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Tacoma City Business Preview for the Week of January 26, 2016
After a lively meeting two weeks ago with plenty of public comment related to the proposal to locate a methanol plant in the Port of Tacoma, we had a week off for Martin Luther King Jr Day. Now we're back, and while there may not be an opportunity for methanol comments, there are a couple of other items on deck this week worthy of at least a little attention.
Pierce Transit Long-Range Plan Destination 2040
At this week's study session the city council will hear from Pierce Transit about their Destination 2040 Long Range Plan. The plan for addressing transit needs over the next quarter century includes a range of alternative service scenarios for what growth might look like in the region, as well as an evaluation of those scenarios for potential ridership. If you don't catch this presentation, look for public open houses next month and hearings in March on the draft of the plan.
A discussion related to Tacoma's recently passed roads funding propositions is also on the agenda for this week's study session. Staff presentations will cover background and spending and work plans related to Prop A and Prop 3, which both passed last November, providing new revenue sources to fix Tacoma's ailing streets.
Prop A approved a 0.1% sales tax increase. That increase will be overseen by Tacoma's Transportation Benefit District Governing Board, which currently oversees the use of the city's $20 car tab fee.
The City expects the Prop A tax increase to raise an estimated $7,672,894 in the 2015-2016 biennium. During a special meeting of the TBD governing board scheduled during this week's council session, the board (the city council) will hold a public hearing on adjustments to that biennium's spending plan and budget.
Convention Center Hotel
Work has been quietly moving ahead, laying the groundwork for the planned construction of a new hotel just south of the Tacoma Convention Center. We haven't heard much on that lately, but this week we see a resolution on the regular council meeting consent agenda that would set a date for a public hearing on a request to vacate public right-of-way related to the project.
The request is from Yareton Investment & Management LLC to vacate "the north 125 feet of the southerly 215 feet of Broadway, lying northerly of South 17th Street." If that doesn't make sense (doesn't it sound simple enough?...), it's basically the tail end of the vestigial block of Broadway north of 17th where it is interrupted by the Convention Center. Plans are to give that to Yareton to allow them to build the planned 300+ room, 4-star hotel. The street at this point is pretty much only used for accessing the surrounding parking lots.
If you have opinions, or are curious, that hearing is scheduled for Thursday, March 10, 2016, at 9:30 a.m.
Three other resolutions on this week's council meeting consent agenda set various dates for hearings by the Hearing Examiner on various other items:
- Thursday, March 3, 2016, at 9:30 a.m. - the request to vacate the unimproved alley lying east and abutting Norpoint Way Northeast, and lying between 28th and 29th Streets Northeast, for a multi-family development.
- Thursday, March 3, 2016, at 1:30 p.m. - the request to vacate the south 125 feet of the alley between Union Avenue and Puget Sound Avenue, lying north of South 40th Street, to allow the petitioner to consolidate their adjoining properties.
- Thursday, March 10, 2016, at 1:00 p.m. - the request to vacate the south 130 feet of East K Street, lying north of East 26th Street, for parking and private open space.
Water Quality Grants
Three more resolutions on the consent agenda would accept Washington State Department of Ecology grants in various amounts, and authorizing matching funds to be spent for three projects to improve water quality around Tacoma.
- $1,850,250 from Ecology, and $616,750 in matching funds, for a cumulative total of $2,467,000, to install permeable pavement and bioretention cells along 40th Street. This project will rebuild a portion of East 40th Street using permeable pavement and bioretention cells to reduce flooding and improve water quality for stormwater draining to First Creek.
- $1,567,500 from Ecology, and $522,500 in matching funds, for a cumulative total of $2,090,000, to install permeable pavement and bioretention facilities on South Tacoma Way between South 52nd and South 56th Streets. This project will improve water quality in the Flett Creek Watershed through installation of green stormwater infrastructure on South Tacoma Way, in an area that is currently almost entirely paved. New bioretention, Silva Cells, and permeable pavement in the parking lane and sidewalk areas will filter runoff from the surrounding 2 block area.
- $1,582,250 from Ecology, and $527,417 in matching funds, for a cumulative total of $2,109,667, to install permeable pavement in the Madison and Monroe neighborhoods. This project would also reduce stormwater flow and improve stormwater quality by filtering runoff from 6 acres in the Flett Creek Watershed.
Three purchase resolutions show up on this week's council meeting agenda:
- A $326,759 contract, budgeted from the Surface Water Fund, for technical services related to year 10 monitoring activities associated with the sediment cleanup work in the Thea Foss and Wheeler-Osgood Waterways, to be completed before the end of 2017.
- A $400,000 increase, for a cumulative total of $600,000, budgeted from the Solid Waste Fund, to continue to process and market commingled recyclables collected by the City.
- A $250,000 increase, plus sales tax, for a cumulative total of $580,880, budgeted from the Wastewater Fund, for dry polymer used in biosolids dewatering at the Central Treatment Plant through December 31, 2016.
A resolution removing the City Council Neighborhoods and Housing Committee, and changing the Public Safety, Human Services, and Education Committee to the Community Vitality and Safety Committee is back for its final reading. The changes are meant to better align Council committees with the work they do. We heard the first reading of two weeks ago
A second resolution on this week's council meeting regular agenda would recommend that the Washington State Transportation Commission name State Route 509, between Pacific Avenue and Taylor Way, the Philip Martin Lelli Memorial Highway. Lelli was a longshoreman, union activist, local philanthropist, and past president of the International Longshore Warehouse Union Local 23 in Tacoma, a position he was re-elected to an unprecedented 17 times. He helped revolutionize Tacoma's waterfront by advocating for greater labor force efficiency and technical innovation on the docks in the late 1960s, and played a critical role when the Port transitioned away from manual cargo unloading to the modern shipping container and crane system we see today. He and the Chief Executive Officer of the Port joined forces to attract more business and successfully attracted and recruited huge shipping lines to the Port. In addition to his work to promote economic growth, Lelli was well known for his generosity and service to his community through his volunteering and supporting food banks and hot meal sites throughout Pierce County.
A final resolution on this week's agenda would authorize a Memorandum of Understanding with South Sound 911 and Pierce County Combined Communications Network for public radio system access in 2016. It sounds like there are currently two different networks going - one owned by the City of Tacoma, and used by Tacoma Police, Tacoma Fire, Public Works, Environmental Services and other Tacoma metropolitan area public safety agencies. The second, newer system owned by Pierce County provides radio communication services to Pierce Transit and other regional public safety agencies. Some fees have gone up, and South Sound 911 is proposing a "fee cap" for services, and has set aside up to $2.5 million of its budget to reimburses the City and County in 2016. Under the MOU, $445,859 of that would go to the City of Tacoma on a one-time basis, in exchange for the City accepting a cap of $30 per month per radio from its public safety customers in 2016 and continuing to collaborate towards a longer-term solution in which South Sound 911 could have a role in supporting operation of both systems for participating public safety agencies.
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