In a 7-2 decision on Monday, the Seattle City Council passed a sweeping city-wide program intended to literally make Seattle the “Greenest City Ever,” by painting each and every structure within the city limits a delightful shade of forest green. Residents and businesses alike will be required to participate in the new program, which will begin in 2010.
“We’ve made a lot of progress toward becoming the leader in green issues,” said Richard Conlin, chair of the Environment, Emergency Management & Utilities Committee. “We were one of the first cities to implement mandatory recycling, we’re leading hundreds of cities across the country in meeting the Kyoto Protocol, and last year we even passed mandatory table-scrap recycling. Yet even after all these green accomplishments, we knew we could do more.”
Taking “green” to its logical conclusion was the natural next step for the council, Conlin explained. By painting every building in the city to match our natural surroundings, the council believes that the “think green” message will become as instinctive as breathing.
“Only seven percent of Seattle’s buildings are currently literally green,” Conlin revealed. “Downtown, the figure is even worse. It’s shameful, really.” Conlin and other members of the council agreed that this program is a good first step for Seattle to live up to its “emerald city” nickname, and to do some good for the environment at the same time.
The plan is not without detractors. Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Jean Godden voted against the proposal.
Rasmussen questioned whether the city’s money might be better spent on other initiatives, such as his parks-building proposal, which would create a park for each and every citizen in the city. Councilmember Jean Godden wonders whether the program goes far enough. Her competing proposal would have required all cars, boats, children’s playground structures, outdoor lighting, fences, and pets to be painted green as well.
The green paint will be phased in beginning in 2010, with paint being delivered to residences during the weekly recycling pickup. The program will be funded through an additional half-percent sales tax on the sale of all non-green paints.
Due to debate over the Greenest City program lasting longer than planned, the council was forced to push the issue of changing the city’s official bird from the great blue heron to the green parrot to next week’s agenda.