Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of July 1, 2014


Back in 2007 the City of Tacoma and media giant Clear Channel got into an ugly back and forth over the company's many non-conforming signs around Tacoma. The City wanted Clear Channel to bring the signs into compliance with size and location guidelines passed in 1997. Clear Channel sued, and covered their billboards all over Tacoma with the phrase "Constitutions matter," implying that the City was limiting their freedom of speech. 

In the years since, there have been near agreements, ongoing litigation, and a moratorium on any new billboards. At this week's Committee of the Whole meeting, council will hear an update on billboards in Tacoma, including background on the current billboard situation, the outlook for a regulatory resolution, as well as the approach, desired outcomes, proposed schedule, and next steps.


Shared Work & Municipal Health Clinic

Also at this week's Committee of the Whole meeting, Councilmember Ibsen will share a pair of items which he is requesting his colleagues consider.

  • Shared Work Program - The Shared-Work program was created by the Washington state legislature in 1983 to provide businesses and organizations with greater flexibility in retaining employees at reduced hours, rather than through layoffs, during periods of downturn. 
  • Municipal Health Clinic - Several municipalities, both cities and counties, across the country operate healthcare clinics for their employees as both a cost-sharing measure and a means of promoting employee wellness. These clinics are often located on-site or close by to the municipality and provide primary care services. 


Recreational Marijuana

At this week's study session City Councl will be updated on the latest news related to recreational marijuana, including legislation, license review and approval processes, potential business locations, coordination with the State, and next steps.


Tacoma Municipal Barn Historic Designation

Also appearling on this week's regular Council meeting agenda is a resolution that would designate the City-owned Municipal Barn located at 2324 South C Street as a City Landmark, and place it on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places.

Historic Tacoma requested that the building be reviewed by Tacoma's Landmarks Preservation Commission based on its assoiation with the history of Tacoma's municipal operations, as a rare example of a Craftsman-style industrial building, and because it is considered a critical building within the Wahrehouse district, adjacent to the Union Station Conservation District. The municipal barn building was also recently added to the Washington Heritage Barn Register.

Adding the building to the Tacoma Register of Historic Places will make it eligible for the Special Tax Valuation property tax incentive, meant to encourage adaptive reuse and capital investment in existing older buildings. It will also mean that future changes to the exterior, and any proposal to demolish the building will have to be approved by the LPC. 

Also on this week's Council meeting agenda is a purchase resolution that would fund full replacement of the building's the failing roof at a cost of $516,000, budgeted from the Property Management Fund.


Comprehensive Plan & Land Use Code

A pair of ordinances up for a final reading this week would implement this year's round of amendments to Tacoma's Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Code. At last week's first reading, both ordinances got amendments, making changes to provisions for electric vehicle charging, the Point Ruston mixed-use center, and so-called pipe stem lots.

Also on this week's Council meeting agenda is a third item related to the annual amendments - a resolution that would adopt the updated Tacoma Waterfront Public Access Alternatives Plan and the Tacoma Waterfront Design Guidelines as implementation strategies for the Shoreline Master Program Element of Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan. The annual amendment rescinds separate existing waterfront-related elements - the Ruston Way, Shoreline Trails, and Foss Waterway Design and Development plans. In their place it adopts the implementation strategies named in this resolution.


Stalking Protection Orders

An ordinance scheduled for a first reading on this week's Council meeting agenda would amend the Tacoma Municipal Code, repealing and/or reenacting chapters regarding stalking protection orders and other laws to assist with enforcement, and to ensure compatibility with state law. State level legislation that became effective last July created a "stalking protection order," available to victims of stalking who don't qualify for domestic violence protection orders. The changes covered in this ordinance would allow Tacoma Municipal Court to issue and enforce these orders, which it is currently unable to do.


Purchase Resolutions

A purchase resolution on this week's agenda would award a five-year, $505,000 contract for Citywide professional records storage and secure destruction services. With the option to renew for two additional one-year terms, the projected contract total would be $700,000. The contract covers storage of paper records not actively used by the City, but which it must keep for public records purposes, as well as historical or long-term documents. It also covers the secure destruction of documents no longer needed, once they have reached the end of the period for which the City is required to keep them. With improved processes, and increased use of electronic communications and documents, the amount of physical documentation the City has to store has been reduced by 50% since 2008, and can be expected to further decrease in coming years.

A final purchase resolution on this week's agenda would award a $1.78 million contract, budgeted from the Transportation Capital Fund, for the construction of a 300-foot section of concrete esplanade along the Thea Foss Waterway. The concrete esplanade is expected to have a longer lifespan than the existing deteriorated wooden walkway it would replace. The project includes lighting, railing, park benches, and piles to support the esplanade, and would create a barrier between the pedestrian walkway and the adjacent parking lot, and will make the walkway ADA compliant.


Other Items

A Recognition for Simpson Kraft and RockTenn appears on this week's council meeting agenda.

At Tuesday's regular Council meeting, six individuals will also be appointed  and reappointed to the Tacoma Arts Commission.

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