Here in King County, we have Proposition #1 on our ballot to fund a bunch of modernization for a major regional hospital, Harborview. Harborview is the trauma center for four states (WA, AK, MT, and ID) and has a major burn center, as well as providing regular hospital services. It’s a major piece of the Northwest’s health infrastructure.
The two most significant local newspapers (Seattle Times and The Stranger) both endorsed Prop 1, and no one even bothered submitting an anti statement to the voter’s guide. Plus, there’s this whole pandemic going on. Even though it requires 60% of the vote to pass, it seems like it’s going to be a slam dunk.
That said, I have some misgivings. For one, it’s 1.74 billion dollars. This is for physical buildings. I haven’t seen exactly what kind of square footage we’re talking about, and I understand hospital square footage is more expensive than office space, but as a point of comparison, the largest skyscraper in Seattle, The Columbia Center, is 1.5 MM square feet and 76 stories, and it sold for $711 MM in 2015. Is this good value?
And secondly, given its regional significance, why is the entire $1.7B being borne by the residents of one county? Shouldn’t the burden be shared a bit more broadly? I don’t believe that the random citizen of Idaho should pay the same as me, given that it provides more services to Seattle than to Idaho, but it does provide some services (Level 1 Trauma) to Idaho. Why are they getting off scot-free?
Would love if another local Seattleite has a well-thought through opinion here.