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City council unanimously approves controversial tax for new waterfront project

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council voted 8-0 to approve a controversial tax for a new waterfront project after the Alaskan Way Viaduct is demolished.

The vote came as we head into the third work week of the viaduct closure, and while some waterfront residents say the tax is worth the improvements, some feel they would be forced to pay for a project they don’t want.

"I work weekends, I work holidays, I don't have thousands,” said a downtown Seattle condo owner, who asked not to be identified.

But she could be forced to pay thousands for Seattle's proposed waterfront redesign through a local improvement district, or LID, that, if approved, would collect $160 million from her and other downtown and waterfront property owners in addition to existing property taxes.

"I don't need to pay for a walkway for the cruise boat people,” she said.

On Monday, the Seattle City Council voted to approve it after Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the finance plan is ready to go. It’s expected to cost the median condo owner $1,900 spread over 20 years, or about $95 a year plus interest.

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"This will be transformative for Seattle,” said Durkan.

Groups like the Downtown Seattle Association fully support a redesigned waterfront, hoping the council will vote to help fund its future as a post-viaduct waterfront takes shape.

Meanwhile, Monday marks the beginning of what's expected to the be last full week closure of SR 99, with new parking restrictions planned around First Avenue and Battery Street as WSDOT plans to put up new fencing at the south portal to the Battery Street Tunnel that's scheduled to close to drivers on Friday 10 p.m.

People should expect detours and additional parking restrictions starting this week along the waterfront for utility work.

Commuters are happy to see the end in sight.

"Hopefully it doesn't get any worse. I can handle an extra five to 10 minutes on my bus route,” said commuter Harrison Kliegl.

The condo owner, however, said she doesn't see a happy ending to a plan the city anticipates will boost property values.

"If the mayor feels that it's such a boon for the entire city, and this is a once in a lifetime thing, then why are few paying for it?"

The money collected from nearby property owners will only pay for a fraction of the $712 million water project. The city says majority of the money will come from public funding sources.