Following up on this AM's Fizz, we've got more about what city budget director Ben Noble meant when he said there was "TBD funding" in the $1.07 billion waterfront tunnel project. It's not only, as we said in Fizz, that the city has identified cost overrurns—$200 million, for which they've scrounged up $168 million in savings, with the remaining $32 million "to be determined." It's also, Noble says, that they've reassessed the original funding sources and believe $52 million of those funds "aren't feasible anymore."
For example, the original funding plan included $55-million-$65-million in a voter-approved levy for the waterfront Shangri-La. They've taken that out of the plan. Additionally, the Local Improvement District (LID), a targeted tax on waterfront property owners who benefit from the project, has been scaled back from an original $200-$300 million down to $200 million.
Here's the breakdown of the new funding plan that Noble presented to the city council's waterfront committee yesterday afternoon.
(The asterisk on the $70 million from the state, by the way, isn't intended to imply that the state has scaled back on its $290 million commitment to pay for decommissioning the Battery Street Tunnel, taking down the viaduct, and helping revamp Alaskan Way. However, the city isn't counting $70 million of the WSDOT money—specifically for the Battery Street Tunnel project and taking down the viaduct—toward financing the $1.07 billion project because, the city says, those are state obligations apart from the city work.)
Ultimately, what's noteworthy about subtracting up to $100 million in LID money and the voter-approved levy money is their common denominator: Public support.
It's hard to ignore that the mayor's office and the waterfront planners seem skittish about the project's lack of populist appeal.
It's hard to ignore that the mayor's office and the waterfront planners (the committee is co-chaired by former mayor Charley Royer and Seattle Foundation, Bullitt Foundation, Seattle Art Museum bigwig Maggie Walker) seems skittish about the project's lack of populist appeal.
2. Proponents of microhousing, AKA aPodments, sent a last-ditch letter to the city council outlining how much money they believe they stand to lose if the council adopts new regulations dictating the minimum size of microhousing units, the number of sinks in each unit, the amount of “common space” required for each floor of a microhousing development, minimum bike parking, and other new regulations.
Altogether, the microhousing proponents (organized as Smart Growth Seattle) say, the new rules (including several amendments introduced in addition to the original legislation, which, by itself, would require microhousing developments to go through design review and mandate an average minimum unit size) will add about $576 a month to the typical aPodment rent, increasing the average from $800 to $1,376 a month.
Mayor Ed Murray has not objected to the underlying bill, but has threatened to veto the proposal if it includes the new amendments, which, he said in a letter last month, could “indirectly regulat[e] density through land use code standards related to storage space and other amenities. … Regulations are needed for this type of development, but our regulations need to help and not hinder the process and the outcomes we are hoping to achieve. And one of those achievements is more housing. That is a priority. “
Staffers for Murray have not yet returned calls for comment.