Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of July 14, 2015

Transportation Master Plan

At this week's study session the city council will hear about the Transportation Commission-approved Draft Transportation Master Plan, including an overview of the draft Plan's development, a summary of outreach efforts and comments, and Plan highlights. When finalized the Transportation Master Plan will help City officials and the public understand Tacoma's transportation systems, how they are functioning, where needs exist, and what funding will be needed in the coming decades. The TMP will include consideration of all modes of transportation - motorized, non-motorized, transit, freight, etc - and will need to take into account forecast growth for the area, possibly up to a 50% increase in population by 2040. 

The Transportation Commission has been hard at work on the plan, and has drafted a vision to guide its work: 

Tacoma is a sustainable community with many drivers, residents, businesses and visitors who have various transportation priorities. The City is strategic in how it plans its transportation system with an emphasis on carrying the people and goods that foster Tacoma's culture, character, and competitiveness. The transportation system offers multimodal travel options that provide safe access for all users and neighborhoods that encourage healthy living and protect the environment. 

Public hearings will be a part of the process before a final plan is adopted. The draft Plan is available for review at www.cityoftacoma.org/tmp


Link Expansion Update

Also on the agenda for this week's council study session is an update on the Tacoma Link Expansion Project. Sound Transit staff will share the findings of the environmental review phase of the project, including an overview of the process, public comment, findings, and next steps. 

The current proposal adds 2.4 miles to the existing Link line, including 6 station stops, and the relocation of the current northern terminus stop, moving it just up the hill to the block where Old City Hall and the Tacoma Elks building stand. Most recent plans would be for the extended Link to run every 10 minutes between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. most days. According to the project page, estimates are that by 2035 the Link corridor will include 54,000 jobs and 47,000 residents, and that the extended line would save 10 to 15 minutes per trip compared to existing bus service.

The public is invited to visit an "online open house" to learn more about the project and potential impacts, view preliminary designs and a project timeline. There's an opportunity to submit written comments online now through July 27, and an open house will be held this Wednesday, July 15 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Evergreen State College in Tacoma


Minimum Wage Increase

Last week the city council formally accepted the findings of the Tacoma Minimum Wage Task Force. Although the group of stakeholders did not reach a united consensus on a single recommendation, there was some agreement among the group - the consensus was that an abrupt increase to $15 on January 1 of next year would be unprecedented and tough on small businesses and nonprofits, and that an increase of the minimum wage should be done incrementally to ease the transition over time.

Additionally, they did submit two proposals, one increasing the minimum wage in Tacoma to $15, the second increasing it to $12, both in incremental steps to ease the transition for smaller businesses.

  • Proposal A was endorsed by nine Task Force members and would achieve a minimum hourly wage of $15 for everyone working in Tacoma by 2024. For businesses with 150 or more employees, the minimum hourly wage for employees would be $15 by 2020. 
  • Proposal B was endorsed by six Task Force members and would achieve a minimum hourly wage of $12 for everyone working in Tacoma by 2019.

This week a resolution appears on the city council's regular meeting agenda moving Proposal B forward to the voters for consideration this November. The ballot item up for council approval reads as follows:


Concerns Establishing a Minimum Wage In The City Of Tacoma As an alternative, the City Council has proposed Initiative Measure No. 1B The Tacoma City Council adopted Resolution No. 39237 concerning establishing a minimum wage. If passed by the voters, Initiative 1B would require employers to pay a minimum hourly wage to employees aged sixteen (16) and over performing work in Tacoma of not less than $10.35 per hour beginning February 2016, $11.15 beginning January 2017, and $12.00 beginning January 2018, adjusted annually thereafter based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as calculated and used by the State of Washington at that time, and requiring that an impact assessment be conducted in 2018 and every two years thereafter.

Should either of these measures be enacted into law?

Yes……… [ ] No………. [ ]

Regardless of whether you voted yes or no above, if one of these measures is enacted, which one should it be?

Measure No. 1…………… [ ] Or Measure No. 1B…………. [ ]


Tax Increases for Road Improvements

It's time once again to talk about potholes. To be more specific, it's time again to talk about how we might pay to fix them. You may have heard that Mayor Strickland was working on a proposal to raise funds to patch up Tacoma's troubled streets. The mayor is offering the voters a proposal that would impose a 1.5% tax on utility company earnings, along with a levy lid lift of $0.20 per $1,000 of assessed value over 10 years.

If approved by the council this week, here's what voters would see in November:


The Tacoma City Council adopted Resolution No. 39236 concerning levy rate and gross earnings tax increases for street improvements. If passed, Proposition No. 3 would authorize the City to increase the City’s regular property tax levy by $0.20 per $1,000 of assessed value for collection for ten years beginning in 2016, and levy an additional 1.5% earnings tax on natural gas, electric, and phone companies for ten years, beginning 2016, to fund street repair, maintenance and safety improvements for residential streets, arterials, and freight access, including resurfacing, pothole repair, pedestrian safety improvements, school crossing beacons, and sidewalk improvements.

Should this proposition be approved?

Yes………….. [ ] No…………… [ ]

The estimate is that this would raise about $130 million ($90 million from the utility tax, $40 million from the property tax), which would be dedicated to the repair and maintenance of Tacoma's residential and arterial streets, freight access points, and bike and pedestrian mobility. The average household could expect an increase of about $3.50 per month on their utility bill, and an increase around $3 per month in their property tax.

The voters have repeatedly identified fixing Tacoma's roads as a key priority. They have also rejected past efforts to raise revenues for the work. \


Narrows Marina Pedestrian Access

Narrows Marina has filed a petition for the vacation of the north 24 feet of the 19th Street West right-of-way, lying westerly of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad right-of-way and the terminus of City of Tacoma right-of-way, to Narrows Marina for future improvements to pedestrian access ways and boat launch parking.

The piece of land in question is a strip of City-owned right-of-way that extends past the end of 19th Street, into the parking lot of Narrows Marina (where Narrows Brewing and Boathouse 19 are now located, as well as the boat launch, etc. The property owners would like to reconfigure the parking area to more clearly define parking, driving, and walking areas. The property owners are working with the cities of Tacoma and University Place, both of which have jurisdiction over a portion of the property, on a long-term vision for its development. 

The Hearing Examiner has recommended that the vacation be granted, despite concerns from some nearby residents that this could be the first step in a development process that has not been shared with them. A resolution appears on this week's council meeting consent agenda approving the vacation "for future improvements to pedestrian access ways and boat launch parking." 



Citizens' Forum

It's that time again to tell the council what's on your mind... as it relates to items over which they have jurisdiction. Show up, be heard.


Other Items

Also on this week's consent agenda is an ordinance vacating a portion of South Stevens Street north of South 64th Street, for a private driveway entrance, garden and landscaping. 

There will be a presentation of the American Public Works Association accreditation plaque to Environmental Services and Public Works.

A resolution will appoint and reappoint individuals to the Planning Commission.

A purchase resolution on this week's regular council meeting agenda would approve a $468,263 contract, budgeted from the Municipal Building Operations Fund and Urban Development Action Grant Fund, to provide uniformed security guard services for the Tacoma Municipal Complex, for an initial two-year period, with the option to renew for three additional one-year periods, for a projected contract total of $1,228,361.

This week the council will also hear the final reading of an ordinance amending the Municipal Code to revise rates for RockTenn CP, LLC, the operator of the old Simpson pulp and paper mill in the Port of Tacoma.

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