Waterfront in the Forefront

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Little heralded, but certainly worthy of notice: Proposition One, the measure to rebuild Seattle’s badly deteriorated seawall, overwhelmingly passed on Nov. 6.

That means that Seattle has been saved from millions of Gribbles, those tiny marine isopods that have been eating on our seawall, slowly turning the nearly 100-year-old barrier that holds back the waters of Elliott Bay into sawdust.

Initial returns showed a 77% “yes” vote citywide. This is extraordinary support for a bond issue, particularly in challenging economic times. In other words, voters agreed to tax themselves to pay for reconstruction of the vital structure over a 30 year period. Approval means that the owner of a median-priced home will pay approximately $59 a year to retire the bonds.

I had to search my memory to try to come up with a comparable voter outpouring. But even though I’ve been covering Seattle politics since before the Flood, I couldn’t recall any. Even the vote to save the Pike Place Market was only an overwhelming 74 percent.

When in doubt: check with Scott Cline, our city archivist. He reports that, in recent memory, the 1998 Library Bonds passed with a 69 percent vote and the 2007 School construction bonds attracted 68 percent. Checking back, Cline found that you have to go back to the 1940s to find higher voter approvals: a 1948 Parks and Playgrounds measure that tallied 82.35 percent and a Street Lighting bond issue approved by 82.95 percent in 1948. In 1946, a Sewer System Betterments issue ($3 million) gained approval by 77.25 percent.

Still, Proposition One is one for the record books. Thanks go to the voters, once again, for being there when Seattle needed their support to make this an ever better city. We’re not letting the gribbles have the final say or the last laugh.