Letter to the Editor: A flawed sidewalk plan

Thursday, October 18, 2018

To the Editor:

While I believe that most residents in Shoreline would agree with Ms. Leitzelar, three out of four of her very legitimate reasons (#2-4) for voting “yes” on prop 1 actually support a “no” vote on this flawed sidewalk plan. In the same order as Ms. Leitzelar’s numbered comments, here’s why:

1) Most all of us agree that Shoreline needs more sidewalks. I’ve been strolling two feet from traffic on gravel and grass patches along 10th NE for 14 years. It’s not a safe feeling.

2) It is true that many of our sidewalks need repair. However Prop. 1 does not explicitly fund the repair of any sidewalks in Shoreline. If, after a 20 year period, there are funds left over, the remaining funds can be used for sidewalk repair.

3) It is true that there is not enough funding to build all the sidewalks everyone would like, but recognize that many of the sidewalks that Shoreline does have (~75 miles) were built not with just City funds, but with grants and requirements placed on developers. We are entering a period where significant portions of Shoreline will undergo development and new sidewalk requirements will be placed on those developers. There are many opportunities for sidewalk grants, just Google “sidewalk grants” I believe you will be surprised. Shoreline builds about one mile of sidewalk per year based on these types of grants. Prop 1 will build about 5 miles in 6-7 years.

4) New sidewalks are expensive. Consider that Prop. 1 will generate around $59M ($17M paid in interest and debt insurance) in funding via sales tax to fund only 12 projects (~5 miles) of sidewalks that lie along busy arterials. In fact, about 29% of the funds you would be voting in with a “yes” on Prop 1 actually go to interest payments, much the same as interest paid on a mortgage. Shoreline citizens are then paying around $6M per mile for these sidewalk projects, but actually $9.2M per mile when the interest payments are included. $13M is held in reserve for 20 years as a cushion for cost overruns. It is from this $13M that repairs may be made.

Finally, residents should understand that none of the new sidewalk projects funded by Prop. 1 are located within neighborhoods. This when 75% of residents who were polled regarding sidewalks want sidewalks in their neighborhoods, because who wouldn’t? Yes, vote for sidewalks, yes let’s put money and resources into sidewalks, but no, Prop 1 is the wrong plan to get to the sidewalks that citizens in Shoreline want. Please a have a look at the wealth of information and ideas presented at www.shorelinesidewalksplan.org I recommend reading through the FAQ presented on that site which will help guide you through what Prop. 1 actually does fund and where information can be found from the City’s reports.

Jarred Swalwell


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