Burien Safe Sidewalks Now

Debunking falsehoods | October 27, 2009

A recent letter to the editor of the Highline Times by an opponent of the Sidewalks and Bikes Levy made some not-quite-accurate statements about the projects.

  • “Joe Fitzgibbons [sp] suggested on the Transportation Choices Coalition Web site that this is a trial balloon to see if Burien can get residents to vote for this type of a tax.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is true that the vote will allow us to see if residents will vote for a vehicle license fee to pay for needed transportation improvements–isn’t that the point of having a vote?   But that’s very different from the inaccurate and irresponsible claim that “this is a trial balloon.”  It’s likely that other cities around the region will be watching to see if Burien voters believe that safe walking and biking routes are a high priority, as I said on the TCC blog, but it would be pretty ridiculous to suggest that the City Council put it to the voters for that reason–something only suggested by the levy’s opponent in her letter.
  • “Burien is one of the highest taxed cities in King County.”  This statement is so ludicrous that it’s hard to know where to start!  It’s hard to debunk when the author makes no effort to cite where she got this idea.
  • “Both 8th Ave and South 136th have light use by both pedestrians and bikes.”  Huh?  During September’s statewide bike and pedestrian count sponsored by the Cascade Bicycle Club, I stood in the cold at the corner of 136th and 8th to count bikers and pedestrians and counted 37 between 4 PM and 6 PM.  I wouldn’t call that light use, especially when considering how many of them were students at Cedarhurst Elementary and Kennedy High School.  Does the author of this letter believe that those students don’t deserve safe walking and biking routes to school?  One wonders how she defines “light use.”
  • “no information was presented about: the projects costs, amount to be collected from this tax, what other grants/sources could help with the projects[.]”  This information wasn’t presented at the City Council meeting she references, but it wasn’t hard for me to find out!  I just asked.  Did the letter’s author ask city staff to provide this information?  It took me one easy email to find out that the projects would cost between $850,000 and $1,050,000 and that the city was also seeking an Urban Vitality Grant from the Public Works Board to help fund the project.

It’s clear that the opponents of the Sidewalks and Bikes Levy will try to confuse voters with an array of unrelated accusations in order to get them to vote “no.”  However, they won’t address the central question that voters must decide in this vote: are we willing to pay a little bit more (7 cents a day more) in order to have safe walking and biking routes in our city?  I hope the voters of Burien will see through the attempts to confuse and say yes.

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