We like sidewalks as much as the Yes on Prop 1 supporters. But Prop 1 is not the best plan for sidewalk safety.
When Shoreline was incorporated in 1995, there were 53 miles of existing sidewalks, which were originally built in primary pedestrian areas, such as in commercial districts, near schools and government buildings, and on major routes across the city. So, the sidewalks we already have are already in most of the best places.
Shoreline has added 17 miles of sidewalks, which is about one mile per year on average. Shoreline will keep doing this using various funds and grants as they have been. Redevelopment in Shoreline has added another 5 miles of sidewalk. As the rate of redevelopment continues to increase due to housing market pressures and the light rail subarea rezones, more sidewalks will be built or funded as a requirement of replacing existing houses with new structures. For example, the new development at Westminster will fund $5,000,000 of sidewalks in the next several years. And, Sound Transit is funding $4,000,000 of sidewalk projects near the future light rail stations.
Prop 1 would add about 4.2 miles of sidewalks over about six years at a cost of $29,000,000 to $37,000,000. This doesn’t even double the average rate at which we add sidewalk over six years. Prop 1 is therefore a modest, short term increase in sidewalks that we are paying off until 2039.
Prop 1 puts the City into debt to build 4.2 miles of sidewalk: Prop 1 raises $60,000,000 over 20 years, and $17,000,000 of that is interest repayments and other costs of taking on debt. City engineers estimate that the projects will cost a total of $29,000,000, and the remaining $12,000,000 is financial cushion in case the projects go over budget. Cities frequently use debt finance to pay for big, one time capital projects, such as stadiums, schools upgrades, and recreation centers, such as the one you’ll be asked to fund in a couple of years. But, for years we’ve been building sidewalks as funds become available, and although 50% of us say we are unsatisfied with sidewalks when the pollsters ask us, going into debt for sidewalks is worth thinking twice about.
Of course people want sidewalks. But most people want to walk around their block, or they want ADA access. Prop 1 ignores both.
WHERE PROP 1 WOULD PUT SIDEWALKS
Prop 1 probably wouldn’t put a sidewalk on your street, even though the 2018 Satisfaction Survey results showed residents prefer sidewalks in neighborhood streets over city-wide routes. Prop 1 doesn’t consider wheelchair accessibility or pedestrian-friendly routes, either.
What does Prop 1 do?
Prop 1 funds only 12 predetermined projects (about 4.2 miles) among the streets identified in the City's uninspired 2011 Pedestrian System Plan. This Plan focuses on putting sidewalks every five blocks in a grid, mostly on major and minor arterials, regardless of where people actually walk or want to walk. That plan assumes people would walk up to 2.5 blocks to the nearest vehicle arterial with a sidewalk, as if they were robots, then proceed onwards to their destination along that arterial. But most pedestrians avoid arterials because they are often loud, dangerous, and smelly.
Contrast that Plan, based on long slogs along vehicle arterials past bus stops and through sprawling neighborhoods, with the more cutting edge and thoughtful pedestrian-based design used in San Jose, CA. In San Jose, they focused on creating neighborhood-based travel from home to nearby amenities such as shopping, schools, and third places (restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, book stores.) This is what we believe people crave in Shoreline. We need a modern plan.
Prop 1 puts the majority of its projects on streets that already have one sidewalk or puts new sidewalks on both sides of streets, which is unfair when so many other streets have no sidewalks. And, nine of the twelve projects are in the north half of Shoreline. Only one project is in the SE quarter of Shoreline. We need a fair plan that benefits all neighborhoods.
Prop 1 sidesteps the issue of repair versus new construction. We need to have a real discussion about fix old versus buy new because so many of our existing sidewalks are in disrepair and/or not up to current standards. And, it is so much cheaper and more impactful to repair. The City estimates that sidewalks cost about $7,000,000 per mile, or $1.5M per block, on average. Compare this to their estimates for sidewalk repairs:
Nine of the twelve members of the Sidewalk Advisory Committee, after months of education about maintenance and construction, voted to use Prop 1 to fund more repair than construction:
Prop 1 ignores the recommendations of the SAC. In fact Prop 1 gets backwards since it funds construction first, and if the projects come in within their estimated average budget, then the City might use any extra money for repair. But it’s clear from the staff reports to City Council that repair takes a second seat to new construction without any consideration or discussion of the results of the SAC input.
Adopt a yard sign
We hate campaign yard signs, but they are a necessary evil. So, we’ve got a few of them just so you know we’re around. But, we hacked them! They have two purposes: they share the word to vote No on Prop 1, and they tell the City what you think its sidewalk priorities should be. We encourage you to place these signs next to where you’d like a sidewalk.
You can adopt as many signs as you like, and/or you can sponsor signs for someone else to adopt. Our signs are also made to order in small artisan batches by Aurora Prints in Shoreline. We chose not to order our signs from an online company, like the Yes on Prop 1 campaign did, to keep your campaign donation dollars local and pay local sales tax.