Update: West Seattle Transportation Coalition votes to endorse transit-funding measure, but no position on monorail

Two toplines so far from tonight’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting: WSTC voted to endorse the bus-funding measure on the November 4 ballot, officially Transportation Benefit District Proposition No. 1. And it voted NOT to endorse the monorail measure on the ballot, officially Seattle Citizen Petition No. 1. More to come.

ADDED WEDNESDAY MORNING: More toplines from the WSTC meeting:

Before making endorsement (or non-endorsement) decisions, there was spirited discussion. WSTC’s Chas Redmond suggested a protest vote – yes monorail, no transit funding – to send the message that people are not happy with the way things are going.

Advocates for both sides on both issues spoke as well. Monorail-measure creator Elizabeth Campbell said her initiative, raising money to start planning one again, empowers citizens, in the face of a need for more transit. It would be planned by people outside the usual inner circle that gets called on for transportation issues, she contended.

On the no-monorail side, Jonathan Hopkins from SeattleSubway.org called it a 15-year-old idea that would repeat past failures, with no provisions to build anything after the studies that the tax would fund.

Arguments for and against the transit-funding measure – which has now become a “restore cut service/add more service” campaign, with future Metro cuts shelved – came from City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen on “pro,” WSTC member Michael Taylor-Judd on “con,” as they had done at last week’s Southwest District Council meeting in West Seattle.

Bottom line, Rasmussen contended this measure is the clearest, best shot at transit improvement now; Taylor-Judd says it’s a regressive tax that will hurt those who can least afford it.

Redmond, a declared candidate for next year’s first-ever City Council District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) election – as is Rasmussen – also criticized the regressive nature of Prop 1’s money-raising tools. He also pointed out that West Seattle voters gave the lowest approval margin to the countywide version of this last April.

WSTC chair Joe Szilagyi wondered if approval of this, and potential similar steps by other municipalities, might break the Olympia logjam on transportation funding. Maybe, Rasmussen said, but also consider that if Seattle doesn’t pass this, legislators could draw the conclusion that city voters can’t be bothered, so they won’t worry about it further.

And again, here’s how the votes came out, as summarized later on WSTC’s Facebook page:

The WSTC membership vote on endorsing Petition 1 – monorail, failed 1-10-1. The WSTC does not endorse the monorail vote. The WSTC membership vote on endorsing Prop 1 – bus funding, passed 7-2-1. The WSTC endorses a Yes vote on Prop 1 to fund buses.

ALSO: WSTC’s letter to city leaders – featured here September 28th – was recapped.

NEXT WSTC MEETING: Tuesday, November 11th, 6:30 pm.

11 Replies to "Update: West Seattle Transportation Coalition votes to endorse transit-funding measure, but no position on monorail"

  • dsa October 14, 2014 (10:13 pm)

    As bitter as this awful bus funding pill is to swallow, we cannot depend on the legislature to fund the transportation fund like they should.

  • heather October 15, 2014 (9:33 am)

    What? Are you kidding me? WSTC is endorsing bus and only bus transit for WS? What a disappointment.

    Very short sighted. Yes, the bus system needs additional revenue but it will ALWAYS need additional revenue – that’s the problem. It’s really not an appropriate transit option for WS. We need an alternative – something that can be implemented within 2-5 years.

  • RayK October 15, 2014 (10:12 am)

    Yes, Heather, the WSTC endorsed Proposition 1 which has no provisions for other mobility modalities. For various reasons, it chose to not endorse the Citizens’ Petition 1 for monorail studies. You didn’t propose an alternative to Proposition 1. What do you have in mind?

  • Joe Szilagyi October 15, 2014 (10:57 am)

    @Heather, politically and financially, there is no real other solution that can be implemented in 2-5 years. We had serious concerns with the planning and cost forecasting of the monorail idea being proposed — for starters, they were using the same cost structure in their planning from the last monorail project, where after they took ownership of various properties had to sell them off again after the project dissolved. The cost now will almost certainly be higher for inflation alone, nevermind the change in the economy and status of Seattle in the years since. We’ve already been pressing for Light Rail to get onto ST3’s 2016 vote for West Seattle, along with other groups like Seattle Subway.
    If there is another viable non-bus solution for the majority of West Seattle, White Center, South Park and North Highline, we’ve yet to see it proposed.

  • Voter October 15, 2014 (11:01 am)

    Very dissapointed in Chas and Michael. I am hoping that a compelling alternative to Tom Rasmussen will emerge in West Seattle, but this “protest” by Redmond is seriously misguided. The monorail proposal is a joke and we *know* we need more bus service. Voting yes for bus service is the only way we can realistically expect to improve our routes in the near future.

  • heather October 15, 2014 (12:03 pm)

    We have multi level needs in WS: local loops, tourist incentive into WS, daily employment transport, and large event transport. We have to start the infrastructure for transport WITHIN WS or we will always be reliant on a bus system. It’s clear to me that we need a track based streetcar similar to Portland. To start it should run local WS loops, then expand (possibly to meet light rail at the top of the WS bridge or downtown). A streetcar allows for faster on/off access, has a quicker schedule because it has shorter loops and can use the same routes as vehicles but is not limited like a bus (narrow doors, decending step, etc.)…it’s like a subway, wheelchairs roll in directly, bikes stay with rider…

    It’s simply a more effective mode of transport for our landscape and urban planning. If tracks can’t go in within 2-3 years then we need to consider overhead cables as the tracks are laid.

    It’s simply not reasonable to assume that our public transit problems can be solved by putting downtown originating, bigger vehicles (essentially) on WS roads and expecting them to effectively serve the public. It’s not sustainable.

    As long as it’s an “inclusive” service, this kind of project can be privately funded or possibly be eligible for fed transportation grants (I haven’t looked into that).

  • Fiwa Jcbbb October 15, 2014 (12:51 pm)

    Sorry Mayor Murray, a regressive tax used for progressive means is still a regressive tax,and a regressive tax that taxes a 100 mpg $100 Moped at the same rate as a 2 mpg $2.5 million Bugatti (with or without a penis spray painted on the hood) is a very regressive tax indeed. With “Liberals” like these, who needs Repugnicans? This stinks, and badly.

  • Diane October 15, 2014 (1:58 pm)

    I was at another neighborhood meeting last night (Admiral) with a debate re the very confusing prek propositions, also on the ballot (please vote yes on Prop 1A to improve zero-to-five early childhood education for all of our 30k children); otherwise I would have been at the WSTC to support the positions stated by Chas and Michael
    major kudos to Chas Redmond and Michael Taylor-Judd for calling out the “regressive nature of Prop 1′s money-raising tools”, which is significant hardship to working poor ($60 car tabs and sales tax); there are many other more progressive and fair options for raising transit funds; it just requires creativity to research those options and courage to make those proposals, which did happen earlier this year by CM’s Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant
    I am one of the WS residents who relies heavily on the bus, and voted no on the county transit proposal; it’s a regressive tax that hurts poor people who need their cars to get to jobs; another $60 car tab is too much; after it failed, the city came up with a ballot measure, basically the same
    when I asked CM Tom Rasmussen at the DNDC meeting on Sept 17, how the $20 low income rebate would happen (is it immediate when paying registration? or do you have to wait 6-8 wks for rebate in the mail? what is the vetting process to “prove you’re poor” to get the rebate?); he had no specific answers; does anyone have those answers before we vote on it? and really, even after applying for $20 rebate, that still means low-income folks have to pay an extra $40 car tab; that is a hardship
    then it was revealed recently (after months of every political leader and advocacy group staging press events in attempts to scare everyone into “voting yes or you’ll lose all your buses if this measure is not passed”); now voila, magically Metro found they do have enough money
    I will never vote for a regressive tax that causes further hardship to low income citizens
    and this recent discovery of “oh, oops; seems Metro really does have money” engenders further lack of trust in how Metro manages finances; for these reasons, I will vote no on this bus-funding measure; and again, I applaud Chas and Michael for their courage in standing up for better solutions; they do exist; let’s please move beyond our Seattle bubble and reliance on old ways of funding

  • Michael Taylor-judd October 15, 2014 (3:29 pm)

    To be clear, I am solidly in favor of more funding for transit around Seattle. What I have pointed out in my debates with Councilmember Rasmussen is that — unlike the Conuty in April — the City Council has several OTHER tax options that it can propose other than a sales tax increase.
    In particular, many citizens turned out in support of the proposal from Councilmembers Licata and Sawant to raise the commercial parking tax and reinstate an Employee Hours Tax instead of increasing the sales tax.
    One of the key points in my “NO” arguments is that those two tax options can be implemented immediately, without a vote of the people. The reinstatement of the Employee Hours Tax also wisely asks employers to pay their FAIR SHARE of a system that currently brings 40+% of commuters in and out of Downtown every day.

  • Peter October 15, 2014 (3:41 pm)

    That settles it. Rasmussen is getting my vote next year. Redmond is definitely not getting my vote.

  • GAU8Avenger30mike October 17, 2014 (7:13 pm)

    Tax tax tax… somebody else.

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