McGinn wants property tax hike to replace Seattle seawall


by LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News and

Posted on January 14, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 14 at 6:29 PM

Would you vote for a property tax increase to replace the Seattle seawall sooner?

SEATTLE – Seattle mayor Mike McGinn is asking the city council to put a $241 million property tax measure on the May 18 ballot to replace the Seattle seawall faster than currently planned.

At a press conference Thursday morning, McGinn says the current plan to replace the seawall in six-to-nine years isn't good enough, because an earthquake could compromise the wall and destroy the Alaskan Way Viaduct. He wants it done in four years.

"The current plan leaves the existing seawall in place for far too long," said McGinn.  "Replacing our deteriorating seawall, before it fails, is one of the basic needs for our city."

The city says approximately 50 percent of the existing wall is damaged and there is a one-in-ten chance of seawall failure within the next ten years. The city wants to replace 3,500 feet of seawall between S. Washington Street and Pine Street.

The city says the current state plan for viaduct replacement does not cover replacing the existing seawall.

“"We know we have a major problem," said McGinn. "It would be irresponsible to not address this basic issue of public safety immediately."

If passed, the tax measure will raise 12 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That would be $48 per year on a $400,000 home.

The measure would require a 60 percent supermajority to pass.

When asked if this was in any way tied to his opposition of a tunnel to replace the Viaduct, McGinn said no. He says it's a separate issue.

McGinn opened his press conference discussing the tragedy in Haiti, that was hit Tuesday with a 7.0 earthquake followed by numerous strong aftershocks. But McGinn also said this call for a property tax was not a knee-jerk reaction to the situation in Haiti.