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Seattle Voters' Guide  

Statement Against Proposition 1

The Seattle Seawall Bond Measure – An Unfair Property Tax Burden

In the history of Seattle, never have so many properties been taxed so much for the benefit of so few.

As proposed, the Elliott Bay Seawall would be rebuilt with proceeds from a $290-million bond issue levied against all Seattle property owners. Over its 30-year life, this gift to a few downtown property owners, taking interest into account, could well exceed one billion dollars.

Seattle has almost 85 miles of waterfront property of which only 1.5 percent is bounded by the subject seawall. The majority of waterfront commercial and residential property owners are responsible for maintaining their own bulkheads and shore lands without any public subsidy. Many of these privately built and maintained bulkheads also hold back high-volume, principal arterial streets such as Rainier Avenue S. and Westlake Avenue. Accordingly, why should the private business owners along these 1.32 miles of Elliott Bay waterfront property benefit from a public subsidy?

Basically, the downtown and Elliott Bay property owners want all Seattle taxpayers to pay for their waterfront improvements. This is not only unfair but more troubling is that it raises serious equal protection arguments.

The Seattle Central Business District is the most highly valued real estate in the entire State of Washington. Why should the city’s outlying residences and businesses be taxed for a seawall improvement that would give them zero benefits?

With the private landowners of so many highly valued properties poised to gain substantial benefits from the seawall project, it is clear that the fairest, most equitable and least onerous project financing should come from a Local Improvement District (LID). LIDs have been used for these exact kinds of property improvements since 1917. An LID ensures that those who receive the benefits pay for the benefits.

Please join those who are rejecting this unfair, unjust and excessive bond measure.

Statement submitted by:

Christopher V. Brown, P.E. Committee Chairman
Ed Plute
E-mail Address:


Rebuttal to Statement
Against Proposition 1

When a road or bridge needs replacement, all of us share the costs of critical infrastructure replacement. Similarly, the seawall is a critical public safety priority all of us share.

Seattle’s deteriorating seawall threatens public safety regardless of where you live or work. Further decay will impact safety and mobility on our downtown streets, jeopardize citywide utilities that light and heat our homes and offices, and undermine important components of our regional economy.

Seawall replacement is a needed investment to protect safety and restore publicly-owned structures. Furthermore, waterfront improvements are NOT part of this bond measure. When those amenities are constructed, it will indeed be with creation of a Local Improvement District. Opponents are misleading: downtown property owners who benefit from potential future investments WILL pay their fair share. This measure ONLY concerns the seawall and related safety projects.

Please vote yes on Proposition 1.

Statement submitted by:

Charley Royer, former Mayor and co-chair, Central Waterfront Committee
Kenny Stuart, President, Seattle Firefighters Local 27
David Freiboth, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, ML King County Labor Council


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