Imagine Tacoma – Bury Me (please)

As the Planning Commission discusses revisions to the Mixed-Use Center Zoning Code in an effort to remove barriers for the development of mixed-use projects, and to incent denser residential development (without density – kiss your streetcar goodbye mate), Imagine Tacoma takes a page from Dan Burden’s Walkability Lecture for a three step- improvement program that ‘might’ be coming to a street corner near you:

  • Add #$@!ing pedestrian crosswalk striping (Dan didn’t add the emphasis).
  • Bury the overhead power/telephone/cable lines, please.
  • Add bulb-outs at street corners and street trees/furniture coordinated accessories.

Does the design of the buildings matter that much when you have an improved streetscape? Other than a couple of basic design requirements – no blank walls, no garage doors, basic historical proportions – is it not the ‘space’ between buildings – the public realm – that most of us occupy and experience anyways?

What would Tacoma look like if Tacoma Public Utilities (bury me, please), City of Tacoma Public Works AND City of Tacoma Planning Division (Economic Development, et al) developed public infrastructure projects in complete design coordinated with one another (all piled into the same excavation hole so to speak)?

Before a ‘Director of Sustainability’ is created within the City, how about first a ‘Director of Project and Policy Coordination’ that would assure that public infrastructure improvements are coordinated across the City – and why not start with the mixed-use centers, eh? Seems improvement of our existing streetscapes could go a long way to providing incentive to future development private projects – and give us all the benefit (and pedestrian safety and convenience) in the meantime while we wait for the ‘grand slam’ projects to eventually come online.


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