   *

To our good friends, neighborhood activists, and responsible transportation advocates,

We are writing to ask for your support and a contribution to help us in our fight to turn back the City’s proposed 10-year $60 Car Tab Increase (Prop 1) –

From David Bloom and John V. Fox  …

By defeating Prop 1, we can send a strong message that it’s NOT OK to continually hit low income people, working families, and seniors with excessive and regressive charges, taxes, and add-ons every time there is a shortfall – especially not while the City is giving away literally millions in property tax breaks to large corporate developers (to the tune of over 38 million since last year and at a rate rising to $150 million in giveaways by 2013!).

Ugly, 6 Story Corporate developed Residential Tower in the South Lake Union area above a parking garage. No sun decks !

This proposed $60 car tab increase isn’t like the smaller two year $40 increases recently imposed by the county and city (for bus and street repairs). Less than 30% goes for street repairs and there’s NO MONEY in it for bridge repairs (despite 58% of our bridges in poor or obsolete condition – a backlog of bridge and road needs exceeding $1.5 Billion!). Remember bikes and buses need safe streets and bridges too.

Meanwhile, there’s about $38 million in Prop 1 that might just as well be called the South Lake Union Improvement Fund (including $18 million to extend the SLU streetcar, millions more for Mercer St and other SLU projects prioritized for Prop 1 funds). The $18 million only funds planning and design of a streetcar and about 100 yards of track.

If this passes, the pro-rail crowd will call it a mandate and then, of course, that means several hundred million more of our limited transportation dollars (and more of our bus service hours to operate it) would have to be tapped to complete and run this wasteful system.

And contrary to what the other side would have you believe, there’s ‘0’ in this for more bus routes or bus service hours and it the long run it will precipitate loss of bus service.

Finally, there are provisions allowing the city to reprogram literally all of the money (meaning even more for SLU & other special interests) after the vote.

We are in a tough fight! The other side is spending thousands to reach voters with bulk mailings and flyers. To defeat Prop 1 we must send at least one direct mailing to all regular voters. It must go out soon to reach voters before they mail back their ballots. We have raised some of what we’ll need but we need more.

Please join our many supporters (see below) by sending us a check ASAP ($25, $50, $100, $500, whatever you can afford) made out the “Citizens Against Raising Car Tabs” to the address listed at the bottom. We need your help to win! It’s the only way we can say no more to this unjust and inequitable measure and the misuse of the funds it will raise.

John Fox and David Bloom for Citizens Against Raising Car Tabs  –    Checks made out to this group and sent to address below –  or go to our website under our name and PayPal us.

Ugly smart growth towers with NO TREES in the South Lake Union area.

Partial list of our supporters urging you to VOTE NO on Prop 1:

Let us know and we’ll add your name to the list below for future events and postings –
* David Bloom * John Fox * Joe Martin * Senator Maralyn Chase * Paul Bigman * John Littel * Don Hopps * Gene Hoglund * Dian Ferguson * Yusef Cabdi * Faye Garneau Sally Kinney * Bill Kirlin-Hackett * Ted Van Dyk * Andy McDonald * Ken Bertrand * Mark Baerwaldt * Rusty Williams * Jef Jaisun * Glenn Avery * Faith Fogarty * Darel Grothaus * Mariana Quarnstrom * Joyce Yee * Mary Klein * Emory Bundy * Elizabeth Campbell * Jeanne Legault * Greg Buck * Chas Talbot * Travis Winn * David Yao * Mary Lou Barian * Thalia Syracopoulos * Pat Carr * Stephen Lamphear * Carolyn Forrester Irene Wall * Geov Parrish * Benjamin Wojcik * Peggy Papsdorf * The Rev. Harriet Walden * Ray Akers  * Jeffrey Herman * Paul Dunn * Kristin O’Donnell *    Art Skolnik FAIA *    Kappy Trigg *    Al Runte * Gary Clark * Geof Logan * Jayne DeHaanJanine Blaeloch * Ishbel Dickens * Anna Nissen * Sean Phelan * Rick Barrett * Rose Alfred * Phil Bereano * Bette Jo Reed * Matt Fox * Edie Koch *

Note also that the 11th and 46th District Democrats and Central Puget Sound Carpenters Local 30 also oppose Prop 1.

More on why this is so “Regressive” and too much for working families, low income people and seniors:

Prop 1 supporters recently held a press conference claiming that somehow low income people will benefit from a 10 year $60 Car Tab Hike.  They allege councilmembers later have committed themselves to mitigating the effects of this on low income people and seniors with offsets to their utility rates.

We’ve been involved in city politics for over 30 years and never seen a case where later – after legislation is approved – they come back to fix it for poor people.  It just doesn’t happen and there is nothing in the measure that was passed but lip service to this idea.

Further, unless you change state law to explicitly relieve the poor of this added burden directly by a reduction in their tabs when they pay for them at the counter, city hall can’t mitigate its effects on low income people or seniors anyway.

Under the existing utility rebate system and voucher systems, about 40% of low income people don’t ever take advantage of these rebate systems.  They move too much, don’t know about it, or for other reasons simply are not able to access it.

Further, nearly all low income households and seniors in subsidized housing including about 8000 low income and senior households in SHA housing – don’t pay utilities directly.  They are covered in their rent.  And that’s true with many private landlords as well. Great if we have another hopefully more effective rebate system, but this can never off-set a car tab hike that hits every senior and low income person.

And contrary to what the pro-side says, 60% of low income households and over 70% of seniors city-wide rely on cars to get around.

And lastly, please explain rationally to us how low income people benefit from such a gross misallocation of these funds that aren’t used for our broken down bridges and potholed streets and don’t provide more bus routes and services hours (but instead fund extension of Paul Allen’s streetcar and prioritize millions more  for the SLU Mercer project) and while funding only few sidewalks a year (only nine blocks per year for a backlog of over a 400 mil in needed sidewalks) but nevertheless pays for 120 parking stalls a year and over 6 miles of bike lanes!

We say STOP!  And now is not the time to substantially raise car tab taxes when King County unemployment is near 9%, the City has lost 40,656 jobs over the past decade, more people are living on fixed incomes and businesses are leaving Seattle? Vote NO on Prop 1.

Please join us – check may be mailed to us at: (please see http://citizensagainstraisingcartabs.com/
Paid for by Citizens Against Raising Car Tabs, Seattle, Washington, 98105.

Ugly towers over 10 stories tall in the Belltown area of Seattle.

One comment on “Seattle Prop. 1

  1. john smith
    2011

    Vote NO on proposition No. 1

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