Ride Free Area is over, but not everyone’s Dunn with it
King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn is calling for an economic analysis of the elimination of the Ride Free Area (RFA), “so we can fully understand the effects it will have on the local economy.”
The 2011 Washington Legislature authorized King County to approve the Congestion Reduction Charge to help fund Metro transit services. But it was a tough sell among some King County Councilmembers.
In order to sweeten the deal, Eastside Councilmembers Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert agreed to approve the fee, which provides funding to Metro, if Metro eliminated the RFA it operates in downtown Seattle.
Dunn opposed the fee, and voted against the deal brokered by King County Executive Dow Constantine, which ended the RFA in exchange for passing the $20 Congestion Reduction Charge.
Now, Dunn is wondering whether the elimination of the RFA, the linchpin in the deal between Seattle and King County that secured the fee’s passage, might hurt tourism.
In his Oct. 4 letter to Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Dunn began by highlighting the role the RFA plays in helping low-income and homeless people “who depend on this service for their basic survival.”
“It is also true,” he wrote, “that through our collective public investment, many of our region’s health and human service providers have made major business decisions to locate proximate to this mobility zone.”
As the Seattle Times pointed out, Dunn, a Maple Valley Republican, is running for attorney general against fellow county Councilmember Bob Ferguson, a Seattle Democrat who voted for the car-tabs deal.
But Dunn told Times reporter Mike Lindblom he wasn’t angling for votes from liberals and downtown business interests.
“This is a sincere proposal,” he said.
Dunn did not return calls from Real Change by the newspaper deadline, but this isn’t the first time he’s touched on the RFA.
Back in August 2011, before the council had voted on the congestion reduction fee, Dunn joked to Stranger reporter David Goldstein that he might try to save the RFA.
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