Candidate McGinn picks a fight over First Hill/Cap Hill streetcar – UPDATE

UPDATE 2:27 PM:
Mallahan campaign spokesperson Charla Neuman said her camp’s position hasn’t changed following the McGinn conference. She said Joe Mallahan will continue to oppose the First Hill/Cap Hill streetcar. “He’s going to keep looking for wise investments. We can get more done with less dollars if we invest in bus routes,” Neuman said.

Neuman said McGinn’s bid to drag Mallahan into a fight on the streetcar issue is a desperate ploy to create a new campaign issue. “He says the streetcar is already paid for,” Neuman said. “He’s trying to politicize the issue. We don’t know what this is going to cost yet.”

“Joe knows that there are better ways to spend transportation dollars than on empty streetcars,” Neuman said. “He also knows that voters approved this. If the project ends up being more expensive or is not feasible, the city should renegotiate.”

“McGinn is very smooth at talking about and covering what he doesn’t know,” Neuman said. “He doesn”t have anything else to talk about other than the Viaduct. He’s a one issue candidate.”

UPDATE 12:30 PM: 
In today’s conference in First Hill Park, McGinn said, “I believe that when the voters vote for something, and approve something, we should build it.” In an attempt to connect the streetcar issue with the planned Viaduct replacement tunnel, McGinn said that Mallahan supports an issue that “70% of voters disapprove of” yet does not support the street car with “70% voter approval.”

“It shows a difference in values and a difference in vision for the city of Seattle,” McGinn said.


More coverage can be found at CDNews.

Original Report
A spat over a streetcar that will run from First Hill to Capitol Hill has caused one of the first punches to be thrown in the fall election phase of Seattle’s fight for mayor. Candidate Mike McGinn is holding a conference Tuesday morning in First Hill Park to show his support for the line and call on his opponent to drop opposition to the new streetcar route.

One issue with this first salvo: It’s not clear Joe Mallahan will punch back or that he even opposes the streetcar coming to Capitol Hill.

UPDATE 10:15 AM:
According to campaign spokesperon Charla Neuman, Mallahan’s opposition to the First Hill streetcar is based on his belief that streetcars are an inefficient use of taxpayer money. “And that’s just something we can’t have right now,” Neuman said. “This is about all streetcars.”

This weekend CHS noted a Seattle Times article that pointed out that both Seattle mayoral candidates oppose a streetcar extension along 1st Ave through downtown and Belltown. But the Times article reported that Capitol Hill’s streetcar plans, too, were being scrutinized by candidate Mallahan. Mallahan has not yet issued a statement clarifying his position.

The First Hill/Capitol Hill streetcar project is being paid for by Sound Transit as part of an agreement reached when the original plans for light rail in the area had to be scrapped. Area community groups are already busy advocating for where the line should be built with Boren, Broadway, 12th Ave and even a Broadway-12th Ave loop concept being considered by city planners.

CHS will be at the conference and is also working to get a statement from the Mallahan camp to clarify their position on the First Hill/Cap Hill streetcar line.

11 thoughts on “Candidate McGinn picks a fight over First Hill/Cap Hill streetcar – UPDATE

  1. so mallahan wants to not spend money we already have to build a streetcar and use money that we don’t have to build a tunnel? how is that good public policy?

  2. Wait a minute; Mallahan’s against a transportation investment that the voters have already approved and paid for, but he’s for the $4.2 billion tunnel that voters rejected and has a financing plan about as sound as a house of cards (including likely $5-$6 tolls each way!). I’m confused.

  3. Do I get this right? Here’s what I think I’m reading:

    McGinn wants to finish the streetcar that 70% of the voters approved and is already funded and Mallahan wants to stop this major project that brings jobs and badly needed transit and continues our great streetcar culture?

    The other streetcar line, McGinn seems to want to make sure it’s fiscally responsible and Mallahan doesn’t like it because he thinks streetcars are inefficient in general.

  4. Mallahan must have gotten the deluxe edition of “The One-Minute Manager”–the one that comes with a magnifying glass. It’s as though he wants to be a transportation project manager, not a Mayor. He second-guesses a whole list of things, but never offers an alternative vision and to my knowledge has no positive proposals.

    Oh, except that he hasn’t yet second-guessed that idiotic tunnel project. I guess his campaign staff haven’t figured out how to tie down a loose cannon.

  5. We already know what it will cost, that’s easy to determine. We already know where the money is coming from, that’s already been authorized.

    There is a clear voter mandate on the issue, and if Mallahan wants to ignore the will of the voters, it’s at his own electoral peril. His maximum number of terms is either 0 or 1 as it stands.

  6. Really? This is the mayor’s race? I’m depressed that have to vote for one of these guys.
    Are they still fighting for who can be the most angry anti-Nickels candidate–against streetcars, against the tunnel? What are they for?
    Both the proposed street car lines and the future network they will anchor are a terrific thing for this city, reducing congestion and making the city more friendly for public transit commuters. The tunnel replacement solution for the viaduct is close to brilliant, solving a huge amount of urban problems at once. It only causes solvable problems for a very vocal few and sadness to those who will miss a good view while speeding up the northbound lanes at 50mph. No doubt it is a nice view, but a selfish reason to keep around a loud disfunctional eyesore.

  7. As Lucas pointed out above, the streetcar is part of an agreement between Sound Transit and the city to serve First Hill after it was determined that light rail station construction would be too expensive. I would imagine there would be some legal hurdles for Mallahan to clear if he actually tried to do away with the First Hill streetcar.

    Regarding the First Avenue streetcar, that either candidate is willing to dump the line shows just how truly ignorant they are about the issues that brought about its existence. The First Ave streetcar’s planning is intended to help mitigate local traffic congestion in a deep bore tunnel scenario. Or, in a surface streets and transit solution, it would play a central role to improving transit.

    Mallahan seems to want to do away with streetcars just for spite. McGinn, because he simply wants to do the fiscally responsible thing in the short term. In either instance, Seattle’s long term prospects are sacrificed in moves that seem to be motivated largely as a reaction to Nickles’ legacy rather than the public interest.

  8. There’s a Streetcar Facebook Group here for folks to check out and join http://j.mp/3Jb4vB. Let’s not lose sight of streetcar’s unique strengths. You all know that streetcars shape cities in a positive ways and are place-making tools that encourage the development of compact, walkable neighborhoods. The First Hill Streetcar is no exception. We’re encouraging the City to explore the 12th Avenue/Broadway Loop alignment. A streetcar Loop would give the hospital workforce another way to connect to Light Rail (besides bus transit, shuttle and walking options) while also advancing other important, long-term, public goals.

  9. Why is it that anytime I see an article about Mallahan it’s always with his spokesperson? I’d really like to hear directly from the candidate. I suspect that he doesn’t know what to say because he’s not in touch with our city so he just sends a spokesperson instead.

    While I’m deeply saddened by our loss of Nickels (he certainly had his shortcomings, but I think overall he did a great job for our city), I’m excited that we have McGinn to support. He seems to have a firm commitment to sensible transportation solutions that will reduce our automobile dependency and make for a more livable city.