Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of September 1, 2015


This week the Tacoma City Council and the Tacoma Public Utility Board will hold a joint study session to continue discussion of the recommendation to enter into a public/private partnership with Wave Broadband to operate the Click! Network. While this conversation is going on, local internet service providers Rainier Connect and Net Venture have announced a joint operating agreement, effective today. With that merger the two companies join forces, resources, employees, and customer bases of about 7,500 customers each. No word yet on whether this agreement will have any impact on Rainier Connect's offer to take over operation of Click! itself, as a counter to the Wave proposal.


Live/Work, Work/Live

In 2012 the Tacoma City Council adopted changes to Tacoma's Building, Tax and License, and Land Use codes intended to encourage the options of live/work units, particularly in adaptive reuse of historic and existing buildings. These units, which could be occupied by the person operating the business, were intended to increase the flexibility of use for buildings, and to allow small business owners to make up to 50% of their units commercial space, providing more affordable space.

Updates under consideration by the City right now would fine-tune the code as it relates to live/work units. Some limiting requirements on space would be eliminated from the code, or moved from the land use code to the building code, where they make more sense. The changes include the addition of a new "work/live" use, to provide further options - live/work would be up to 50% commercial, with the rest residential; work/live would be more than 50% commercial, with some residential space.

 It would be made clear that new construction is also eligible for this kind of use where appropriate, but to continue the original intent of encouraging adaptive reuse of historic and potentially historic buildings, the proposal gives greater incentives and exemptions to buildings, based on age (see table).

Other changes include updates to requirements around fire and safety, and accessibility for these new types of uses. Most of the proposed changes come from a consultant study on code compatibility, which identified changes that could further facilitate these uses.

This week the council will consider a resolution setting Tuesday, September 29, 2015, at approximately 5:30 p.m., as the date for a public hearing by the City Council on a new set of proposed amendments to the code relating to live/work and work/live units.


Emerald Queen Relocation

The Puyallup Tribe of Indians plans to build a multi-level parking garage as a part of its relocation of the Emerald Queen Casino near its existing facility (see map below). To facilitate the construction of the parking structure, the Tribe has requested that the City of Tacoma vacate part of the alley right-of-way between East 29th and 30th, and Portland Avenue and East R Street. That alley, which runs through the casino property, is currently unused for traffic circulation, and in poor condition. An ordinance on this week's agenda for a first reading would approve the alley vacation.

Purchase Resolutions

Three purchase resolutions appear on this week's Council meeting agenda:

  • Two contracts of $133,750, plus sales tax, and $514,900, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Asphalt Plant Fund, for crushed and natural aggregate materials on an as-needed basis through August 25, 2016, with the option to renew for two additional one-year periods, for a projected contract total of $413,407, and $1,591,504. Crushed and natural aggregate will be a necessary component as the City continues to do the much-needed work to repair its streets.
  • A $608,248 contract, budgeted from the Solid Waste Fund, for four Peterbilt Refuse Transfer Tractors to be used at the Tacoma Recovery and Transfer Center. The tractors will replace trucks that are significantly worn and no longer cost effective to maintain and keep in service.
  • A $165,444 contract amendment, for a cumulative total of $330,880, budgeted from the Wastewater Fund, for dry polymer used in biosolids dewatering at the Central Treatment Plant through December 31, 2015. Dry polymer is used to "dewater" the "wastewater solids" that go to create TAGRO. The polymer has been used at a greater rate than anticipated this year, so more is needed to make it through the end of the 2015 contract.


Other Items of Interest

October 2, 2015 will be proclaimed as Tacoma-Pierce County Manufacturing Day in the City of Tacoma.

A resolution on the regular council meeting agenda this week will appoint and reappoint individuals to the Board of Building Appeals and the Tacoma Area Commission on Disabilities.

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