Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of November 10, 2015

Tacoma Mall Subarea Plan

At this week's study session the council will hear an update on the Tacoma Mall Neighborhood Subarea Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Like the Hilltop and North and South Downtown Subarea Plans already completed by the City, the Tacoma Mall Subarea Plan will lay the groundwork for future development in the area, and the EIS takes care of environmental reviews and mitigations on an areawide scale, rather than project by project. The planning process will develop a vision, goals, and strategies for growth and change in the 485-acre Tacoma Mall Regional Growth Center, informed by public input.

This week's presentation will summarize background work, public input to date, and proposed goals, concepts, and opportunities going forward. A primary focus of work to date has been neighborhood structure and place-making that recognizes the four distinct quadrants within the center, as well as the need to link them as part of the larger district. 

More information is available at www.tacomamallneighborhood.com



A resolution was dropped from last week's council meeting consent agenda that would have set November 17 as the date for a public hearing on proposed changes to how Tacoma approaches the question of its nonconforming billboards. That resolution is back on this week's agenda. If the resolution goes ahead as written this week, it would still set November 17 at 5:30 p.m. as the date for a public hearing by the city council on the proposed regulations, as recommended by the Planning Commission, this time with the addition of a supplemental alternative from City staff.

Key components of the staff alternative are:

  • Create Council authority to enter into a Special Compliance Agreement with billboard owners that could accelerate and ensure a significant reduction in the number of nonconforming billboards in the community and provide an alternative to enforcement of the existing amortization provisions;
  • A Special Compliance Agreement would need to be consistent with the intent and policies of the Comprehensive Plan and would need to include commitments for overall reductions and commitments for strategic reductions (addressing community issues such as sensitive zones, over-concentrations, and multiple-nonconformities); and
  • Modifications to the zoning development standards, either within the code or as a component of the agreement, could be incorporated to facilitate the overall intent.

We haven't seen the specifics of this staff proposal just yet, and this summary included with this week's resolution is just vague enough we can't tell if the staff recommendation has more teeth than the Planning Commission recommendation, or not. Staff is scheduled to provide an overview of their proposal at the November 17 council study session. If the November 17 date stays for the public hearing, that gives you several hours to get yourself to the hearing after learning the details... Plenty of time, right?


Point Defiance

After years of work on a master plan for Point Defiance Park, Metro Parks Tacoma has finalized its plan for the city's largest park. To implement that plan, Metro Parks has been working with the City to create a Development Regulation Agreement. The DRA gives Metro Parks an agreement under which to proceed with the various components of the master plan, without having to pull multiple permits for each project as it comes up.

A resolution on this week's council meeting agenda would authorize the DRA to facilitate improvements to Point Defiance Park under its 20-Year Master Plan. For more on the DRA, visit the Planning Department page.


Public Hearings This Week

This Tuesday is the date set for a public hearing by the City Council on the surplus and proposed sale of approximately one-third of an acre owned by the City of Tacoma, Department of Public Utilities, Light Division, located at the intersection of Military Road and Canyon Road SE, in Pierce County, to WGW, Inc., for the amount of $63,193.

This Tuesday is also the date set for a public hearing by the City Council on the surplus and proposed sale of approximately two-thirds of an acre owned by the City of Tacoma, Department of Public Utilities, Water Division located at 7704 6th Avenue, to Mr. David Sizemore, for the amount of $35,101.

And finally, this is also also the date set for a public hearing by the City Council on the proposed Emergency Medical Services and Ad Valorem tax levies for 2016. The City is required to pass ordinances each year setting the regular property tax levy and the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) levy. Increases to those levies are limited to the lower of either 1% or the Implicit Price Deflator. For 2016 the IPD is less than 1% for only the third time since 1998, coming in at just 0.251%.  That number is significantly less than the 1% increase the City had anticipated (and budgeted) for 2016. In order to stick to the budget as adopted and maintain service levels, the City can state that there is "substantial need," which would allow the City to levy the full 1% increase. If the council does not approve a "substantial need" resolution, the City would lose a potential $400,000 in property tax revenues in 2016.


Another Future Public Hearing

Aside from the public hearing on proposed changes to billboard regulations, another resolution on this week's council meeting consent agenda would set Tuesday, November 24, 2015, at approximately 5:30 p.m., as the date for a public hearing by the City Council on proposed modifications to the 2015-2016 Biennial Budget. What are those proposed modifications? Good question.


Liquefied Natural Gas Facility

A resolution on this week's consent agenda would authorize an Interlocal Agreement with the Port of Tacoma regarding improvements for the proposed Puget Sound Energy Liquefied Natural Gas Facility. PSE is proposing to construct the new facility on Port of Tacoma property at East 11th and Taylor Way. The City has completed an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), setting the stage for federal, state, and local agencies to make their decisions related to the facility. The City EIS analyzes the potential impacts from the project, both positive and negative, and recommends a set of project conditions to mitigate potential negative impacts. Find details on the Planning Department project page.


Purchase Resolutions

Three purchase resolutions appear on this week's agenda:

  • An $800,000 contract, budgeted from the Municipal Building Acquisition and Operations Fund, for augmented labor and maintenance services for various facilities, on an as-needed basis, for an initial contract period of two years, with the option to renew for one additional one-year period, for a projected contract total of $1,200,000.
  • Contracts in an amount not to exceed $650,000, budgeted from the Information Systems Fund, for supplemental IT support services, for the period of December 1, 2015 through December 1, 2018, with possible extensions through December 2020.
  • A $309,996 contract, budgeted from the Convention Center Operations Fund, for elevator repair and maintenance at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center. 


Citizens' Forum

It's time once again for the citizens of Tacoma to stand before their city council members and share their thoughts on any matter over which the council has jurisdiction. Ready, set...


Other Items

November 2015 will be proclaimed as American Indian Heritage Month.

A pair of resolutions are on this week's agenda to appoint and reappoint individuals to the Foss Waterway Development Authority and the Human Services Commission.

A resolution on this week's regular council meeting agenda would authorize a Multi-Family Housing 12-Year Limited Property Tax Exemption for the development of 36 multi-family market-rate and affordable rental housing units at 3825 South Junett Street in the Tacoma Mall Mixed-Use Center. 

Another resolution on this week's agenda would authorize a $250,000 agreement with Metropolitan Development Council, budgeted from the 2015-2016 Community Development Block Grant funds, to fund the Home Repair Program, for the period of July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016. The program provides health and safety related housing maintenance, repairs and rehabilitation of an emergency or high-priority nature to Tacoma homeowners, who are mostly low-income senior citizens.

Yet another resolution on this week's agenda would authorize a collective bargaining agreement, retroactive to January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2018, with a group of represented City employees. A matching ordinance to implement negotiated rates of pay and compensation is also scheduled for a first reading.

A second ordinance on this week's agenda for its own first reading would authorize the issuance and sale of two series of Limited Tax General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series 2015, in an amount not to exceed $36,000,000, to refund outstanding bonds, pay the costs of issuing the bonds, and delegating the authority to approve the final terms of the bonds.

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