NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional 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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