• Mayor Murray pitches $290 million Seattle housing levy on Tuesday's ballot

    By: Graham Johnson


    SEATTLE - On Friday, Estela Ortega of El Centro de la Raza, visited the new affordable housing development named for her late husband, Roberto. 

    A thousand people applied to live in the new development on Beacon Hill.
    "It was very sad to see that many people for 112 units of housing. That's why this Seattle housing levy is so important, so they can live in the city that they work in," Ortega said.
    On Friday, Mayor Ed Murray made his pitch for the $290 million housing levy on Tuesday's ballot, which is twice the size of the expiring levy.
    "We will create thousands of affordable homes for thousands of low income families," Murray said.
    The "Yes" campaign says the levy would cost $122 per year for the owner of a $480,000 home.
    Amanda Clark is president of the Seattle King County League of Women Voters, which endorses the measure.
    "We have to do something. The housing crisis has become so dire," Clark said.
    Still, with so many recent levies, her group is concerned about rising property taxes.
    "We're certainly concerned about the impact on homeowners, which of course also impacts renters as well with the tax burden, and how homeowners are expected to pay for so much," Clark said.
    Murray said Friday that Seattle's tax burden is lower than many surrounding communities. On a nationwide scale, the District of Columbia compares taxes in big cities nationwide, and finds for middle and upper income residents, taxes in Seattle are not that high.
    Seattle ranks between 46th and 48th. But for low income residents, the tax burden is higher, with Seattle ranking 8th.
    Joel Savishinsky moved to Seattle two years ago and voted to approve the housing levy. He finds taxes in Seattle a relative bargain.

    "For a home of comparable value in upstate New York, I paid, and I'm not exaggerating, four times the annual property tax of what I'm required to pay here," Savishinsky said.

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