Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of April 15, 2014

Charter Review

The first item on this week's City Council study session agenda is a discussion of the progress of Tacoma's Charter Review Committee so far. With over 50 meetings between the committee and its subcommittees, and a couple of public hearings, recommendations are taking shape, and discussions are heating up. Committee Chair and former mayor, Bill Baarsma will update the Council on the process so far, including public comments from the April 9 public hearing and the upcoming April 17 Telephone Town Hall meeting. The committee should be wrapping up its work in the next couple weeks, and presenting recommendations to the City Council at the May 6th study session.


Hotel & Mixed-Use Development Negotiations

At this week's regular meeting the City Council will consider a motion to authorize the City Manager to negotiate with the Chinese investment group interested in developing a hotel and mixed-use development on City-owned property at 17th and Broadway.

In response to a City of Tacoma RFI for development on the two acres adjacent to the Convention Center, Yareton Investment & Management offered the most promising proposal of the five received. Yareton's proposal included a two tower high-rise, including a four star hotel, 150+ condos, parking and ground-level retail. Read more here.


Foreign Direct Investment

One item appears for a briefing at this week's City Council Committee of the Whole meeting: Foreign Direct Investment. This item suddenly seems much more immediate, in light of the Yareton negotiations...


Hilltop Subarea Plan

In January we shared some key elements of the document emerging from the now more than two-year MLK Hilltop Subarea Plan and EIS process. That process is nearly at its conclusion, with a resolution on this week's Council meeting Consent Agenda setting Tuesday, April 29 as the date for a public hearing by the City Council on the Draft Hilltop Subarea Plan and proposed amendments to Chapters 13.06 and 13.17 of the Municipal Code, relating to Zoning and Mixed-Use Center Development. 

Council will hear an update on the plan at Tuesday's study session, including an overview of Planning Commission recommendations, key elements of the plan, community outreach and input, implementation actions, and next steps. Assuming all goes smoothly, and public concerns voiced earlier in the process have been adequately addressed, an ordinance adopting the Subarea Plan will go to Council for first and final readings on May 6 and 13, respectively. 


South Tacoma Way

Earlier this year the City Council identified a focus on development in the South Tacoma and Lincoln business districts as one of its Strategic Objectives for 2014. So far a stretch of South Tacoma Way has gotten a designation as "Tacoma's Auto Row," and the go-ahead to apply for I-5 signage directing passersby to the district. Now a resolution appearing on the City Council meeting agenda this week would fund traffic engineering services for design and construction of a South Tacoma Way Corridor Multimodal Improvements Project.

$212,722 from the Transportation Capital Fund would cover construction of asphalt overlay, as well as curb, gutter, sidewalk, and ADA ramp work between South 66th and South 56th, and between South 47th and South 43rd, along South Tacoma Way. The project will also include the construction of two sections of the Water Ditch Trail from South Tacoma Way to the South Tacoma Sounder station - one connecting to the passenger rail station, and one providing a left turn signal to the east leg of South 47th Street and South Tacoma Way. 


Homeless Camps

City staff has been working with stakeholders and the public to develop rules for temporary homeless camps in Tacoma. The City is required by state law to allow such camps, hosted by religious organizations, but can regulate the camps in the interest of public health and safety. We heard a variety of feedback at the public hearing on April 1, and this week we'll hear the first reading of an ordinance making related changes to the Tacoma Municipal Code. The proposed amendments would update the Fee Code, Land Use Permit Procedures, and Zoning to define the permitting process for temporary homeless camps.


Department of Ecology Grants

The City of Tacoma has been awarded nearly $3.5 million in grants from the Washington State Department of Ecology

  • $277,722 to perform laboratory testing and field testing of stormwater treatment media at Wapato Lake located in South Tacoma. 
  • $170,000 to assist with the implementation of the City’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. 
  • $3,000,000 for the Gravel Pit Regional Detention Project in the South Tacoma Flett Watershed

These grants are set to be authorized and deposited into the City's Surface Water Fund by the Council in three separate resolutions on the consent agenda for this week's Council meeting.


Other Items

A resolution on this week's agenda would authorize the use of up to $10,000 from the Council Contingency Fund, to support an installation of artwork at the University of Puget Sound honoring Dr. Gordon Klatt. Dr. Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, began the American Cancer Association's Relay for Life movement with his 1985 solo 24-hour run in Tacoma, at the UPS campus. According to a supporting memo, Relay for Life spread, now taking place in 5,200 communities in the US, and 900 events in 22 countries. Relay for Life has become the largest, single health-related fundraiser in the world, and has raised $5 billion collectively for the fight against cancer. The memo says that individuals who have participated in Relay for Life in other locations travel to Tacoma, and to UPS to see where the event was born. The American Cancer Society and others in Tacoma want to commemorate Dr. Klatt through the installation of a piece of artwork at UPS, which they believe will draw more visitors to Tacoma.

This week we will hear the final reading of an ordinance making amendments to the TMC related to rates of pay and compensation for employees represented by the Teamsters Local Union No. 117, General Unit. The ordinance got its first reading at the April 8 Council meeting.

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