1. The Yakima Central Plaza is supported by our local small businesses.
  2. It’s fully funded, mostly by private donations.
  3. We just need local government to allow our businesses to help our economy.
  4. It won’t raise your taxes. 

General Q&A
Why build the Plaza?

  • The Plaza is the centerpiece of a strategy to increase investment and economic activity in our downtown, which will increase badly-needed revenue for city services. It is the only revenue-driving plan the city council currently has in its plan.
  • The City of Yakima has vetted the Plaza project for over six years. The concept was recommended to the City through a comprehensive downtown planning process with the goal to create the necessary activity that will help attract investment and catalyze further economic growth.
  • There were numerous public meetings held with the community and smaller breakout groups with the downtown business community. To guide the Plaza design, a public survey process was implemented to gather public feedback on willingness to walk, design features of the plaza, types of events and activities people would like to see in downtown. 1,586 took the survey in May of 2014 to help guide this process.
  • Plazas have delivered economic impact in cities of our size, from Rapid City, SD, to Missoula, MT. Medford, Or., a city much like ours, saw an ROI of 15 to 1.
  • The Plaza is the first important step in the Downtown Master Plan, created to increase badly-needed revenue to the city. It is fully-funded, mainly by private donations, and will not raise taxes to build.
  • All over the world, plazas are places of gathering and belonging, where tourists, locals and families meet and celebrate. The Yakima Central Plaza will be a place for our community to unite.
  • We need to create a community that will provide the opportunities and amenities that will allow families to have great quality of life in their hometown. The Plaza is key to creating a downtown that is emblematic of the opportunities in our beautiful city.

Where is the money coming from?

  • The Plaza is fully-funded, mainly by private donations, in the amount of $9.7M. The remaining $3M was allocated by the city from REET funds (money that can only be used for capital expenditure projects). The city has already spent $1.2M of their funds, with $1.8M budgeted specifically for the Plaza.
  • REET stands for “real estate excise tax.” It is a tax on the sale of real estate. These taxes represent the primary source of local taxing authority strictly dedicated for critical infrastructure needed to accommodate growing communities.

Other Q&A

The Plaza takes away too much parking downtown.

  • When the Plaza is complete, there will be NO NET LOSS OF PARKING SPOTS WITHIN ONE BLOCK OF THE PLAZA.
  • The plaza itself will have 54 designated spaces for disabled patrons. This is 5x the amount of disabled parking on the current lot.
  • The City has been diligent in adding new parking within a two block walk of the new plaza space. Today, there are 1,250 new parking spaces within two blocks of the plaza, compared to 750 before this project was considered. In addition, other lots, 2 blocks from the plaza area will be revamped with lighting, and resurfacing to accommodate all day employee parking.
  • In addition to the 1,250 parking spaces within two blocks of the plaza, are 1,200 spaces available in the former Yakima Mall parking structure.
  • People will have to change their parking habits, yes, but parking will not be lost.

We have no money to maintain it – the city is in financial “skids”.

  • The city’s budget challenges are no secret. But the city’s finances will only improve if we make decisions to increase revenue.
  • The PLAZA DOES THIS.
  • The Plaza is the centerpiece of a strategy to increase investment and economic activity in our downtown, which will increase badly-needed revenue for city services. It is the only revenue-driving strategy the city council currently has in its plan.
  • Of course, nothing is free. The current “free” parking isn’t paying for itself. The taxpayers are directly subsidizing the operations and maintenance of those lots.
  • What the plaza offers is that it is a catalyst for development and economic activity which will boost property and sales tax revenues and more than cover the cost of operating it.
  • Even with the possible costs the opposition cites, the city also estimates the Plaza could initially bring in as much as $750k. No matter how you look at it, the city’s estimates show the Plaza will bring in more than it costs to maintain it.
  • The maintenance costs you’ve been seeing from the opposition have been drastically inflated. Some figures show they have inflated costs by 10x. We trust the parks departments, who maintain our other community parks, and their figures are MUCH lower.
  • The Plaza will likely be maintained by a private group – like the Downtown Association of Yakima.
  • In other communities, plazas’ maintenance costs have been more than covered by event fees and revenue increases from the city. With over 100 events planned for the first year of operation, we expect the same.
  • Yakima’s city finances will improve when we make decisions that increase jobs, strengthen our economy and generate revenue for basic services like police and fire service. The plaza does that. Since the plaza is fully financed without new taxes, we can join with the business community and hundreds of donors to move Yakima forward. 

It won’t work as promised.

  • It’s not even built, and it’s ALREADY working. Many businesses around the Plaza – such as the Speakeasy building and the Hotel Tieton – have already redesigned their businesses in anticipation of the Plaza. We can’t turn our back on them now.
  • Developer Larry Hull plans to rebuild the Wilson building simply because of the Plaza.
  • It’s time for local government to get out of the way and let our businesses help our economy.

We should be spending money on more important things like roads, sidewalks and lights.

  • The Plaza is the only piece of the city’s plan that will drive revenue, and with the money the Plaza brings in, the city can use THOSE dollars for roads, sidewalks and lights.
  • The city’s budget challenges are no secret. Yakima’s city finances will improve when we make decisions that increase jobs, strengthen our economy and generate revenue for basic services like police and fire service. The plaza does that. Since the plaza is fully financed without new taxes, we can join with the business community and hundreds of donors to move Yakima forward.
  • The Plaza is fully-funded, mainly by private donations, in the amount of $9.7M. The remaining $3M was allocated by the city from REET funds (money that can only be used for capital improvement projects). The city has already spent $1.2M of their funds, with $1.8M IN THE CITY BUDGET specifically for the Plaza.

It will just be a place that the homeless hang out, and crime will increase.

  • Homelessness is an issue in nearly every city, and Yakima is no different. Fortunately, many groups are stepping up to help create solutions locally, and we are confident that our community will find solutions. In fact, member of city council and community groups have committed to “solving” homelessness in Yakima over the next few years.
  • If we waited until every challenge in our community no longer existed, nothing would ever happen or be built.
  • Plazas work because they attract activity: friends meeting friends, families playing, folks enjoying their lunch break (what we call “body heat”). An increase in “body heat” decreases unwanted behavior.
  • The Yakima Central Plaza is designed with safety in mind – something our GGN designers do regularly and well. It will be well-lit, with motion activated lights above and throughout. There are no bushes or tall obstacles for hiding behind, and it will be patrolled with hours of operation, rules and enforcement by the police department. Much like Franklin Park or New York’s Central Park.
  • When scores of local businesses, large and small, come together and raise nearly $10 million dollars to improve our downtown and create more jobs, we need to get government out of the way of private investment and not put up more roadblocks that prevent success.

Businesses around the parking lot paid for it. It’s not fair to take away their parking.

  • The parking lot was paid for the by City and by businesses within a 16-block radius of downtown through a Local Improvement District between 1976-1996.
  • The City paid 40% of the cost and businesses in the district each paid based on the number of employees that worked in the location. It was the business – not the Property owners – who paid into the LID. The 1974 ordinance that created the Local Improvement District states that, “the city may construct building for a public use on this lot so long as the capacity of such lot is not diminished or equivalent parking is provided in the immediate area.”
  • Since October of 2014, the City has expanded the number of public parking spaces within two blocks of the plaza from 750 to 1,250.

The City Council should honor its commitments, get out of the way, and let local businesses build and improve our economy.

YES!
For Yakima Plaza

©2018 YES for Yakima • 3511 Highview Drive • Yakima • WA• 98902