The Sound Cities Assn. (SCA) approved a resolution endorsing “principals” of mass transit for the Sound Transit taxing district (roughly Everett to Tacoma, Seattle to Sammamish) with Sammamish as the lone dissenting vote.
Four other members of SCA which are not in ST district abstained.
A majority of the Sammamish City Council opposed the “principals” as a thinly disguised endorsement of the $50bn Sound Transit 3 draft plan. ST wants voter approval for $27bn in new taxes. Sammamish gets nothing in the proposed new plan, except an average of more than $500 a year in new taxes: no new service and in some respects, service is taken away.
SCA’s action took Council Members by surprise. It was their understanding that SCA would not take any position that was adverse to any member, say Deputy Mayor Ramiro Valderrama and Council Member Christie Malchow.
Neither knows where this understanding originated or when, but Valerrama said other Council Members had the same understanding. None was aware of SCA taking a position that “hurt” any member previously.
Valderrama, who along with Council Member Tom Odell led opposition to endorsing the “principals,” cited among his reasons was a fear that SCA would not offer cities a separate vote on whether to support the ST3 Draft Plan. It turns out that he is correct: he said SCA advised him there will be no separate vote.
Valderrama criticized the tax plan as “taxation without transportation” for Sammamish residents.
I am happy that Sammamish was the lone dissenting vote, we don’t directly receive benefits from a massive tax increase. I had to research to find the principles of ST3 and uncovered the following items: Bring light rail to more neighborhoods sooner (not ours). Increase investments in local transit, walking and biking access to high capacity transit (not sure where in Sammamish). Focus parking investments on cost-effective, flexible, and priced solutions: parking at the stations should be priced with revenues reinvested to improve connections for people traveling to that station on foot, bike or transit (not in Sammamish). Prioritize affordable housing in the use and disposal of land (not in Sammamish and not sure why supporting affordable housing is the responsibility of Sound Transit, even after I read their explanation). Maximize potential for equitable transit-oriented development (TOD) and increase density with supporting policies, projects, investments and alignments (you have to have riders so you need to ensure there is housing density near the stations that we don’t get). Improve community engagement and outcomes polices, deepening engagement with low-income communities, people of color, immigrants and refugees earlier in the planning process to ensure optimal ridership (interesting). So I am not sure if I even support the principles. I know I don’t support the plan for ST3 as written.