Op-Ed: Don’t Suburban-ize Tacoma

Conversations about growth, density, and affordability have dominated our happy hour conversations lately. It may be the friends we hang out with, or it could be that Tacoma has some long-awaited for momentum and is approaching a crossroads. What is the future of Tacoma? - Derek

Bill Virgin’s recent article (“Is Tacoma taking Seattle-like growth tactics too far?”, June 4, 2016) in the Tacoma News Tribune represents the latest chapter in the ongoing community dialogue about the character of development patterns emerging during the economic recovery. Finally, after over a decade of planning for growth and development in the city’s neighborhood business districts, Tacoma is finally seeing new density in areas designated for the centralization of growth, which has been the centerpiece of the city’s growth strategy for years. This policy is meant to encourage the clustering of development and population growth in areas designated to receive new residents, retail shopping, and jobs and professional services. This policy is intended to capture 80% of the city’s anticipated population growth, for which Tacoma has planned to receive 127,000 additional people by 2040. The purpose of this policy is to protect single-family neighborhoods city-wide while placing new residents in close proximity to jobs, services, and transit, thereby reducing the dependence upon using single-occupancy automobile modes for daily needs and commuting.

So while the cleverly-coined phase ‘Don’t Seattle-ize Tacoma’ may be the cry of resistance, the imminent population growth set to occur over the next 25 years in one of the largest urban cities in the Pacific Northwest begs for a wholly different catch-phrase – ‘Don’t suburban-ize Tacoma’.    

Despite the well-thought-out development strategy of centralizing growth, Mr. Virgin offers the banal response we’ve all heard before, without offering up a single new thought or alternative. If you missed the column, he advocates for resisting urban scale, mid-rise development in the city’s most urban centers where transit, shopping and professional services located near housing will reduce traffic congestion, protect natural resource lands in rural areas of Pierce County, reinvigorate civic and social life, and add to the character of Tacoma as a progressive community. What Mr. Virgin doesn’t realize or decided not to share in his column is that creating a ceiling on housing in the city will only drive prices up, as well as force people to move further and further away from the I-5 corridor in search of affordability. This will not only exacerbate traffic congestion as commuters travel on low-capacity roads without access to transit infrastructure, but also result in the conversion of farms, forests, and other critical open space for subdivisions.

Locating development near transit lines and in walkable communities reduces our collective need for the automobile and creates a place that’s focused on people--all people--and creates a place we all want to be. Pierce Transit has been thoughtful about efficiencies in their system and forward-thinking about planning for the future. Our regional transit provider, Sound Transit, has put together an ambitious package of investments that provide regional connections for employees who need to commute to the north and south, as well as investing in our local Link service.

If we want to grow economically, planning around transportation is vital. Businesses know that employees are asking for choices, not highways. For example, by encouraging development in our downtown, with great options for transit and great walkability (downtown Tacoma boosts a Walk Score of 93 – www.walkscore.com), we support housing and transportation options, community building, and safety, while creating an environment that supports business development.

When we grow right, we can continue to make our communities attractive places to live and work. But if the region grows as it did in recent decades, people will lose access to services, farms, forests and open spaces will continue to be converted for seemingly-endless subdivisions, and roads and public infrastructure will be increasingly burdened by use that they were never intended to accommodate. This type of growth where we continue to build out into our rural areas will equate to less access to local agricultural products, increased air and water pollution, and more time spent in cars getting from place to place. Think about it: would you prefer to spend all of your time in a car rather than at home with your family, socializing with friends, or enjoying our world-renowned parks and open space? If your answer is “no,” then you too know that can grow in a way that doesn’t jeopardize our community and way of life.

Planning for growth doesn't have to mean bland monoliths that strip a neighborhood of its character. In fact, if done right, these developments can add amenities, attract more visitors to shops and restaurants, and aesthetically fit into the exiting neighborhood, often times replacing disinvested eyesores. These new homes and services will also be connected by transit service, walking, and biking infrastructure that connect people to worksites and mitigating many traffic concerns.

So let’s grow right so that new development builds on the character of our existing communities rather than supplants them, that people can find ways to get to and from work quickly so that they don’t sit in traffic while their children wait for them to come home, and so that future generations can continue to pick their Halloween pumpkins in the Puyallup Valley. The alternative jeopardizes the very quality of life that we cherish.

Jordan Rash - Forterra
Chris Beale, AICP, Chair – Tacoma Planning Commission
Kristina Walker - Downtown On the Go!

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great article. I hope that no one answers “no” to the question you posed and that Tacoma can continue to utilize its potential as a walkable city that values green space, people, and the future of our environment.

June 15, 2016 at 12:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

20 | 6


Great article that points out what should be obvious.  The News Tribune hasn’t exactly been cranking out brainiac opinion articles lately.


June 15, 2016 at 1:54 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

21 | 6


Bill Virgin didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. I think his long term visions for growth are much better than the authors give him credit for. A few questions for Ms. Walker and Mr. Looper. Where is that award winning Elementary School downtown? You know, the one that young couples walk their children to? Or the grocery store? How could Downtown have a walkability score of 93 without those things? Downtown Tacoma is fun place to party, but it’s not all that family friendly.

Here’s a few things about Tacoma that make it a very different place than Seattle, and why we should reject Seattle style mid-rise growth. 1. Tacoma has much, much less income than Seattle. 2. Seattle is the Whitest City in America and getting Whiter all the time. Tacoma is getting much less White (minorities are getting pushed here from high priced Seattle). 3. New residents in Tacoma are more likely to be immigrants, to have the desire start a their own business and be more family oriented than Seattle. Tacoma needs to find it’s own way. Let’s reject both suburban sprawl and Seattle style growth.

June 15, 2016 at 2:07 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

20 | 15


Two pretty innovative elementary schools flank downtown ... the modernized McCarver Elementary with its International Baccalaureate program returns this September to 21st & J, and Bryant Montessori is at 7th & S. Grant.

June 15, 2016 at 8:35 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

12 | 1

Donde Groovily

Lower-income is exactly why we need the mid-rises. Seattle’s outrageous housing prices are for the simple reason that there isn’t enough. We need lots and lots of mid-rises here so that prices stay low and we don’t repeat Seattle’s mistakes.

BTW, immigrants prefer tight-knit communities where they are actually close to their neighbors. 16000 SF single-family is not that.

June 21, 2016 at 1:21 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 5


Market forces and rising prices aside, I’d like to see Tacoma’s average household size rise toward 3 again. Tacoma should spend more money on schools than Seattle per capita. We should try to stay a family friendly town if possible. Being a White guy sitting in a 1,000 sq ft single-family house, I can’t speak for immigrants directly, but a bunch of them seem happy enough to live on my block. Tacoma has made it much easier for my to add on to this house and invite more family members to live with me, or build a little house in the back yard to rent out or have my father-in-law live with me. That’s a tight-knit community for you.

Mid-rise buildings are the choice of younger yuppies and retired people. Not that I’m into name calling or turning away those folks who want to move to Tacoma, so any young yuppie in Seattle reading this should just move already! But endless mid-rise buildings can’t be the whole solution. We need innovative schools, better parks, more walking and cycling infrastructure, more duplexes and carriage houses, more row houses, mixed use housing in every business district and local transit to serve every inch of the City equally. Forget Seattle… Portland is a better model.

June 21, 2016 at 9:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

6 | 2

Tim Smith

We seem to be a “proving ground” for the remora urban consultants, planning experts, and densification methods competing in Seattle.

June 22, 2016 at 4:14 am / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 0

David Boe

Density.  You can go up, you can go out, or you can go thick.  Up and out are pretty obvious (and Pierce County has an ‘urban growth boundary’ that is further out from Downtown Tacoma then London’s!).  If you want to go thick (i.e. do not exceed 4-story structures), then the mixed-use centers need to double in size and take more of the single-family residential neighborhood that going up was to protect.  Virgin noted cities that are thick - but they also have limited single-family residential neighborhoods until you get pretty far out from the center. Also, Tacoma is still car centric - and likely will be for a considerable future - so what is missing in the debate is going up with the height bonus MUST require on-site parking to be included within the new building.  We don’t what to have the mixed-use center ringed by surface parking lots (ala Garfield Station in Parkland or go stand at N. 25th and Adams…).

June 15, 2016 at 4:35 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

16 | 12

David Web

Mr. Boe, With increased density, when will the city improve public safety in Proctor? Down town Tacoma has property and transit with easier access to the light rail and the sounder to go North, but You believe sandwiching them tight will achieve better density? You’re also confident this density of this scale will not place two public schools at risk?  What will happen when the economy changes and vacancy in this high cost living empties the buildings?  Why don’t you believe in affordable living particularly when going for tax breaks? They don’t even attempt to offer middle class income any living units. Its always interesting to see how your profession affects others views.

December 1, 2016 at 3:40 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

5 | 1


Great op-ed.  It hits many high points and is worthy of praise.  One thing I wish we could have done with Proctor Station though was cut back a little on the amount of parking that was slated for the project.  If you build too much parking into a project, most people will drive to access it.  It’s that simple.  If we can cut back on the amount of parking, those savings can be passed on to the residents and they will more likely choose other modes of travel, which have less impact on streets and the level of congestion.

June 15, 2016 at 5:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

8 | 20

Diogenes Xenos

I’m pretty sure the neighbors wouldn’t be too pleased with the idea of building less parking, nor would the nearby businesses that don’t want to lose business due to it being too hard to park in the area.  Also building size is often limited by parking requirements (code), so if you reduce those requirements you can expect even larger buildings with more units, not smaller garages.

July 11, 2016 at 2:26 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 0


I’ll be a witness here and try to offer some advise.
I have a single family home in one of those growth areas.
In fact I live in it right now though I have a couple of homes in other areas.

The problem that I see with densifying these areas is that so far it is having no effect on reducing singly occupancy motor vehicle dependency that I have witnessed.

Let me tell you that I have a townhouse complex built next to my house across an alley.The units have a garage and a driveway sufficient for two motor vehicles (well not commercial trucks of course).
Some of the residents have 3 vehicles and a family closest to me has 5 motor vehicles (1 truck and 4 passenger cars). There is no way for a pedestrian to walk on the sidewalk in front of those townhouses as motor vehicles are illegally parked there.Also many of the residents use on street parking and often illegally like parking in the alley,within 5 feet of a driveway or alley or road and I’ve had vehicles parked right in front of my driveway.

As I write this I had to call the police to have a truck blocking my driveway towed away.

The problem is when you have increased population density I see increased motor vehicle ownership,traffic,parking problems and gridlock.There has to be a way to significantly reduce the motor vehicle numbers.

Now a good video on this is Car Free Cities on YouTube along with his other videos and books.He has an answer.You have to get rid of the motor vehicles.
Here is one of his videos.

June 15, 2016 at 5:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

8 | 14


I am going to add that when I grew up the population of the United States was around 160,000,000,One in five Americans had a motor vehicle and the number of motor vehicles in the United States was around 35 million.One could easily and safely ride a bicycle on Tacoma streets back then with little traffic.Today the population has doubled yet the number of motor vehicles has increased a disproportional 10 fold to around 350,000,000 motor vehicles.
There are motor vehicles for every man,woman,teenager,pre teen and even infants right now in the United States which is ridiculous.
When I was born the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was at 315 ppm (not too bad) now it’s over 400 ppm (which is high with no slowing down in human activity originated emissions)

Fortunately by the later half of the 21st century worldwide petroleum reserves will become depleted but who knows what hellish
global warming will be like then or ocean acidification.
Maybe the world of Soylent Green will come true by then.

June 15, 2016 at 6:38 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

6 | 10

DeeBee Cooper

The scoops are on their way! The scoops are on their way!


June 16, 2016 at 4:02 am / Reply / Quote and reply

2 | 0


Last I checked, Virgin lived in Renton.  That’s fine, but since he lost his biz column with the P-I and moved to the TNT, he’s never bothered to get a good feel for Tacoma.  If he had one, he might say that the Proctor development fits its neighborhood amazingly well, that Sixth is crying out for such development (the one at Alder should be great, but how about something at Division and Sprague?).  Counterintuitively, the proposal in the already dense Stadium District may most risk messing with the feel of the area if it doesn’t respect sight lines of Wright Park and the feel of cool old existing nearby apartments.  Six stories there might be better than eight there.

June 15, 2016 at 8:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

11 | 8

Jacob Berkey

It is all about creating a premium space.  The illusion of value.  Call it walkable, talk about amenities, and pretend that everyone wants to live without a lawn.  Label the people who want to own some outdoor space as unsustainable.

Point Ruston is the future!  Cool Jazz pumped through outdoor speakers for everyone.  This can be anywhere, this can be everywhere! 

Put development where traffic congestion is already bad.  Lure developers with tax breaks. Don’t plan for parking or road infrastructure improvements.  Plan light rail 20+ years in the future because that makes sense.  Those residents will make due before the rails and jobs show up…

Increase the population base in the fringe districts served by lackadaisical bus service. Allow living wage jobs for commuters who have to travel to Seattle, Olympia, and other places outside of Tacoma for decent jobs.  Treat the resident population like misfits who don’t fit in with the market.  Forget tradition, be now - neoliberal.

Sorry Tacoma.  You seemed like you had character, true grit. Now you are allowing Metro Parks to gut Wright Park for a new shiny conservatory, you are filling the Proctor District with grumpy hipsters, and turning Stadium in to Capital Hill.  Yuck.  I thought you were better…

June 19, 2016 at 7:43 am / Reply / Quote and reply

14 | 12


The authors are correct that increasing density is essential to effective growth management in Pierce County. It is the only way to create walkable neighborhoods and preserve outdoor space in the face of inevitable population growth. I applaud their dedication to these issues. However, the main theme of the TNT article is affordability - and the authors give that issue short shrift.

Regular people, earning median wages, need to be able to afford to live in Tacoma. Increasing mid and high-rise development in Seattle has completely failed to keep that city affordable for median wage earners. In light of this, it is simply not good enough to wave away affordability concerns by invoking supply and demand and saying that restrictions on density increasing redevelopment in city centers will increase costs. If development hasn’t contained costs in Seattle, we have no reason to expect it will do so here.

Growth management of the sort advocated here must be accompanied by a detailed and robust plan for creating and maintaining affordable housing. Right now, we do not have one. Instead, the City Council is granting enormous tax-breaks to wealthy developers and wealthy tenants while the development of affordable housing stock remains an afterthought. According to Craig Sailor, writing recently in the TNT, a staggering 90%+ of the multi-family housing development in Tacoma has fallen into the luxury category. Preserving green spaces and creating fun neighborhoods are worthwhile goals, but until the dedicated urbanists begin to seriously address affordability in these conversations I will remain skeptical of the pro-growth movement.

June 19, 2016 at 9:58 am / Reply / Quote and reply

10 | 3

Diogenes Xenos

It seems unfair to say the Seattle high rises haven’t been effective in keeping rents affordable without a credible study as to what rents might be without them ever having been built…that’s kind of like saying hybrid cars have been completely ineffective in helping to reduce global warming since they haven’t stopped it completely…I think it would be equally if not more credible to suggest perhaps Seattle isn’t building enough high-rises to keep rents from climbing so quickly.

July 11, 2016 at 2:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

2 | 0


I appreciate the thoughtful reply. You are dubious about my assertion that “Seattle high rises haven’t been effective in keeping rents affordable”. but I think it is a mistake to confuse “affordable” with “relatively cheaper”. I would agree that Seattle high rises (or mid rises) may have made rent “relatively cheaper” in that city. I think you are correct that a number of credible studies would be necessary for us to get a good indication of the degree to which development has affected rents. I would also suggest that we may find that luxury development in formerly affordable neighborhoods may be driving rents up, but I won’t pretend to know where the balance lies.

However, we don’t need any studies to prove that “Seattle high rises haven’t been effective in keeping rents affordable”. The fact is, rents in Seattle are unaffordable despite the new development. Therefore, the new development has not kept rents affordable.

I do not want to imply that this should be the endpoint of the analysis. Just because density has failed to control housing costs does not mean that it should be written off as useless or counterproductive. Instead, we need to recognize that housing affordability is a serious problem that is going to require sustained attention and investment to solve. My complaint is that this op-ed, like much of the writing from the pro-density/urbanist crowd, does not treat the issue of affordability with the seriousness or urgency that it requires.

July 12, 2016 at 7:46 am / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 1



Proctor District’s popularity causing parking headaches

June 20, 2016 at 1:33 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 7


Well, that all depends on what you’re used to. Traffic in Proctor is worse than it was 5 years ago, but it’s nothing like Seattle. It’s got rising housing costs too, but nothing like Seattle. So for long term residents of Proctor this seems like a downgrade. To the Seattle/King County horde moving in, it’s an upgrade. Everybody can’t be 100% happy… Although Proctor is about as win-win as you can get.

June 20, 2016 at 3:35 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

6 | 2

Donde Groovily

Of course, transit in the Proctor District is nothing like Seattle’s either. Two circuitous and baffling routes that connect to downtown every 30 minutes, if you’re lucky. None of Seattle’s commercial districts have transit that crappy.

June 21, 2016 at 1:26 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

6 | 0


The easiest and best parking solution would be a ballot referendum that mandates that if you are going to rent an apartment that YOU as land lord MUST include in the cost of that apartment one parking space for a a studio apartment and two parking spaces for anything larger. 

If the public can vote to impose mandatory minimum wage it can surely vote to place the burden of increased parking demand on those who are benefiting financially from renting apartments.

June 22, 2016 at 9:54 am / Reply / Quote and reply

11 | 10

Diogenes Xenos

So would that mean all the vintage buildings built before such parking requirements were created would have to be torn-down if they had no way of accommodating parking?  And why force a landlord to provide parking for a resident who may not have a car?  I have no issue with mandatory minimums for new construction (which already exist), but it doesn’t seem the governments place to dictate who gets use of the stalls…perhaps some residents need none, but others need several.  What then?

July 11, 2016 at 2:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

2 | 2


There is no reason that any proposition put on the ballot could not be written in such a way as to capture Proctor Station and exempt other existing buildings if that were what the supporters think will pass.  In that case Mr Evans would have to factor the cost of mitigating damage he has done to long time Proctor residents and property owners into his future designs.  He and his partners already own properties or have purchased rights to other properties in Proctor and if this is not done they plan more of this crap of passing on the impact of his commercial development to Proctor residents.  He does not live in Proctor and he is not impacted by the mess he has created.

July 13, 2016 at 8:55 am / Reply / Quote and reply

5 | 2


City government must incentivize grocery store landlords with large fields of asphalt-covered parking spaces in city neighborhoods to find ways to redevelop their buildings with underground parking, with retail and apartments several floors above.  Safeway on the Hilltop could be upgraded in such away, provided the parking area had adequate security.  Westgate South on No. Pearl Street at 21st could benefit from such a redevelopment that concentrates such housing, with mixed-income residences there., as is the situation with the thrift store on No. Pearl at 46th.  One hopes that the planned light rail line along Martin Luther King, Jr. Way sparks redevelopment there similar to the apartments and condominiums that have risen along Market St. in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.  The Broadway Market and Harvard Market on Seattle’s Capitol Hill and Jefferson Square in West Seattle are great examples of such improved uses of old retail properties, where residents can walk to local stores and have a sense of neighborhood.  Paul Allen’s Vulcan real estate arm bought Promende 23, a shopping center at 23rd and Jackson in Seattle’s Central Area, and now plans to build 570 apartments where the Red Apple Market now stands.  The challenge for such ventures in Tacoma is to make sure that such complexes include community-oriented amenities, including small retail, green spaces, and transit shelters.  Despite the construction of such concentrated housing west of Tacoma Mall, the area still struggles for a sense of charm and identity.  In Tacoma, the goal must be for such buildings to become part of a neighborhood’s fabric and not just stick out like sore thumbs, both physically and socially, the latter in terms of economic exclusivity.  One hopes that as Tacomans address this matter that thoughts for affordable housing are at the forefront of the debate rather than remaining reactive as they are in Seattle, where official city policy encourages the public to think about making taxpayer funded investments to build new low-income housing complexes.  While Seattle city leaders ponder housing affordability issues, the homeless meanwhile crowd Seattle’s notorious “Jungle” under Interstate 5 south of downtown.  The homeless cannot be forgotten as Tacoma finds ways to increase housing density and improve neighborhood character.  Affordable housing is cheaper than warehousing them in jail or letting them dwell in dirty homeless camps that are threats to public morals and safety.

June 20, 2016 at 6:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 4

Tim Smith

The area of hyper development and gentrification west of the Mall is undergoing a major review and development planning process. The area EIS being developed includs wide-ranging efforts to develop personality, charm, and identity after those items were demolished and crushed when the neighborhood underwent the spasmodic higher density and developer frenzy of the first decade of this century. In the end I believe the plans will be in place for creating one of the greenest neighborhoods in Tacoma. Call it Nalley Heights (linking it to the local history) have an annual pickling festival, open up the route to the old BNSF property from the North for industry and technical business, push for reuse of the many Nalley Valley properties, and have the Annual Pickling Festival.

in Nalley Heights/Madison Heights/or WestMall

June 21, 2016 at 4:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0


I’m not sure redeveloping Madison Heights, Madrona and Oakland would “save” Proctor. The reason Proctor is so good at attracting developers is the City spent lots of money over the years sprucing it up. The City has spent almost nothing on the South side of the freeway until the last couple of years.

I can’t see the City coming up with the money for EIS being planned for the Tacoma Mall subarea, but I’m hopeful. I’m afraid that the City Government is going to stop spending money in the Lincoln District, the Mall subarea, and South Tacoma Way and projects there will fail.

June 21, 2016 at 8:21 am / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 1

Tim Smith

The EIS is already happening and well underway. I really do not care what happens in Proctor.

June 21, 2016 at 5:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 2


I’m fallowing the EIS pretty closely… and I like what I see. Super bike/walking network planned, so needed in a ‘hood with 7,000 plus mostly lower paying service jobs. Tacoma needs to spend the time and money to do this right. The stake holders committee or other interested parties should feel free to reach out to leaders in the Lincoln District or the Eastside for support. My last name is Wilmer, look me up if you have questions.

June 21, 2016 at 8:46 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 0

Tim Smith

Thank-you Terry. I am very concerned that the potential of the new EIS to streamline the planning process, no matter how well intended or planned, will be permitted to override the existing city code (section 13.09) for the South Tacoma Groundwater Protection District. Talking with the planners, taking them to Oak Tree Park and well 7A, as well as attending the stakeholder’s meetings have diminished this concern - a little. I believe the final plan if followed will be revolutionary. Outside interests always seem to convince our grand city council to proceed in ways detrimental to the residents. The biggest problem is that traditional long-term residents of the area are as rare as a jaguar.

June 22, 2016 at 4:23 am / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 0

Tim Smith

June 21, 2016 at 5:13 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 0


I think what Tacoma will do along with the Tacoma Housing Authority is bring in much more Section 8 housing subsidized units along with Ghetto rats and other human criminal vermin which will have affordable housing of course but the crime will become rampant in the future.
You will be O.K. (except for the expected Police response) as long as your armed and do like Charlton Heston in The Omega Man (1971) in protecting your property.

The only one that profits here are the NAZI $$ developers.

June 21, 2016 at 6:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

5 | 15


If the city tied the B&O tax, creating tiers, to zoning or parking situations, you’d get more density.  That is; downtown with a negative B&O, inside business districts with lower B&O rate, single story malls with acres of parking with higher than current B&O. 
You want to build acres of parking and low density? You’re going to pay for it.  You want to own surface level parking lots downtown?  You’re going to pay through the nose for it.

June 21, 2016 at 2:49 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

8 | 1


June 28, 2016 at 8:46 am / Reply / Quote and reply

6 | 4


How does the type of development proposed above, being built in a business district zoned to allow it, equate to shoving density down the throats of homeowners in single family neighborhoods?

The people are coming. Where would you propose we put them? What would you be willing to sacrifice to accomodate them? Because they’ll come despite your opposition. We’ll probably need to develop every available area that’s already zoned for it.

Finally, when the city proposed a new zoning scheme last year, WE were asked. Did you give your input?

June 28, 2016 at 1:21 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

6 | 7


One of the biggest global issues is that the Earth can’t sustain a human population greater than 1.5 billion individuals.Yet we have through the Haber-Bosch process (ammonia) of producing synthetic fertilizers discovered in the early 20th century based upon petroleum, been able to feed a much larger population now at 7 billion humans worldwide.

The human population is expected to rise to over 10 billion by the mid 21st century and then due to resource depletion by around 2070 a catastrophic collapse in human populations will occur according to a updated study called the Limits of Growth.

The growth management act is flawed as it provides a wrong course of action.The correct course of action would be a artificial lowering of human populations worldwide by deincentivizing benefits for having children.Instead heavily tax people for having children,remove benefits and incentivize humans and give them great benefits for not having children.Obviously a lot of people would not like this logical idea as that would be financially hurtful to them.
Yet logically this course of action would have to be done.
The human population of the United States to be sustainable should be around 60 million.

June 29, 2016 at 11:01 am / Reply / Quote and reply

8 | 8


You are insane.

July 10, 2016 at 9:12 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

2 | 6


If Tacoma’s population is set to increase by about 40,000 people within the next two decades insidee the current city limits, increasing density is the only option.  In tandem with such growth, there will still likely be regular budget shortfalls to provide for adequate library and park services.  While it is true that salaries are the highest cost of such public services, perhaps city government and the park district will be open-minded to let, say, branch libraries be dangled to developers as incentives to build better projects, with the city getting an essentially free space for such a facility while the developer regards such a space as a project amenity.  The city closed the free-standing Swan Creek and Martin Luther King, Jr. library branches in areas that needed them.  Such facilities should be part of larger structures that include multi-story housing to help build community.  In the same way, to help pay for the structure, MetroParks Tacoma should study options to partner with the private sector to develop the proposed Eastside Community Center, if such would lessen public outlays, promote community-building, and build a better neighborhood.  City government certainly had a chance to sell development space for apartments above the Hilltop police substation but instead built a single-story building along a street where denser housing is needed, at least in the view of city policy-makers.  The bottom line is if Tacoma is set to host about 40,000 more residents in the next two decades is to wonder how the city will provide adequate park and library services to such residents when, already, the library system is subject to threatened cutbacks about every eight years.  Somehow, the tax base must grow to support such essential services but part of that equation is utilizing the goal of denser development to construct such new public faciliities.  Likewise, there must be creative business-minded ways to advance such goals to reserve the best bang for the buck to make sure basic services, such as libraries and parks, remain adequately funded and available to serve the average Tacoma.

June 29, 2016 at 3:28 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

8 | 2


In my relatively small sphere of contacts and based on some of the Proctor Station meetings I attended it seemed that most everyone is not opposed to urbanization and densification.  What many complained about was the building height and bulk.  These buildings are architectural design issues.  What we don not have, but Seattle does, are individual Design Review Boards.  They seem to work pretty well.  Tacoma relies on one body, basically the planning Commission and the Tacoma Municipal Code.  Proctor Station architecture is nothing creative and could be planted most anywhere.  Tacoma needs to maintain the 6-story height limits but needs to rethink architectural design review.  Creative, excellent architecture is a huge missing element.  One big problem is that the designers are told what to do by the developers in order to squeeze as much profit as possible.  Developers are notorious for mediocre if not sub-par architectural design.  Neighborhood Design Review Guidelines need to be developed and customized to the neighborhoods. With Design Review Boards the developers will be forced to participate in creating excellent projects in our Business Distructs.

June 29, 2016 at 4:20 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

14 | 1


I think this is something the city should consider, and the illustration of a pretty, but fictional, Proctor Station at the top of the page is a good example of why. It’s a nice picture of a building with a facade composed almost entirely of brick and glass with clean lines, nice architectural touches, and airspace between the buildings over a pleasant pedestrian walkway. Of course, what we got was mostly siding deployed on an irregular facade to hide the lack of architectural detail. Siding that, I can tell you from personal inspection, is already showing nail pops in multiple places and which covers a substantially bulkier building with substantially fewer trees.

At first I thought it would have made more sense to illustrate this piece with a picture of the actual building that was constructed, but I can see why the unrealized drawing might be deemed a better fit.

July 2, 2016 at 9:47 am / Reply / Quote and reply

8 | 1


Proctor Station is more or less Cabrini Green West

July 6, 2016 at 3:28 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

7 | 6


Especially “less.”

July 7, 2016 at 2:24 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

5 | 3


I agree with JDHasty here.We need Lebensraum instead.
Who wants to live in a sardine can?

July 7, 2016 at 6:27 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

5 | 6

D. Hansen

Lebensraum was an ideological element of Nazism, which advocated Germany’s territorial expansion into Eastern Europe, justified by the need for agricultural land in order to maintain the town-and-country balance upon which depended the moral health of the German people.


July 11, 2016 at 5:25 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

2 | 0


I don’t mean it in the definition of the National Socialist German Workers Party doctrine rather just literally as living space.
I like more space,more nature,balance and less humans in it

July 13, 2016 at 12:24 am / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 3

D. Hansen

I figured as much. I was mostly joking.

July 13, 2016 at 2:47 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

2 | 0


In case you don’t already know, you should be aware that the Tacoma area has a terrible public disturbance noise problem.  I am mainly referring to the following: 1) Loud subwoofer thumping noises that are blasted through walls and into homes by vehicles and can be heard for several blocks.  2) Loud exhaust noises from vehicles with mufflers removed or with loud “sport” mufflers.  3) Loud sound systems playing inside homes that can be heard inside homes that are many houses away.  4) Fireworks exploded any random time, day or night, 365 days a year, even when no holiday is near.  The people doing this are intentionally trying to harass and menace everybody in the community!  This is criminal behavior and there is a serious lack of enforcement of the Pierce County Code Chapter 8.72.  Loud subwoofers heard from 50+ feet away are illegal.  Unmuffled or loud vehicle exhausts, are misdemeanor crimes.  The law is very clear and explicit here.  The residents of Pierce County do not have to accept this criminality!  Please read the law and contact government officials, including law enforcement, and demand that the law be enforced!  Loud low-frequency thumping in particular causes violent and explosive emotions in people.  There have been many violent incidents and even killings, occurring here and around the nation, that were touched off by loud music being forced into people’s homes.  No wonder decent people do not want to move here, crime is high, property values are low, and criminals figure if they can get away with public disturbance, they can get away with any other crime.  We do not have to accept this constant disturbance of the peace.  It is illegal!  The quality of life will remain low here until the residents do something about this.

Clips from the current version (2016/2017) of the Pierce County Code Chapter 8.72:
8.72.040 Mufflers.  It is unlawful for any person to operate, or for any owner to permit any person to operate, any motor vehicle or motorcycle upon the public highways which is not equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation.
8.72.070 Exhaust System.  It shall be unlawful for any person to operate any motor vehicle upon any public highway if the vehicle exhaust system exceeds the maximum permissible sound levels set forth below for the category of vehicle, as measured at a distance of twenty inches (0.5 meter) from the exhaust outlet under procedures established by the State of Washington in Washington Administrative Code Chapter 173-58-080, “Close Proximity Exhaust System Sound Level Measurement Procedure.”  Motorcycles 99 dB(A)/Automobiles, light trucks, and all other motor vehicles 10,000 pounds or less 95 dB(A).
8.72.090 Public Disturbance Noises.  It is unlawful for any person to cause, or for any person in possession of property to allow to originate from the property, a public disturbance noise. The following sounds are public disturbance noises:...
C.  Frequent, repetitive, or continuous sounds from starting, operating, repairing, rebuilding, or testing of any motor vehicle, motorcycle, dirt bike, or other off-highway vehicle, or any internal combustion engine, within a rural or residential district, including vacant property adjacent thereto, so as to unreasonably disturb or interfere with the peace, comfort, and repose of owners or possessors of real property…
F.  Any loud and raucous sound made by use of a musical instrument, whistle, sound amplifier, or other device capable of producing or reproducing sound which emanates frequently, repetitively, or continuously from any building, structure or property, such as sound originating from a band session, tavern operation, or social gathering and which unreasonably disturb or interfere with the peace, comfort, and repose of owners or possessors of real property in the area affected by such noise…
H.  Public disturbance noise from portable or motor vehicle audio equipment: While in park areas, residential or commercial zones, or any area where residences, schools, human service facilities, or commercial establishments are in obvious proximity to the source of the sound, it is unlawful for any person to negligently cause, make, or allow to be made from audio equipment under such person’s control or ownership the following:
1.  Sound from a motor vehicle or vessel sound system, such as a tape player, radio, or compact disc player, which is operated at such a volume that it could be clearly heard by a person of normal hearing at a distance of 50 feet or more from the vehicle or vessel itself;
2.  Sound from audio equipment such as a tape player, radio, or compact disc player, which is operated at such a volume that it could be clearly heard by a person of normal hearing at a distance of 50 feet or more from the source of the sound;

July 24, 2016 at 12:50 am / Reply / Quote and reply

5 | 3


Is this blog dead or just on vacation?

July 25, 2016 at 9:52 am / Reply / Quote and reply

7 | 0


Great article, totally agree.  Additionally, I think more centralization in key areas in Tacoma should increase vibrancy of restaurants, art, culture etc and further make the city more attractive to other young professionals.  As a recent arrival to Tacoma from SF, I’ve seen how too many restrictions on development only cause prices and traffic to increase faster.  Putting too many restrictions on supply when the real issue is demand only exacerbates the very problems people are looking to fix.

July 25, 2016 at 2:29 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 5

Smarter Growth

Tacoma is going to change and grow, however blindly rallying behind the mantra of “Up Not Out” is not the answer.  Tacoma can still adhere to the guidelines in the GMA and not overbuild its historic neighborhoods.  The vast majority agree that new buildings are needed, the difference of opinion is where and how these buildings should be built.  Logically, the focus for growth of multifamily residence should be closest to existing transportation infrastructure and that is in the areas on the south end of downtown Tacoma which are underutilized.  This area is in closest proximity to the trains and buses that will take people to jobs until Tacoma figures out how to create private sector jobs here in Tacoma.

August 7, 2016 at 7:18 am / Reply / Quote and reply

6 | 3


The growth has to go somewhere.  I’d prefer “up” to cutting down our beautiful Cascade forests.  Bill Virgin should move somewhere that has unlimited sprawl.  Maybe Los Angeles or Houston would suit him better.

September 14, 2016 at 12:35 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

2 | 8


Growth is inevitable, creates community, social and service options, most of the good stuff Tacoma desperately wants/needs. Small businesses that can offer interestingly options. We need more of a food scene than the existing few options now. Plus, we need to conserve what’s left of forests, green spaces.
Let’s build, smartly, as a community.

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1 | 5

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