As a Seattle native growing up on Queen Anne Hill, I fondly remember attending SuperSonics games in the 1970’s and watching great players like Jack Sikma, “Slick” Watts, and “Downtown” Freddie Brown. Winning the "Player of the Day" award at Lenny Wilkens basketball camp as a kid was a big thrill. Having grown up with the Sonics, I was disappointed to see our region lose its professional basketball team a few years ago.
A major issue currently under consideration at the County is the proposal for a new, self-funded arena. A private investor, Christopher Hansen, recently came forward with a proposal for a new facility that could be home to both NBA and NHL teams.
The proposal contemplates development of a $500 million multipurpose arena in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood. Of this amount, $300 million would be private investment dollars. The remaining $200 million would be financed via public bonds that would be paid back solely from revenue generated by the facility, such as rent paid by the sports teams and admissions taxes. The bonds would be issued by the city of Seattle and King County. You can read more about the proposal here.
As a long-time Sonics fan, I am excited about the potential return of a basketball team to our region. Before I will vote to approve the use of public bonds to finance part of the facility, I will be focused on ensuring that King County, the city of Seattle, and the private investors reach an agreement with the following conditions:
No new taxes to fund the facility.
The teams must agree not to relocate for at least 30 years.
The agreement must protect taxpayers against cost overruns and revenue shortfalls.
The issuance of public bonds must not adversely impact any public services.
The proposal must be structured to bring jobs and economic growth to the region.
King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn appointed an Arena Advisory Panel consisting of community members with extensive experience in finance, development, community services, and the sports industry to review the financing and other details of the proposal.
The Panel issued its final report and concluded that while many details still need to be worked out, the proposal is favorable. You can read the Panel’s report here and a Seattle Times article about the Council’s recent public hearing on the Panel’s report here.
Negotiations are ongoing, but the Executive is expected to transmit legislation for the Council to review later this month. I will keep you posted as this issue progresses.
Update: Children & Family Justice Center Proposal on August Ballot
The Council recently voted to send a proposed property tax measure to the August primary ballot. The proposal would levy seven cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value for nine years. If approved by the voters, the revenue raised by the measure would fund replacement of the County’s Youth Services Center with a new Children and Family Justice Center. You can review the measure here.
Council Appoints New Sheriff
The Council recently adopted a motion I co-sponsored appointing Steve Strachan as the new King County Sheriff. Sheriff Strachan succeeds Sue Rahr, who left the office on March 31 to become director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. Prior to being named Sheriff, Strachan was serving as Sheriff Rahr’s Chief Deputy.
The Seattle Times published an editorial about why Strachan was the clear choice to succeed Rahr as Sheriff here.
Proposed Field Improvements to Big Finn Hill Park
Located in Kirkland, Big Finn Hill Park is part of King County’s regional park system. In early 2011, Kirkland Youth Lacrosse proposed renovating the park’s soccer and lacrosse field. The proposal includes replacing the existing grass field with new synthetic turf and adding parking, enhanced drainage, and lighting. The proposed field improvements would be made through King County’s Community Partnerships and Grants Program, which fosters public-private partnerships with non-profit organizations to develop or enhance public recreation facilities at no new cost to the public.
Executive Dow Constantine recently transmitted a proposed Use Agreement to allow the renovations to go forward. The legislation, which I co-sponsored, is currently under consideration by the Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. Although I do not serve on this committee, I am monitoring this issue closely.
District 1 Resident Appointed to Library Board
The Council recently appointed Shoreline resident Robin McClelland to the King County Library Board of Trustees. The five-member Board of Trustees governs the King County Library System, one of the largest circulating libraries in the United States. Board members are appointed for five-year terms.
Ms. McClelland succeeds Judge Richard Eadie, also a Shoreline resident, who served the maximum two terms. You can read more about Ms. McClelland and her background here.
Bob’s Bus Books
Having the opportunity to enjoy a good book during my commute is one of the things I enjoy about being a regular bus rider. I am currently reading Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Edgar Award-winning author Tom Franklin. The novel is set in rural Mississippi and is about how two men who were once unlikely childhood friends are forced to confront a past they would rather forget.
Out & About
Bob listening to a constituent at a community meeting.
Upcoming Meetings: I will be attending two upcoming community meetings. These meetings are a chance for you to ask your questions about King County and to discuss important regional issues that matter to you, such as Metro Transit bus service, our criminal justice system, and public health.
View Ridge Community Council
Tuesday, April 17, 7:00 p.m.
Sand Point Community United Methodist Church; 4710 NE 70th Street
Maple Leaf Community Council
Wednesday, April 25, 7:00 p.m.
Olympic View Elementary School, 504 NE 95th Street
I recently attended the 4th Annual Luncheon of the Housing Development Consortium, an association of local non-profits focused on affordable housing. Through education, advocacy and leadership, the Housing Development Consortium and its members work to meet the housing needs of limited-income people throughout King County. The event also celebrated last year’s renewal of the King County Veterans and Human Services Levy, which has contributed significantly to increasing permanent housing for veterans and others in need.
Last month I attended the annual Community Connections dinner hosted by the Center for Human Services. Headquartered in Shoreline, the Center for Human Services provides counseling, education and support to children, youth, adults, and families – services that strengthen our community.
Bob with Kirkland City Manager Kurt Triplett and Sung Yang from the King County Executive’s Office.
I recently spoke at the a special dedication ceremony for the Cross Kirkland Corridor, the 5.75 mile segment of the Eastside Rail Corridor recently purchased by the City of Kirkland. The City’s purchase of the Cross Kirkland Corridor ensures that the land will stay in public ownership and all future decisions about developing this Corridor will be made by Kirkland residents and their elected officials.