Community Post

Townhall 2008: Seattle Parks Levy

The traditional media feature during election season is the editorial endorsement, where newspaper staffers deliver their electoral recommendations from on high.  We’re guessing that formal endorsements from me and cdguy probably wouldn’t go too far.

So we’ve got a different idea we’d like to try out.  Every couple of days we’re going to take a race or issue that’s on the November ballot and post it as a front-page story (mostly local and down-ballot issues – no presidential stuff).  We’ll include the basic facts, and then open up the comments to allow you to ask specific questions you have on the issue.  We’ll take your questions to each side of the race and try to get the official answers.   Think of it as our own neighborhood town hall that will continue over the next few weeks.  

Here’s the first issue:  The Seattle Parks & Green Spaces Levy

The ballot description is:

The City of Seattle’s Proposition 2 concerns increased property taxes for six years for parks purposes. If approved, this proposition would fund acquiring, developing and restoring parks, recreation facilities, cultural facilities, green spaces, playfields, trails, community gardens, and shoreline areas; all as provided in Ordinance 122749. It would authorize regular property taxes higher than RCW 84.55 limits, allowing collection of up to $24,250,000 in additional taxes in 2009 (up to $145,500,000 over six years). Taxes collected in 2009 would be limited to $2.60 per $1,000 of assessed value, including approximately $0.19 of additional taxes. Should this levy lid lift be approved?

The pro-levy campaign website has a handy map that shows which projects are part of the proposal:

There’s three projects planned for the CD:

  • A big, multi-million dollar renovation of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center on Yesler
  • Funds to purchase land for a neighborhood park in the 12th Ave area
  • A $600,000 skate park at the Judkins Playground

Questions, comments?  Leave them below.  If you see a question you’ve wondered about too, give it a five-star rating to show it’s important to you (you have to be logged in to rate).

On Friday 10/10 we’ll take all of your questions and forward them to the campaigns for their official responses.

0 thoughts on “Townhall 2008: Seattle Parks Levy

  1. This levy deserves our support. I know times are tough for many of us with rising unemployment, shrinking 401(k)s, and other economic uncertainty. In times like these, there’s a knee-jerk reaction not to support nonessential services and programs. But int times like these, parks and open spaces are more important than ever. For the least fortunate and for our young, the city’s open spaces and parks are the primary place for entertainment, recreation, and fitness. Now, more than ever, we need to maintain these public places. There are many folks out there hurting more than those of us who own property and pay the levy, so do it for them if not for yourself. The 37th District Democrats endorsed the “yes” vote on the levy.

  2. as a member of the board of an environmental advocacy organization, we were approached about endorsing the Levy. We struggled long and hard about whether this was the right Levy at the right time, but Parks are as much of an icon in Seattle as the Market and the cost is less than what folks are paying on the current Levy. I encourage folks to vote yes.

  3. Is the owner of a $100,000 house going to see their taxes go up by $260 (100 x $2.60) or by $19 (100 x $0.19 “of additional taxes”)?

    I think this initiative is going to have a hard time passing based on the current wording. It is not clear how much this would cost a taxpayer vs. what they are paying now.

  4. if memory serves the rate included in this levy is actually less than the previous Pro Parks Levy, but that’s a good question to ask.

  5. Here’s the skinny. The parks levy is $145.8 million over six years. The expiring Pro Parks Levy was $198 million. For the average homeowner Proposition 2, the Seattle Parks and Green Spaces Levy will cost $81/year, which is $30/year less than the previous levy. You can find more information on the Seattle Parks for All webpage:

  6. I think ANY money issue is going to have a hard time passing. People are worried about hanging onto their homes, while seeing their 401k plans shrink. Many will put parks in the “nice to have” but not “essential” catagory.

  7. i’d argue that website is somewhat woeful if you’re looking for that data. maybe my cursory glance just failed to uncover it.

    While I support it, I don’t think the pro prop 2 folks have done a great job telling the story of why this is important and what it’ll do. I also don’t see a ton in it for the CD. No real new parks in this area.

  8. In essence this is actually a tax cut in the sense that as the old Levy lapses and the new one comes in, taxpayers will pay less than they were from 2000 – 2008.

    While are there aren’t that many park acquisitions in this there are plenty of needed fixes and redevelopments that are needed and necessary. The Langston Hughes Building is a good example.

    There is also an opportunity fund that is available to any and all Seattlites for things that citizens feel need work. This can be anything from buying up an old parking lot or adding an improvement to a community center.

    In the next few years Seattle will only get bigger and denser and we certainly need our Parks to keep pace with this growth so that quality of life remains high.

  9. Not a Park and not a Parks facility and has lots of endowments and other resources. Sorry. That’s 5% of the thing. Hate to sound like Tim Eyeman, but I resent being told I’m voting for the Parks and then the hugest allocation is to Not a Park.

    I’m voting no on this one.

  10. I picked two out of the three big ticket items. So even thought these will be hopefully a future discussion, I am going for Pike Place Market and ST2. Kind of like when you can replace the roof and build a new deck, but the new bathroom will have to happen another day even if it means patching the sink….

  11. i think the endowment point is super valid. seems like the organizers just picked everything with need and threw them into the pot, no strategy, no thinking of how to leverage other dollars, i.e..private sector.

  12. I agree. I have been trying to understand the property tax implications. I am a homeowner of a condo in the CD. I feel the property taxes in King County are very, very high. As much as I support the Market, parks and alternative transportation, I fear being taxed out of my residence! Isn’t this an increasingly unfair way to totally fund these kinds of worthy projects?

  13. ktkeller,

    I’m sure you’ve already voted, but for those who haven’t, the Seattle Asian Art Museum is a City of Seattle owned building, managed by Seattle Parks and Recreation, located in Volunteer Park, and leased and operated by Seattle Art Museum. Your facts are wrong.

    The SAAM is a 70 year old building that needs crucial seismic upgrades. As the landlord, it is the City’s responsibility to maintain this building. SAM is actually kicking in over half the cost for both seismic and HVAC upgrades, so taxpayers like you and I are actually getting a pretty good deal.

    I hope others will join me in voting YES on PROPOSITION 2 today!