This Tuesday night at City Hall is the last public hearing for the city’s 2011 budget. Mayor McGinn’s budget proposal includes about $2 million for pedestrian projects next year, including more sidewalks, curb ramps, walking/biking trails, stairways, and pedestrian lighting.
There is some opposition to the funding sources for these projects as funds will largely come from increased parking rates. There is concern that the increased parking fees will keep people (and their money) away from downtown Seattle’s businesses. The Stranger examines what the effects might be of increased parking rates and suggests that increased downtown parking rates will be good for businesses.
The City Council appears apprehensive to support this budget with the increased parking fees, and Dan Bertolet at Publicola calls on the City Council to lead:
Unless they can propose a realistic and equivalent alternative source of funds for Walk Bike Ride projects, how can council members possibly claim with straight faces that they believe it’s important to create walkable, transit-rich communities in Seattle? (The recently approved $20 license fee is slated to fund about $2 million in Walk Bike Ride projects starting in 2012.)
The change we need will never happen until we start spending serious dollars on the right things, and the reality is, $5 million per year for Walk Bike Ride projects is only a meager first step. But new funding requires either new taxes or cuts—either of which is bound to piss off someone, somewhere. Where does that leave the city’s leaders? Well, it means they actually have to lead. And to do that, they might have to upset the status quo.
However, it may require a strong show of support to embolden the council enough to support the mayor’s budget. Feet First is encouraging people to come out to the final budget meeting:
City Council needs to hear from you about protecting funding for pedestrians in this year’s budget!
Your voice is crucial to the decisions that are being made about the budget.
The final budget meeting is this Tuesday at City Hall, in the 2nd floor City Council Chambers. Sign-in is at 5 pm and the hearing begins at 5:30.