Something I’ve learned over the years: Seattle can’t ever have anything cheap.
Not since 1962, when we spent millions of dollars to put a spinning restaurant more than 500 feet in the air, completely out of reach of the average, out-of-shape pedestrian.
The SR 99 tunnel wouldn’t have been cheap, even if it had been built under budget.
As it is, it’s been so expensive that there’s a lawsuit over the price. And, of course, that means lawyers, and lawyers have to be paid — a lot. So there’s no winning for Seattle on this one. If you plan to drive in the tunnel, get your Good To Go! Pass, or you’ll pay an extra couple dollars each time, once the tolling starts Nov. 9.
I’m for making the tunnel trip even more expensive. Here’s how I’d do it if I had control of Seattle’s budget: I’d contract with an artist to direct the painting of murals the whole length of the tunnel that would replicate the view from the old viaduct.
They’d need to subcontract the job to hundreds of other artists to get it done in a reasonable amount of time. You’d look west and see the waterfront and Puget Sound and ships in Elliott Bay and West Seattle. To the east, you’d see what we saw to the east: the buildings, the turn off to Seneca Street — so, maybe not on recreating the east. That could result in a Wile E. Coyote moment.
Altogether we’re talking, what? Two pairs of 2-mile-long murals, on either side, one for each deck of the roadway: 8 miles altogether. The ceiling of the top deck should also be painted sky blue and include the occasional representation of imprisoned, soaring seagull. The ceiling of the bottom deck should be painted “viaduct grey.”
We could bring the price of admission up to art-museum standards, because that’s what it would be. The total cost for all the painters and the design would bring the tunnel cost up to Seattle norms. We cannot have anything cheap.
We can’t have cheap parking spaces.
Seattle is planning to make a parking lot in the U District available for homeless car campers. It’s projected to cost the city more than $1,000 per parking space monthly.
Those have got to be some mighty fine deluxe parking spaces. I hear there’s going to be a concierge, breakfast in bed, free cable TV (including HBO and Showtime) and a massage service with every parking spot. I must not be too far off. How else could a parking space cost that much?
Amazingly, the parking spaces would cost less if the city put walls around them and a roof over each and a kitchenette and a toilet in every single one.
Speaking of toilets, this is the same city that once paid more than $1 million each for five space-age self-cleaning toilets, because that’s how we operate. It’s like buying a suit that takes its own self to the cleaners, or a pair of shoes that do your walking for you.
Of course it’s a brilliant idea. Why wouldn’t we buy that?
Tesla has a car right now that’s like the Lone Ranger’s horse, Silver. It comes to you when you call it. I predict that in a couple of years, Seattle’s government fleet of cars will all be obedient Teslas or the equivalent. Who wants to have to walk in the rain to where you parked your car? Your car should come to your door and honk when it’s ready. It should open its door for you when you run at it and let you leap in.
Ultimately, though, Tesla will want to up their game and make a car that also parks itself, or else drives around for hours looking in vain for a vacant parking space, in order to keep our business. If they could pull that off, they could charge us three times as much per car, so we’d be thrilled with the price tag. Because we can’t have anything cheap.
For years I’ve said the biggest problem SHARE/WHEEL (the Seattle Housing and Resource Effort and the Women’s Housing, Equality and Enhancement League) has in providing self-managed shelters in and around this city is they don’t cost enough.
The city doesn’t value what doesn’t cost as much as revolving restaurants, holes through the ground, parking spaces or artificial-intelligence toilets.
They should tell the city the self-managed shelters are space-age and cost $100 per bed per night.
In the end, we must clean ourselves.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at drwes (at) realchangenews (dot) org
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