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Looking Forward to City Government in 2015

As 2015 news dissolves into Santa sightings and year-in-review stories, we thought we'd take a look at the issues we may be writing about in the coming year. As we look ahead to the 2015 calendar of topics for the City Council and various City boards, commissions, and committees, we find a few issues we're pretty sure you can expect to see over the coming months.

  • Medical marijuana - This is one of the first items on the agenda for 2015. A January 6 public hearing on planned enforcement on medical marijuana businesses is likely to be well-attended.
  • $15 minimum wage & paid sick leave - We know for a fact this will be on the agenda. The paid leave conversation really heated up the last couple weeks, and we expect it to continue to be hot, with a second reading of the ordinance proposed by Mayor Strickland on the agenda for January 27. The push for a $15 minimum wage in Tacoma is following on the heels of the sick leave conversation, although this one is taking a different route, with a citizen initiative filed. Look for 15 Now supporters asking for your signature in the near future.
  • Warhol Flower - In order for supporters to approach the Warhol Foundation for use rights of the flower, and private fundraising efforts to move forward, the idea of putting a giant Andy Warhol-designed flower on the Tacoma Dome will need the approval of the City, which owns the facility. The proposal cleared the Council Economic Development Committee this month, so we're expecting to see it come to the full Council for support in early 2015.
  • Plastic bag ban - With both the Sustainable Tacoma Commission and the City's Environmental Services Department looking at the feasibility of implementing a ban on single-use bags, it's probably a good bet that we'll hear about it in 2015.
  • Charter amendment implementation - The voters approved 10 out of 12 proposed charter amendments on the November ballot. Those amendments will now need to be implemented. Some are pretty straight-forward changes to language or procedures, others a little more involved. The amendments giving the Council and/or Mayor the authority to confirm appointments of department heads, the Director of Utilities, and the newly created Citizen Commission on Salaries, will require the Council to identify and implement process and standards for confirmation. 

There will also be plenty of plans created, reviewed, and amended in 2015. We know these are coming, but what we'll wait to see is what hot topics come up as these efforts move forward. If you're a planning geek like us, you can look forward to a lot of maps and charts and lists of priorities...

  • Transportation Master Plan - This has been a long time in coming, but with all the overlapping systems and connections with other planning documents, the Transportation Commission and Public Works have been hard at work on a new Transportation Master Plan to guide transportation development in Tacoma for years to come. We expect to see more opportunities for public involvement and comment in 2015.
  • Annual amendments - Every year the City considers amendments to its Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Code. This year the City received 11 applications. We will definitely be hearing more about these in the coming weeks and months. 
  1. Updates related to the 2015 State Growth Management Act 
  2. Mixed-Use Centers Review 
  3. McKinley Mixed-Use Center Boundary Expansion
  4. Land Use Designations Review
  5. Critical Areas Preservation Code Update
  6. Transportation Master Plan
  7. Open Space Habitat & Recreation Element 
  8. Affordable Housing Planning Work Program
  9. Electric Vehicle Infrastructure 
  10. Code Cleanup
  11. West Slope Neighborhood Conservation District
  • Tacoma Mall Subarea Plan - With the Hilltop and North and South Downtown Subarea plans completed, the City is turning its attention to the Tacoma Mall area for the same treatment. The subarea planning and environmental impact statement process allows for an area-wide plan for growth, including mitigation of environmental impacts. It's meant to lay the groundwork for development and give developers increased certainty around what to expect in an area. In 2015 the Planning Commission will consider area-wide strategies for transportation and stormwater management, among other topics. The preliminary timeline shows a draft Tacoma Mall Subarea Plan and EIS in early 2016.

... and of course Monkeyshines - It's the final year of the 12-year Chinese lunar calendar cycle, and it's going to be a good one, thanks in part to a recent 2015 Arts Project grant from the Tacoma Arts Commission and private supporters, as well as the gang of monkeys who make the magic happen every year. This could be the last time...

What are you looking forward to seeing the City tackle in 2015? Is there an issue not on the list that you'd like to see come up for discussion?

Previously from Exit133: Looking Forward to Development in 2015

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