After getting 58%, Japanese Gulch backers will try again

MUKILTEO — There’s a reason why supporters of a defeated tax measure to buy land in Japanese Gulch are heartened to keep pursuing their dream.

Proposition 1 failed because, as a tax levy, it needed 60 percent approval to pass. But it received a higher percentage of votes than many election winners.

“We outdrew the president, the governor and marijuana,” said Todd Hooper, president of the Japanese Gulch Group, a non-profit organization that promotes preservation and recreation in the gulch.

With only a few votes left to count countywide last week, 6,065 people had voted yes and 4,334 no — more than 58 percent approval.

Supporters hope to parlay this support into contributions and perhaps another ballot measure.

“The community really is interested in this project,” Hooper said.

The measure had no organized opposition. Resident Charlie Pancerzewski wrote the statement against Proposition 1 for the voters pamphlet, contending the measure would benefit only a small percentage of people who live in Mukilteo.

Those who voted in favor were willing to pay 20 cents per $1,000 of assessed value — $60 per year for the owner of a $300,000 home — for five years, to buy a chunk of property on the west side of the gulch.

The tax measure would have raised $3.2 million toward an estimated $6.5 million needed to buy a 98-acre parcel. It’s currently owned by Metropolitan Creditors Trust, a bankrupt Spokane mortgage company, and zoned for light industry.

The gulch is a popular hiking spot. Boeing and the Burlington Norther Santa Fe Railroad own most of the rest of the gulch, which straddles Everett and Mukilteo near the Boeing plant.

The Japanese Gulch Group’s board of directors met after the election and agreed to pursue some type of fundraising campaign in the coming year, Hooper said.

Specifics haven’t been decided except for more pursuit of grant funding, he said.

So far, $500,000 has been raised. The group plans to seek up to $1 million from the state, along with a $700,000 grant from Snohomish County and other smaller grants.

“It all adds up,” Hooper said.

City Councilwoman Jennifer Gregerson, a gulch advocate, said votes that came in after Election Day were trending more than 60 percent in favor.

If the group attempts another measure, “We just need to speed up our voter outreach a little bit and we’ll be able to make it,” Gregerson said.

She said a measure could be brought back in 2013, in April or November. One option would be to ask voters for a “levy lid lift,” which would then allow the City Council to raise property taxes by more than the standard 1 percent for the stated purpose. This would require only a majority vote.

“I think our council would be committed to that, and then the voters would have to trust that commitment,” she said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

John Miller, congressman, author activist, has died

He was known for his dedication to the marine industry, energy and human rights.

Church takes a quiet, contemplative approach to worship

Alternative services at First Congregational Church of Maltby offer “a good deal of silence.”

Funds up for council vote would aid conservation district

District stands to receive an extra $1 million each year, if the County Council gives its approval.

Snohomish County hosts its annual Focus on Farming conference

The event features a trade show as well as talks on agriculture, jam-making and more.

Supportive housing for man accused in attacking his mother

Mental state impaired man’s ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions, judge rules.

Lynnwood mayor challenged by councilman in general election

Three City Council members also are facing challengers on the Nov. 7 ballot.

‘Horrific’ child-porn case: Former Arlington man sentenced

Raymond Devore, arrested in 2015, had a cache of disturbing photos and video on his cellphone.

500 tires go up in flames at a store south of Everett

There were no injuries. And it was nowhere near as bad as that months-long tire fire in 1984.

Most Read