Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, is calling on Sound Transit’s governing board to reverse a decision made last week to transfer millions of dollars of property over to non-profits at a financial loss. Sound Transit plans to transfer property valued at $18.5 million for a third or half of its market value in order to provide affordable housing sites in Seattle.
“Suddenly, the agency that claims every dime is essential for transit projects and can’t cut car tabs by a single penny, can afford to give away $10 million,” Fortunato said. “Sound Transit is taking millions from the budgets of families with school age children and seniors in the name of ‘congestion relief,’ so that it can turn around and give those millions away to something that has nothing to do with transit.
“This is pure bureaucratic arrogance. Tell voters it is all for congestion relief, then do whatever you want and give voters’ money to housing in Seattle. Every board member voting for this should be fired.”
Sound Transit made the decision in Resolution 2017-20 on May 25. It allows for a surplus parcel known as the “Roosevelt Station – Central Transit-Oriented Development Site” to be sold a steep discount for the purpose of affordable housing. In a letter (linked below) to Sound Transit Chief Executive Peter Rogoff, Fortunato questions the legality of the move based on stipulations in the federal grant and whether property seized through eminent domain for transportation purposes can be given away at a discount for unrelated purposes.
“This is social engineering insanity,” said Fortunato. “If Sound Transit thought people were mad about car tabs tripling before, wait until the people hear about this. This agency is absolutely tone deaf to the people they serve—or in the case of my district, the people they do not serve but just extract taxes from.”