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Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of September 23, 2014

Affordable Housing

Affordable housing will be the main topic of conversation at this week's City Council study session. Community and Economic Development Department and Planning and Development Services staff will update the Council on housing affordability in Tacoma and current City programs to address housing needs. Staff will share information related to affordable housing, and will seek input from the Council. The discussion will include an analysis of what constitutes affordable housing in Tacoma, detailing factors such as household demographics, income levels and employment; as well as an overview of the City's range of projects and programs to address affordable housing needs; and an overview of upcoming affordable housing initiatives. 

This discussion comes ahead of the five-year update to the Consolidated Plan, which sets funding priorities and objectives for addressing housing, homelessness, and community development needs in Tacoma. It also comes at a time when conversations such as those around the recent creation of the Point Ruston Mixed-Use Center, and the lack of use of the 12-year multi-family housing tax break have raised questions of whether Tacoma's affordable housing policies could be better written.

 

Initiative 594

A resolution appearing on this week's regular Council meeting agenda would express Council support for the passage of Washington State Initiative 594, which goes to the voters this November. The initiative reads as follows:

 GENERAL ELECTION - INITIATIVE MEASURE NO. 594
Initiative Measure No. 594 concerns background checks for firearm sales and  transfers.

This measure would apply currently used criminal and public safety background checks by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show 
and online sales, with specific exceptions.

Should this measure be enacted into law?
[ ] Yes
[ ] No

The resolution in support of I-594 is sponsored by Mayor Strickland, Deputy Mayor Woodards and Council Members Mello and Walker. Read more here.

 

Marijuana Regulations

Last week the City Council held a public hearing on extending the current interim land-use regulations covering production, processing, and retail sale of recreational marijuana.

The current regulations were created following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington State. They were put in place to give guidance as new marijuana-related businesses apply for various permits and locations. The regulations are intended to be temporary, until the City has more guidance from state and federal agencies. The interim period is also intended to allow the City of Tacoma to assess the effectiveness and impacts of the interim regulations, before enacting permanent regulations. Read more in our coverage of last week's City Council meeting.

This week the Council will hear the first reading of an ordinance extending those interim regulations for another six months, through May 16, 2015. 

 

For-Hire Transportation Regulations

As conversations continue in communities across the US over exactly how for-hire transportation services companies, such as Uber and Lyft, should be classified and regulated, the Tacoma City Council is scheduled to consider an ordinance that would repeal in full existing taxi regulations, and re-enact a new set of regulations on for-hire transportation services providers. These regulations would attempt to level the playing field between traditional taxi cab companies and drivers, and the new breed of for-hire transportation services companies and their drivers.

The goal is a tricky one: to create a system that is fair to both the traditional cabs and the app-based companies, while also maintaining regulations to ensure safety for both drivers and riders.

 

Existing regulations for taxi companies are fairly demanding, while the new app-based services are essentially unregulated. The new proposed regulations would lump both categories of businesses together, reducing regulations on taxis, while imposing regulations on the for-hire services.

 

Other Items

An ordinance appears on this week's Council meeting consent agenda that would reclassify a currently undeveloped 5.38-acre parcel located at 1502 South Orchard Street from an “R-2” Single-Family Dwelling District to an “R-4-L” Low Density Multiple-Family Dwelling District to allow for future construction of a 121-unit apartment complex.

September 27, 2014 will be proclaimed Museum Day Live!, the week of September 21-27, 2014 will be proclaimed Deaf Awareness Week, and a presentation will be made for Gun Safety Awareness Week, which is also this week.

A resolution on this week's regular Council meeting agenda would authorize the execution of a Collective Bargaining Agreement and Letter of Understanding covering three full-time represented employee positions with the City. The first reading of an accompanying ordinance enacting the agreement is also scheduled for this week's meeting.

This week's Council meeting is also the date set for a public hearing by the City Council on the surplus and negotiated sale of approximately 0.85 of an acre of surplus land located near the intersection of Canyon Road and 172nd Street East in Pierce County to Fretoc, LLC for $50,000.


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