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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Poll Finds Strong Support for Creating a Seattle Metropolitan Parks District

Posted by on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 4:08 PM

  • EMC Research

A recent poll has found strong support for creating a Metropolitan Parks District to fund Seattle parks: 61 percent initial support, compared to only 31 percent opposed. The survey of 703 likely 2014 city of Seattle primary voters was conducted by EMC Research, January 16 through 23, on behalf of the Associated Recreational Council, Seattle Parks Foundation, the Zoo, and The Aquarium.

Ideally, we wouldn't keep pushing critical services like parks off-budget. But thanks to the absurd 1 percent cap on regular levy growth in Tim Eyman's stupidly vindictive I-747 (and the cowardly governor and legislators who reimposed it), general fund revenue growth simply cannot keep pace with the cost of maintaining public services. A Metropolitan Parks District would yield substantially more taxing authority than what is available through existing levy capacity, while providing a steady, longterm revenue stream dedicated to parks. A measure creating a Metropolitan Parks District will likely go to voters in the August primary.

The survey also found 75 percent support for a $54 million package (about $168 dollars a year on a $400,000 home) to fund both ongoing maintenance plus continuing investments at parks, the Zoo, and the Aquarium. An alternative $24 million package "that would only include money for critical needs" drops to 65 percent support.

A PDF of the polling memo is available here.


Comments (20) RSS

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Dear Goldy, I think you could do better in your analysis. The Press Release sent out by Parks lists three poll questions. A question identified as Q. 32 (the $54M question), a question identified as Q. 40 (the $26M question), and a question which lacks a number which asks whether or not citizens believe we should continue investing in parks, but does not call out the funding mechanism. I cannot find an actual survey question addressing the MPD issue in the press release, although the poll piece leads with the finding of 61% support for an MPD. Could you dig deeper? Was this a push-poll? I don't know many people wildly enthusiastic about an MPD, with the possible exception of Michael Maddux.
Posted by GailChiarello on February 18, 2014 at 4:28 PM · Report this
The full survey results, with questions, will be presented to the Parks Citizen Legacy Committee by the polling firm, EMC on Thursday, March 20 at 6PM at Miller Community Center. After that presentation the full survey will be made available to the public.
Posted by ptb on February 18, 2014 at 4:55 PM · Report this
michaelp 3
For the record - I am "wildly enthusiastic" about finding solutions. An MPD is a solution to a serious funding problem caused by the 1% rule and years of minimal REET funding.

The alternatives:

a) Let our parks and facilities decline in quality.

b) Public-private partnerships with more benefit to the "private" than "public".
Posted by michaelp on February 18, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Report this
The next meeting of the Parks' Legacy Committee is this Thursday, Feb. 20 at 6 PM at Miller Community Center. Is that the meeting you intended, ptb?

What I find mystifying about the whole Metropolitan Park District issue is that there has been no public discussion of the topic. The Legacy Committee has been meeting since last spring, and they've done no education or outreach, done nothing to answer questions that voters might have.

I attended one of their public meetings a couple of weeks ago. I was expecting a good explanation of the MPD and how it would work, but that didn't happen. The topic came up only in table conversations. If the MPD is such a great idea, why keep people in the dark?
Posted by Citizen R on February 18, 2014 at 5:14 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 5
From the people who brought you the Seattle Commons . . . .
Posted by kk in seattle on February 18, 2014 at 5:18 PM · Report this
No, michaelp, the alternatives are not as you suggest. Voters can approve a 6-year levy of sufficient magnitude to eliminate most of the maintenance backlog and put additional funds into the operating budget.

You will not succeed with a story that the MPD is essential to avoid continuing decline of our parks system. Voters will see through that line.
Posted by Citizen R on February 18, 2014 at 5:18 PM · Report this
Dear PTB: Are you talking about tomorrow night's Parks Legacy Committee meeting at Miller Community Center--tomorrow, February 20th? I believe the committee is charged with coming forward with a recommendation by March 7th, so it doesn't make sense for EMB to do the presentation on March 20th.

And to MichaelP, yes, we are in agreement about avoiding public-private partnerships where the private partner gets all the benefit. It would be great to work together on some of these problems ... I wouldn't rule out an MPD at some future date. I think it's premature in 2014 & unfortunately smacks of a bit of a Stealth Campaign, which doesn't insure tons of citizen trust.
Posted by GailChiarello on February 18, 2014 at 5:53 PM · Report this
Oops, not "tomorrow" but the day after tomorrow, Thursday, February 20th, is the meeting where I'm hoping the EMB group will make its presentation ...
Posted by GailChiarello on February 18, 2014 at 5:55 PM · Report this
michaelp 9
@6 - you're right only if you believe that micro-managing funding for parks by six year ballot measures is an appropriate way to respond to the long-term funding crisis caused by the 1% rule.

Frankly, that's what Tim Eyman wants, but it is a piss-poor method to budget on the municipal level.
Posted by michaelp on February 18, 2014 at 5:56 PM · Report this
michaelp 10
@7 - I knew that would get us agreeing :-)

I am reminded of one idea that was brought up during the High Point community meeting discussion - a short term capital levy to start work on the AMP, while working out more details on an MPD.

The committee has had some in depth discussions during a few meetings on the MPD. And I admit freely that I have supported an MPD as a final result (whether after a short term capital levy, or immediately) early on due to the problems associated with the funding mess caused by the 1% rule.

I think at this point, it is very important to really actively engage on what protections will be necessary as part of an MPD - supplanting issues, intergovernmental agreements regarding sale of parks space, etc. On the whole, getting out of the levy cycle for parks funding should be a good thing (and hopefully someday the Legislature does away with this crippling rule).
Posted by michaelp on February 18, 2014 at 6:03 PM · Report this
I'd be glad to have some more investment in the zoo and the aquarium; however, first the entrance fees should be lowered so that families whose annual income is lower than $80,000 could afford to take their kids.
Posted by sarah70 on February 18, 2014 at 11:15 PM · Report this
Clara T 12
I support this and strongly dislike yet another tax regressive solution.
Posted by Clara T on February 19, 2014 at 6:25 AM · Report this
Clara T 13
I'd also like to see a zero growth of bureaucracy clause, but suspect it inevitable that a steady higher revenue stream will mean a lot of hiring of essentially inessential management and project directors. Parks Czar far behind?
Posted by Clara T on February 19, 2014 at 6:30 AM · Report this
Is it Seattle's obligation to find financial dodges around "Tim Eyman"? Folks -- Tim Eyman doesn't enact legislation. When the majority vote imposes a 1% tax increase law, how about we consider following it or changing it rather than breaking it? This Parks District idea is simply bad governance masked by a funding "crisis" of our own creation. We aren't creating new funding, just new place to cause more debt not subject to periodic voter review.
Posted by whatever on February 19, 2014 at 10:08 AM · Report this
It's not a financial dodge, whatever, it's actually what Eyman intended -- keep property tax increases below the rate of inflation and give local taxpayers the ability to raise them via public vote. That's what the levy mechanism already allows us to do. The MPD actually takes authority away from voters and gives it all to the City Council, masquerading as a separate parks board where decisions would be immune from initiative and referendum.

Yes for parks funding, No for the MPD.
Posted by Citizen R on February 19, 2014 at 11:06 AM · Report this
Did this little self-serving poll include the fact that once approved an MPD can levy taxes in perpetuity without a public vote? Thought not.
Posted by Mr. X on February 19, 2014 at 4:59 PM · Report this
Only a little off topic, the Methow Valley is having an election on April 22, trying to establish the Methow Valley Recreation District.
Posted by Emily68 on February 20, 2014 at 4:58 AM · Report this
@16--Did this little self-serving poll include the fact that once approved an MPD can levy taxes in perpetuity without a public vote? Thought not.

Will commissioners to the MPD be elected for life? If not, then if voters don't like the tax, they can toss out the old commissioners and elect a new bunch and the new bunch can change the taxes.
Posted by Emily68 on February 20, 2014 at 9:07 AM · Report this

Um, yeah. The City Council will surely be as accountable for their decisions on an un-directly elected MPD as the elected officials from various jurisdictions are for the decisions they make in their capacity as members of the Puget Sound Regional Council. Which is to say - not at all.

I'm giving the opposition campaign money the moment they open their bank account - and once the voters know the facts about the proposed MPD these self-serving poll numbers will plummet.

Posted by Mr. X on February 21, 2014 at 9:10 AM · Report this
The Zoo is doing polling again! They want to tell Seattle that the elephants are fine. But they don't need to. Seattle already gives their taxpayer's money to the Zoo. And no one give a zoodoo how much the elephants are bred or beaten down. Money talks and bullshit walks around in circles and sways back and forth and back and forth and then gets inseminated 112 times but that is not "public" knowledge, rather acquired by other means knowledge, bc zoo don't need to tell you jack suckers.
Posted by Is this thing on? on September 17, 2014 at 8:21 PM · Report this

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