4 to Explore: A Northeast Neighborhoods Newsletter

2016 June

1 Issue to Engage

Reject and Re-Do Sound Transit 3 (ST3): Make Corporations Pay Fair Share

We want more extensive public transit, but should Big Business get a free ride while the poor pay more? Of course not. Shockingly, that’s exactly what the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 (ST3) ballot measure would do. ST3 would shovel unfair, regressive taxes onto the people while several large corporations reap the benefits.

Example: Sound Transit 3 would increase Sales Taxes on the general public to build a new light rail extension that benefits Microsoft Corp headquarters in Redmond. (This is the same Microsoft that already uses off-shore accounts to avoid other taxes.) (Existing Sound Transit 2 taxes are already building a light rail TO Microsoft headquarters.)

The politicians deciding who pays — including Northeast Seattle’s Councilmember Rob Johnson (who sits on the Sound Transit board) — let us down. While they call themselves “progressives,” their proposal for more Sales Tax is regressive. Their proposal for more Property Tax means renters and homeowners will struggle to pay several other local levies, including the nearly $1 billion “transportation” levy enacted just months ago (109,000 votes in favor; 77,000 votes against).

The only way to make the politicians listen is to put our foot down.  REJECT AND RE-DO SOUND TRANSIT 3: MAKE CORPORATIONS PAY FAIR SHARE.

Reckless funding proposals like ST3 jeopardize sensible and fair levies like those for education and affordable housing.  Therefore, we should demand that elected officials fix ST3 and put a better version on the ballot in early 2017. Here are some ideas to make it better:

  • Make Biggest Businesses Pay Biggest Share (Portland, OR and New York City are just two examples where employers help to fund transit.)
  • Require Microsoft to pay for light rail to Redmond.
  • Eliminate regressive tax increases so that poor do not pay more.
  • Divide Sound Transit 3 into TWO Pieces to provide time to enact a State Income Tax (e.g. on non-retirement investment income).
  • Provide More Regional Buses (faster than waiting for light rail construction).
  • Increase fares for well-to-do transit riders so that they pay more of the actual cost (lower-income riders would continue to get Orca Lift discount cards.)
  • Investigate Sound Transit’s questionable use of online surveys and slick campaign-like mailers that advocate for ST3.

UPDATE: Three days after we distributed our 4toExplore.org newsletter, the Seattle Times also urged voters to put the brakes on Sound Transit 3. The Seattle Times articulated additional reasons to hold off. For their editorial, CLICK HERE.

Sound Transit is damaging trust by misleading the public about the costs. Their website states, “Under collection of the full authorized revenues the estimated cost to a typical adult living in the Sound Transit District would be approximately $200 more annually.”  But, the Seattle Times points out that it’s actually $400 per year: “An average household would pay $400 in yearly property, sales and car-tax increases if voters in urban Snohomish, King and Pierce counties say yes in November…The estimated household average of $400 more per year is close to double what residents now pay for Sound Transit measures approved by voters in 1996 and 2008.”

Here is how officials propose to pay for STC3:

  • Property Tax: an additional $125 per year for a house worth $500,000. (This is 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.)
  • Sales Tax: an additional 0.5%, on top of the 0.9% already collected for a total of 1.4%.
  • Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET): an additional 0.8% of vehicle value, on top of the 0.3% already collected for Sound Transit.

We have no problem with the MVET. But a Sales Tax is regressive (the poor pay more). For an article by the “FYI Guy” on regressive taxes, CLICK HERE. In addition, property taxes have been increasing exponentially, creating additional pressure on important future local levies for affordable housing, public education, etc.

What about the cost of the tickets? According to Sound Transit, “ticket sales will cover up to an estimated 40 percent of light rail operations costs and 20 percent of bus operations costs.” Therefore, Sound Transit should consider charging higher income riders higher fares to cover more of the actual cost of service (user fee) rather than making all low income families pay more with regressive sales taxes.

Unfortunately, Seattle’s City Council in May 2016 passed Resolution 31668 , stating that they “endorse Sound Transit’s proposed mix of revenue options” because “Sound Transit has been granted limited options for funding these needs, which will only become more expensive over time.” But the State’s authorizing legislation SB 5987 (see Section 318) actually states that they “should also seek other funds, including federal, state, local, and private sector assistance.” Criteria for the funding sources should include “equity”. And the very first option listed is an “Employer Tax” — which is ignored by ST3. Why not learn from Portland, Oregon (TriMet) which charges an Employer Tax? Moreover, the Legislature exists to legislate; therefore, they could easily enact other options for Sound Transit — certainly the State’s authorization of a $15 billion cap did not stop Sound Transit from doing something different: proposing over $50 billion.

For two sides of the debate from the Seattle Times, CLICK HERE. They both make compelling arguments and they both exaggerate. They also both miss the point: we need to expand transit, but the way it is funded needs to be re-tooled.

Corporations benefiting from new infrastructure should pay their fair share so that we do not burden lower income families with more regressive taxes. Vote NO on ST3 and demand immediate revisions to the funding sources so that we have transit that is truly fair and progressive.

1 Meeting to Connect

Endorsement Meeting: 43rd Legislative District

Our state govt reps have a lot of work to do — from funding our public schools to reforming our tax system to providing more for affordable housing.

That’s why the August 2 election is so important. I have endorsed Nicole Macri (pictured here) for our 43rd Legislative District, because Nicole has real experience creating affordable housing (results rather than rhetoric). Nicole also knows how to empower the homeless into homes (using proven best practices, rather than making up stuff).

There is another attribute that sets Nicole apart: She “speaks Truth to Power” — a refreshing and meaningful approach because “Seattle nice” and conflict-averse incumbents often let problems linger. To get a sense of Nicole, imagine Bernie Sanders’ passion for justice seasoned by Hillary Clinton’s experience fueled by the tenacity of the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch.That’s what our state government in Olympia needs!

There are other good choices for State Rep including Scott Forbes. For an official list of all of the candidates, CLICK HERE.

Find out who you would support by attending this season’s “Meeting to Connect“:

the ENDORSEMENT MEETING for (1) your representative in State government (Olympia) and (2) your Member of the U.S. Congress (the other Washington).

Northeast Seattle is represented by two State legislative districts: 43rd and 46th.

The 43rd includes Eastlake, Wallingford, U District, and Ravenna. The 43rd is currently represented by Rep Frank Chopp as well as State Senator Jamie Pedersen.

The 46th includes Bryant, Hawthorne Hills, Laurelhurst, and Wedgwood. The 46th is currently represented by State Reps Farrell and Pollet as well as Senator Frockt.

All of Northeast Seattle is included in the 7th Congressional District. With the retirement of Congressman Jim McDermott, there is a rare open seat for the U.S. of House of Representatives. The reason for the election August 2 in the 43rd Legislative District? The other state rep is leaving his post to run for that congressional seat. Musical chairs? Yes.  At this season’s Meeting to Connect, however, you can knock off “two birds with one stone” by learning about both contests: the 43rd State legislative district and the 7th Congressional.

You do NOT need to be a member to attend (you need to be a dues paying member just to “vote” for the endorsements). You also do NOT need to be a registered Democrat to attend. If you have not witnessed a Legislative District endorsement meeting, it is an intense spectacle to behold. Be warned that the meeting will appear hectic and the room will be crowded. Fortunately, it will not be as crowded as the infamous caucuses.

To confirm your State legislative district AND U.S. Congressional district, CLICK HERE.

REMINDER: We encourage you to Vote YES for the Seattle Housing Levy by August 2.
For more information on the benefits of the Seattle Housing Levy (which has NOTHING to do with City Hall’s controversial “H.A.L.A.” policies), CLICK HERE.

Whatever you do this summer, VOTE. Let the halls of power hear the voice of Northeast Seattle.

1 Fun to Enjoy

Summer Story Time

Summer fun in NE Seattle means BBQs, music festivals, swimming, and the neighborly National Night Out. But as much as you think you crave Vitamin D, sometimes you and the kids want to escape the sun and stay as cool as an indoor cat. That’s why 4 to Explore is featuring SUMMER STORY TIME.

Did you just yawn? Well, let’s make it not only cool, but also easy.  Here is The (clickable) List of Summer Story Times in Northeast Seattle:

Also, at the NE Seattle Library branch, don’t miss, Professor Ficklesteins’ Physics Phactory on Saturday, July 16 from 11 a.m. to 12 noon.

For the Seattle Public Library’s 2016 Summer of Learning activities, CLICK HERE.

For Story Times throughout the Public Libraries, CLICK HERE.

These Story Times are typically best for ages 2 to 10.

BONUS FUN: Many of the Summer Funs featured in 4 to Explore are annual events. So you can explore them again and again. Here’s a recap of Summer Funs:

Parks like DahlLaurelhurst, and View Ridge.

Farmers Markets in the U District and Wallingford.

The Fremont Fair, to the Left of Wallingford

Wedgwood Art Fesitval in Wedgwood

Party in the Park in View Ridge

Thistle Theatre at Magnuson Park

Sounds of Summer in U Village (Bryant)

Great Wallingford Wurst Festival (Wallingford)

Families can find other fun events this summer on the calendar websites of Parent MapRed Tricycle, and Seattle’s Child.

1 Store to Adore

Best Pizza in Northeast Seattle

High-carb breads, dairy, and fruit have been demonized by popular new dietary books like The Paleo Diet and Why We Get Fat. But what if we toss all of those foods together into a cool-sounding word? PIZZA ! (Yes, a tomato is technically a fruit.)

So if you are going to treat your body temple to some caloric carbs in Northeast Seattle, make sure it’s worth the sacrifice.

Fortunately, Northeast Seattle boasts some of the best pizza palaces in the city. To celebrate the summer season, pick 1 pizza palace for your own Store to Adore. Here are our favorites:

(As always, you can click on the name of each Store to Adore to get more info.)

Here are some other NE Seattle pizza joints earning at least 4 out of 5 stars on YELP:

Many neighbors also enjoy Zeek’s (Ravenna and Greenlake) and Tutta Bella (Wallingford).  We really miss the thin crust pizza at Fondi (across from U Village on 25th Ave); it closed years ago. Anyone else remember Fondi fondly?

Despite the crusade against carbs, NE Seattle’s appetite for pizza is insatiable, so we would certainly welcome “expanding the pie” and seeing even more of these Stores to Adore.

While some well-meaning “Urbanists” are cheerleading the dramatic “upzones” of Northeast Seattle being pushed by City Hall, a coalition of for-profit developers, and the board of UW, the downside is the loss of many Stores to Adore followed by vacant storefronts followed by lifeless chain stores.  In her seminal work “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Jane Jacobs demonstrates that it is Diversity (of buildings and uses and times of the day used) rather than mere Density that fosters economic sustainability and generates “eyes on the street” for public safety. The downside of demolishing older buildings — like those torn down last month in the U District at 50th Street and The Ave? It’s difficult for beloved pizza joints and other locally owned businesses to afford the high rents required by newly constructed buildings. As Jacobs wrote, “Chain stores, chain restaurants and banks go into new construction…Perhaps more significant, hundreds of ordinary enterprises, necessary to the safety and public life of streets and neighborhoods, and appreciated for their convenience and personal quality, can make out successfully in old buildings, but are inexorably slain by the high overhead of new construction.”

Seattle’s Child magazine recently published “11 Best Kid-Friendly Pizza Places In and Around Seattle.” For their article CLICK HERE.

Engage More

Read “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs

As bloggers posing as journalists in Seattle reduce people’s heartfelt views and concerns into tweetable labels like “NIMBY” and “Density Demagogues”, it’s important to take a deep breath and seek to understand all sides.

Jane Jacobs is a lighthouse for me. In her seminal work “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Jacobs wrote, “To generate exuberant diversity in a city’s streets and districts, four conditions are indispensable”

1. “The Need for Mixed Primary Uses” “These must insure the presence of people who go outdoors on different schedules and are in the place for diffferent purposes.”

2. “The Need for Small Blocks” “That is, streets and opportunities to turn corners must be frequent.”

3. “The Need for Aged Buildings.” “The district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition, including a good proportion of old ones so that they vary in the economic yield they must produce.” “…Hundreds of ordinary enterprises, necessary to the safety and public life of streets and neighborhoods, and appreciated for their convenience and personal quality, can make out succesfully in old buildings, but are inexorably slain by the high overhead of new construction.”

4. “The Need for Concentration” “This includes dense concentration in the case of people who are there because of residence.” “However, it will not do to jump to the conclusion that all areas of high dwelling density in cities do well. They do not, and to assume that this is ‘the’ answer would be to oversimplify outrageously.” “The reason dwelling densities can begin repressing diversity if they get too high is this: At some point, to accommodate so many dwellings on the land, standardization of the buildings must set in. This is fatal, because great diversity in age and types of buildings has a direct, explicit connection with diversity of population, diversity of enterprises and diversity of scenes.”

“The necessity for these four conditions is the most important point this book has to make…The purpose of explaining them one at a time is purely for convenience of exposition, not because any one — or even any three — of these necessary conditions is valid alone. ALL four in combination are necessary to generate city diversity.”

For a summary of the book from Wikipedia, CLICK HERE.

To order the book from a Northeast Seattle bookstore Third Place Books, CLICK HERE.

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