Seattle City Council effectively repeals the 1997 voter-approved Monorail Initiative No. 41 on July 31, 2000.

  • By Alyssa Burrows
  • Posted 4/01/2004
  • Essay 4291
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On July 31, 2000, The Seattle City Council approves Amendment 113304 by a vote of seven to one. This Council bill, sponsored by members Heidi Wills and Richard Conlin, renamed the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) the Elevated Transportation Committee, and took away the company's independence and decision-making power by making it an advisory panel to a larger regional transportation study. This effectively repeals the voter-approved Initiative 41 nearly three years after its passage.

How the ETC Came to Be

The Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) was created by voter approval of Initiative 41 on November 4, 1997. This initiative called for construction of a 40-mile elevated, electrically powered transit system to link Seattle's four corners to downtown in a route forming a giant X. It also called for the creation of a public development authority (or PDA) to seek private capital for the system's construction instead of the normal procedure of levying a tax.

City officials -- many opposed to the initiative, yet forced to comply with the voters' decision -- faced the possibility of having to come up with a great deal of money. In the event the ETC couldn't secure enough private capital to continue its work, the wording of the initiative called for the newly created company to be funded by councilmanic Revenue Bonds or by the raising the city's Business and Occupation (B&O) tax -- something the Council opposed. The initiative went even further to guarantee the PDA's continuance: it stated that if the City Council failed to fund the PDA, "the salaries of the City Council must be withheld" (text of I-41).

The Amendment

Amendment 113304 promised ETC $50,000, but took away its independence and authority and returned all decision-making power to City government. Five of ETC's original 12 board members would be chosen to regroup with four city-appointed members to become the "Elevated Transportation Committee," an advisory panel that would work with the City's Strategic Planning Office to decide if a monorail system was feasible. Seattle's Strategic Planning Office was part of the Strategic Transportation Initiative (STI), a partnership of area groups (Seattle, Sound Transit, King County, Metro, the State Department of Transportation, and the ETC) created by Mayor Paul Schell (1937-2014) in 1998 to develop a local transportation plan based on the $3.9 billion Sound Transit regional plan.

Councilmembers Heidi Wills, Richard Conlin, Margaret Pageler, Richard McIver (1941-2013), Jim Compton, Jan Drago, and Judy Nicastro voted to adopt the Amendment. Councilmember Nick Licata cast the dissenting vote, and Peter Steinbrueck was absent.

In 2005, following cost overruns and revenue shortfalls, Seattle voters killed the Seattle monorail project they had supported in four earlier votes.


"The Seattle Monorail Initiative 41/City Proposition #1," (text), Friends of the Monorail Website, accessed January 14, 2004, (; Josh Feit and Dan Savage, "Wills Kills Monorail In De Facto Repeal of I-41, City Council Votes to Disband Elevated Transportation Company," The Stranger, August 3, 2000; Dan Savage, "Build the Monorail," The Stranger, June 8, 2000; Beth Kaiman, "Monorail Backers Fear City Grant Is Kiss of Death," The Seattle Times, August 1, 2000; Kery Murakami, "City Refuses to Spend More Money on Monorail Board," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 1, 2000, p. B-1.

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