Sonics’ high-stakes bill
If the state legislature proceeds with Senate Bill 5986, get ready for a big-money referendum on whether King County taxpayers should write most of the checks to builders of the new Sonics basketball arena.
The bill is scheduled for the House Ways and Means Committee Friday, April 13. It authorizes the county to extend taxes now paying off Safeco Field to build an arena in Renton. Sonics officials have pegged the cost of the facility they desire at $400 million, three-quarters of which, they say, needs to come from taxpayers. If it passes the committee, the legislature may directly authorize the funding or it may ask county citizens to weigh in — a way, says Chris Van Dyk of Citizens for More Important Things, to pass the buck.
“That’s how legislators always claim that ‘It’s the other guys over there, he’s making the decision,’” he says. “It’s like leaving your kid with a bunch of candy and then saying, ‘It’s not my fault he’s got diabetes.’”
If county voters get a say on whether to extend the taxes, says Van Dyk, the team’s owners can be expected to let their money drown out detractors.
“To the Sonics, [a new Renton stadium] is worth half a billion, so it’s not rocket science to expect they’ll spend $10-$15 million on this.”
No more playing nice: After trying to negotiate with the developer of a shopping center planned on the site of Seattle’s Goodwill store, the Dearborn Street Coalition for Livable Neighborhood will take its concerns to the street April 21 in a march to the Goodwill.
Goodwill owns a 10-acre store site at South Dearborn Street and Rainier Avenue South that it plans to deed over to Darrell Vange, who plans to build a four-block shopping mall of big-box stores topped by some 500 units of housing — 200 of which Vange and the Seattle Housing Authority announced this week will be low-income units built with U.S. Treasury tax credits.
That might bring the project positive publicity, says coalition member Elana Dix, but it won’t deter the 37 groups that make up the coalition from demanding other concessions that they failed to get in city-facilitated negotiations with the developer.
The coalition says the giant project, which will be two-thirds the size of the Northgate Mall and include a Target, Lowe’s, and 2,300 spaces for parking, could decimate the Vietnamese owner-operated shops of the adjacent Little Saigon district. To mitigate that, the coalition wants Vange to commit to redesigns that would reduce traffic, provide small spaces for local retailers, and guarantee the project provides local jobs.
The April 21 march to the Goodwill Store starts at 1 p.m. at the corner of 12th Avenue and Yesler Way near Bailey-Gatzert School.