Tacoma City Council Meeting - May 10, 2016



Resolution No. 39439 A resolution setting Tuesday, May 24, 2016, at approximately 5:30 p.m., as the date for a public hearing by the City Council on the proposed Six-Year Comprehensive Transportation Improvement Program amended for the years 2015-2016 and 2017-2022.


Ordinance No. 28360 An ordinance vacating the south 130 feet of East K Street, north of East 26th Street, to consolidate parcels for parking and future development.

The consent agenda was adopted. The ordinance will get a final reading at a date to be determined.



Three commenters spoke, all regarding the planned new apartment development in the Stadium District requesting the eight-year multi-family tax break.

Sue Dowie spoke to the value of the multi-family tax abatement program. Dowie described the tax break as a necessary tool in encouraging development and supporting density, both bringing investment and increased spending to Tacoma.

The other two speakers shared their thoughts on the impact of the higher rent apartments planned for the development, which they see as out of step with the rental market in Tacoma, and worry that the increased supply of higher rent apartments will drive up the rental costs for others, and expressing concern over the impact of the tax break on Tacoma’s revenue collection for needed services.




Resolution No. 39440 A resolution awarding a contract to PacWest Machinery LLC, in the amount of $254,616.32, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Surface Water Fund, for one TYMCO street sweeper.

The resolution was adopted without comment.



Resolution No. 39441 A resolution authorizing the execution of a Multi-Family Housing Eight-Year Limited Property Tax Exemption Agreement with Stadium Apartments, LLC, for the development of 172 multi-family market-rate rental housing units at 102 North G Street in the Stadium Mixed-Use Center.


The planned project qualifies for the eight-year multi-family development tax exemption by building market-rate apartments in one of Tacoma’s designated Mixed Use Centers. The units will be market-rate, ranging from 539 square-foot studios beginning at $1,255 to 1,327 square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath units with dens going for up to $3,091.

The land on which the development will be built continues to generate tax revenue at the unimproved rate, and the commercial space will be taxable. At the end of the eight years, the full property goes on the tax rolls.

Deputy Mayor Mello added that the tax break is a part of Tacoma’s plan to accommodate future growth in Tacoma in manageable ways, while protecting undeveloped green spaces and farms from the threat of creeping sprawl. Mello also mentioned the 12-year tax break, which does incent the inclusion of a percentage of affordable housing, and reiterated the council’s commitment to taking the need for affordable housing seriously.

In response to what he called understandable skepticism about tax breaks for developers, Council Member Ibsen explained that this tax break does include a requirement of a public good in the requirement for building dense housing in areas where Tacoma has decided it wants that growth to occur, as well as an enforcement mechanism, which take the break away if the project is not delivered as agreed upon. Ibsen also pointed out that preserving a surface parking lot does nothing for improving affordability.

Council Member Thoms described the program as less of a tax break, and more of an incentive to bring in new money in the form of development that would not otherwise happen. Mayor Strickland added that this kind of incentive for development in Tacoma’s Mixed Use Centers drives growth where it is meant to be accommodated, preserving single-family home neighborhoods.

For more on the development, see our post from last week.


Resolution No. 39442 A resolution authorizing the execution of a Multi-Family Housing 12-Year Limited Property Tax Exemption Agreement with Pierce Real Properties, LLC, for the development of 14 multi-family market-rate and affordable rental housing units at 3524 McKinley Avenue in the McKinley Mixed-Use Center. 

The planned project will turn the old Tacoma Police substation in the McKinley Mixed Use Center into a 14-unit live/work/work/live development. 12 of those units would be one-bedroom, one-bath, and two would be two-bedroom, one-bath units. The project includes 20 on-site parking stalls for residents.

This project will qualify for that 12-year tax break set aside for projects that build in Tacoma’s Mixed Use Centers and include at least 20% affordable housing units. Rents will range from $725 to $1,150. The live/work-work/live project is intended to provide housing and workspace for individuals and couples working in the arts.



Ordinance No. 28361 An ordinance amending Chapter 8.30 of the Municipal Code, relating to public nuisances, and Title 13, entitled “Land Use Regulatory Code”, relating to marijuana use regulations, and terminating the temporary moratorium concerning the production, processing, researching and retail sale of marijuana. 

The amendments represented in this ordinance would implement change to where and how marijuana business operate in Tacoma. Key changes represented here either mirror or work within state-level rules.

  • The total number of stores allowed to operate within Tacoma would be capped at 16 – the same as the State-set cap.
  • No dispersion required between stores
  • 100% of the 16 stores must have the state medical endorsement, and must carry medical products
  • Cooperatives would be allowed, with no modifications from state rules that say groups of up to 4 people can grow marijuana together

Buffers would be established:

  • 1,000 feet for schools and playgrounds, as set by the state
  • 100 feet for transit centers, down from the state guidance of #, but within the allowable range
  • 500 feet from other sensitive uses, including parks, daycare centers, jails, drug treatment centers, and libraries

The ordinance will return to council for a final reading at the June 5 meeting. If adopted, the new rules would go into effect, and the moratorium on new stores in Tacoma would be lifted in June. That would allow new licensed stores (up to that 16 store cap) to open. Unlicensed stores will be shut down.



It was a busy and diverse citizens’ forum this month, with speakers on a variety of topics. Here’s some of what we heard:

  • A request to limit the amount of light rail in favor of bus rapid transit to keep roads safer for cyclists.
  • Several Eastside residents spoke, asking the council to consider doing something about the food desert on the Eastside, as well as about the proliferation of crime and drug use.
  • A few speakers requested leadership in finding a safe place for people experiencing homelessness to go, with parking, camping, and sanitation facilities. One suggested looking into using empty warehouse space.
  • A suggestion that Tacoma shed its gritty industrial image by shifting the port to a cruise ship destination.
  • Concerns about Tacoma’s involvement with deportation as home to the detention center in the Tide Flats.
  • A request to come up with innovative ways to stop the illegal use of fireworks around the 4th of July.
  • Marijuana isn’t as dangerous as alcohol, so why regulate it more stringently, while bars open up everywhere.
  • An invitation to the Council and everyone else to see the film Shift Change.
  • Concerns about reckless driving and confusing new traffic patterns near Fircrest on 19th and Pearl and Mildred.


City Manager Broadnax had a few items to share:

  • The US Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency awarded the City of Tacoma and partner organizations $1.5 million to help small minority-owned businesses succeed.
  • The City’s second Latino roundtable event is coming up on Thursday, May 12, at 5:30 p.m. at Lincoln High School. It’s a chance for Latino residents to share their visions for how their communities can grow and thrive, and to talk about  barriers they encounter in their daily lives, and how the City can help.
  • Last weekend’s T-Town services expo was a well-attended success, with many residents coming out to the Dome to learn about City services, and participate in activities.



Council Member Lonergan talked about the marijuana regulations capping stores at 16, clarifying that the state cap at that number is the limit, but the state has demonstrated that limits it sets in relation to this are subject to change. Lonergan went on to clarify that all unlicensed stores should be shut down, and nuisance codes enforced as of July 1. Lonergan also shared that neighborhood cleanup season is in full swing, with the City providing dumpsters and hauling assistance to neighborhoods that have arranged for a cleanup. Learn more, including details of the two cleanups planned for the Eastside this weekend here.

Deputy Mayor Mello expressed the council’s support for actions to address the food desert issue on the Eastside. Mello also mentioned that Bike Month continues with lots of events, including a fun community bike ride this Thursday, May 12, starting at 7 p.m. from the Flying Boots Café on South 38th Street. Learn more about that ride and find other Tacoma Bike Month events at bike253.com.

Mayor Strickland also spoke to the issue of the food desert, explaining the challenges to the grocery business with slim profit margins, and that the City is trying its best in the face of significant challenges to addressing the problem. The Mayor also referenced a recent meeting she and others had with the Tribe related to the Justice for Jackie group.

Council Member Campbell was absent.


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