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Tacoma City Council Meeting - April 26, 2016
Resolution No. 39428 A resolution authorizing the execution of a grant agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation, in the amount of $270,000; accepting and depositing said sum into the General Fund, to develop trip reduction programs in the downtown area, from July 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018.
FIRST READING OF ORDINANCES
Ordinance No. 28357 An ordinance vacating the unimproved alley east of and abutting Norpoint Way Northeast, between 28th and 29th Streets Northeast, for use in a multi-family residential development.
Ordinance No. 28358 An ordinance vacating the north 125 feet of the south 215 feet of Broadway, north of South 17th Street, for the future development of a hotel near the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center.
The full consent agenda was adopted. The ordinances will get final readings at a date/dates to be determined.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016 was proclaimed as Domestic Violence Awareness Day in the City of Tacoma in recognition of the public, as well as private impacts of domestic violence, and the work being done to provide services to victims of domestic violence. Everyone is encouraged to remember Crystal Judson Brame, and to reflect on the part they can plan in bringing an end to domestic violence in their communities.
May 2016 was proclaimed Puget Sound Starts Here Month in the City of Tacoma in recognition of the value of clean and healthy waterways to Tacoma, and the contributions the City, partner agencies, and individual citizens are making to the important work of preventing toxic chemicals from entering those systems. Everyone is encouraged to take responsibility for their part in protecting and improving the health of the Puget Sound for current and future generations by participating in a local volunteer cleanup or restoration project, and adopting at least one Sound healthy behavior. These are easy, doable actions like cleaning up after your dog; washing your car at a car wash, not on the street; avoiding use of chemicals on your lawn; fixing car leaks; or planting and caring for trees in your yard.
Resolution No. 39429 A resolution appointing individuals to the Audit Advisory Board and the Board of Ethics.
One individual each was appointed to each board. The Audit Advisory Board, which oversees and coordinates audits in Tacoma, is made up of members of the Government Performance and Finance Committee, Tacoma Public Utilities Board, and one individual knowledgeable in government performance and auditing and government performance practices. This last position was appointed this week.
The five-member Board of Ethics is made up of five members, and is charged with making recommendations related to complaints regarding violations of the Code of Ethics by current or former City elected and various City leadership positions.
FINAL READING OF ORDINANCES
Ordinance No. 28355 An ordinance providing for the issuance and sale of Sewer Refunding Bonds, Series 2016A and Series 2016B, in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $55,000,000, to refund and defease a portion of the outstanding Sewer Revenue and Refunding Bonds, Series 2006A, and all of the outstanding TES Properties Lease Revenue Bonds, Series 2009, which financed the Center for Urban Waters facility, to pay the costs of issuing the bonds, and delegating the authority to approve the final terms of the bonds.
Ordinance No. 28356 An ordinance providing for the issuance and sale of Solid Waste Refunding Bonds, Series 2016A and Series 2016B, in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $55,000,000, to refund and defease a portion of the outstanding Solid Waste Revenue Bonds, Series 2006A and Series 2006B, to pay the costs of issuing the bonds, and delegating the authority to approve the final terms of the bonds.
Both ordinances were adopted without comment.
FIRST READING OF ORDINANCES
Ordinance No. 28359 An ordinance granting a ten-year telecommunications franchise agreement to Astound Broadband, LLC, dba Wave, to construct, operate, maintain, remove, replace, and repair fiber-optic communications facilities within public right-of-way areas.
This ordinance would approve an agreement with Astound (Wave) Broadband for telecommunications uses of City of Tacoma right-of-way. The request at this point is related to the broadband company’s contract to provide telecommunications services to Pierce County libraries, for which it needs to pass through Tacoma.
The agreement is not for cable services. At this time, although the franchise agreement would give Astound/Wave permission to do work in Tacoma, the stated project is the libraries contract. They may, however, request permission to do more work in Tacoma if it makes business sense to do so. Such a request would require additional permissions.
Council Member Campbell expressed “increasing discomfort” with approval of more franchise agreements for utilities to do work in Tacoma, while the conversation about undergrounding more of Tacoma’s power lines continues. TPU staff clarified that anywhere in Tacoma where all existing utilities are underground, the agreement requires new lines to be buried as well; and that if in the future the owners of utility poles underground their lines, this new agreement requires Astound/Wave to pay their portion of that work.
Mayor Strickland added that going forward she would like to see a conversation not only related to franchise agreements, about undergrounding utilities in Tacoma in a smart way. Deputy Mayor Mello clarified that Congress puts pretty strict limits on the ability of cities to require public good as a condition in telecommunications agreements.
PUBLIC HEARINGS AND APPEALS
This is the date set for a public hearing by the City Council on the proposed amendments to the Marijuana Use Regulations, Land Use Regulatory Code, and the Nuisance Code, as recommended by the Planning Commission, and as recommended by staff, concerning the production, processing, researching, and retail sale of marijuana.
This week’s hearing considered essentially two separate sets of recommendations for how Tacoma should zone and permit for both medical and recreational marijuana businesses: one set from City staff, and a second set from the citizen Planning Commission. The two sets of recommendations overlap in many areas, but differ on a few key points.
These proposed changes in Tacoma’s regulations come during a moratorium on new marijuana uses imposed by the City, and follow state-level changes including the addition of medical marijuana businesses to the already established recreational pot shops, an increase in the cap on number of businesses, the creation of a new medical endorsement process, additional flexibility for cities wishing to impose buffering requirements, and the replacement of the old collective garden concept with a new, stricter cooperatives concept.
State changes added an additional eight marijuana retail businesses to the nine already licensed and operating recreational facilities in Tacoma. With the addition of those businesses, and the additional guidance on how to handle medical marijuana retail outlets, Tacoma is looking at questions around how to address these shops with zoning and nuisance regulations. Issues being considered include what kinds of dispersion to require between stores, what kind of buffers to require between each business and “sensitive uses,” whether or not to place its own cap on how many to allow within City limits, and what kinds of requirements are appropriate related to medical endorsements and medical cooperatives.
The dispersion question in particular was framed in terms of balancing both concerns of equitable access around the city and worries about negative impacts of clusters of the businesses, with allowing the market to determine where businesses would be successful. Downtown is treated differently both because of its density and the variety of uses already present.
Public comment came mostly from marijuana business owners – both those operating under existing licenses and not – sharing their varied reactions to proposed regulations. The store owners didn’t agree on everything
Asking for various considerations around their businesses – buffer zones around established businesses from new ones, reduced buffer zones around businesses that have been operating within the code, but which would be out of compliance under some of the proposed changes; and there was support for the idea of a “merit-based” system of licensing marijuana retail businesses in Tacoma, privileging those that have been good operators, playing by the rules as they evolve.
We also heard from a business owner expressing his desire to see limitations to keep these types of businesses from negatively impacting other businesses; and a union representative on behalf of the workers who have unionized in the new industry, asking that the City not limit the opening of stores too strictly to allow for the creation of jobs.
In terms of next steps, the city council is scheduled to revisit the conversation at next week’s study session, with an ordinance expected to be ready for a first reading May 10, and final reading May 24. If all goes according to schedule, the new regulations (whatever they are) would go into effect June 5, putting an end to the moratorium on new businesses.
REPORTS BY THE CITY MANAGER
May 1 through May 7 will be Public Service Recognition Week. It’s an opportunity to recognize the public service employees who serve at all levels of government to keep the nation and its cities working. Take this week to recognize and thank a government employee for all that they do.
COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
Economic Development Committee – Council Member Campbell reported on recent issues addressed by the committee.
- Conducted interviews for the Citizen Events and Recognition Committee
- Heard a proposal for a new sister city in Boca del Rio, Mexico
- Received an update on workforce development and job training programs in Pierce County
- Greater Tacoma Arts and Culture Coalition briefed the committee on work to expand access to arts and culture, and what their 2017-2018 funding request would go toward
In the absence of former Council Member Boe, Deputy Mayor Mello announced the beginning of Bike Month 2016 on May 1. The month kicked off early with the Blessing of the Bikes at Urban Grace Church on April 29th, in memory of those who have died while cycling. You can really get geared up (pun intended) for Bike Month at this Saturday’s Bike Swap on campus at the University of Puget Sound - that's April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Council Member Campbell also announced a bunch of stuff happening in the Lincoln District, including the Lincoln High School Plant Sale, the neighborhood cleanup, a neighborhood resource fair, and more.
Mayor Strickland announced that although it's spring, the City is already looking ahead to another year of its Summer Jobs 253 program, in which the City works with partners to provide summer jobs to Tacoma high school students.
Council Member McCarthy encouraged everyone who has opinions about the pending plastic bag ordinance to share their thoughts with the council as they sort out the details.
For more on the items on this week’s agenda, see our City Business Preview for the week.
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