The Parks District ballot measure Seattle Bike Blog endorsed has passed, giving the city slightly more funding for parks and some extra wiggle room for future property tax levies.
Part of the Parks District plan includes some funding to help increase safe access between neighborhoods and parks. Many neighborhoods have great parks, but they are often surrounded by busy and dangerous streets with missing or inadequate crosswalks and bike route access. If children and people with mobility issues cannot safely get from their front doors to their neighborhood park, that’s a huge shame and makes the parks less of an asset for everyone in the community.
The ballot measure also includes some funding to help put on open streets events. As we reported last week, several Seattle leaders — including City Council Parks Committee Chair and Parks District booster Sally Bagshaw — went down to Portland recently to check out their Sunday Parkways events. Bagshaw did not mince words by saying that Seattle needs to do something like them.
The District also takes needed parks funding out of the city’s levy system, which state law limits. This could make room for a future vote on, say, a bigger transportation levy or something new like universal pre-K. Bridging the Gap expires next year, so conversations will need to begin some time soon on what the next transportation levy should look like. This is our chance to get some real funding for the Bike Master Plan and other needed road safety work.
Ugly campaigning fails
The “No” campaign fighting to stop the Parks District got surprisingly ugly leading up to the vote, but their messaging efforts sure seemed to be effective. Even the Seattle Bike Blog commenters were divided on how to vote. But unlike the “No” campaign, you all held a smart and issues-based debate about it, which is why you all are the best ever (seriously, hugs everyone).
The first real sign that the “No” camp was shifting from loudly unfactual to totally crazy came when members crashed a Parks District press event and shoved business owner Dave Meinert. But what really put things over the top was a robocall that spoofed caller ID to look like it was coming from a 911 phone number. That’s some seriously messed up (and probably illegal) stuff.
I hope this experience makes people wary to include some of the crazier “No” campaign folks on their next campaign, and to think twice about using some of these more dishonest tactics. The “No” campaign was not helpful for fostering a healthy and effective public debate, which was needed (there was very little debate about the real imperfections in the District plan).