Japanese Gulch tax fails to reach 60% mark

MUKILTEO — A ballot measure for the city to buy land in Japanese Gulch appeared headed to defeat, falling short of the 60 percent majority the property tax measure needed to pass.

Proposition 1 gained about 56 percent of the vote compared to 44 percent against — 3,401 to 2,711— but that won’t be enough.

“We’ve got a majority of residents who are behind saving the gulch, that’s what’s important, and a strong majority,” said City Councilwoman Jennifer Gregerson, who campaigned for the measure as a private citizen.

Proponents said Proposition 1 was needed to buy 98 acres on the west side of the gulch they believe could be sold for development. The gulch is a popular hiking spot. The privately owned property is zoned for light industry.

Opponent Charlie Pancerzewski, who wrote the statement against the measure for the voters’ pamphlet, said the tax increase would unfairly benefit people who visit the gulch from outside the city, and would not guarantee that Mukilteo could buy the property to prevent development.

Property owners were asked to pay 20 cents per $1,000 of assessed value — $60 per year for the owner of a $300,000 home — for five years.

The property is owned by Metropolitan Creditors Trust, a bankrupt Spokane mortgage company. The city currently owns 25 acres nearby, but Boeing and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad own most of the large ravine, which straddles the border between Everett and the north end of Mukilteo near the Boeing plant.

The cost of the property targeted in Proposition 1 is estimated at about $6.5 million. The tax would have raised about $3.2 million, a little more than half the cost.

“Either way we have to pursue grant funding, so we have to keep that up,” Gregerson said.

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

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