NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

King County Parks For All levy will pass; park improvements to continue over next six years

We all ben­e­fit from our pub­lic parks and trails in Dr. Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Coun­ty, whether that’s by hik­ing in the Cas­cade foothills, bring­ing our kids to play sports at pub­lic ball­fields, or cycling on our many pub­lic trails.

King Coun­ty man­ages two hun­dred parks, one hun­dred and sev­en­ty-five miles of trail, and 28,000 acres of open space. While a coun­ty with many urban res­i­dents, King Coun­ty must man­age both green spaces with­in urban growth bound­aries and larg­er, rur­al parks in the east­ern areas of the county.

Thanks to King Coun­ty vot­ers, local parks, trails, and open spaces will con­tin­ue to be ful­ly main­tained and upgrad­ed dur­ing 2020–2025.

As of the end of the day Wednes­day, Propo­si­tion 1 (the Parks, Recre­ation, Trails, and Open Spaces Levy) is pass­ing with 68.32% of the vote.

Around two-thirds of the antic­i­pat­ed votes expect­ed to be cast have been tallied.

This levy will raise $810 mil­lion over its six years, or an aver­age of $135 mil­lion per year. This rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant boost to parks fund­ing com­pared to the expir­ing 2014–19 levy, which gen­er­at­ed around $66 mil­lion per year.

Redmond's Marymoor Park

Red­mond’s Mary­moor Park, seen from the air (Yes for King Coun­ty Parks campaign)

Of that $810 mil­lion, 39% will be used to main­tain parks and trails; 24% used to make open spaces more equi­table through com­mu­ni­ty and city part­ner­ships as well as grants; and 20% used to improve region­al trails, such as the recent­ly-launched East­side Rail Cor­ri­dor (Eas­trail) project.

Remain­ing funds will be used to acquire new space to meet expand­ing pub­lic recre­ation demand. Quite a lot of ben­e­fit for a levy with a mod­est cost!

There are spe­cif­ic projects for which fund­ing from this levy has been ear­marked. The East Lake Sam­mamish Trail, Green Riv­er Trail, Interur­ban South, and Burke-Gilman trails will all receive ser­vice improvements.

Park­ing will be improved at three pop­u­lar trail­heads: Rat­tlesnake Moun­tain (North Bend), Lit­tle Lake (Enum­claw), and the Island Cen­ter For­est (Vashon Island).

Suc­cess­ful endan­gered species con­ser­va­tion and out­reach to under-served com­mu­ni­ties pro­grams at the Wood­land Park Zoo will receive fund­ing from this mea­sure, as will improve­ments at the Seat­tle Aquar­i­um’s Ocean Pavil­ion.

Eight per­cent of levy rev­enue will be grant­ed to cities and towns to use for city-man­aged pub­lic spaces as well.

In King Coun­ty, the main­te­nance and improve­ment of these crit­i­cal pub­lic ser­vices is fund­ed by bal­lot propo­si­tions every six years.

With the cur­rent levy expir­ing at the end of 2019, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan King Coun­ty Coun­cil passed Ordi­nance 18890 this April, autho­riz­ing vot­ers to decide on these improve­ments this August. Spon­sors of the ordi­nance were Coun­cilmem­bers Bal­duc­ci, von Reich­bauer, Kohl-Welles, McDer­mott, and Dembowski.

These types of parks levies were first put to vot­ers in 2003; you can see infor­ma­tion about past levies here.

Kudos to King Coun­ty vot­ers for approv­ing a pro­gres­sive parks mea­sure that will keep our cit­i­zens healthy and hap­py for years to come!

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