Tacoma Urbanist

comments [52]  |  posted under Tacoma


by Erik on 10/19/2012 @ 8:13am
Web page for Proposition 1:

Web page against Proposition 1:

by Jesse on 10/19/2012 @ 8:20am
Thanks for posting Erik.  It was informative.

So this is the third feedtacoma.com thread this week on prop 1.  In all the threads, there haven't been many ideas shared as to how to continue transit if prop 1 doesn't pass.  At least this video touched on that a small bit. Maybe others who read/watch this can share their well thought out cost saving or revenue producing ideas... 

by Erik on 10/19/2012 @ 8:21am
Maps of the campaigns:



by Erik on 10/19/2012 @ 8:32am
Thanks Jessie.

Tacoma has few significant debate forums and often the only people who show up are the folks holing the forum and the campaigns and their staff.

I remember growing up in Bellingham where the Bellingham Herald, the main city paper, and the main city radio station would hold one central debate forum.  It was pretty interesting to watch.

Tacoma has super small debate forums and citizens are instead forced to rely on one sided candidate material, yard signs, robocalls, mailers and meetings with interest groups.

by tacoma_1 on 10/19/2012 @ 9:02am

Eric must be on retainer with a car dealer or something. He seems too obsessed with taking away as many transit choices as he can for Tacomans. 

by dolly varden on 10/19/2012 @ 9:39am
Agreed Tacoma1 -- the message from the "no" campaign seems to be:  Car dealers > students, commuters, elderly, the disabled, and the environment.  Who knew?

by cisserosmiley on 10/19/2012 @ 9:43am
It would be great to combine neighborhood council forums with LoWV and have the newspaper participate instead of bad mouthing everyone's forum before publishing their private  endorsements that are nothing more than a "most likely to win" list. I would work on this for Tacoma.

by fredo on 10/19/2012 @ 9:44am
  "Eric must be on retainer with a car dealer or something." tacoma1 


When I provide my opinion it's entirely pure, and when people post opposing opinions their are opinions are corrupt.

by fredo on 10/19/2012 @ 9:47am
  "Car dealers > students, commuters, elderly, the disabled, and the environment. Who knew?" dolly 

Only about 10 car dealers out of the hundreds in the area gave money to the no on Prop. 1 campaign. Therefore most of the car dealers DIDN'T give money.

But don't let the facts get in the way of your rant, Dolly.

by NineInchNachos on 10/19/2012 @ 9:55am
go derek young!

by Erik on 10/19/2012 @ 10:54am
It would be great to combine neighborhood council forums with LoWV and have the newspaper participate instead of bad mouthing everyone's forum before publishing their private  endorsements that are nothing more than a "most likely to win" list. I would work on this for Tacoma.

Good idea. Some of the neighborhood councils have forums but they are often sparsely attended. There could be one large City of Tacoma neighborhood forum large enough that it could attract some media.

These were good ideas:

In agreeing to the debates, Lincoln and Douglas decided to hold one debate in each of the nine congressional districts in Illinois. Because both had already spoken in two—Springfield and Chicago—within a day of each other, they decided that their "joint appearances" would be held only in the remaining seven districts.

The debates were held in seven towns in the state of Illinois: Ottawa on August 21, Freeport on August 27, Jonesboro on September 15, Charleston on September 18, Galesburg on October 7, Quincy on October 13, and Alton on October 15.
The debates in Freeport, Quincy and Alton drew especially large numbers of people from neighboring states, as the issue of slavery was of monumental importance to citizens across the nation.

Newspaper coverage of the debates was intense. Major papers from Chicago sent stenographers to create complete texts of each debate, which newspapers across the United States reprinted in full, with some partisan edits. Newspapers that supported Douglas edited his speeches to remove any errors made by the stenographers and to correct grammatical errors, while they left Lincoln's speeches in the rough form in which they had been transcribed. In the same way, pro-Lincoln papers edited Lincoln's speeches, but left the Douglas texts as reported.


by tacoma_1 on 10/19/2012 @ 12:26pm

Since Lincoln started the transcontinental RR, he would be in favor of transit, not opposed.  

by Maria on 10/19/2012 @ 2:06pm
Am I doing the math wrong, or is it correct that if you buy a car costing $30,000 (average cost of a new car in 2012), the net increase in sales tax is $90?

$90 isn't a huge difference, and in-city dealers can make up the difference--plus there's the factor of time involved driving out to Puyallup (at least $50 worth of stress), and not shopping local.

The No Vote is using the figure $300, which could only be levied if you pay $100,000 for a car. This is somewhat misleading, and, I don't think factors affecting sales of luxury cars should be driving this dialogue.

Public transportation is a vital community safety net. I assume many riders, once they can afford a vehicle, gas and insurance, will transition into car ownership for the sake of convenience. That's a good thing, bringing more money into the region, raising taxes through purchases, etc.

However, it's absolutely essential for the economy and the health of our community that we have a solid transit system. Many of our neighbors depend entirely on buses to get to work, school, health care appointments, church, cultural events and other services.

I cannot believe that Tacoma will be a better place if people have less access to meaningful, vital activities. We may as well change our name to "Stay-at-homa" then!

by fredo on 10/19/2012 @ 2:18pm

Maria, do you live in Tacoma?

by Erik on 10/19/2012 @ 2:26pm
@Maria: The Reject Proposition 1 folks are claiming that Olympia has a tax rate of 9.0 percent:

Full size:


Their graphic shows that this would mean a $330 difference for a $30,000 car purchase.

How much savings does one need to take the time to drive to Olympia for a purchase?  $200?  $300? $400? $500?If even more people start making their purchases out of Tacoma, it is going to extinguish the already anemic car dealerships in Tacoma and cause even greater fiscal shortfalls for the City of Tacoma budgets.

Having already made some erroneous budget calculations the City of Tacoma is already looking at making some significant layoffs:TACOMA -- The Tacoma city manager said the city will have to cut 217 employee positions and impose a $20 car license tax to help close a $63 million gap in next year's budget.City Manager T.C. Broadnax delivered the grim news Tuesday to the city council with his $396 million spending plan.The News Tribune reported the budget will go through public hearings before the council adopts a final plan in December.


Continuing to push out businesses into the suburbs and other cities, creating a diminishing tax base is not sustainable.

BTW, Sumner, with a sales tax rate of only 9.1 percent on cars is a mere 12.2 miles away where a consumer would save $300 on a $30,000 car.

by JesseHillFan on 10/19/2012 @ 2:36pm
I've never spent more than $1,600 on buying a car.

by tacoma_1 on 10/19/2012 @ 2:45pm
"Lies, dam lies, and statistics."Mark Twain

The tax difference is currently $240 on a $30K car purchase in Tacoma vs Olympia. Prop 1 will add $90 to it. Prop 1 will not add $330 to a car purchase. 

All the Auto Dealers Assoc needs to do is change the law so that sales tax on auto purchases is based on where u live, not where u buy (this is already the case if u lease a car) and the tax inequity problem from county to county is solved. 

by Erik on 10/19/2012 @ 2:57pm
I think the Reject 1 folks have done their math right:

If Prop 1 passes:

Tax on autos in Tacoma = 10.1 percent

Tax on autos in Olympia = 9.0 percent.

The difference in cost of buying a $30,000 car between Olympia and Tacoma:

(.101 - .090) x $30,000 = $330.00

The difference the price is the saving consumers would enjoy by going out of Tacoma.

By the way, the sales tax is not a cost dealers pay, it is tax collected by businesses and given to the state.

What might make sense is for a tax in a wider region being implemented, such as over the state or the region. Them the tax could not be so easily avoided and Tacoma's frail economy would not be at risk of being further eviscerated. I don't think a license tax would have such a harmful effect on buying patterns either.

by tacoma_1 on 10/19/2012 @ 3:12pm
If prop 1 fails, Tacoma's tax will be 9.8 for autos not 9.0.  Prop 1 adds a difference of .03 or $90 on a $30K purchase. 

Prop 1 opponents did their math correctly, but with false assumptions.

by Maria on 10/19/2012 @ 3:22pm
But isn't Prop. 1 only adding .3% to the tax? I have to admit, I'm not the best at math so I want to make sure I'm understanding this correctly.

by Erik on 10/19/2012 @ 3:32pm
But isn't Prop. 1 only adding .3% to the tax?

Yes.  Making the total tax differential 10.1 - 9.0 = 1.1 percent. However, consumers are going to care about the total money saved, not what agencies are creating the cost difference.

Hence, one of the problems with Prop 1 is that it is the proposed tax rate increase which would place Tacoma over the top and exceed even Tacomas.

If Tacoma had a much lower sales tax rate, I don't think it would be receiving so much scrutiny. Yet, the Prop 1 proposal would be the final straw that would place Tacoma's cumulative sales tax rate even greater than Seattle. (Seattle and Tacoma currently have a sales tax rate of 9.5 percent).

If prop 1 fails, Tacoma's tax will be 9.8 for autos not 9.0.

The 9.0 rate in the calculation refers to the tax rate in Olympia.

by tacoma_1 on 10/19/2012 @ 3:33pm
Maria. U are correct. Check my post above. Tacoma's tax will not be 9.0% if prop 1 fails, and that's the number that Erik and the anti prop1 folks keep using. If they wanted to be truthful, they would compare 9.8% and 10.1%. 

by Jesse on 10/19/2012 @ 3:36pm
Would you drive to Olympia for $330?  I would.  In fact, I bought a new car in June and we drove to Bremerton because their rate is 8.6%. $18500 was my balance after trade-in and sales tax was $1591. At 10.1%, I would have paid $1868.50. I saved $277 by driving 20 miles to Bremerton. Oh ya, my home county of Pierce got 0.0% from my purchase.

All it takes is 1 out of 33 dollars that are currently being spent in Tacoma to go out of town to eliminate the gains of a 0.3% increase. 

Cars are often the talking point because they cost so much and it doesn't take many cars to be sold to get to bend the cost curve to the 1 in 33 mark.

If this passes, the next crisis you'll see is that sales taxes are down in Pierce County and that's harming all agencies usually benefitting from the sales tax.

In summary, there has to be a better way to pay for transit. How about tolls on roads heading out of the Tacoma metro area?

by tacoma_1 on 10/19/2012 @ 3:59pm
Jesse. You are leaving town to buy your car whether prop 1 passes or fails, so why do you care?

Tax on Autos should be collected on where the auto is garaged, not purchased. 

That should be an easy fix

by Maria on 10/19/2012 @ 4:23pm
I'm not sure the logic of the anti-transit vote in relation to car sales makes sense.

For example, Puyallup's sales tax is .094 and Bremerton is .086. Add the .003 to each (for the state motor vehicle sales tax) and you get: Puyallup at .097 and Bremerton at .089

Already that's a .008 differential, which on a $30,000 car is $240.

So why are there so many car dealerships in Puyallup when Puyallup and Tacoma people can save so much driving to Bremerton? And why aren't there more car dealers in Gig Harbor, which is even lower than Bremerton, at .085 (.088 w/ state car tax)?

There has to be other factors that just sales tax that drives auto sales, otherwise Gig Harbor would be car sales central.

Anyway--it should be stated again, that Pierce Transit absolutely has to get control over costs (and that includes negotiating wages). Even though I'm for this increase, PT will have reached their limit in tax revenue. Even if that were not the case, increased revenues cannot be counted on to fund services esp. in a recession...this isn't Sweden, and people aren't going to put up with endless tax hikes.

(PS. Yes Erik, all these taxes are regressive because lower income families pay a higher tax burden. Tax reform in Washington State would benefit working class families enormously, but I don't foresee reform in that area in the near future, unfortunately.)

by fredo on 10/19/2012 @ 4:34pm
  As tax rates go UP people will be more inclinded to shop elsewhere in order to save some money.

Every person is not going to buy a car in Bremerton or Olympia if Prop. 1 passes, of course. That's not the point. More sales will TEND to flow out of the taxing district into other lower-rate taxing district, even on low and mid priced items. All the arguing about how much the tax is on a particular car is off the point. If lots of folks vary their shopping habits just a little then it's possible that LESS revenues will be collected even with HIGHER sales tax rates.  

by fredo on 10/19/2012 @ 4:38pm

I find it amusing all the commenters who defend Prop 1 by saying the Tax structure of Washington is TOO regressive...therefore we need to make it even MORE regressive"

by JesseHillFan on 10/19/2012 @ 5:02pm
We should be making Tacoma a more progressive city that is much more healthier to the environment and especially the citizens that reside within it.The issue should't be a tiny suggested tax increase for ICE motor vehicle sales to 10.1% rather the tax should be fairly increased to 300% and Tacoma should be working towards making its city personal ICE motor vehicle non existent (phased out due to their immense multiple forms of destructive harm). .

by Maria on 10/19/2012 @ 5:10pm
Until attitudes shift, we're stuck with sales tax, even if it's not the most progressive way to tax citizens. You have to work with what you have, which doesn't equal inaction nor does accepting the fact mean you aren't allowed to make adjustments on revenue.

Perhaps Tacoma could have stayed below the current 9.5% tax rate if 2008 and 2009 weren't disastrous, burning through financial reserves at the rate of $1.5 million a month at one point, and going from a $47 million reserve fund to being $32 million in the red. Unfortunately those decisions and inaction affect taxes way more than .003% for transit.

One other point that I did think about: too bad Pierce Transit didn't just ask for .001%--I know that might not be enough for what they thought they needed, but the resultant 9.6% sales tax and car tax of 9.9% are much more tolerable because of the way we humans view numbers. (Just a thought from the marketing/copywriter's perspective.)

by fredo on 10/19/2012 @ 5:22pm

  Hey JHF, did you contact Pierce Transit to see if they could start using natural rubber tires on all the buses? I know you don't want to see them using tires made from oil.

by low bar on 10/19/2012 @ 7:13pm
"So why are there so many car dealerships in Puyallup when Puyallup and
Tacoma people can save so much driving to Bremerton? And why aren't
there more car dealers in Gig Harbor, which is even lower than
Bremerton, at .085 (.088 w/ state car tax)?" --- Maria

Bc of JBLM.

Trust me, all these dealers and what not are bluffing.

All the car dealers can pack it up and leave the fruitful sales area of JBLM and there will be other dealers swooping down to take their place.

There are plenty of vulture capitalists with their eyes on JBLM.

Go ahead and call their bluff Tacoma, they got nothing.

Vote yes on Prop 1.

by NineInchNachos on 10/19/2012 @ 7:35pm
Maria is awesome.  that is all. 

by Chris.Tacoma on 10/20/2012 @ 9:42am
The opposition has stated that there is a "tendency" for consumers to purchase vehicles from areas with lower sales taxes versus higher sales taxes.  However, there is no indication by the opposition as to the severity and magnitude of such a shift in total.  I doubt that incrementally raising the sales tax 0.3% is going to make much of a dent in sales of vehicles when the current sales tax is already higher than that of Olympia today.
Regarding Jesse's point if 1/33 $ were to migrate - such a shift, even if it were to happen, would equally be distributed amongst those authorities and issues for which we are being taxed. However, the elasticity of such purchases is not demonstrated. The rate difference between Thurston and Pierce is not in any way equivalent to that seen in Clark vs Multnomah.

We know the severity and magnitude of the impact to people from all walks of life if Prop 1 does not pass.  We need to take care of our own people.  That is within our power to do.

by fredo on 10/20/2012 @ 9:52am
Chris, you say that we shouldn't oppose Prop 1 because no ill effects of a tax increase can be "demonstrated." It's pretty hard to demonstrate a future impact. Folks should probably use common sense once in a while.

But since you want absolute demonstrations, how about you demonstrate the service levels which are guaranteed in perpetuity to go along with tax increase which is being increased in perpetuity.

What was that you said? No particular service level is guaranteed? I thought you demanded absolution demonstrations. Where is the demonstration of service levels? Pierce Transit is free to reduce service levels back to what they are today at any time as long as such reduction is "reasonable." Prop. 1 doesn't GUARANTEE increased services. It only guarantees increased tax rates. Read the prop for yourself.

by tacoma_1 on 10/20/2012 @ 11:08am
I like what Chris said. 
r>fredo, your latest argument is pure silliness. 

If prop 1 fails, we will have substantially less service than we do now. That is guaranteed. If prop 1 passes, we will have substantially more than if it fails. Also guaranteed.

by fredo on 10/20/2012 @ 11:18am
  "fredo, your latest argument is pure silliness. "tacoma1


Prop. 1 guarantees the long term sales tax rate will be increased

Prop. 1 DOESN'T guarantee any long term increase in service levels. 

You may find that argument silly, but I note that you can't refute it.

by glynnjamin on 10/21/2012 @ 11:42am
I don't consider myself anti-transit by any means. I use the bus, train, street car, and light right just about every day.  I can't, however, understand how Pierce Transit has gotten us to the point where my only two options are:a) big tax increase = minor increased servicesb) no tax increase = dramatic cut in services
Can anyone elaborate on why there is no "stay as we are for .001" kind of option?  I feel like a lot of the "improvements" in the Pro-1 plan are unnecessary and that some of the cuts are overly dramatic and simply scare tactics.  Example - Route 1 should start earlier, run later, and absolutely run on the weekend. Route 28, however, does not need to run on the weekend at all since Rt1 makes it redundant.
I can't support giving PT more money every time they ask if they are going to continue to overspend and poorly plan.  Could someone articulate a pro or against argument toward my concerns?

by tacoma_1 on 10/21/2012 @ 1:12pm
Go to Chris's blog for a pro transit perspective. www.tacomatomorrow.com/?m=1

by Chris.Tacoma on 10/21/2012 @ 1:43pm
Hi glynnjamin-I think I can answer your question about why it has to be 0.3%.  The reason why a 0.1% or 0.2% increase isn't viable at this point is because several cities in the Pierce Transit service area chose to leave the boundary, taking some revenue with them.  In order to make up the difference and to try to restore service, the higher sales tax rate is necessary.  Also, sales taxes have been growing, while costs have been brought down to close to the rate of inflation.  This is another reason for the higher rate.We couldn't have gone with a smaller proposal the last time around because it would have meant service cuts in addition to tax increases.  It wasn't a proposition that either the Board or the citizen advisory group that I served on found to be viable.I share your concern about system design.  It's important for us to try to focus on frequency and providing connections on-street in our business districts.  Some improvements have been made in this area, and more will be on the way since PT is starting up a permanent advisory committee to address such issues.If Prop 1 passes, we'll have the opportunity to have those conversations about how to best allocate and reallocate service hours.  If it fails, we will likely lose all weekend and midday service.  It won't matter how well we structure service.If you'd like more explanation, just shoot me an email:chris.tacoma@gmail.com

by tacoma_1 on 10/21/2012 @ 2:01pm
Yeah Chris!  Go Chris Go!
Btw I voted Yes for Prop 1 today!

by low bar on 10/21/2012 @ 2:26pm

by fredo on 10/22/2012 @ 8:19am
The reason the Prop.1 proponents are threatening huge service cutbacks if the Prop fails is because they are preying on people's fears. Nobody would care if they were threating huge "administrative cutbacks" so they threaten to enact "service cutbacks."

It's just like when the city threatens to cut police and fire but never threaten to cut their own pet projects. 

by cisserosmiley on 10/22/2012 @ 8:24am
What's wrong with a little hyperbole and innuendo anyway ???

by fredo on 10/22/2012 @ 8:29am
Transit campaign you will never witness:

"Folks if you don't pass this new regressive tax we want we will be forced to make a 40% reduction in the numbers of community outreach administrators and a 35% reduction in diversity trainers."

by Chris.Tacoma on 10/22/2012 @ 10:35am
Paratransit service is mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act,  That's a federal law that requires that Pierce Transit's Shuttle service be available for passengers within 3/4 of a mile of a bus route.  Of the 600k serviced hours that PT has, about 200k of them are roughly dedicated to Shuttle service.  That leaves 400k service hours for bus service - down from 650k service hours in 2007.Unfortunately, this means that if there are any cuts, they have to be focused on bus service, which is lower cost service per passenger.  They'd be painful and disproportionately felt by students and the working poor.Right now PT is burning through reserves because it lost $8m/yr from Bonney Lake, Dupont, and Sumner that left the boundary in May.  Those cities each chose to leave the boundary.  So either PT cuts that much more from bus service now, or you drain from reserves until you find revenue to replace the old revenue.Part of the purpose of Prop 1 is to backfill the revenue lost from Bonney Lake, Dupont, and Sumner, so further cuts are not necessary.If Prop 1 doesn't pass and new revenue isn't found, once reserves fall below a critical level, service has to be readjusted to ensure that operations can continue - and the reserves can be rebuilt.  That level is below the service level Tacoma had back in 1979.

by fredo on 10/22/2012 @ 11:51am
Chris, it doesn't make sense to backfill the missing revenue from the areas we are no longer servicing. since we aren't servicing those areas there shouldn't be any costs associated with not servicing them.

Most of your 10:35 posting is just an elaborate scare tactic. Level headed administrators could make the current numbers work without any tax increase. 

by Chris.Tacoma on 10/22/2012 @ 7:17pm
"Chris, it doesn't make sense to backfill the missing revenue from the areas we are no longer servicing." -Fredo
You have been misinformed.  Service had been cut in those areas towards the end of 2011, but taxes were still being levied.  Those cities chose to leave in May of 2012 and now the sales taxes from those changes to the boundary are now gone.  The budget then has to take that into account.  That's why you have to backfill revenues.
I don't try to scare people or call people names, Fredo.  I'm just trying to walk people through the math.

by low bar on 10/22/2012 @ 9:55pm
Fredo misinformed or Fredo misinforming. 

I'm sorry its just getting to be enough. 

I've been reading the information on this blog for a while and I don't think that this pattern Fredo has adds truth to the discussion. 

Might as well not have a discussion if people can't bring straight facts to the table. 

No offense Fredo I am sure you are a nice guy when it comes to other things, but your participation here is just horrible for the community. It flies in the face of the people of Tacoma. 

You try to check and balance stuff Fredo and be the guy who tries to check spending and dissect budgets but you go at it like a surgeon on the pipe. 

by fredo on 10/22/2012 @ 10:06pm
It's OK if Pierce Transit has less revenue from sales taxes because the service area has been reduced. since the service area is reduced we don't need to spend as much.

Chris you can refer to your pie charts and bar graphs and your other carefully manipulated "data" from now until election day. It doesn't  pass the smell test.

Here's another question I have Chris, and since you're an insider at Pierce Transit maybe you can respond real quickly.

Looking over the top 10 salary earners at Pierce Transit, how much pay have they lost/given up since 2007. Has any of these executives even given up a penny?Please answer.

by Non Sequitur on 10/22/2012 @ 10:53pm
I can't help but think of THIS as I read these forums.But I know I'm quite likely giving faaaaaaar more credit than is actually due.

by low bar on 10/22/2012 @ 10:57pm
If it quacks like a duck, charge the handle and set to burst. 

by fredo on 10/23/2012 @ 12:01am

Non  sequitur, you've posted that same link about three times you senile old fool. Sad that you keep reading discussion threads that you find so unworthy.