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Our sidewalks are in trouble.

Homeowners should not have to foot the bill for repairs. Nor should people be injured on failing sidewalks. Insurance claims are not a good use of your tax money. We think a small sales tax paid only by home sellers is a fair way to share this community responsibility of improving sidewalks.

State legislators will soon be weighing whether to give rural Washington cities, including Walla Walla, the right to fund street and sidewalk improvements with a 0.25% tax on home sales. Our sidewalks need to be fixed, repairs should be a City responsibility, and Walla Walla deserves the same tools to fund these repairs that West side cities automatically have. It's only fair.

Proposed funding solutions and why they won't work

Last year, a Realtors® group suggested six ways the City of Walla Walla could potentially pay for sidewalk repairs and construction citywide. City staff reviewed the proposed funding sources, and found none would be suitable for a project as costly, long-lasting, and subject-specific as fixing Walla Walla's sidewalks. Read why below.

Existing City of Walla Walla funding sources
The Infrastructure Repair and Replacement Program (IRRP) is funded by water, sewer, and stormwater rates. IRRP funds cannot be used for sidewalk replacement, as there is no nexus to the water, sewer, and stormwater utilities. One fund cannot benefit from another fund. IRRP oversight is provided by the Infrastructure Improvement Advisory Committee.

TBD was promised to residents as a way to "fix the streets," and follows a prioritized list with citizen oversight provided by the Transportation Improvement Advisory Committee. Projects go through that committee and then to Council for review and approval each year, as required by the state-mandated TBD work plan.

Additionally, the voter-approved TBD 0.2% sales tax expires June 30, 2022. That is the end date of the first 10-year period. The City will have to go back to the voters to continue the 0.2% sales tax for the second 10- year period. Currently, agencies are only authorized for two 10-year terms of the 0.2% TBD sales tax. ADA improvements are required on any project defined by the Federal Highway Administration as an alteration (repaving). That is why ramps are addressed on those projects – because there is a nexus.
Parking and business improvement district
RCW 35.87A.010 states the purpose of these improvement districts is: "To aid general economic development and neighborhood revitalization, and to facilitate the cooperation of merchants, businesses, and residential property owners which assists trade, economic viability, and liveability …" Specifics listed include:
  1. The acquisition, construction or maintenance of parking facilities for the benefit of the area;
  2. Decoration of any public place in the area;
  3. Sponsorship or promotion of public events which are to take place on or in public places in the area;
  4. Furnishing of music in any public place in the area;
  5. Providing professional management, planning, and promotion for the area, including the management and promotion of retail trade activities in the area;
  6. Providing maintenance and security for common, public areas; or
  7. Providing transportation services for the benefit of the area."
While this might be possible in a defined area, such as downtown, it requires, "... a petition submitted by the operators responsible for sixty percent of the assessments by businesses and multifamily residential or mixed-use projects within the area..."

Additionally, and more importantly, damaged sidewalks are a citywide issue, as shown in a March 12, 2018, City Council Work Session presentation.
State capital budget
The City has not requested sidewalk repair funding from the state Capital Budget, as the obligation for sidewalk repair is considered by the state to be a property-owner responsibility – see RCW 35.68 and 35.69. The City did request assistance for rebuilding Veterans Memorial Pool but was unsuccessful.
Transportation Improvement Board
The city has been very successful with TIB funds in recent years; However, TIB grants are highly competitive, requiring data/support on safety, mobility, etc., and must be used on federally functionally classified streets. Applicants must demonstrate the need and how the funds will address those needs. The Realtors association notes this as these projects target safety, accessibility, and connectivity. There are extensive needs for these funds. Future City grant applications will be made for the Poplar Corridor (Alder to Myra), Tietan Street (Stevens to the railroad tracks), School Avenue (south of Pleasant), Plaza Way (south of Village Way), etc.
Use of increased REET 1 revenue
There already are multiple needs competing for local REET 1 revenue. The following is a breakdown of REET 1 funding for 2013-2022:
Sidewalkfunding-1
WSDOT funding
All grant programs are highly competitive, requiring data/support on safety, mobility, etc. Applicants must demonstrate the need, and how the funds will address those needs. Isaacs Avenue received these funds for Phase 2. The City is pursuing these funds for the Poplar corridor project, as well. These projects substantially improve bicycle and pedestrian safety; rehab doesn't do this, and thus would not score well. Also, this funding, as with nearly every other grant funding program, is only eligible for use on Federally Functionally Classified Streets, so residential streets do not qualify.

To receive grant funding, nearly all transportation programs require matching funds, so agencies must already have funding to get/use grant funding.

Sidewalks increase home values

  • 86% say that sidewalks are a positive factor when buying a home – National Association of Realtors®

  • A house with a 5 foot-wide sidewalk and two street trees sells for $4,000 to $34,000 more – and in less time – than a similar house – AARP

  • 80% say that walkability is important in deciding where to live – National Association of Realtors®

  • A 1-point increase in a community’s Walk Score could increase home values by $700 to $3,000 – CEOs for Cities

FAQ

Expand/Contract Questions and Answers

  • How bad are Walla Walla sidewalks?

  • Who is responsible for sidewalk repairs?

  • What if someone gets hurt on a broken sidewalk?

  • What about neighborhoods where there are no sidewalks?

  • What is real estate excise tax (REET)?

  • How much would I pay?

  • What is the Growth Management Act?

  • How is the City of Walla Walla allowed to spend real estate excise tax (REET)?

  • Could the City decide to spend REET 2 funds on something other than sidewalks?

  • So, we need to fix sidewalks. What now?

  • How do I support this plan?

Sidewalk condition rating map

Type your address in the box on the upper right of the map so see the condition of sidewalks near you.

Sidewalk Condition Rating(SCR) Legend
Lower SCR = Better sidewalk condition

0 or Null

1 - 10

11-20

21-30

31-40

40+

DISCLAIMER: The City of Walla Walla does not warrant, guarantee or accept any liability for the accuracy, precision or completeness of any information shown or described heron or for any inferences made therefrom. Any use made of this information is solely at the risk of the user.

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