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Tacoma City Council Meeting - March 24, 2015



Ordinance No. 28288 An ordinance providing for the formation of Local Improvement District No. 8662, for pervious asphalt concrete paving, concrete banding, and modification of the existing storm drain lines and storm water catch basins on Bennett Street from North 35th to North 37th Streets.

The consent agenda was adopted without comment.



The council recognized Dr. Dung Xuan Nguyen for his leadership in support of the Vietnamese-American Community of Tacoma-Pierce County. Dr. Nguyen has devoted himself to the community over the years, providing free medical care to the uninsured and homeless.



There was only one commenter this week – David Schroedel  from the Chamber spoke in support of the ordinance renewing the Downtown BIA for a 28th year. Schroedel referenced the work the BIA has done to improve downtown Tacoma, including most recently payments to Sound Transit to keep the Link free for another 18 months. He said he’s optimistic that they can find a way to continue to keep it free in the future.




Resolution No. 39142 A resolution appointing Lauren Flemister to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Councilmember Walker said that out of the number of interviews conducted, Flemister impressed her with her skills as an urban planner and her love for Tacoma and interest in making a difference in the city.



Resolution No. 39143 A resolution awarding a contract to Modern Machinery Co., Inc., in the amount of $207,399, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Wastewater Fund, for one Komatsu track mounted hydraulic excavator.

Resolution No. 39144 A resolution awarding a contract to Tye Miller, Inc., dba T. Miller Construction, in the amount of $351,515.23, plus a 15 percent contingency, for a cumulative total of $404,242.51, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Capital Projects – REET Fund, for expansion of the existing parking lot at the Chinese Reconciliation Park, and installation of signage.

Both purchase resolutions were adopted without comment.



Resolution No. 39145 A resolution acknowledging receipt of the Final Report of the Tacoma Billboards Community Working Group; expressing appreciation for their excellent work to develop regulatory alternatives for billboards; and directing staff to use this work to continue working with billboard owners, community stakeholders, and the Planning Commission for development of recommendations to the City Council.

The group was tasked with developing at least two alternatives leading to fewer billboards with less negative impact in Tacoma. The group, made up of community members and representatives of Clear Channel, held numerous meetings and worked independently to deal with the core issues of the situation Tacoma finds itself in, with only three of 311 existing billboard faces in compliance with existing regulations, with most out of compliance for multiple reasons.

The group recommends adding some zoning districts to the list of those where billboards are allowed. They were also able to agree that design standards on things like size and height should be loosened, although they ran out of time without before reaching consensus reached on exactly what the looser standards should be. They were also not able to arrive at an agreed-on transition mechanism before time ran out.

The recommendations will now be passed along to City staff, who will explore options for moving forward from here, with input from billboard owners and additional community outreach. The Planning Commission will also review the report and make its own recommendations. Sometime this summer the council Infrastructure, Planning, and Sustainability Committee will review all these recommendations and come up with its own recommendation, which the current timeline shows them sending to the full council for consideration in September.

Mayor Strickland emphasized that decreasing the number of billboards in Tacoma and their negative impacts has been a goal of the City for decades now, and that she and the council intend to continue to work on the matter so that the next council doesn’t have to – so that we’re not having the same conversation about the same 311 billboard faces in years to come.

We’ll wait to see what they come up with.


Resolution No. 39146 A resolution authorizing the execution of an agreement with the Tacoma-Pierce County Employment and Training Consortium, dba Workforce Central, in the amount of $325,000, budgeted from the Youth Build Tacoma Fund, for pre-approved training for the Youth Building Tacoma program for the period of January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015.

For 18 years Youth Building Tacoma has been providing training for young adults, preparing them to get jobs.

In 2013 changes were made to shift the program from a “soft scaled work readiness program” to a “hard scaled pre-apprenticeship program” resulting in graduates qualified for entry-level employment in construction trades with the utility and general government, as well as the private sector. Support provided to participants was also revamped to reflect the most common barriers to employment by providing drivers license support and tools.

The cost of the program is split evenly between TPU and general government. The resolution passed without council comment.



Substitute Ordinance No. 28287 A substitute ordinance amending Chapter 1.12 of the Municipal Code, relating to the Compensation Plan, to implement rates of pay and compensation for employees represented by the Tacoma Police Union, Local 6, IUPA, effective retroactive to January 1, 2015, and providing for a salary adjustment for the classification of City Manager, effective retroactive to February 13, 2015.

The substitute ordinance passed without further comment.



Ordinance No. 28289 An ordinance continuing the downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA) for the 28th year, providing for the levy of assessments and other projected income in the amount of $858,318; and approving the renewed BIA work plan, budget, and assessment rates from May 1, 2015 through April 30, 2016.

The BIA was begun in 1988 as a public-private partnership using special assessments to fund improvements and services within the designated boundaries of the service area between South 7th and 21st and between A Street and Court D.

This ordinance would authorize the budget and work plan for the 28th year of the organization, the membership of which consists of businesses within those boundaries. A representative board oversees the budget, work plan, and other decisions, including the assessment rates that fund the BIA, levied on buildings and other real estate within the BIA boundaries.

The BIA provides security, maintenance, and marketing for represented businesses, and recently has taken on payments to keep Tacoma’s Link light rail free for all riders.

Councilmember Thoms thanked the BIA for its work, including stepping up to pay for the Link, and tackling the graffiti problem. Mayor Strickland also mentioned the Link, saying that she feels that keeping it free for visitors is important for tourism, so we can expect to have a longer-term conversation about continuing the free ride.


Ordinance No. 28290 An ordinance providing for the issuance and sale of water system revenue and refunding bonds, in an amount not to exceed $30,600,000, to refund and defease all or a portion of the Water System Revenue and Refunding Bonds, 2005, fixing or setting parameters with respect to certain terms of the bonds, and delegating the authority to approve the final terms of the bonds.

This ordinance would allow Tacoma Water to re-fund about $25 million in outstanding principle, taking advantage of the current historically low interest rates. By doing this, Tacoma Water expects to save in the neighborhood of $2.5 million over the remaining life of the bonds.



Neighborhoods and Housing Committee – Councilmember Walker shared recent topics addressed by the committee.

  • Community Based Services staff gave an update on the Neighborhood Council program.
  • Got an overview of the multi-family tax-exemption.
  • Conducted interviews for the vacancy filled earlier in this meeting on the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
  • Heard presentations on the Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Group and the HUD Annual Action Plan and consolidated plan for recommendations.
  • Had a follow-up regarding the HUD plan and consolidated plan, which will be coming to city council study session next week.
  • Heard about a special event coming up on April 21 at the downtown Courtyard Marriott, held by the Federal Reserve Board and sponsored by Neighborhoods and Housing, to inform local banks of opportunities for local investment opportunities in economic development and housing projects to help with their Community Reinvestment Act requirements.

At its next meeting the committee will discuss City garage sale policies, the proposed West Slope Neighborhood Conservation District, and a Landmarks Preservation Commission recommended park name change.

Councilmember Ibsen reminded us that the next public meeting in the ongoing Metro Parks planning for the future of Point Defiance Park will be held at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium on Thursday, March 26. This meeting will focus on questions of circulation for pedestrians, bicycles, and motor vehicles. Learn more and make comments online at destinationpointdefiance.org.

Deputy Mayor Boe announced the Hilltop Artists Arts Connect Winter Showcase this Wednesday, March 25, from 5:30 to 6 p.m. at Wilson High School. The event is free and open to the public.

Councilmember Campbell invited everyone to a couple events.

  • This Saturday at 10 a.m., meet at McKinley Park for the Healthy Homes Healthy Neighborhoods walk. No RSVP required, just show up, wear your walking shoes, and you may want to bring a camera for the urban hike.
  • Next Monday, March 30 at 6 p.m. at Lincoln High School will be the first of the district town halls on updates to Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan. Attendees to the open houses will also be able to comment on the draft Transportation Master Plan

Councilmember Woodards reminded us that Women’s History Month continues with an event this Saturday, hosted by the City of Tacoma, BEST, and UW Tacoma. It will be a showing of the movie The Long Night, and a panel discussion. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at UWT’s Phillip Hall with lunch included.

Councilmember Walker announced that there are two more Mondays left in the Tacoma Sister City Film Festival at the University of Puget Sound. Next Monday it will be a movie from our sister city in the Phillippines, and the following Monday will wrap up the series with a movie from George, South Africa. Movies start at 7 p.m., after cultural programing beginning at 6:15 in the UPS rotunda.


For more on the items on the agenda, see our City Business Preview for the week.

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