Seattle residents overwhelmingly approved a $290 million, 30-year bond measure to reconstruct the aging Elliott Bay seawall, and King County voters approved a six-year renewal of a $119 million automated fingerprint-system levy to assist law enforcement in gathering and processing crime-scene evidence.
With images of severe storm and flood damage from the East Coast fresh in many voters’ minds, Seattle residents overwhelmingly approved a $290 million, 30-year bond measure to reconstruct the aging Elliott Bay seawall.
In Tuesday’s initial vote count, 77 percent of voters were supporting the seawall replacement and just 23 percent were voting to reject it.
“It’s astonishing,” said Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “The voters have spoken so strongly to protect our infrastructure, to move forward with rebuilding the waterfront, to keep traffic moving. It’s a great investment for the next 100 years.”
King County voters, meanwhile, approved a six-year renewal of a levy for a $119 million automated fingerprint system to assist law enforcement in gathering and processing crime-scene evidence. Fifty-nine percent of voters approved the levy.
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“This is a very important tool that we use every day in crime fighting,” said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. “I know some people wish it could be funded in the general fund, but the special levy funding has protected the program from the kind of cuts other criminal-justice programs have taken over the past five years.”
The two measures will increase property taxes for the median $360,000 home in Seattle about $68 per year.
Proponents of the seawall measure argued that the largely wooden barrier, constructed between 1919 and 1936, was never designed to withstand a major earthquake and was badly damaged by gribbles and tidal action. City leaders said that failure of the wall could cause much of Alaskan Way to collapse, threatening transportation routes and major utility lines.
They also had a timeline to meet. Removal of the Highway 99 viaduct, damaged in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, and the planned reconstruction of Alaskan Way in its place, can’t be completed until the seawall is rebuilt.
There was no organized opposition to the measure, but some opponents said that the whole city shouldn’t be taxed for infrastructure that would primarily benefit waterfront property owners. The Automated Fingerprint Identification System is used by all of King County’s cities and unincorporated areas. Satterberg and the entire Metropolitan King County Council supported the levy renewal.
An estimated $1.5 million of the levy funds would be spent to replace the fingerprint-processing lab, which the county has outgrown.
The levy also had no organized opposition, although some residents complained that property taxes have continued to increase while many incomes remain flat.
Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @lthompsontimes.