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Tacoma City Council Meeting - July 31, 2012
The big item on this week’s agenda was, of course, the medical cannabis ordinance, which is just squeaking by under the wire before the moratorium expires. Other than that, we’ve got some conversation about human services, and we heard a pretty eloquent proclamation. Mayor Strickland was absent, so Deputy Mayor Lonergan wielded the gavel this week.
PROCLAMATIONS, RECOGNITIONS, PRESENTATIONS, AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Deputy Mayor Lonergan read one of the more eloquent proclamations we’ve heard in a while, proclaiming the week of August 5 through 11, 2012 to be Farmers’ Market Week in the City of Tacoma, in honor of all that the markets bring to the community.
Two speakers came forward to speak in favor of the resolution approving revisions to the City’s Human Services Strategic Plan. The speakers expressed appreciation of the work of the City and staff to gather input from the community, and take the time to consider the impact of cutting the services on the long-term health of the community. The third and final speaker thanked the Council for taking the time to consider and revise the medical cannabis ordinance, which he said, although not perfect, appears to provide room for people to operate.
Purchase Resolution No. 38515 Awarding a contract to:
PSC Environmental Services, LLC, in the amount of $300,000, sales tax not applicable, budgeted from the Solid Waste Fund, for a cumulative total of $500,000, to increase and extend the contract for hazardous waste handling and disposal service through August 5, 2013 – Yakima County Public Services Contract No. BOCC 435-2011. [Gary Kato, Acting Solid Waste Management Division Manager; Dick McKinley, Director, Public Works]
Adopted without comment.
Resolution No. 38516 Authorizing the execution of an interest-free loan agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation for a term of ten years, in the amount of $363,938, with a required match of $90,985, budgeted from the Tacoma Rail Fund, to partially finance the rail relay project upgrading two Tacoma Rail classification yard tracks to be completed by June 30, 2013. [Alan Matheson, Roadmaster; Dale King, Superintendent, Tacoma Rail]
Prompted by a question from Deputy Mayor Lonergan staff answered that the project go forward at some point absent this loan, but not in this budget cycle.
Resolution No. 38517 Authorizing the execution of an interest-free loan agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation for a term of ten years, in the amount of $354,542, with a required match of $88,633, budgeted from the Tacoma Rail Fund, to partially finance the replacement of the deteriorated grade crossings on East 11th Street between Milwaukee Way and Thorne Road to be completed by June 30, 2013. [Alan Matheson, Roadmaster; Dale King, Superintendent, Tacoma Rail]
Councilmember Boe raised the question of coordinating the schedule for this project with the planned reopening of the Murray Morgan Bridge, since this project would be right in that neck of the woods. Staff will check with Public Works on the sequencing of the projects.
Resolution No. 38518 Approving revisions to the 2010-2014 Human Services Strategic Plan relating to human services strategic priorities and funding policies. [Stacey Gillette, Contract Specialist; Linda Bremer, Director, Human Rights and Human Services]
Councilmember Woodards recused herself from the decision due to her affiliation with the Tacoma Urban League, which would be impacted by the outcome. Staff made a presentation on the review process and the content of the recommendations. The review process, which focused on transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness, included community outreach and an evaluation of community data. Tacoma has seen some significant shifts in income and poverty levels in the last two years of rough economy, which was taken into consideration in the discussion of priorities. As discussed earlier the revisions would make several changes: the addition of mental health and chemical dependency treatment as a strategic priority, a shift to a fully competitive funding system, and some changes to requirements within that system.
FINAL READING OF ORDINANCES
Ordinance No. 28082 Amending Chapter 1.24 of the Municipal Code, relating to the personnel rules, to align with current federal and state law related to disabilities and veteran’s preferences; and repealing Section 1.24.665 of the Municipal Code in its entirety to reflect changes in state law related to affirmative action. [Joy St. Germain, Director, Human Resources]
Ordinance No. 28083 Amending Chapter 8.30 of the Municipal Code, relating to public nuisances, to add a new section identifying activities related to marijuana that are nuisances. [Elizabeth Pauli, City Attorney, Legal]
The substitute ordinance under consideration for the final reading contained changes that remove zoning restrictions, and reduce buffer zones for sensitive uses to 600 feet (down from 1,000). Churches were removed from the list of sensitive uses, but schools and youth centers, parks, daycares and preschools, libraries, and drug treatment or rehab centers were kept in. Language was also adjusted to change “marijuana” to “cannabis” in order to align with state law regarding medical uses. Council members thanked the community for their input; as Councilmember Woodards said, this isn’t perfect, but it’s something to start with, and until changes come down from the federal level, it will continue to be a struggle to find a workable balance. Councilmember Mello spoke to the issue of existing uses, saying that the nuisance code will be applied just as it would to other nuisances. In describing the task of navigating the various, often conflicting laws surrounding marijuana, Councilmember Boe coined the term “maze-field” (across between a maze and a minefield), and that seems pretty appropriate.
REPORTS BY THE CITY MANAGER
COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
Economic Development Committee – Councilmember Fey reported on the work of the committee at its recent meetings, which included hearing presentations on the City’s Economic Development Strategy framework and draft, a discussion that will continue at the next meeting. The Committee also heard presentations on the development of a policy on the disposition of City-owned property, funding for the Foss Development Authority, tax-exempt properties, and the arts economic impact study, among other things.
Councilmember Boe thanked everyone involved in this year’s Ethnic Fest, which had a good turnout, and seemed to work really well in Wright Park. He called it a great slice of real Tacoma, more homegrown than some events which might have Tacoma in the title …
Councilmember Woodards also congratulated Joel Chang of Ethinc Fest on his first year in charge of producing the festival. Woodards also requested that the City Manager provide an update on the Hollander Development site on the Foss Waterway.
Councilmember Walker mentioned the Chinese Reconciliation Park luncheon conversation about kicking off phase two of that project, as well as the upcoming Tacoma Moon Festival, the first on the West Coast, which will be taking place at the park.
Councilmember Fey announced that next Tuesday, August 7 is the National Night Out celebration of safe neighborhoods.
Deputy Mayor Lonergan closed out comments with a reminder that August 7 is also primary day, and that everyone should be sure to vote and be heard.
So there you have it.
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