The Waterfront vs. Taxes Paid by Seattle’s Rich.

Over at HorsesASS, David Goldstein yells about  the Seattle Times life in a world entirely free of context:

The proposal now before the Seattle City Council is to double the existing property-tax levy devoted to parks, to $54 million a year, raising the annual cost for the owner of a $400,000 home from $76 to $168. It is not a backbreaking addition, but it would tighten the squeeze on middle-class families already struggling with Seattle’s cost of living.

And it furthers a trend of jumbo specialty property levies. The annual amount of dedicated “lid-lift levies” jumped over the past decade from $65 million to $146 million. The Families and Education Levy doubled in 2011 and the low-income housing levy jumped 50 percent in 2009.

Goldy’s point is reasonable but I think he misses the significance of this particular measure.  The  Blethen family has benefited immensely from tax benefits associated with the redevelopment of Seattle. A huge part of the family money that now supports the Times comes from real estate investments in South Lake Union.  The growth in these investments reflects the subsidies that the city has given to Paul Allen to develop what some people are calling “Allenville.”  My guess is that the Blethens think something like this should happen along the waterfront.  In their view, if they did not need a levy to build South Lake Union, why should they need one to bury the viaduct and create a more economically viable waterfront? Put another way, what do they get out of a park?

This gets me back to other posts here on THE Ave about the boring design the city has presented for the waterfront.  The major reason for that design is  the lack of interest by today’s civic leaders in developing Seattle as a public space.  The imagination, including local taxes, that went into development of the Seattle Center and for preservation of the Pike Place market, is simply missing along the waterfront.  Jeff Bezos, Paul Allen, and, I assume,  the Blethens. really do not live here.  Their “homes” are in New York, London, Monaco or wherever their private yachts and plans can carry them.  Seattle’s new money sees the  city only in terms of what it can do for them.

1 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Roger Rabbit #

    It’s like everything else. The world is a playpen for the rich, and the rest of us are just cows who are here to be milked.

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