Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of January 7, 2014

Well, the holidays are over, and that means we're back to City Council meetings as usual. We apologize if you were going into ordinance-withdrawal over the last two weeks. This should fix you right up...

MLK Hilltop Subarea Plan & EIS

It's been a while since we heard much on the MLK Subarea Plan and EIS, but this week it's back, renamed the Hilltop Subarea Plan, and appearing on the City Council Study Session agenda. The City issued the final draft of the plan on December 31, 2013. Staff will update the Council on the plan at study session.

The MLK plan has been in the works for a while now. It will be the third of the subarea plans intended to manage growth, and guide and encourage development in Tacoma's downtown growth center. A public hearing scheduled for January 22 will give the public the chance to comment on the draft plan prior to a final review and adoption.

The plan is pretty comprehensive, which means it's lengthy, but there's some interesting stuff in there, including potential future "catalyst projects;" proposed zoning adjustments; and maps of development capacity and existing and proposed pedestrian, transit, and complete streets improvements. View the draft plan at www.cityoftacoma.org/mlkplan.



It's the beginning of a new year, and that means the appointment of a new Deputy Mayor. A resolution on this week's agenda would appoint Victoria Woodards to serve in that capacity for 2014.

2014 also brings with it Charter Review. A resolution on this week's agenda would appoint the 15 members of the public who will undertake the process of reviewing the Tacoma City government's guiding document: Bill Baarsma, Chair; Theresa Baker, Gary Brackett, Mabel Edmonds, Tim Farrell, Eric Hahn, Charles Horne, Justin Leighton, Mark Martinez, James Merritt, John Messina, Kenneth Miller, Patricia Talton, Catherine Ushka, and Justin Van Dyk. These 15 people have their work cut out for them, with final reports expected sometime around the first week of May.


Comprehensive Transportation Improvement

This week we're scheduled to hear the final reading of an ordinance that would adopt the Six-Year Comprehensive Transportation Improvement Program amended for 2013-2014 and 2015-2020. The City is required by the State to review and revise its plan for transportation infrastructure improvements annually.

This year's update includes three new projects; one is fully funded through a private partnership, one received a State grant, and one is partially funded through a utility partnership. Inclusion on the list of projects doesn't guarantee that a project will happen, but it's a step towards making projects eligible for state and federal funding. We heard the first reading of this ordinance at the December 17 Council meeting.



Last year we saw guerrilla street markings pop up around Tacoma, which the City dubbed unsafe, and even criminal. Now we see a City response to citizen demands for improvements to pedestrian and bicycle safety. A purchase resolution appearing on this week's agenda would allocate $1,241,971, budgeted from the Streets Special Revenue Fund, to "improve signage and paint markings at various locations within the City."

The project, funded primarily ($1,294,750) through a federal grant, will provide safety and sign "retroreflectivity" improvements at 142 intersections around Tacoma. Signs will be upgraded to meet standards and durable crosswalks, stop bar, and word/arrow pavement markings will be installed.


Oops: Earthquakes

An ordinance on the agenda for a first reading at this week's Council meeting would amend the Tacoma Municipal code as it relates to the Building Code to re-enact a section on earthquake recording instrumentation. Apparently the section in question was inadvertently rescinded at the June 11, 2013 Council meeting as a part of the adoption that week of amendments to the Building Code. The accidentally dropped section allows permit fees related to the Strong Motion Instrumentation Fund to be used, as intended, for earthquake preparedness activities and support of the seismic instrumentation program.

File this one under "oops." It should be fixed in no time.


Oops: Telecommunications

Here's another little correction to a previously adopted ordinance. A year ago, at the January 29, 2013 Council meeting the City of Tacoma entered into an agreement with Zayo Group for a telecommunications franchise agreement that would allow the company to construct, operate, and repair its telecommunications system throughout Tacoma. Apparently, the agreement, which was reviewed and agreed to by both the City and Zayo, only granted the company the ability to install its infrastructure underground, although their network design now requires some overhead installations as well. An ordinance scheduled for a first reading this week would amend the agreement to allow for both underground and above-ground use of City right-of way. Fortunately for Zayo, the City never called "no-take-backsies."



Other Items

A resolution appearing on the consent agena for this week's Council meeting consent agenda would approve the final plat for the “Hawks Pointe” project, an 8-lot residential subdivision located at 1418 East 64th Street.

On the agenda for Council approval this week is funding for the Tacoma-Pierce County Humane Society. A resolution would approve $429,450, budgeted from the General Fund, for animal shelter, licensing, and related services for 2014.

Also on this week's agenda is a resolution to authorize a $50,000 a year, five-year lease agreement between Tacoma Rail Mountain Division and Western Washington Railroad for rail operations on about 20 miles of Tacoma Rail right-of-way from Maytown to just south of Chehalis. WWR has been operating and maintaining the right-of-way in question on a trial basis since 2012 with no problems according to supporting documents.

A final resolution on the agenda for the week would authorize a collective bargaining agreement between the City of Tacoma and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 483, Custodial and Building Maintenance Unit, for wage increases and other provisions for 29 budgeted full-time positions assigned to General Government and Tacoma Public Utilities, retroactive to January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2015. An accompanying ordinance scheduled for a first reading this week would implement the agreed to rates of pay and compensation for the IBEW workers covered under the resolution; for 351 employees covered by the Tacoma Firefighters Union, Local 31; and 2 employee members of the United Transportation Union, Switch Crew Unit, retroactive to January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2014.

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fred davie

Over $9,000 to paint crosswalk markings on ONE crosswalk ($1,242,000 /  142 intersections) ? Isn’t there somebody at city hall whose job it is to get a good price on little jobs like this?

January 6, 2014 at 3:22 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Proposed Six-year TIP sunsets funding for ADA

See page 30 of the Six Year TIP that is up for adoption, the City is considering sunsetting funding for this program in 2020 (page 30) 
http://cms.cityoftacoma.org/PublicWorks/Engineering/Six Year Plan 110413.pdf

Here is the 2012-2017 TIP to compare it against (page 106)
http://cms.cityoftacoma.org/CRO/6 YR Transportation Program Adopted 2011.pdf

And here is the 2013-2018 (page 39)
http://cms.cityoftacoma.org/PublicWorks/Engineering/6 YR Comprehensive Transportation Program Amended 12 & 13-18 Final.pdf

January 6, 2014 at 3:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Is sunsetting funding for the ADA Ramp Program where they got the funding for: “A purchase resolution appearing on this week’s agenda would allocate $1,241,971, budgeted from the Streets Special Revenue Fund, to ‘improve signage and paint markings at various locations within the City.’?”

As a taxpaying resident I think it sets a particularly bad precedent to reward “unsafe and even criminal” behavior.

January 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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fred davie

The city manager just told the council they would have to take a hard look at employee compensation in light of the fact that we have serious budget shortfalls predicted for the next two bienniums.

And now we read that the council is poised to give raises to 382 city workers.

Would somebody please explain this apparent inconsistency and inform us as to how giving raises will help close the multi million dollar budget gap?

January 6, 2014 at 3:27 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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There are at least 3 crosswalks at every intersection; more often 4 and sometimes more.  They need to pay for the paint on the road, the signs, and in many cases new ADA curb ramps.  The American’s with Disabilities Act requires that ramps be upgraded to the maximum extent feasible any time a crosswalk alteration is constructed, which would include painting a new one where none was present before.  Considering the difficulty of designing and constructing many of these ramps, $9,000 per intersection sounds like a bargain to me.  I’d be pleasantly surprised if they can afford all 142 when the bids come in.

January 6, 2014 at 9:07 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Crosswalks are not an immediate problem. Preserving and maintaining our existing pavement infrastructure is and immediate problem. Both the City Manager and Kurtis Kingsolver stood in front of people who attended the series of Prop 1 public meetings and presented the case that once pavement has failed it costs north of 17 times as much to rebuild a failed street than it does to maintain that same street.

So either the City Manager and the newly crowned Public Works Director were being disingenuous, i.e. lying to us in order to get our vote on Prop 1, or they are prepared to fund marked crosswalks instead of overlaying ten to twelve lane miles of our City’s worst streets BEFORE they fail which will add north of $20 Million dollars to the pavement “backlog” we have built up under the direction of these two and their predecessors. 

This kind of programming and budgeting of available revenues is economic malpractice.

January 7, 2014 at 8:38 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I have seen activity at Flying Boots Cafe on S.38th.  Any word?

January 7, 2014 at 3:33 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Here’s what we know about the new bar - looks like it’s going to be called
Flying Boots & Wings .

January 8, 2014 at 9:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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