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City of Seattle

August 12, 9:06 AM click here to comment > 1

Community support grows for investing in Seattle’s transit future

This week we’ve been hearing from the public about their support for investing in Seattle’s transit future. We won’t be able to realize those investments without strong advocacy from the community. Many residents and representatives of organizations came to testify before the City Council on Wednesday evening in support of the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee’s recommendations and providing funding which gives us the flexibility for planning and building new transit, including rail. (Watch their comments here). We’ve also been receiving a lot of letters in support of the recommendations. Here’s a small sample:

I am writing in support of the $80 VLF to fund Rail Transit between Downtown/Fremont/Ballard.

Making it easier for residents in other neighborhoods to visit Fremont and Ballard can only increase business. A fixed-rail transit system to Fremont and Ballard will create jobs, spur investment, bring residents and customers, and allow visitors to access areas of the city which are currently difficult to visit without a car. Rail to Fremont and Ballard has been promised for decades, now is the time to fund these promises.

Thank you.

Jason Smith
Certified ASL Interpreter

I own several businesses and several cars. And I support the Mayor’s plan for $80 license fees for transit and road maintenance. First, this is an economic issue – my employees and customers rely on transit to get to my businesses. Second, not maintaining infrastructure will cost me more than $80 per year per car. Seattle should be looking to become the city of the future. It will take funding to do this, and bold steps to get us there. Council needs to be bold in this one and get this done.

David Meinert

Dear Councilmembers:

The group of us don’t agree about everything. In fact, we’ve recently disagreed — very publicly and in print — about the tunnel. But we’re writing today to tell you that every last one of us strongly supports the proposed $80 vehicle license fee (VLF) currently under consideration for the November ballot.

The challenges in front of us are urgent and growing, and the need has never been greater to invest in maintaining and updating our infrastructure for mobility, safety, health, and environmental responsibility. We know that the best time to act was yesterday; the second best is today.

Before you is a rare opportunity to do what few cities can do right now. In one legislative act, you can chart a course that creates local, green jobs, improves the safety and quality of our streets for everyone, reduces the city’s carbon emissions, and stems the flow of toxins into our air and water. You can do that by placing this funding package, which invests heavily in transit, family-friendly bike infrastructure and sidewalks, on the November ballot.

We ask you to place this measure before the voters. We are eager to support it. Polls show that the citizens of Seattle want this. Our global climate crisis demands it.

Ask Seattle voters to lead on these issues of global consequence: we know they will.

Jabe Blumenthal
Alan Durning
KC Golden
Peter Goldman
Denis Hayes
Maryanne Tagney Jones
Cary Moon

I urge you to support the $80 vehicle license fee proposal that addresses our city’s pressing transportation needs. This legislation is important to all Seattle residents, but it is especially crucial to low-income and working class residents of Seattle who rely on transit to get to work, to shop and to carry out their daily tasks. The $80 VLF proposal incorporates recommendations of the Transit Master Plan and implements the recommendations of the citizen’s advisory committee created by the Council and Mayor. The committee’s proposal is a comprehensive, well-balanced approach to our transportation needs. It provides funds for transit, street repair and maintenance, and bicycle and pedestrian issues. It addresses both immediate concerns and long-range needs. The committee went through an extensive process that included telephone surveys, online surveys and public meetings.

The $80 VLF proposal provides sufficient funding over a long period of time to fully plan for the rail corridors. The alternative proposals that provide less money for a shorter period of time are inadequate to build all the rail corridors identified in the Transit Master Plan. It would be tragic if we do not provide sufficient funding to really make a big difference in easing the gridlock in our streets.

Some have raised concerns that the $80 fee would hurt low-income residents. While any fee increase, be it $60 or $80, would have an impact on low-income residents, I do not believe that a $20 differential should stop the Council from adopting the full $80 proposal. This cost is far outweighed by the benefits that low-income and working class residents would receive from improved transit and better maintained roads in their neighborhoods.

Studies show that transportation is a big issue for low-income and working class people. Inadequate transportation – especially transit – is a major obstacle to accessing jobs. Inadequate transportation also limits these residents’ ability to go to super markets and stores, not to mention getting their kids to childcare or doctor’s appointments. If the cost to low-income residents is a concern, the city should look at ways of mitigating the impact such as rebate or credits through City Light.

I understand that these are difficult economic times, and it is difficult to ask taxpayers to pay more. But we cannot delay indefinitely economic development projects that will benefit users, as well as provide jobs. I urge you to adopt the citizens committee’s recommendations of $80 VLF for an indefinite duration.

Tony Lee
Solid Ground

Dear Council Members:

Last fall the Council and Mayor created the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee III (CTAC) to advise the city on transportation funding alternatives and priorities. CTAC forwarded a proposal for funding priorities to be supported by a ballot measure:
o The measure would provide approximately $27.2 million annually for transportation purposes.
o It would do so by increasing the existing VLF by $80 per vehicle per year (from the existing $20 per vehicle per year, to a total of $100 per vehicle per year) with no sunset date.

The CTAC proposal of $80 would be spent in the following proportions:
o 29% for street repair, maintenance and safety.
o 49% for implementing projects and programs included in the Transit Master Plan, to improve speed, reliability and capacity on identified corridors.
o 22% for implementing projects and programs included in the City of Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan, the City of Seattle’s Pedestrian Master Plan, and the development of a Freight Master Plan.

I strongly support and endorse any initiative that will help ensure convenient and affordable public transportation to Ballard from the City core.
Thanks for your consideration.

Eric Nelson
Chief Executive Officer, Nordic Heritage Museum, Ballard

Hello Mayor McGinn,

With state funding increasingly drying up, Seattle needs to start funding its own transportation options. The $80 annual license fee proposed by the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee would do just that. By repairing streets, implementing projects in the Transit Master Plan, Bicycle Master Plan, Pedestrian Master Plan, and Freight Master Plan, we’ll be making Seattle a more vibrant and economically competitive place to live. It’s an investment for all of us. And people who own a car, like myself, can afford the extra $80 a year to reap these benefits for the entire city.

I understanding that there is consideration of lowering the Vehicle License Fee from $80 to $60, maybe even less. Dropping it to even $60 would scuttle any actual rail to Fremont and Ballard. This is a huge mistake. The voters are not going to support the VLF because of a $20 difference. So don’t take half measures. Invest fully in Seattle’s future.

Thank you for your time,
Joseph Peha
Communications Director, 36th District Democrats

Honorable Council Members,

I write to you in support of the CTAC III Recommendation for an $80 VLF Revenue plan. I believe it is the right investment to make toward the future livability of Seattle. This direction is correct in light of the changes we must face to accommodate the financial, climatic, and population influences in the City’s future. For my young adult children and the future generation, this is the right choice.

Please do not bend to the momentary anti-tax facade that is being presented now by outside elements that do not have our communities’ future welfare as their priority. This plan allows prudent planning as well as implementation. We have studied this a lot, and we know what are the prudent measures to take for the benefit of most of the residents of our area. This Transit Plan is a positive step toward meeting the needs of keeping Seattle livable in the 21st century.

I urge you to be representative of Seattle’s progressive citizenry by voting to approve proper funding of the public transit needs of our beautiful City.

Thank you for your attention.

judy kirkhuff

Proudly organizing community Farmers Markets in the Ballard, Madrona, Wallingford, Georgetown and Interbay Districts

Dear Councilmember Licata,

I wanted to let you know that I support increasing the VL fee to $80 and building more transit. Contrary to what some say, we all know that transit choice is GOOD for low income people. Transportation is the second highest expense for families following rent. Creating affordable communities depends on affordable public transportation choices. I strongly believe that this is an opportunity to help make our community more affordable.
That’s my 2 cents! Hope you’re having a great summer.
Christopher Persons
Executive Director, Capitol Hill Housing

Council President Conlin,

I am writing in support of authorizing a ballot measure for the $80 vehicle licensing fee for transportation improvements. HomeSight worked hard on securing the HUD Regional Planning Grant by ensuring that equity and social justice was funded and structured into the planning efforts. Expanding and improving diverse modes of transportation within the urban context are an essential element of equitable transit oriented development.

I fully understand that any measure that hits the pocket books of Seattle residents is a tough ask at this time. But it is also true that better integration of all modes of transport with housing and services will reduce the cost of living for those fortunate enough to live where the improvements are targeted in the short term and ultimately for all of us in the long run. The reality is that budget cuts at other levels of government mean that local services have to be funded locally. More importantly, restrictions or lack of will to raise revenues at the state and federal levels, mean that we are on our own to generate sources of funding. Your action to authorize the ballot measure will allow the voters to decide and I support the full $80 fee because that is what is needed. We will not be able to go back to the voters again.

Another way to look at it is that $80 is one or two tanks of gas depending on the car we drive or it’s a way to recover some the Bush tax cuts and use it directly for better services and economic stimulus on the Main Streets of Seattle.

Thank you for all your hard work on this issue.

Tony To

Esteemed Council members –

I hope this strong recommendation from the City’s Planning Commission for a full $80 fee and allocation per the CTAC III recommendations influences your thinking about this decision. It’s time to be bold and move forward. No pun intended and with all due respect for other areas where we might disagree.

Kevin Carrabine

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn


Comment from Dan Keller
Time August 14, 2011 at 2:54 am

I just want to voice my objection to the $80.00 fee increase to our car tabs. I also want to respond to Christopher Persons as well. You mention low income residents will benefit from the $80.00 increase which will provide affordable transportation to them. Talk about skirting around the real issue which is our low income families, senior citizens simply CANNOT afford to absorb that kind of increase. Tell that to my mother who is on section 8 housing with an income of about $750.00 a month. Her current car tab fee of $65.00 a year will jump to $165.00. Where’s your compassion. You should be ashamed.