If you read the blog then I’m sure you saw this candidate question coming. Also, to keep the train rolling on these questions I’m skipping a separate calendar post this week, check out our calendar page for what’s going on in Wallingford over the next week.
The Question: 45th street over I-5 is one of the most congested, dangerous roadways in the city for pedestrians and cyclists, yet the Move Seattle Levy does nothing to help connect Wallingford pedestrians or cyclists to light rail in the U-District. This is the top ask by Seattle Greenways for district 4 and has been widely covered on Wallyhood. To fix the levy Wallingford needs money to be allocated for structural improvements on or near the 45th Street overpass by the 2021 opening of light rail.
Further, the Move Seattle Levy was devised and feedback was collected without levy planners ever setting foot once in Wallingford. SDOT has not incorporated any feedback into their plans that Wallingford did provide, and has released contradictory statements about what their plans even are. While the goals of the levy and integrated transportation planning may be excellent, the levy plans for Wallingford are completely mismatched to our community needs, with cycle tracks going where they aren’t wanted and critical connections needed to complete a safe and integrated transportation network going unfunded.
As our District 4 representative, will you vote against the Move Seattle Levy as it stands today? What changes to the levy do you need to see, if any, before you will support it?
Michael Maddux’s Answer: I am generally concerned with the reliance on property tax levies, especially with the upcoming proposals from the County, as well as expected expansion proposals for the Library Levy, Families and Education Levy, and Housing Levy. These are all great things that we need, but, beyond the issue of levy capacity being bumped up against, also raise concerns about who is being priced out due to increases. While low-income seniors and disabled persons have access to programs to lower their property taxes, this does not apply to renters’ “pass through” by way of rents paid, or moderate income individuals and families. I cannot stress enough the importance of pursuing revenue reform in Seattle to move away from over-reliance on real property taxes, sales taxes, and flat fees – all regressive forms of revenue.
On the Move Seattle proposal, while I appreciate the funding to study what we can do to improve east-west connectivity pending future investments in light rail (Ballard Spur!!!), I do believe there is a need for a pedestrian/bicycle connection between Wallingford and the U-District. Having ridden across the 45th Street Overpass, I know I would personally feel safer with something protected, which, based on overall mobility needs, would likely mean a separate overpass akin to what is proposed in Northgate.
Rob Johnson’s Answer: In my day job, I advocate for more and better public transit throughout Washington State, so I’m very excited about the opening of the new light rail station in 2021. As we prepare for the opening of that new system we need to make sure that Wallingford has such great east/west transit connections that you can go to a stop without needing to look at a schedule and get quickly and easily to anywhere you’d like to go. I’ve been advocating for new funding in Move Seattle for better transit and safer bike and pedestrian infrastructure across the city, which is one of the reasons why I’ve been endorsed by both the Cascade Bike Club and ATU 587 (our bus/light rail drivers union). At a minimum we need to expand the sidewalk infrastructure at 45th to make it easier for people walking or biking to cross I-5. A separate 47th street crossing would be an expensive option, and thus not likely to get included in this year’s measure, but the city should at minimum study the cost of a crossing so we can start getting it into our future transportation plans.
Tony Provine’s Answer: The Move Seattle Levy must include a plan to build a greenway connection for bicyclists and pedestrians across I-5 at NE 47th Street. Additional funds should be allocated for structural improvements throughout Wallingford. In the meantime, I would seek immediate funding to improve pedestrian and bicycle access on the NE 45th Street bridge across I-5.
Throughout NE Seattle neighbors feel they are being ignored by downtown decision makers. Outreach processes have been inadequate and stakeholder’s voices are not being heard. Long-time residents are weary of this pattern and a strong majority chose to elect city council members by district. I am a proven neighborhood leader with a history of advocacy for my community on local and city-wide issues. Smarter transportation and community-led processes are needed to complete a safe and integrated transportation network in our neighborhoods. I support many aspects of the Move Seattle Levy but it is only one tool the city has to fund our neighborhood’s transportation needs. This Levy includes many desirable projects that are not immediate needs while failing to address the more urgent needs of neighborhoods like Wallingford. So many of our roads and highways need improvement now to increase safety and alleviate congestion.
Jean Godden’s Answer: Seattle’s transportation system must include a safe and accessible connection for walkers and cyclists over I-5 to the U District Link light rail station. I will work to assure that connection is in the Move Seattle plan that goes to voters this fall.
The mayor is transmitting his Move Seattle levy proposal to City Council, and we will examine it and make changes to assure it best fulfills the city’s transportation needs for the next nine years. It’s important that the plan be broadly appealing to Seattle voters, because without the funding that levy will provide, there would be drastic cuts in our transportation budget. Not only would street improvements not get built, but basic maintenance like street repaving would be drastically reduced
Abel Pacheco’s Answer: Outreach on the Move Seattle Levy, development projects and other programs is critical. Instead of having to fight against an entire program because it was sprung on a neighborhood without input is ineffective, wasteful, and creates unnecessary hostility. The Move Seattle Levy did have outreach, but some communities such as Wallingford were missed.
I’ve suggested that organizations such as community councils should be given an opportunity to “opt in” or registered to be notified of public and private projects which impact their neighborhoods. People who are interested and want notice, should be allowed to register to get it.
I won’t commit to opposing the entire Move Seattle Levy because it does not provide a solution for the 45th St. problem. It is a significant oversight in the levy that not enough input was considered, it must be evaluated as a whole. Before making a commitment to support or oppose the levy as it stands today, I need to have input from other communities in the fourth district. Going forward, our district election system will likely result in the need for more give-and-take and compromise. What I can say now is that I’m committed to our community and its constituents, having worked hard to promote our values on the Wallingford Community Council, and will continue to do so. Going forward we can’t lose sight of the problem, and I am committed to keeping neighborhood transportation issues in the forefront with regard to future plans.