The Sammamish City Council was clear at its May 10 meeting: the draft plan for Sound Transit 3 does nothing for our taxpayers.
A majority of the Council was also clear: they didn’t want to support a statement sought by the Suburban Cities Association (SCA) in support of principals of mass transit, because these were viewed as a “Trojan Horse” for ST3.
Led by Deputy Mayor Ramiro Valderrama, members feared that there would not be an opportunity to later weigh in on ST3 itself and any expression of support for the SCA principals would be taken as support for ST3.
Mayor Don Gerend, who was clear about his opposition to ST3 as drafted, wanted to support the SCA principals–as did Member Kathy Huckabay, who also opposes ST3 as currently drafted. But there was little support even for the principals because these were viewed as thinly disguised for ST3.
Members Tom Odell, Christie Malchow, Valderrama and Tom Hornish were opposed to the support of the principals. Gerend and Huckabay expressed support for them. Member Bob Keller, the City Council’s representative to the SCA committee called opposition “premature,” but sought a consensus of the Council to carry the message back to SCA.
SCA is an association of cities in the Seattle metropolitan area formed to give weight to voices in order to offset Seattle if need be. Huckabay said she was concerned that if Sammamish opposed the principals supporting mass transit, the City would be “the odd man out” in SCA.
Valderrama didn’t mind.
“We’ll be doing the right thing for our citizens,” he said. Valderrama noted that Sammamish residents would be required to pay about $500 more a year in taxes, without receiving any additional service. “This is taxation without transportation,” he said.
This was the foundation of opposition by Odell, Malchow and Hornish as well. Gerend and Huckabay also oppose ST3 as drafted. ST3 is a 25-year, $50 billion expansion of light rail and other services with $27 billion in new taxes. Sammamish gets nothing out of the ST3 draft plan.
To say Sammamish citizens get nothing from ST3 is narrow-minded. For one thing, i’m glad there’s no station in Sammamish. Can you imagine the urban development and loss of wildlife and forest that would result from making Sammamish a hub? I’m totally comfortable taking a bus to either Redmond or Issaquah, both of which abut major highways, to connect with light rail.
I don’t claim any special knowledge of ST3’s proposals, but it’s eady to shoot down other people’s ideas. Sammamish needs to be a participant in solving the region’s transportation challenges, not just reject ideas outright.
What is your alternative proposal?
An alternative plan is pretty simple:
– Don’t cut the 216 and 219, which is what will happen if ST3 is approved.
– Compel KCM to fully fund the 269 at its current service levels. As it is right now, city money is being spent to subsidize this route, which is pathetic considering how out of balance our payments to KCM/ST are, versus the service we receive.
– Connect the Issaquah branch of light rail to the Seattle-Bellevue route at Eastgate rather than Downtown Bellevue. The current plan adds about 20 minutes one way if you are heading to Downtown Seattle.
– Adjust the tax burden according to the services received rather than a flat rate across the entire district. Seattle, Redmond, and Issaquah are choosing to build their cities in such a way that requires more public transit. They should therefore have to pay a larger share of the tax burden than Sammamish, which receives next to zero service from Sound Transit.
Honestly, at this point, it is a sham that Sammamish is within the RTA boundaries and subject to that tax. We get two ST vehicles in the morning, at 4AM and 5AM, and a handful in the evening, after 7PM. Meanwhile, we have no weekend service, no mid-day service, and only two roads – 228th and Iss-Pine Lake Road, get any service at all.
I honestly cannot see how any Sammamish resident could vote for this package as-is. Even the left-leaning members of the council oppose it.
Debbie: You know that Light Rail and the whole transportation system is a Government scam! the ridership cannot and will not ever pay for such nonsense! If it makes sense, let the RIDERS pay the cost! Stop asking citizens to fund socialism!
The real question is does the taxpayers in the greater Seattle area benefit? We don’t live in a region where business in centralized. Chicago’s train system for example works well because business was concentrated in downtown Chicago and all the suburbs feed the city core. As a result, there was a high demand for the service.
The dynamic nature of our residential and work population is not easily adaptable to a permanent route structure featured by light rail. Think about how many times Metro bus routes are modified, reduced, or cancelled. I have concerns that we as taxpayers will be investing in an underutilized infrastructure that will only be sustained by additional taxpayer subsidies.
Finally, the potential environmental benefit of transportation system is only realized if it is utilized. We need to take a deep breath and pause to make sure we have the right mix of transportation methods before we potentially over invest in a comprehensive light rail system. Our transportation solutions need to be flexible and sustainable to best serve our citizens.
You’re absolutely right, Chris, which is why we never should have passed ST1 or ST2, let alone ST3. This is being shoved down everyone’s throats despite it being obvious now, and having been obvious years ago, that much cheaper solutions like dedicated bus lanes would do the job at a fraction of the price, and that this system is not actually going to relieve congestion in a cost-effective (or, for the most part, effective at any price) manner. People aren’t going to want to try to find space at a park and ride, ride a bus to the light rail station, stop in Bellevue, finally make it downtown, then have to walk or take yet another bus to get where they are going. It’s completely impractical.
It also was obvious at the time, and certainly is now, that many of the purported justifications for the system just didn’t hold water. For example, pollution from cars was cited, even though electric cars clearly are on the horizon and certainly will be adopted en masse by the time this system actually goes online in 30 years, if it ever does.
Sound Transit is the product of optics and a desire to “do something” and “look like a major city and region,” not to actually design a system that makes sense for this particular region. It’s sad and, ultimately, extremely frustrating and expensive.
Kemper Freeman, like him or not, was right about all of this years ago when he opposed the plan to destroy existing road capacity on I-90. Yes, the existing westbound and eastbound lanes will be repainted to add an additional lane each way, but they’ll be narrower and won’t be as effective as the existing express lanes (and even if they were effective, we could do that repainting and keep the existing express lanes).
As the owner of a big chunk of downtown Bellevue, if this system really stood to improve the ability of people to get where they want effectively, with tax dollars subsidizing a system to bring more shoppers to Bellevue and making Bellevue and the Eastside more desirable generally, don’t you think he’d be for it? He wasn’t for it because it’s poorly-thought out and, despite political correctness, the big pushes of unions to get more taxpayer money, and the desire to “do something,” it just doesn’t make sense.
At minimum, we can still oppose paying on average $500/year (at today’s assessed valuations, which are set to increase) for something that we in Sammamish will get zero benefit from. It’s a huge transfer from Sammamish to others for a system that is never going to constitute a practical, effective solution, and it’s just going to make property in Sammamish less desirable by comparison. Sammamish voters are being asked to pay for a system that will actually make their particular commutes worse, as compared to a solution that includes additional general purpose lanes (which no longer will have any room or financial resources to be included in the future), and will make their property values go down on relative basis compared to those “lucky” people who live closer to the light rail line.
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