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Frequently Asked Questions About Initiative 42


Any request or proposal to sell or transfer jurisdiction or change the use of park land or park facilities is subject to the requirements and conditions imposed by Ordinance 118477, often referred to as Initiative 42.

What is Initiative 42?

Initiative 42 was a citizen-generated petition that was circulated in 1996. The petition called for all lands and facilities held then or in the future by the City of Seattle for park and recreation purposes, whether designated as park, park boulevard, or open space, to be preserved for such use in the future unless certain conditions are met.

What conditions must be met for the City to sell or transfer jurisdiction of park land, under I-42?

In the ordinance adopted by City Council, park land can't be sold, transferred, or changed from park use to another use unless:

  • The City holds a public hearing regarding the necessity of the transaction; and
  • The City enacts an ordinance finding that the transaction is necessary because there is no reasonable and practical alternative; and
  • The City receives land or a facility of equivalent or better size, value, location and usefulness in the vicinity, serving the same community and the same park purposes, in exchange.

All three of these conditions must be met.

Who started the Initiative 42 process?

The Initiative 42 effort was begun in opposition to a proposal to develop housing on land that had been acquired many years earlier for park purposes.
The City had purchased a parcel of land from the School District in 1971 with the intention that it would be improved as a neighborhood park, but that had never happened. Neighborhood interests, led by the South Atlantic Street Community Association (SASCA) took a strong stance and gained support from park advocates throughout Seattle.

Not only did their efforts result in the passage of Ordinance 118477, they also got funding from the Department of Neighborhoods and the Pro Parks Levy, and ultimately created the neighborhood gem, Bradner Gardens Park.

When are Parks land deals exempt from I-42?
No transactions are exempt from I-42, but in certain cases the Council can supercede the requirements of I-42 through an affirmative statement in the ordinance authorizing the transaction. Generally this occurs only when there's a very compelling need for the sale or transfer of the property or property rights (such as in cases of easements), the community affected supports the change, and the Parks Department has recommended it.  Most recently, this was recommended and approved by Council, with the support of the local community council, in the case of the Queen Anne Bowl Playfield parking lot, in December 2012.
Other recent examples include:

  • Ordinance 123053, An exchange to accomplish a lot boundary adjustment to correct an encroachment at Interlaken Park.
  • Ordinance 117062 Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Parks conveying easement rights under and across Cal Anderson Park to Sound Transit.
  • Ordinance 117293 An egress agreement with Seattle school District over a portion of Wallingford Playfield.

When did I-42 go into effect?

A council bill that made Initiative 42 law was adopted by the Seattle City Council in January of 1997, signed by the Mayor in February 1997 and took force in March 1997.

Is there an appeal process?
YES, established in the Ordinance, Section 2, "Any person may seek review in the Superior Court."

Can parks land be sold to anyone?
YES, if the transaction meets the requirements of I-42, the Council passes an ordinance, and no one challenges it in Court.If challenged, the Court has the authority to "set aside the proposed transaction," based strictly on "the evidence as an issue of fact."



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