Inside City Hall at 10:30 a.m., a new organization calling itself Protect Seattle Now will roll out plans "related to forcing the issue of the people of Seattle having a vote on the deep-bore tunnel," says campaign spokesman Drew Paxton.
Today is the first chance to file paperwork that would put the city's tunnel ordinance—which approves three agreements with the state to allow right-of-way and utility relocation—up for a vote by referendum. The council approved the ordinance earlier this month, which was vetoed by the mayor, and the council will override that veto this morning at a 9:30 a.m. meeting. Once approved by the council, referendum filers have 30 days to gather approximately 16,000 signatures.
But whether or not a referendum can block the tunnel is unclear. First, the council contends that the tunnel contracts aren't subject to a vote. Almost certainly, the council or tunnel proponents will attempt to have a referendum thrown off the ballot. And if if it does go before voters and they reject the measure, it's unclear if the state—which is leading the project—would proceed with the $4.2 billion project regardless.
Paxton has been the spokesman for Move Seattle Smarter, an initiative campaign on the tunnel that lacks legal teeth, which appears to be morphing into this referendum campaign.