Are King County Ex-Pats Turning Pierce County Into a Permanent Bedroom Community for Seattle?

A Seattle Times article last week looked at new census numbers that show King County's "net domestic migration" slowing. That's the number of people moving into the county, minus the number moving out, so a decrease means that while King County is still drawing more people than it's losing, that ratio is shifting in the direction of those leaving.

Pierce County, on the other hand, showed an interesting u-turn in its net domestic migration numbers for the same time period. Pierce County went from a net loss of 75 residents in 2013 to a net gain of a whopping 4,336 in 2014.

As the Seattle Times piece points out, the Census Bureau hasn't yet dug into where all that migration is going to and coming from, but there's a good chance that Pierce County is gaining a fair number of Seattle ex-pats in the exchange.

This makes sense in light of some of the data that we saw from February's UW Tacoma Urban Studies Forum on Jobs and Housing - we saw maps that show 40% or more of residents in areas of Pierce and Snohomish counties that border King County working outside their county of residence, while that number is significantly less in King County just on the other side of the county boundary.

This seems to be further evidence of a troubling trend we've heard hinted at elsewhere - that Pierce County, including Tacoma, is shifting increasingly toward being a bedroom community for Seattle and King County. 

It seems that more former King County residents may be buying and renting homes in Pierce County. That doesn't, however, necessarily mean that those new residents are working down here.

Is there something that can be done to turn all those commuters to King County into people who live AND work in Pierce County? 

Read the Seattle Times article here.

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True question: why is this a “troubling trend?”  The reality is that the economic center of gravity in the region is Seattle.  As housing prices there increase, of course it’s going to drive people to find housing elsewhere.  I’m just not sure I see the big problem with that, except that it might hurt some Tacomans’ pride to be merely Seattle’s bedroom community.  Sure the jobs are up there, but they live down here with their families, here will be where they go to school, go out to eat and recreate.  More people with jobs moving into the city (and surrounding environs) isn’t bad for Tacoma.

March 30, 2015 at 10:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I echo this. I would genuinely like to know what’s troubling about this.

March 31, 2015 at 1:01 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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It’s part of a process that is probably good for Tacoma.  But city an hour or two (depending on traffic, mode of transpo, etc.) from a major employment center really shouldn’t be a “bedroom community.”  That’s a lot of time that could otherwise go to family, civic engagement, exercise, and just hanging out.  Cities whose residents have less time for those things are at a disadvantage, even if it’s less of a disadvantage than having lots of unemployment.  Hopefully over time more companies will start up and move to Tacoma.

March 31, 2015 at 7:39 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacoma has a reputation for having a hostile business climate.  “Hopefully over time” just ain’t gonna cut it.

March 31, 2015 at 8:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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As a business owner, I strongly disagree with this perception.  With the exception of one individual in the permitting department once, the city has been absolutely great to work with.  And even then, his boss came in and saved the day.  I don’t know what else I’d want from the city as a business owner.

March 31, 2015 at 11:03 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Unfortunately for your position the news doesn’t support your anecdotal evidence.

This story reads much the same as as the 2009 news regarding Nalley’s Fine Foods.  This has become a recurring theme in Tacoma. 

Prepare to read more stories of companies who hire blue collar workers moving out of State if the $15/hour minimum wage proponents gain a critical mass of support.

April 10, 2015 at 10:53 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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of course it would be ideal to have our new residents focussed on starting and working for businesses here. but at the least more residents means a need for more teachers, nurses, DRs, public safety folks, restaurants and retail, and on and on… right?

I know not all of those are high or even living wage jobs, but I have a 19 year old community college student living with me who is having trouble finding a gig at anywhere other than a corporate fast food joint, so I’ll take more of all sorts right now in Tacoma.

that said, there’s still plenty not to like if they are all moving to the rolling sprawl and in the eyes of developers contributing to more “demand” for half acre lots in the burbs.

March 31, 2015 at 9:38 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Is this a migration of the poor or successful people looking for affordable housing?  Hopefully the latter

April 1, 2015 at 7:51 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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A guy is walking past a big wooden fence at the insane asylum and he hears all the residents inside chanting, “Thirteen!, Thirteen!, Thirteen!” Quite curious about this, he finds a hole in the fence, and looks in. Someone inside pokes him in the eye. Then everyone inside the asylum starts chanting, “Fourteen!, Fourteen!, Fourteen!”

April 1, 2015 at 8:12 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Is this a migration of the poor or successful people looking for affordable housing?  Hopefully the latter

of course it would be ideal to have our new residents focussed on starting and working for businesses here. but at the least more residents means a need for more teachers, nurses, DRs, public safety folks, restaurants and retail, and on and on… right?

Hopefully over time more companies will start up and move to Tacoma.

Does anybody else notice a trend here? 

Hope: A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.


Ambition: A strong desire to do or to achieve something and you plan for it and work hard for it to happen.

The former pretty much sums up what Tacoma politicians thrive on.  This is not a governing philosophy that is compatible with attracting ambitious residents.

April 1, 2015 at 9:08 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Market forces will eventually drive people South.  Tacoma’s real estate is about at half the price of Seattle.  Seattle is pretty corporatist in nature, it can’t retain creative types like Portland, Austin, ect.  The artist community of Seattle is already leaving to Olympia and Tacoma.  I guess it is the natural cycle of things because the creative class gentrifies ethnic neighborhoods and eventually the creative class will be gentrified out by developers.  There are not may enclaves left in Seattle.  You have Georgetown really, maybe Columbia City.  Freemont, Ballard, Capitol Hill, ect. all developed over.  Seattle will soon be as boring as Evening Magazine.  The end/begining is nigh!

April 1, 2015 at 1:02 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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“Seattle is pretty corporatist in nature, it can’t retain creative types like Portland, Austin, ect.”

The self identified “creative types,” are not going to leave Seattle for Tacoma.  Seattle is as much a part of their carefully cultivated image as living on Vashon is an integral part of Vashonistas shtick, but at least in the case of the Johnny come lately’s to the island the costume de’ jour isn’t nearly as contrived as the that of the hipster.   

Even if that were not the case the Seattle “creative type” has run it’s course. 

Hip has a short shelf life and once the moment evaporates the “creative types” may as well be wearing a rubber nose and pair of big red shoes.

April 1, 2015 at 2:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Creative types always exist.  Call them beatnicks, bohemians, hipsters, whatever they are part of the imaging process of neighborhoods and cities.  Hilltop is gentrifying in this manner.  Stadium/Historic District is as critical mass.  Lincoln & McKinley neighborhoods will likely be next.  Cheap affordable housing, old commercial at bagain basement prices to put in a studio, neighborhoods for the past 50 years transform like this. 

Vashon is an island, an enclave of its own culture as much of the San Juans are as well.  They are very different from the development of cities and their culture.  Seattle is selling out its culture for the influx of people arriving at its border.

April 1, 2015 at 2:59 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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There’s a world of difference between pianists working out a dazzling new school of jazz in Harlem in the 1940s and graduates with novelty beards in Seattle Wa in 2014. And the difference is talent. Today’s hipsters may largely work in the creative industries — but how can anyone be creative whose whole persona is so imitative? 

Irony doesn’t work when it’s mainstream; original clothes just can’t be so derivative; and it’s never truly hip to look silly and “creativity” is defined by being original, not imitative.  You simply cannot walk down the street in Seattle in 2015 and see anything that is either original or creative.  The castoffs are going to bring even less talent to the table.

April 1, 2015 at 3:24 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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There in case is the crux of the argument.  Talent is subjective as you’ve described.

April 1, 2015 at 3:46 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Originality is not.  Creativity demands originality, even the least able to recognize talent can appreciate that creativity and the Seattle hipster scene are mutually exclusionary.

April 1, 2015 at 4:08 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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“ boring as Evening Magazine.”

I got a good laugh out of that one.  Cheers!

April 1, 2015 at 2:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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If Tacoma passes a $15/hour minimum wage you will no longer have to worry about this dynamic.  I have said quite a few times that Tacoma’s ambition is (to borrow from an Auburn advertising campaign from the 1980’s to become the “Little Detroit of the West.”

Tacoma is a few decades behind Detroit, but has been following the “Detroit model” of neglecting existing infrastructure, electing racial identity politicians, focusing on museums and amenities, driving major employers of high paying blue collar workers out of town, kowtowing to interest groups and basically doing everything possible to toe the “progressive” line. 

This never ends well.  There once was a time when Detroit had the very highest per capita income of any city in the world, it had the support of progressive politicians in Lansing and Washington DC and State and federal grant funding flowed in by to Detroit in amounts that other cities only dream about.  Opera houses and sports stadiums were conceived, planned, designed and built in Detroit and the promises of a future Utopia right here on earth were heard from everyone from Coleman Young to Lyndon B Johnson. 

Meanwhile Detroit’s families, both black and white, who lived in single family homes in residential neighborhoods were seeing their tax burdens skyrocket while driving streets in the neighborhoods they live and raise their kids in fall out from under their asses due to “deferred maintenance.” 

The smart ones did what anyone in their right mind would do, they got the hell out of Dodge before the whole house of cards came tumbling down.  It was not “white flight,” so much as middle class, blue collar and white collar worker flight that ensued, leaving Detroit with a declining population that consisted of an ever increasing percentage of the population who were living on the dole, were employed by the City of Detroit or were among the self-identified “masterminds” who were directing this slow motion train wreck.


April 3, 2015 at 8:57 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacoma is not Detroit.  Detroit was the rust belt, had an undiversified economy set solely into car manufacturing and clothing manufacturing, both industries exported to other parts of the world.  After having lived in the area, the economic structure is completely different.  Tacoma is diversified, has AA+ Bond ratings, pretty much the same unemployment rate of similar cities like Vancouver & Spokane.  The Port of Tacoma is booming, exceeding container traffic of Seattle. 

We all enjoy a good drama, but if Tacoma would have been spiriling out of control, we would have seen it in the recession, not as we’re climing out of it and improving daily now.  Anyways, I know this is futile to argue with you because you love this comparison of Tacoma and its progressive politics.

April 3, 2015 at 10:01 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacoma is on the cusp of bankruptcy. 

Tacoma politicians and “movers and shakers” have made exactly the same promises that Detroit’s rah rah chorus were making.  Not one of the economic prognostications that have been made by these jerks have come to fruition.  The City’s credit rating has gone into the toilet in the last two decades.  Credit worthiness is based on forecasts of future economic ability to repay debt, and the professionals in the field of municipal creditworthiness are not all that comfortable with lending money to a jurisdiction with the economic outlook of Tacoma.

April 3, 2015 at 10:47 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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So you have no proof.  That’s all I needed to know.  Doomsay away.

April 3, 2015 at 11:15 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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“Moody’s Upgrades City of Tacoma’s Bond Rating”

From Jan 27, 2015.  About 8 weeks ago, Tacoma was looking pretty good.  Tacoma’s bond rating is A1.

Another more detailed analysis linked below says Tacoma is AA+ and is on strong footing for the future.  Everything I can find about bond ratings contradicts you Hasty.

April 3, 2015 at 6:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Altered Chords

If Tacoma is on the “cusp” of bankruptcy as JD asserts, then is there any way that I can short Tacoma municipal bonds that the rating agencies have rated investment grade (Baa3/BBB- or better)?  JD - instead of making such information public can you keep it between us insiders? - just send me an email or something.  You probably knew about the Lumber Liquidators formaldehyde problem before 60 minutes did too.

April 3, 2015 at 10:58 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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LOL Too bad our bonds are like Aaa2 and Aaa1.  But yes, JD just needs to contact Moody’s or Fitch to convince that Tacoma looks like Stockton or Detroit.  We’re really on the cusp of bankruptcy as all of our bond ratings are improving as we speak.

April 3, 2015 at 11:20 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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The City claims that there is $500,000,000 in currently unfunded deterioration to our City’s pavement assets.  I say nobody knows the extent to which our roadways have been damaged. 

There are municipally owned utilities buried beneath that pavement that are being damaged as a result of the underlying roadway base no longer being to support the loads of heavy vehicle traffic i.e. busses, garbage trucks, cement mixers, moving vans, dump trucks.  As things stand today, the City of Tacoma has to respond daily to do emergency repairs to crushed utilities.  Some of these utilities, clay and even wooden sewer could last another fifteen years, twenty years, thirty years or even longer AND when they fail the Utility will bear the responsibility for restoring the pavement TO THE CONDITION it is in prior to the Utility doing the work required to repair their asset.  Now here is where you have to pay very close attention and follow me:  if and when there is a sewer failure, Tacoma owns that - BUT quite often Utilities that are owned by a separate Utility will take advantage of what are known as “sunk costs” and simultaneously upgrade their assets and “participate in” the cost of trench restoration which, by the way also frequently will include a half street overlay. 

So the pavement owner (the City) frequently will get a brand spanking new half street overlay out of the deal and Utility ratepayers will pick up half or two thirds of the cost.  In the case of TPU, that spreads the cost outside of the City.  Are you following me? 

This is usually the case even if the street was due for major work to begin with.  It is just done that way so as to maintain a good working relationship with the owner of the pavement.

Here is where that scenario will not play out any longer:  If the pavement owner, the City, has allowed the pavement to go without maintenance and the roadway has failed… the Utility is only obligated to pay just what it would cost for trench restoration on sound infrastructure period, and the pavement owner would be obligated for the entirety of the difference if the pavement owner wants a new half street done at that time.  That is how utility franchise agreements are written and that is settled law.  There really is no sense in trying to fight it.  AND, make no mistake about it, Utility ratepayers that do not live within the City of Tacoma are tuned in and will be keeping the City appointed Utility Board “honest” and demanding that their interests be looked after. 

You should be aware of the recent dustup regarding the proposed new County office complex, and as such you should recognize the name Jerry Gibbs.  Jerry Gibbs is a personal friend of mine who I have known for over three decades.  Jerry will organize a group of stakeholders who all have standing and they will not hesitate to sue the Utility if the Utility does not provide proper stewardship and see that their rights as Utility ratepayers are not protected.  It really is that simple.  I say that as a Tacoma resident, taxpayer and real estate owner who would benefit financially by having the cost of irresponsible maintenance and preservation practices by the City of Tacoma are passed on to others who did not have a say in who our City’s decision makers are and what their policies and practices have been. 


April 3, 2015 at 8:24 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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OK, so you want to make the assertion that Tacoma is not following in the Detroit model.  You are entitled to your opinion, but I beg to differ.  The City of Tacoma no longer budgets money for weekly garbage collection, you all know that.  But what you may not, probably are not aware of is the City of Tacoma no longer budgets money for routinely placing rat poison in sewer manhole either.  How do I know this?  I awoke one morning and found a dead rat floating in my downstairs toilet bowl.  Had I not made a habit of keeping the toilet lid closed that rat would have swam through the toilet trap and been in our home and I would have never known.  Here is what should absolutely outrage you:  I called the City and I was told “we no longer have the budget for poisoning manholes.  I live on the fringe of the Proctor District, by the way.  The City no longer is routinely proactively poisoning sewer manholes, they no longer have any budget for that, they are, and for a while now have been, responding to complaints…

And let me make this perfectly clear to any of you who are reading this, by the time rats are swimming through toilet traps into residents the rat population in the sewer is so high that rats are fighting over territory and that means there are thousands of them living in the sewers,  not only that they have escape routes to the outside world and are running around your neighborhood carrying whatever germs are in the sewer out into the environment you and I live in.  But you say you have never seen a rat in your yard… rats are rodents and rodents are nocturnal.  Sit up one night with a flashlight and you will find that the little buggers are out and about, and as such the fleas, tics and other parasites like mosquitoes that live off the blood of mammals are biting rats… and your cat who catches them, and your dog that rolls on your lawn and your kids who play outside too. 

This is not one damn bit funny.  The United States sends billions of dollars fighting diseases that use rodents as a vector and are subsequently carried by biting insects like lice, biting flies and mosquitoes and arachnids like tics into the human population.

Your pet is also a vector and if your pet is an “outside cat,” who spends nights outdoors- your cat is intimately familiar with sewer rats.  Your cat is busy hunting rats!  Come give mommy a kiss.

This isn’t funny, let me reiterate that, this is not one damn bit funny.  We do not suffer from mosquitoes the way other areas do, but if your neighbor leaves a bucket of water sitting around mosquitoes will find it and breed in it and should one of those mosquitoes bite a rat that carries hepatitis virus subsequently bite your kid your kid may contact the disease and suffer permanent liver damage or even death.

Where I am going with this is that your municipal government has determined that the risk is small enough, and will escape notice EVEN if defunding proactive measures results in an outbreak, to no longer proactively wage war on the sewer rat population. 

I don’t know what the budget for proactively poisoning sewer rats was, but I do know that it is small enough that no municipality would look here for line items to cut unless…  unless what?  Unless something other than the health of the community were subordinate to something that the powers that be see as a higher priority and the municipality were “tapped out.” 

Now let us look at how our City has programmed incoming revenues:  Was it $1.5M they gave Hillside Terrace to build affordable housing that cost north of a quarter $Million/residence for families in distress, when ten times that number of families in distress could be helped through a rough spot by put up temporarily in a modest home that could be purchased on the open market for a fraction of that amount???

We all like to make fun of lottery winners who go broke within a year or two, but, in the aggregate, we elect people to be stewards of our public treasury who are even more out of touch of what it takes to EARN a dollar, and then budget that dollar in ways that make go as far as possible.

April 3, 2015 at 9:29 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Territorial conflicts with rats, broken roads, dysfunctional public servants—-

Welcome All Peoples From Third World Countries. Tacoma Is Open For Business!

April 4, 2015 at 1:54 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I would like to clarify some of what I said about a Utility’s obligations above.  I was distracted with a toddler on my lap while typing last night.  I lost my train of thought a number of times and this lead to somewhat misleading info regarding pavement restoration. 

A Utility is only obligated to restore the pavement to the condition it is in prior to the work being done.  Utilities frequently go above and beyond and do a half street instead of just a trench restoration.  This is fairly common and jurisdictions reciprocate by going the Utility’s way on occasion. 

For a Utility to rebuild a failed street is not reasonable and what is more it is not lawful for the Utility Board to spend the Utility ratepayers money in this manner.  It would also not be lawful for a publically owned Utility to pay a large percentage of rebuilding a failed street if they participate in a “joint project.”  They are to be stewards of the public trust and they have an obligation to that end. 

The ratepayers have standing, they are stakeholders and they are already organized and vigilant and they can and will go into court if Tacoma tries any of these shenanigans. 

April 4, 2015 at 8:34 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Homework tonight is 3 5 paragraph rants about contrails, Tammany Hall vs. Tacoma comparison, and how ALF is a secretly putting rats with cameras in our houses.  The truth is out there!

April 5, 2015 at 4:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Dude.  I count 41 paragraphs so far.  Get with it!!  :)

April 5, 2015 at 7:34 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Hardy, har, har.  You are a regular comedian.  But can you name a single scandal in the last two decades that has not involved Senior Fellows at the Pierce County Chapter of The American Leadership Forum?  I can name reel off a whole litany of scandals that have involved the same.  Evidently you think the City not dealing with an exploding population of sewer rats is something to laugh about, well it is about as funny as allowing our pavement infrastructure to deteriorate to the point at which maintenance is unsustainable.

April 5, 2015 at 7:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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And while we are on the subject of hilariously amusing ways that the powers that be have been spending from the public treasury - I bet the families in need of emergency temporary housing who will be left out in the cold because “Tacoma” spent that money on a few luxury condo units instead of far more units of modest units are getting a belly laugh out of that.  And if you due your due diligence you will find a Senior Fellow at The ALF in charge of that fiasco.

April 6, 2015 at 5:46 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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