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Initiative Measure No. 123

The City of Seattle Initiative Measure Number 123 concerns building and operating a mile-long elevated park on Alaskan Way.

If enacted, the measure would establish a public development authority (PDA) to build and operate an elevated park and other amenities along the waterfront integrating one block of the existing Alaskan Way Viaduct into the design. The PDA would seek public and private funding, including City funds, for this purpose and be responsible for its monetary liabilities. A twelve-member appointed and elected Council would govern the PDA including four members elected from the PDA Constituency, a public oversight membership group.

Should this measure be enacted into law?



1. The law as it presently exists

By ordinance, the City Council adopted a plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, including demolition of the existing Viaduct structure.  By statute, the State adopted a financing plan for this purpose. By contract with the City, the State committed to funding removal of the Viaduct. The City and State will jointly perform the design and construction of the Viaduct demolition through a future agreement.

2. The effect of the initiative if approved

Initiative 123, if enacted, creates a Downtown Waterfront Preservation and Development Authority (PDA) for purposes, such as retaining a portion of the Viaduct, that conflict with existing plans for the waterfront as established in state law, City ordinances and contractual agreements.

The PDA would be a municipal corporation established for the purpose of building, operating and maintaining an elevated park along the central waterfront. The elevated park would be a new 45-foot wide garden bridge for pedestrians and bicycles from just north of the Pike Street Hillclimb to CenturyLink Field. The plan includes park access, roadway reconfiguration and redevelopment of Waterfront Park. As part of the design, the elevated park retains and integrates an approximately 400-foot section of the existing Alaskan Way Viaduct from the Hillclimb to just north of Union Street. Real estate developments are planned for each end of the park. The PDA would seek private money for these purposes, in addition to public funding. The Seattle City Council shall make funds available to the PDA from any source available, including the general fund, to facilitate the PDA’s purpose and its plan for the waterfront. Surplus City property shall be made available to the PDA at no cost.

The PDA would have powers necessary for its purposes, in accordance with the powers granted to public corporations under Chapter 35.21 RCW.

A permanent twelve-member Council would govern the PDA. An interim Council would govern the PDA for 190 days and include Kate Martin, Teri Hein, Richard Warner, Susan Bean, Don Harper, Irene Wall and three members selected by the interim members from applicants. The permanent PDA Council would include four members appointed by the Seattle Metropolitan Parks District; four members elected by the PDA Constituency; and four appointed by the PDA Council. Appointed members would be subject to City Council confirmation. All members of the PDA would serve a four-year term.

The PDA Constituency would include any person who pays regular dues. The Constituency would hold regular meetings to conduct its business. Constituency approval would be required for certain actions such as changes to the PDA plan.

PDA Council approval would be required for certain transactions, including the transfer of real estate and issuance of debt. The PDA would be required to submit an annual report to the City with a statement of its finances which would be audited by the State Auditor and publicly available.

City Council approval would be required for changes to the PDA plan or organization, and to annually fix the compensation of PDA Councilmembers.

For questions about this measure, contact: Polly Grow, Seattle Ethics and Elections, 206-615-1248,

Vote for Initiative 123 to preserve our existing elevated public view after the Alaskan Way viaduct is torn down and replaced with a tunnel and surface road.  If the Citizens of Seattle do not act, our unparalleled views will be replaced with a street level sidewalk promenade next to the busy, noisy freight route where you can hardly even see the water or the mountains.

Our plan uses the same amount of money and funding sources proposed for the alternative SDOT/WSDOT plan, and it’s also a viaduct replacement plan, just with much better oversight and results for the public, visitors, businesses, residents and citizens.

A mile-long elevated park promenade on a brand new garden bridge featuring that spectacular view would boost our entire region with a sustainable grand slam that has immense economic, environmental and cultural value we can pay forward. It creates a healthy, safe and car-free place like Green Lake to enjoy the view, get some exercise, gather with friends and family, take a walk with your dog and more. 

Seattleites have always felt a great sense of pride in that view. A YES vote on Initiative 123 lets us keep the legacy going.

A future benefit study will prove, as preliminary studies did, that the $199M Local Improvement District taxing tool – the biggest piece of the funding pie for the waterfront projects - won’t work with the SDOT/WSDOT plan because the projects add no value to the landowners around it - or the people of Seattle for that matter. 

Putting a Local Improvement District tax burden on landowners legally requires that they receive special added value from the improvement. WSDOT viaduct replacement projects don’t count in the calculation because those are paid for by the state, not the City of Seattle. 

The freight route promenade does not add value. The enormous building-ramp from the market to Pier 62 does not add value. The vast unprogrammable and indefensible spaces created by the plan do not add value. They’re all expensive mistakes.

The Initiative 123 plan is much smarter, adds tremendous value and has huge public benefits. Vote YES on 123 – “a park with a beautiful view, a waterfront for me and you”.  Visit for more information. Thank you.

Initiative 123 is endorsed by Ciscoe Morris, Seattle Green Spaces Coalition, Cass Turnbull, Cliff Mass, the 32nd District Democrats and State Representative Gerry Pollet - see website for more.  

Vote NO on Initiative 123!

An Unfunded, Irresponsible Blank Check

I-123 claims to be a plan for an elevated waterfront park, but in reality the plan is largely undefined and doesn't even include cost estimates. What I-123 actually does is form an unelected interim board to develop a plan that the City will then be legally obligated to pay for, no matter what the cost.

I-123 hands over power to this self-appointed board to use undetermined millions in public funds to build a massive elevated structure running from the Pike Place Market to Century Link field to replace the Viaduct. It would have severe consequences for our City’s budget and for our Waterfront.

An Unaccountable Power Grab

In an unprecedented act, Initiative 123's sponsors wrote their own names directly into the ordinance, appointing themselves the interim board and granting themselves the power to appoint their friends and supporters to the board. This is anti-democratic and is a dangerous parallel to the failed monorail board that wasted millions of taxpayer money and built nothing.

I-123 Will Defund More Important Priorities

Initiative 123 would legally require the City to make unlimited funds available from any source, including the general fund, to pay for this undefined project. This means that other city priorities – public safety, affordable housing and other vital city services – would be put at risk.

I-123 also requires the Council to hand over surplus city property to this board to use or sell as they see fit. These properties across Seattle should be used for affordable neighborhood housing, local parks, and other public benefits, not handed over to I-123's backers.

Takes us Backward

Planning and construction for a new revitalized, accessible and vibrant waterfront is already moving forward. I-123 would undo work directly based on years of public input, collaborative neighborhood meetings, and planning for an environmentally-responsible waterfront park.

The American Institute of Architects’ Seattle chapter has come out strongly against I-123, saying it makes no sense to cut off the waterfront from the city. Even the designer of the elevated High Line park in New York – on which the I-123 idea is based – has come out against it, calling it “silly”.

Join AIA Seattle, the League of Women Voters, Friends of Waterfront Seattle, the 34th District Democrats, the Seattle Aquarium, and the Seattle Parks Foundation in opposing I-123.

 Please vote NO on I-123 on your August 2 primary ballot!

Your YES vote on 123 will create an amazing legacy for Seattle’s future.

Ignore special interests defending SDOT’s lackluster downtown waterfront plan. They will say just about anything to try and stop Initiative 123’s plan that is so much smarter and better for Seattle.

So, don’t be fooled and don’t settle for the booby prize. Remember, it's not Alki down there on Alaskan Way. The SDOT plan has us walking hand in hand with about 25,000 trucks a day. 

Initiative 123’s plan creates a healthy, level, safe and verdant elevated park from the market to the Clink with breathtaking public views and zero cars.

The Downtown Waterfront Preservation and Development Authority would join 8 other successful Seattle PDAs - including Pike Place Market – that are administered by the mayor’s office and provide a layer of volunteer experts and citizen watchdogs to contain costs and protect the public’s interest.  

Vote YES.

Submitted by: Kate Martin, 206-579-3703,

I-123 does not include any kind of “plan”, cost estimates or financing. 

I-123 does include a vague description of another elevated structure on our waterfront, including preserving a portion of the seismically unsafe Viaduct. It doesn’t address how people will access our waterfront or even if the State of Washington, who owns the Viaduct, would allow it to remain. 

I-123 creates an unelected board to develop this project, with no requirement for public input and no accountability to voters. It also gives this board unlimited access to the city’s general fund and surplus land to pay for it – threatening funding for public safety, affordable housing and other important city services. That is just wrong.

I-123 would undo the years of planning and public input put into the current Waterfront project, some of which is already underway.

Please join us in voting NO on I-123.

Submitted by: Thatcher Bailey, Lisa Richmond, Lillian Sherman,

Simple majority (Seattle City Charter, Art. IV.1.F)

For questions about this measure, contact: Polly Grow, Seattle Ethics and Elections, 206-615-1248,

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