City Council to vote on new tax for Seattle waterfront-area property owners

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council will vote Monday on a plan to create a Waterfront Local Improvement District that would tax nearby property owners.

Money raised would go to waterfront improvement and pay for what the city calls "special benefits."

The benefit is that once the viaduct is torn down and the SR 99 tunnel opens, property owners, both residential and commercial, will have unfettered access to the waterfront and its new promenade.

Those property owners will likely see higher property values after projects like the waterfront renewal.

The city says the waterfront renewal would cost nearly $690 million and $100 million of that money would be raised with the new tax.

The tax has some feeling the money crunch, while others KIRO 7 spoke with support it.

"I would be honored to do that, to support the LID, because I believe that it greatly benefits our downtown neighborhood," Kim Rorschach, director and CEO of the Seattle Art Museum, said.

But not everyone agrees.

Karen Gielen, who has owned a condo on Western Avenue for years, isn't supporting the project. Gielen said she doesn't like the mechanism designed to pay for the local improvement district.

"We're being asked to pay a special share -- or 100 percent -- of this new park improvement for the downtown area,” said Gielen.

In addition to property owners, tenants in buildings in the area could also see rents rise if owners decide to pass on the cost.

The full City Council will take the issue to a vote on Monday.

On Monday morning, the council will first have a public reading of the bill at 9:30 a.m. They're not taking public comment until the afternoon.

If it passes, the city would be obligated to deliver $200 million of improvements.