Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of May 13, 2014


In an update posted today to the agenda, it looks like Council Member Walker may make a motion to amend the ordinance regarding the Comprehensive Plan with the insertion of an additional paragraph.

"Whereas the Hilltop Subarea Plan includes expanded goals and action strategies that continue the City's commitment to supporting vibrant, mixed-income neighborhoods, and recognizing that the City's adopted policies promote this type of mixed-income neighborhood strategy on a city-wide basis, these and other relevant strategies should be used to inform city-wide affordable housing strategies as part of upcoming city-wide planning efforts, such as the Human Services Strategic Plan, Citywide Strategic Plan, and 2015 Comprehensive Plan Update..."

If made, that change could affect several of the items on this week's agenda, in the long-term, if not immediately.


Citywide Planning & Visioning

One of the recommendations that came out of a set of recommendations made by Tacoma's first Fiscal Sustainability Taskforce, as accepted by the City Council last December, was that the City undertake a long-term visioning process. The goal of that process would be to develop a long-term comprehensive Strategic Plan that would align with stated Council priorities, establish a long-term vision for Tacoma, and serve as a guide to decision-making and resource allocation with goals of improved City services and enjoyable and sustainable quality of life for Tacoma residents. A Citywide Strategic Plan Steering Committee will help guide the engagement and implementation process, and will advise the City Council on developments and progress. At this week's Council study session, City staff and the consultant hired to guide the process will provide an update on the City's process and outreach efforts. 


Comprehensive Plan Amendments

We haven't thought much recently about this year's Comprehensive Plan amendments, but it's time to talk about them again. A resolution on this week's City Council consent agenda would set Tuesday, June 3 as the date for a public hearing by the City Council on the 2014 Annual Amendments to Tacoma's Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Regulatory Code. This year amendments have been proposed on a variety of topics, including one proposal that would add a new mixed-use center at Point Ruston to the plan, and a proposal from Metro Parks that would allow for commercial establishments within Point Defiance. The list of proposed amendments also includes a review of the City's mixed-use center code; adjustments to affordable housing code; the creation of an element of the plan that specifically addresses issues related to the Port Industrial Area; updates to open space habitat, recreation, sustainability, and urban forestry elements; and some items to clean up and clarify the plan and code. Read more here.

Aside from the nine amendments proposed this year, there are a few proposals left over from 2013, which were held over due to "timing issues," but are now being added to the 2014 amendments. These proposals would rescind the Ruston Way Plan, Shoreline Trails Plan, and Foss Waterway Design and Development Plan from the Comprehensive Plan, replacing them with the Tacoma Waterfront Design Guidelines and updated Public Access Alternatives Plan.

The Planning Commission has already taken public comment and made recommendations to Council. Following the June 3 public hearing before Council, it's expected that the adoption of the proposed elements will come before Council for a vote by the end of June.


Hilltop Subarea Plan

Also under the category of planning, the Council is scheduled to hear the final reading of a pair of ordinances that would adopt and enact the Hilltop Subarea Plan. We may hear a little more on this than just a straight vote after a significant amount of public comment, as well as remarks from Councilmember Walker at last week's Council meeting. suggesting that she may propose a few changes, specifically related to library and literacy services, and to issues of affordable housing and displacement of current residents.


Comprehensive Transportation Improvement

The State of Washington requires all of its towns and cities to pass a Comprehensive Transportation Improvement Program covering the next six years of transportation improvement projects within its limits, to be updated annually. The program includes roadways, bridges, non-motorized facilities, sidewalks, and other capital related transportation projects, and city is required to include their plan for spending revenues for non-motorized transportation. The program, based upon anticipated revenues and desirable projects, always includes more projects than available revenue, and can be amended at any time with City Council adoption after a public hearing.

This week's Tacoma City Council meeting is the date set for the public hearing on Tacoma's Six-Year Comprehensive Transportation Improvement Program for years 2015-2020 and the Amended 2013-2014 Transportation Program. 


Click! Rate Changes

An ordinance appearing on this week's Council meeting agenda for a first reading would increase Click! Network cable television rates by an average of 10%. Click's programming costs have increased by 11%, and the changes would recover those costs from customers. Click is also requesting to eliminate the legacy Basic service level, which has not been offered since 2008, and has only 200 customers. The request for that change calls the Basic level "no longer an allowable service level according to current programming carriage agreements." The ordinance would also add a fee to restore service after non-payment deactivation. If adopted, the increases would move Broadcast rates from $16.39 to $17.99 and Standard from $48.29 to $52.99 for customers in the City of Tacoma, effective in July of this year.


Green Tacoma

A pair of resolutions on this week's regular Council meeting agenda would establish policies aimed at increasing sustainability in City operations.

The first would establish a "Green Events Program," which would require large, City-sponsored or funded events to implement sustainable practices. The program would set minimum achievement levels for events in 2015, and would require pre- and post-event reports on those measures. The City expects 35 to 40 events to qualify for the requirements based on size, but smaller events could choose to participate in the program to reduce waste. Staff has developed a Green Events Guide with resources, tips, and other materials related to the program.

The second of these resolutions would develop a Sustainable Materials Management Plan for the City to meet goals of waste diversion and reduction of environmental impacts through management of materials throughout their lifecycles. The resolution reaffirms the City's stated goal of 70% waste diversion by 2028. The plan would identify steps and interim goals along the path to that longer-term 70% goal. The plan would focus on life cycle thinking; green building practices, a landfill property master plan, and reduced consumption strategies; with annual progress reports from Solid Waste.


Port of Tacoma Road

A second item on this week's Council meeting consent agenda would authorize an interlocal agreement between the City and the Port related to the Port of Tacoma Road Rehabilitation project. The project, scheduled to be completed this summer, would repave the deteriorated major arterial road in the Port with new concrete. Costs for the project are split between the City and the Port ($337,000 and $500,000, respectively), along with a $429,000 grant. An initial agreement between the two entities was signed last September. During the design phase, additional scope was added to the project, leading to this new agreement.


History of the Prairie Line Trail History

A third resolution on this week's Council consent agenda would authorize the City to submit a grant application to Washington State Historical Society, for $400,000 to fund development and implementation of a Prairie Line Trail historic interpretation plan. If awarded the grant, the City would use the funds to develop a plan to communicate the history of the Prairie Line Trail, and implement that plan on City-owned sections of the trail. Although the grant requires a two-to-one match, the nearly $2.5 million already secured by the City for design and construction of its segments of the trail would more than meet that requirement. Along with this historic interpretation element, the City is also working on a public art element of the trail.


Other Items

Mayor Strickland will proclaim May 16-23, 2014 as Museum Week Northwest, May 18-24, 2014 as National Public Works Week, and the entire month of May 2014 as Puget Sound Starts Here Month. We wonder why Museum Week gets eight days, while Public Works only gets seven.

A purchase resolution on this week's Council meeting agenda would award a $2,322,753 contract to purchase six Hybrid Automated Side Loader collection trucks, for an initial one-year term, with an option to renew for two additional one year terms, for a projected contract total of $6,193,152. The contract would cover the replacement of garbage trucks currently in the City fleet, which have reached the end of their 10-year life cycle. The new trucks would be hybrid-powered vehicles that store energy from braking to supplement the power of their diesel engines for a projected 45% fuel savings, reduced brake wear, and an annual 38-ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

And last, but certainly not least, its Citizens' Forum. It's your chance as a citizen of Tacoma to let your City Council know about an issue that might not be on their radar, but maybe should be - as long as it's something over which they have jurisdiction.

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