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2000 Seattle Election Information




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Rise Above It All (YES)

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  Committee Name, Address, Phone Number & Contact Person
  Rise Above It All
  PMB #449 117 East Louisa St.
  Seattle, WA 98102
  Phone: (206) 323-5655
  Contact: John Peter Sherwin
  Ballot Issue Contested
  For the following Ballot Title:

Ballot Title

The City of Seattle Initiative Measure Number 53 concerns the planning, funding and possible construction of a monorail system.

This measure would require the City to provide $6,000,000 to fund operation of the Elevated Transportation Company, including preparation of a monorail funding and construction plan. The measure outlines required elements of the plan, which would be implemented if approved by voters. The City also would be required to reserve up to $200 million in councilmanic bonding capacity, to be used for monorail construction if voters approved the plan. A transit authority would supervise system construction and operation.

Should this measure be enacted into law?

City Attorney's Explanatory Statement

1. Background—Initiative 41

Seattle voters approved Initiative 41 in November 1997. I-41 created a public development authority, the Elevated Transportation Company or ETC, to build, maintain and operate an elevated, electrically-powered, rubber-tired mass transit system consisting of specified stations and terminals serving the four quadrants of Seattle and running through downtown. The system would be generally “X” shaped and would lie entirely within the City.

The system was to have been funded by private money; federal, state and local grants; and if necessary by an increase in the City’s business and occupation tax and/or by councilmanic revenue bonds. (Councilmanic revenue bonds are bonds that can be issued without a vote of the public, and for which only revenue generated by the project financed by the bonds is committed for repayment.) I-41 did not specify how much money the ETC could spend on the transit system, and did not raise specific amounts from particular sources. Nor did it raise the City’s business and occupation tax or authorize any particular bond issue, but instead directed the City Council to do so if necessary.

2. The Law as it Exists Now – the City Council’s Passage of Ordinance 120049 Amending Initiative 41

In July 2000 the Seattle City Council passed Ordinance 120049 (the “Ordinance”), amending I-41. Among other things the Ordinance dissolved the ETC and deleted I-41’s direction to the City Council to make funds available for the system if necessary by either issuing bonds or raising the City’s business and occupation tax.

In place of the ETC, the Ordinance created a citizens’ advisory committee called the Elevated Transit Committee (the “Committee”). The City is currently undertaking a study, called the “Intermediate Capacity Transit Service Study,” or ICT, to examine the City’s transit needs and options and the cost and feasibility of new transit services along several routes within the City using various technology options. The Committee is to review and analyze the results of the ICT where elevated transit is identified as a feasible option. The City Council has directed the Executive to report on the ICT results and a proposed implementation plan by February 2000.

Following the Committee’s review of the ICT results, it is to make recommendations to the City Council about the feasibility for monorail technology to serve various transportation corridors. In making its recommendations the Committee is to weigh the costs and benefits of other transit technologies studied by the ICT and identify and seek funding sources for monorail construction focusing on revenue outside the City’s general fund or debt capacity. The Committee will cease to exist after March 2001 unless extended by a future ordinance.

3. If Initiative 53 Passes

I-53 provides that the ETC would be re-established and that the City would be required to fund the ETC, including the ETC’s preparation of a funding and construction plan for a monorail system (the “Plan”). It also provides that the City would be required to reserve certain councilmanic “limited tax general obligation,” or LTGO, bonding capacity to be used for monorail construction if voters approved the Plan in a subsequent election. (LTGO bonds are bonds that can be issued without a vote of the public, and for which general taxes are committed for repayment.)

Specifically, I-53 provides that the City would be required to: (1) deposit $20,000 into the ETC’s bank account to carry out the ETC’s purposes; (2) provide $6 million to the ETC (either from the City’s general fund or by issuing LTGO bonds) to fund ETC operations, including the Plan’s preparation; and (c) reserve at least $125 million and up to $200 million in LTGO bonding capacity, to be used for all or part of the initial public contribution for monorail construction if voters approved the Plan in a subsequent vote. The City would have to maintain the bonding capacity reserve until voters accepted or rejected the Plan.

The ETC would have up to two years to complete the Plan for a grade-separated monorail system that used public rights of way as much as possible, and used rubber wheels or was substantially as quiet as a system using rubber wheels. The system would have routes linking neighborhoods in Northeast, Northwest, South and/ or West Seattle with downtown. The Plan also would set forth phases of construction for the system, as well as its technology, basic engineering and financing. System financing could be “any combination of public or private financing, or any type of public-private partnership;” however, no public funds could be spent without additional voter approval. Finally, the Plan would outline the structure of a “Seattle Popular Transit Authority,” which would succeed the ETC and would supervise construction, operation, maintenance and ownership of any monorail system.

Once the Plan was completed, I-53 provides that the City Council would be required to place the Plan before City voters at the next election, including a special election if requested by the ETC or the ETC’s chair.

I-53 also provides for the repeal of any ordinance that had repealed or amended the prior I-41 and that was inconsistent with I–53, and for reinstatement of that part of I-41 that had been repealed or amended.

  Status of Campaign
  Proposition on ballot in General Election
  Complete Text of Ballot Issue Contested

An ordinance to carry forward the purpose and intent of prior Initiative 41 and to cause a monorail system to be built to serve a wide area of the city of Seattle, by: providing specific funding in the form of bonds rather than any new taxes; providing specific steps as to how decisions will be made on route configurations, financing, and the structure of the entity organized to supervise the monorail, etc.; and ensuring that major decisions on all such issues will be made by the people of the City of Seattle.

1. The people have already decided that a monorail system shall be built; this initiative determines how to do it, and how the people shall decide how to do it, as assisted by the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC), the City Council, etc.

2. Keeping ETC alive. Upon certification of the passage of this initiative the city treasurer shall deposit $20,000 from the current budget into the bank account of the ETC which shall be authorized to spend such funds and to continue in existence in order to carry out its purposes.

3. Prepare the Seattle Popular Transit Plan. As the first item of business at the first full council session possible after this measure is certified, the City of Seattle shall fund the ETC by either (a) providing $6 million from the general fund (and if so, $1 million must be placed in the account within 30 days with the full balance due within 90 days) or (b) immediately providing for or ordering issuance of $6 million of Limited Tax General Obligation (LTGO) bonds; and such funds or bond proceeds shall be used by the ETC to carry out its purpose and prepare a Seattle Popular Transit Plan (SPTP). The City may control or use any interest on any LTGO bonds under this paragraph, if necessary or prudent for financial management or tax reasons.

4. Let the People Decide on the Seattle Popular Transit Plan. From the certification date of this measure, the ETC shall have 12 to 24 months, in its discretion, to complete the SPTP which then shall be submitted to a vote of the people. The ETC or its chair have the discretion to elect to use the initiative process for this purpose, if deemed legally necessary or desirable by the ETC or its chair. Otherwise, the City Council shall place the SPTP on a ballot at the next election (including a special election if so requested by the ETC or its chair). The SPTP will then be implemented only if it shall be approved by a majority of the ballots cast for or against such Plan; if not approved, no additional public moneys may be spent on such Plan under this measure.

5. Seattle Popular Transit Plan contents. The purpose of this initiative and the Seattle Popular Transit Plan is to carry out Initiative 41, and to cause a monorail system to be built serving a wide area of the City of Seattle, while ensuring popular control by the people of Seattle over the plan and basic monorail choices and options. The SPTP shall set forth a plan, chosen in the discretion of the ETC, for a monorail system that is: grade-separated and that does not cross or lie in any street at grade; that uses public rights of way to the maximum extent feasible; that uses rubber wheels, or that is a system that is substantially as quiet as one using rubber wheels; that is generally elevated, rising above congestion rather than going through it; and that has a route and station layout linking neighborhoods in NE, NW, South and/or West Seattle with downtown. The Plan shall set forth the phases or stages of construction, if any, as well as the technology and basic engineering of the entire system. The Plan shall also include the financing structure, which may be any combination of public or private financing, or any type of public-private partnership. Any type of private financing may be used, including loans, capital investment, franchise fees, rent, or otherwise. Any public financing must be set forth in the Plan and no public funds may be committed or spent without public approval. The public funds may include contributions from other governmental entities, any funds originally dedicated to other types of transit or transportation should such funds be available, or any other type of public financing. The Plan also shall set forth the form and structure of a new Seattle Popular Transit Authority (SPTA) to supervise, operate, own or maintain the system. The SPTP shall be prepared by the ETC based and/or following any and all necessary studies, surveys, polling or research deemed appropriate by the ETC, which may include consideration of the primary need to provide a mass transit system to quietly and quickly link neighborhoods with downtown and other neighborhoods, and other considerations, including ridership, technology, engineering, interactions with roads, pedestrian mobility, bicycles, bus, rail, ferries and other transit or transportation modes, effects in reducing congestion and sprawl and facilitating community development, public meetings, alternative monorail systems, environmental impacts (including preparation of any necessary EIS), the feasibility of later extensions including beyond the City limits and/or across any body of water, any comparison of monorail with other transit or transportation systems’ effects or costs, and any other steps or information necessary to determine, and obtain public approval of, the best way to configure, build, operate, own and maintain a monorail system to serve a wide area of the city of Seattle.

6. Seattle Popular Transit Authority. Once the SPTP is approved by the people, the SPTA shall succeed to the ETC, shall carry out the remainder of the SPTP, and shall supervise construction, operation, maintenance and ownership of the system in perpetuity, in the manner proposed in the SPTP. The SPTA may be in any suitable form including a non-profit corporation, a public authority or otherwise; shall be accountable to the people of the City of Seattle; and this may be achieved by requiring that it be headed by persons elected by voters of the City of Seattle, in such elections and under such combination of districts or at-large seats as proposed in the SPTP.

7. Reserving limited tax general obligation bonds. Upon passage of this initiative, the City shall reserve at least $125 million of LTGO bonding capacity. This bonding capacity reserve shall be used solely towards all or part of the initial public contribution to the Seattle Popular Transit Plan, if and to the extent that the SPTP so requires, and if the SPTP is approved by the people. This may or may not be the entire public funding component of the SPTP, but is intended to ensure a public commitment showing that Seattle is serious about a monorail. This bonding capacity reserve shall be increased by an amount equal to half of the annual increase in the City’s LTGO bonding capacity which derives from the increase in real property values, until the bonding capacity reserve shall equal $200 million. The bonding capacity reserve shall be maintained until the people approve or reject the SPTP. If the SPTP is not approved, this bonding capacity reserve shall be extinct. In the event of a calamitous natural disaster, such as a serious earthquake, this bonding capacity reserve may be adjusted to provide disaster assistance. The City Council shall take no action that would adversely affect this bonding reserve capacity. Any bonds that are issued after date of certification of passage of this initiative, that may adversely affect this bonding reserve capacity, shall be null and void. If upon certification of passage of this initiative, the bonding reserve capacity established herein does not exist, and there are funds not yet legally committed that are proceeds of bonds issued after July 4, 2000 and prior to certification of passage of this initiative, such funds shall be set aside or moved to an account dedicated to this bonding reserve capacity to the extent necessary to bring it to $125 million or any higher level established herein up to $200 million. Such funds shall not be removed or used for any other purpose, unless and until the city’s bond capacity increases such that removal of such funds does not impair the $200 million bond reserve capacity provided for herein.

8. Changes to ETC and Initiative 41; Severability; Enforcement. This measure is intended to carry forward Initiative 41 to create the ETC and cause a monorail to be built, while allowing public control over the specific plan. Any measure passed by the City Council that repeals or amends prior Initiative 41 in whole or in part, which in any manner is inconsistent with this measure, is hereby repealed and any part of Initiative 41 that was so repealed or amended is hereby reinstated as if the City Council had not passed such a measure into law. A quorum of the ETC Council shall exist whenever 60% of its members are present at an official meeting. Vacancies on the ETC board shall be filled by a majority vote of the remaining board members, with the chair having the tie breaking vote. In the event that there is a vacancy in the chair position, the vice-chair shall have the tie breaking vote. If the City Council is empowered by Charter or state law to confirm nominees to the ETC Board, the foregoing provisions shall not impair that power, but the City Council may only confirm or reject the choice of the ETC board, and, further, may only reject such choice for good cause. The City of Seattle, and its entities and employees shall cooperate and assist the ETC to achieve the goals of this measure and shall include monorail options in any Strategic Transportation Initiative (STI) process or similar study or process. All City information deemed relevant by the ETC shall be made available to ETC in a timely fashion. The City must facilitate this measure in any way needed including but not limited to prioritizing obtaining any permits, or dedication or use of any rights of way, or any waivers or changes in any state or other superior law that may be needed, such as obtaining a waiver from King County Metro to allow a monorail to operate in the City of Seattle. This measure shall be most liberally and broadly construed or interpreted, by any court or other body or official, in order to effectuate and carry out its purposes. If any part of this measure is declared invalid in a court of law, the remainder shall not be invalid for that reason. Any registered voter of the city of Seattle, and any other legal person (including the ETC or its chair) with an interest in traffic and transportation, shall have standing and may bring suit to enforce the provisions hereof, in an individual or class action, and may recover all actual damages sustained by such person, attorneys’ fees, costs of litigation, and any and all equitable or injunctive relief necessary to enforce the provisions hereof or remediate any violations of this measure, including but not limited to temporary and/or permanent injunctive relief to prevent issuance of bonds or other actions that would impair the bond reserve provisions hereof.

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