Seattle Gets First Look at Ambitious, But Challenging Climate Action Plan

The city council just heard a briefing from the city’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment about the next steps for implementing the city’s climate action plan. The short version? Lots of good ideas; lots of talk about “pushing the envelope”; and very little money or “political capital” with the state legislature, which would have to change state laws to make many of the proposals possible.

Among the proposals, many would require changes to state law, including:

Expanded transit service. Adding transit service will require the legislature to give Metro the authority to charge a countywide motor-vehicle excise tax—something they declined to do this session despite heavy lobbying by transit advocates. Without a new funding source, Metro will have to make cuts starting in 2014, when its temporary vehicle license fee expires.

Regional congestion pricing—tolls on local highways and arterials. It’s also an idea that’s bound to be unpopular with the public—when Mike O’Brien proposed regional tolls during his first election campaign back in 2009, his opponent, Robert Rosencrantz, pilloried him in a mailer that claimed O’Brien wanted to toll every city street.

New fees and taxes, including impact fees, new vehicle license fees, higher license fees for second and third cars, a fee on new development as an alternative to environmental review, a tax on off-street parking, and pollution taxes.