Tacoma City Council Meeting - June 2, 2015

Of course the main event on this week's council meeting agenda was the purchase by the City of Tacoma of the iconic Old City Hall property, but some other things got done too...



Resolution No. 39201 A resolution setting Thursday, July 9, 2015, at 9:00 a.m., as the date for a hearing by the Hearing Examiner on the request to vacate the portion of South 22nd Street lying between the west margin of Interstate 705 and the east margin of Dock Street, to facilitate full closure of the rail crossing.

Resolution No. 39202 A resolution setting Thursday, July 9, 2015, at 1:30 p.m., as the date for a hearing by the Hearing Examiner on the request to vacate a one-foot portion of Commerce Street, South 15th Street, and Pacific Avenue to cure a building foundation encroachment previously permitted under Street Occupancy Permit 140.

Resolution No. 39203 A resolution setting Thursday, July 16, 2015, at 9:00 a.m., as the date for a hearing by the Hearing Examiner on the request to vacate a portion of South 52nd Street lying east of South Trafton Street and west of the alley, for residential development.

The consent agenda was adopted without comment.



The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 483, were recognized for their Peanut Butter Drive to support the Emergency Food Network. The IBEW workers brought in 4,018 jars of peanut butter - a valuable, hard to come by protein for food banks - in this year's drive. The drive was a part of the annual Letter Carrier's Food Drive, an event that began in Tacoma about 25 years ago, and now has spread to communities across the U.S., collecting food for food banks, and feeding families in need.



The entirety of public comment this week was about the City's pending purchase of Old City Hall. It was entirely favorable. We heard from community members who voiced support for the purchase and preservation of one of Tacoma's most iconic buildings. Former Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma called the purchase "hisory in the making," and we heard a lot of optimism for the potential of a preserved and rehabilitated Old City Hall. A few commenters had questions about the specific plans for the future of the historic building, but we'll have to wait and see on that one...



Resolution No. 39204 A resolution appointing and reappointing Jeff Bessmer, Phil Coughlan, Rus Higley, and Agnes Pate to the Sustainable Tacoma Commission.

The appointments were made, with Deputy Mayor Boe commenting on the pleasure of having such a highly qualified field of applicants from which to choose.



Resolution No. 39205 A resolution awarding a contract to Pape & Sons Construction, Inc., in the amount of $428,244.00, plus a 20 percent contingency, for a cumulative total of $513,892.80, excluding sales tax, budgeted from the Wastewater Fund, for the construction of approximately 940 linear feet of 8-inch diameter underground wastewater pipe in the vicinity of 6th Avenue and Monroe Street.

In order to avoid the potential for the appearance of a conflict of interest, Deputy Mayor Boe recused himself from discussing or voting on the item. The resolution passed without further comment.


Resolution No. 39206 A resolution awarding a contract to IMS Infrastructure Management Services, L.L.C., in the amount of $325,645, plus a contingency of $24,355, for a cumulative total of $350,000, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Street Fund, to perform a pavement condition index survey.

The item was adopted without comment.



Resolution No. 39193 This is the second reading of a resolution amending the Rules of Procedure of the Council of the City of Tacoma to change the time for the Study Session from noon to 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday of each week, effective June 2, 2015; and to remove language related to consulting with the Committee of the Whole in various sections. (Continued from the meeting of May 19, 2015)

This resolution, originally appearing on the May 12 council meeting agenda, requires a second reading, as it makes changes to the council’s Rules of Procedure. Because it makes substantive changes to those rules, the second reading was held over to this meeting to allow for the full council to vote on the proposal. As there was still not a full dais this week, the decision will be held over to a date to be determined.


Resolution No. 39207 A resolution authorizing the execution of an Interagency Agreement with the Washington State Department of Ecology to improve the review of certain permits relating to the proposed Puget Sound Energy Liquefied Natural Gas Facility through December 31, 2015.

The resolution approves an agreement with the Department of Ecology related specifically to the permit review process for the proposal to locate a liquefied natural gas facility at 11th and Taylor in the Tideflats. The facility would provide natural gas to Tote Maritime ships, as well as providing backup gas for PSE customers. Staff is currently preparing to issue a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project, and is in the middle of a public comment process.

The agreement is intended to allow Ecology staff to work more efficiently on the permit review process, passing along the costs for that staff time to PSE. Councilmember Thoms commented that the agreement will improve efficiency and allow for more eyes to be on the permit to ensure the safety of the facility.


Resolution No. 39208 A resolution authorizing the purchase of the property located at 625 Commerce Street in the amount of $4,000,000, plus closing costs, budgeted from the Economic Development Special Revenue Fund, for the preservation of Old City Hall.

The council unanimously approved the $4 million purchase, with $200,000 reserved for safety and weatherization work. Economic Development Director Ricardo Noguera called the purchase “key” both for the preservation of an important piece of Tacoma’s history, and for the catalytic potential of the property to spark development in downtown Tacoma.

The cost of the purchase will come out of federal grant funds specifically limited to development projects like this, which address blight and generate redevelopment. The same funds have been used to do work on the Winthrop when Prium owned it. Funds were recently freed up by the sale of that property.

In response to questions about the cost of the project, and the decision not to pursue imminent domain, Noguera responded that the decision was made to pursue a purchase at a price the property owner would accept, as the eminent domain process can be lengthy, and the results are not guaranteed. Mayor Strickland commented that this is a unique opportunity to take control of such an iconic piece of Tacoma, and in regard to the cost, she turned the question around, asking what the cost of inaction would be.

With the purchase approved, next steps will include a City staff walk-through of the building to identify safety and weatherization issues that need action in the short-term to halt the deterioration of the historic property. Those will be addressed in the coming months. Then the City can consider future uses for the building.

Deputy Mayor (and architect) Boe said that there’s nothing like Tacoma’s Old City Hall anywhere, and that he can’t imagine Tacoma without it.



City Manager Broadnax shared some information on the paid sick leave rulemaking process. Two public meetings have been held so far, with two more scheduled for this month.

You can learn more at cityoftacoma.org/paidleave, and if you can’t make the public meetings, the City is accepting comments at paidleave@cityoftacoma.org.



Economic Development Committee - Councilmember Campbell shared topics covered recently by the committee.

  • The downtown food truck program
  • Spaceworks
  • Recommendations for a new member for the Tacoma Arts Commission
  • Heard from RockTenn's director of operations
  • Catalytic project program
  • Interviews for the City Events and Recognition Committee
  • Business attraction, retention, expansion efforts
  • Quarterly economic indicator report

Deputy Mayor Boe shared two arts events.

  • Crafts of the Past – including natural dying – this Saturday and Sunday at Fort Nisqually
  • Tacoma Musical Playhouse continues its production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story

Boe also thanked Reuben McKnight and Diane Wiatr from the City for their work in putting on last weekend’s Tweed Ride, which had participants riding bikes in historic(ish) tweed outfits along some of Tacoma’s historic streetcar lines from the Point Defiance Pagoda, through Proctor to Wright Park where the event concluded with lawn bowling and other festivities.

Councilmember Ibsen reported on a couple of events that happened last weekend – the Slavic Christian Center celebrated its anniversary of being in Tacoma, and the North End Neighborhood Council held a public meeting that included information on Click! and accessory dwelling units.

Councilmember Campbell announced a couple events coming up in his district in a couple weeks.

  • June 13 – Depave McKinley Hill is an opportunity for volunteers to break up and remove asphalt from between streets and yards in the neighborhood, to be replaced with plantings. Tools and lunch will be provided.
  • June 14 – The Kidical Mass Family Bike Ride starts at Lincoln High School at 10:30 a.m., through the Lincoln District to Verlo Playfield and back. It’s a free event, open to all.

Councilmember Mello announced that at 3 p.m. this Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School a piece of artwork will be dedicated in honor of Dr Gordon Klatt, who started Relay for Life, another Tacoma-based movement, which has spread across the country, raising thousands and thousands of dollars for cancer research.

Mayor Strickland invited everyone to the City of Destiny Awards Ceremony, which will be held at Cheney Stadium today, Wednesday, June 3 at 5 p.m. The ceremony will be on the field at 6 before 7 p.m. game.

Councilmember Walker was absent from this week’s meeting.



For more on the items on this agenda see our City Business Preview for the week.

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