Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of August 18, 2015

This week it's a very special summer vacation edition of Tacoma City Business... No, sadly, not the fun kind of vacation with beaches and swimsuits and sleeping in; nearly every item on this week's City Council meeting agenda involves the vacation of some portion of City-owned property, with a few other items thrown in to keep it interesting. If nothing else, this week's agenda suggests that while most of you might be off enjoying your sunburns and mosquito bites, the Hearing Examiner has been hard at work...

Point Defiance Park 

This Tuesday the Tacoma City Council and Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners will hold a joint meeting to discuss the Point Defiance Park Master Plan that is now in the final steps leading up to adoption. At Tuesday's meeting Metro Parks will update the council on its progress toward finalizing the plan, and on next steps that will bring a Development Regulation Agreement to the council for consideration. The DRA will authorize Metro Parks to implement the next 20 years of the master plan for Tacoma's biggest park, avoiding the need for multiple conditional use permits, and allowing for better coordination of infrastructure development and phasing of major projects. Metro Parks staff will share a series of technical analyses to support the SEPA checklist for the project. City staff have been reviewing the plan, and will likely propose conditions for the DRA. The council will be asked to set a public hearing for the agreement sometime in late September.


Wood Stove Program

At this week's regular city council study session the council will discuss a request from Councilmember Mello for the use of $100,000 in council contengency funds to help fund the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department's (TPCHD) Wood Stove Program. The wood stove program provides education and outreach, and financial assistance for the purchase of cleaner-burning stoves for households meeting income criteria. The request would direct $50,000 of Council Contingency Funds in each of the two years of the current 2015-2016 biennium to cover staffing costs related to the verification of income qualifications for the program. 


Narrows Marina

One of the more interesting requests for vacation on the agenda this week comes from the owners of Narrows Marina, who are requesting the vacation of the north 24 feet of the 19th Street West right-of-way, west of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad right-of-way and the terminus of City of Tacoma right-of-way "for future improvements to pedestrian access ways and boat launch parking."

The owners of the marina want to revitalize their site with additional commercial services, residential facilities, and recreational uses. In line with this, they are requesting the vacation as a part of work to reconfigure the access roadway, and make landscaping and other changes to more clearly define driving, walking, and parking zones. The request comes as the cities of Tacoma and University Place are working with the marina owners on a planning process to find a "mutually agreeable" vision for future development of the site. The street vacation and access improvements are a part of the master plan being developed. 

An ordinance on this week's council meeting consent agenda would approve the vacation request, with a few conditions - the marina would pay the City of Tacoma the full appraised value of the vacated area, and would allow easements for utilities and to allow residents to the north to access their property via a 15-foot private road.

A "stop Narrows Marina" petition was circulated and signed by nearby residents of Tacoma and University Place concerned about impacts on property values, public safety, quality of life, blocked views, and increased noise and traffic. The Hearing Examiner deemed the residents concerns over impacts of future development inadequate to support denying this stand-alone request that "would clearly improve vehicular and pedestrian access to the site."


Meanwhile, Further Up South 19th...

Another somewhat interesting request for vacation also involves South 19th. This one dates back a ways, with the initial request submitted way back in 2007. Plans were to start work in 2008 on an office/medical center with a small retail component. That project didn't move ahead as planned, due to the economic hiccup sometimes referred to as the great recession... but now it's back in action. 

The right-of-way in question is unimproved, with no curbs, gutter, or sidewalks, and does not connect to another street or other properties. A new hearing on the request was held by the Hearing Examiner in January of this year, but progress has been on hold while the City and the developer discuss details of utility easements. Those issues have been resolved, and with no objections raised by members of the public, an ordinance approving the vacation request is ready for a first reading as part of this week's council meeting consent agenda.


A 125-Year Encroachment

This one is kind of interesting: During the most recent remodel of the historic Waddell Building (where Pacific Grill is) in connection with construction of the Marriott Hotel, a survey disclosed a one-foot portion of the 1890 building foundation encroached into the adjoining right-of-way on three sides - along Commerce Street, South 15th Street, and Pacific Avenue.

The seemingly odd initial solution was to draw up a street occupancy permit to allow the foundation of the hitoric building to remain in the right-of-way while the City and Hollander (the property owner) figured out what to do about the encroachment. Apparently it was more complicated than it sounds, because finally this week the city council will hear a first reading or an ordinance okaying the vacation of that one-foot strip of City-owned land covered by the street occupancy permit back in 2002. According to the proposed conditions of the vacation, Hollander would pay the City the full appraised value of the land.


Purchase Resolutions

Four purchase resolutions appear on this week's council meeting agenda.

  • A $700,000 contract budgeted from the General Fund for investment advisory services related to approximately $500 million of assets in Core Tier of the City’s investment portfolio, for an initial contract term of three years, with the option to renew for two additional one-year period
  • A contract not to exceed $111,453, for a cumulative total of $311,049.03, budgeted from the Surface Water Fund, for additional design and construction engineering services associated with the Point Defiance Regional Treatment Retrofit project through December 2016
  • A $300,000 contract budgeted from the General Fund to replace 163 sets of self-contained breathing apparatus
  • A $1,315,000 contract, for a cumulative total of $3,838,400, budgeted from the Transportation Capital Fund for design-build services associated with the second phase of the Pedestrian Crossing Improvement Project


Other Items

The first item on this week's council meeting consent agenda is a resolution approving the final plat of “Hoffman Corner,” dividing a single lot into a seven-lot subdivision for single-family development at 6804 East B Street. The preliminary plat application was approved back in 2006, pending certain conditions, including the construction of new utilities, roads, and other improvements. Those improvements have been completed and that the project is now ready for final approval. Finally.

A second item on the consent agenda is the final reading of an ordinance vacating the east 35 feet of East L Street right-of-way between East 52nd Street and East 54th Street, to be incorporated into the preliminary plat of Heritage Gardens, a proposed 38-lot residential subdivision. The 35 feet in question come in the form of a narrow strip of right-of-way alongside East L Street, which the City has determined is not needed to support transportation needs in the area. The development would include upgrades to the remaining portion of that street to full City of Tacoma standards.

The vacation of a portion of South 22nd street downtown between I-705 and Dock Street would be okayed by another ordinance scheduled for a first reading at this week's council meeting. The vacation, requested by BNSF, would facilitate the full closure of the rail crossing at that point. An Exchange Agreement was authorized by the City of Tacoma with BNSF in 2013. That multi-faceted agreement encompassed a number of plans, projects, and property transactions in the larger Thea Foss Waterway area, including the vacation of the portion of South 22nd Street that crosses the BNSF tracks. The street has effectively been closed to traffic since 2009, and the continued closure is intended to improve public safety and the movement of rail traffic. There would be no additional compensation from BNSF to the City, as the vacation was negotiated as an offset for other parts of the agreement between the two parties

And last, but not least, a final ordinance on this week's consent agenda for a first reading would vacate a portion of undeveloped South 52nd Street lying east of South Trafton Street and west of the alley, to accommodate the construction of ten single-family residences. The right-of-way proposed for vacation is undeveloped and overgrown. The developer is proposing to incorporate that portion of land into the new homes, and would pay the City the full appraised value of the land.


For most of these vacations, the City will devote half of the compensation received to the acquisition, improvement, and maintenance of public open space land; and half to transportation projects and for management and maintenance of other City-owned lands and unimproved rights-of-way.

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