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July 22, 2013 at 6:15 AM
Mayor Mike McGinn and the Seattle City Council agree that all money raised from the $189 school-zone traffic cameras should be used for road and pedestrian-safety projects near schools.
But according to a Times story on Sunday, the question dividing the council and mayor is how to ensure the money is only used for school-related projects. The Council may vote as early as today on a bill creating the School Zone Fixed Automated Cameras Fund. Ticket revenue would be kept in the fund and could be spent only on operating and maintaining the cameras or installing new ones; safety education; and capital-improvement projects in school zones, such as repainting crosswalks, new sidewalks and lighting.
Proponents, who include Sally Clark, Tim Burgess and Mike O’Brien, argue that a separate fund would offer transparency and assauge skepticism that the cameras are less about safety and more about new revenue. My editorial page colleague, Bruce Ramsey, makes similar arguments here. Bruce may be a bit biased, he recounts being on the receiving end of one of those tickets here.
The mayor’s office counters that keeping the money in the city’s general fund keeps it accessible and flexible for a variety of important needs. Targeted spending may ensure money gets to where it has been earmarked, but those same strings can doom more important needs in the case of, say, a recession. Councilman Nick Licata understands the mayor’s point, saying in the Times story, “You want to have flexibility so you can pay for what is most needed — there’s an attraction to that.”
But ultimately, Licata notes in the same story, a dedicated fund is the best way to provide transparency to a citzenry suspicious that the cameras are a revenue tool rather than a safety effort. That’s why he co-sponsored the bill before the council.
I support the traffic cameras. People too often zoom through school zones with no regard for the lives of children nearby. Less than a month after the cameras were installed, nearly 6,000 drivers were caught on camera breaking the law by speeding in school zones.
What do you think is the best way for the city to handle the funds? Weigh in through the poll below or offer your solution.
June 17, 2013 at 6:00 AM
This Seattle Times news story caught my eye over the weekend because I spent my first several months in Seattle without a car. I relied heavily on a combination of my own two feet, buses, trains, taxis, Uber, ZipCar, Car2Go and, of course, my driver friends. The costs really added up, but I enjoyed for a time the convenience of not having to pay for gas and insurance or having to park a car every night in Capitol Hill.
Now I see a dilemma on the horizon. I want the drivers of innovative services like Lyft and Sidecar to succeed. They’re doing well because they’re responding to Seattle’s heavy demand for quick, responsive ride-share car services. At the same time, I don’t think their success is necessarily fair to taxi drivers who are heavily regulated by the city and subject to licensing fees.
Of course, the Seattle City Council is weighing its options.
While I formulate my own thoughts on this issue, what do you think? Give me a sense of your opinion on this. Take our poll.
February 19, 2013 at 7:23 AM
Today’s crazy idea to fix Seattle traffic: a gondola connecting Capitol Hill to the sculpture park on the waterfront.
The idea was mentioned in a news story by Mike Lindblom Tuesday. This is a town that loves looney traffic ideas. Seattle loves to get excited about futuristic transit possibilities. This is not a city that actually wants to build it.
Remember the monorail? Not the one at Seattle Center, the one that was supposed to connect downtown to West Seattle. The one we paid to start building and then shut down. For more crazy ideas, you’ll want to read Anne Hurley’s guest column sharing her ideas on how to fix traffic between West Seattle and the rest of Seattle. She suggests a jet pack or perhaps paddleboarding. Here is an excerpt from her July 12 op-ed:
Last week I dreamed that I had been appointed to a blue-ribbon panel to come up with solutions to gridlock. I was presenting a genius idea, and I could tell the crowd was starting to respond. It involved a giant zip line from the top of Columbia Tower to Smith Tower to the Water Taxi dock in West Seattle.
February 5, 2013 at 7:32 AM
Seattle has the ninth worst traffic in the nation, tied with Philadelphia, according to a news side blog post Mike Lindblom posted on Monday night. He cited a report from the Texas Transportation Institute with 2011 rankings. This is an improvement from our 2010 spot, which was one lower.
This improvement will not be comforting when I’m sitting on Fairview Avenue or anywhere from South Lake Union to downtown during rush hour, when the Mercer construction snarls traffic through two-mile radius stretching west of Interstate 5. Trying to catch a 6:30 p.m. flight out of Sea-Tac was a white-knuckle experience just trying to get onto the freeway.
Our improved ranking will not help the many small businesses in Chinatown-International District whose customers have decided to shop and eat elsewhere because of streetcar construction on Jackson (and the death of the Ride-Free zone).
The incremental rise won’t help anyone who lives in West Seattle, whose commute times have tripled and quadrupled with the viaduct construction.
And it won’t ease the pain of drivers who have seen the traffic on Interstate 90 slow after tolling started on the 520 bridge.
The only people who might feel there’s been an improvement are the residents of South Seattle now that light-rail construction has ended.
I’m from Southern California, where a 45-minute one-way commute was considered easy, and Seattle’s traffic drives me crazy.
This city is a heart fed with plaque-filled arteries and blood clots circulating around its brain. We are its cells, dying slow oxygen-deprived deaths.