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Tacoma City Council Meeting - May 13, 2014

This week's meeting started off with an exciting new intro, complete with inspiring music and dynamic shots of each council member at the dais. It's unclear whether the navigation bar is intended to be a long-term part of the new intro.

Mayor Strickland was absent from this week's meeting, so Deputy Mayor Woodards took the lead.

CONSENT AGENDA

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution No. 38902 A resolution setting Tuesday, June 3, 2014, at approximately 5:30 p.m., as the date for a public hearing by the City Council on the 2014 Annual Amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Regulatory Code. [Brian Boudet, Planning Manager; Peter Huffman, Director, Planning and Development Services]

Resolution No. 38903 A resolution authorizing the execution of an Interlocal Agreement with the Port of Tacoma, which supersedes and replaces the existing Interlocal Agreement, for the design and future replacement of pavement surface on the Port of Tacoma Road. [Tom Rutherford, P.E., Project Manager; Kurtis D. Kingsolver, P.E., Director, Public Works]

Resolution No. 38904 A resolution authorizing the submittal of a grant application to the Washington State Historical Society, in the amount of $400,000, to fund the development and implementation of a Prairie Line Trail historic interpretation plan. [Elliott Barnett, Associate Planner; Peter Huffman, Director, Planning and Development Services]

 

PROCLAMATIONS/RECOGNITIONS/PRESENTATIONS/ANNOUNCEMENTS

Deputy Mayor Woodards proclaimed May 16-23, 2014 as Museum Week Northwest in recognition of the benefits provided by northwest museums to their communities, and urged all community members to become aware of the art and history their museums have to offer.

Woodards also proclaimed May 18-24, 2014 as National Public Works Week in honor of the systems and services provided by public works employees - things like streets, water, and waste management systems - and the benefits to health, safety, and well-being provided. She called on all citizens to acquaint themselves with the issues related to public works, and to recognize the contributions of public works employees.

Finally, the Deputy Mayor proclaimed May 2014 as Puget Sound Starts Here Month, in recognition of the importance of healthy and vibrant waterways to Tacoma's culture, economic resources, quality of life, and legacy. The Puget Sound Starts Here program is a public awareness campaign to inform citizens about threats to the water quality of the Puget Sound, and about the small things everyone can do to make a big difference. Many contaminants in stormwater runoff come from individuals actions, which means that small changes in personal behavior, like picking up pet waste; washing cars at the carwash or on a lawn, rather than in a paved driveway; and using fewer chemicals in lawn care (or using TAGRO products). Woodards urged all citizens to do their part in protecting the health of the Puget Sound, by participating in local volunteer clean-up opportunities, and adopting at least one Sound-healthy behavior.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

We heard public comment on an assortment of topics this week. Two commenters spoke regarding the Hilltop Subarea Plan. One member of the working group for the plan expressed support for the plan, which he described as representing collaboration and consensus from the community, and asked Council to not only adopt the plan, but to put into action soon. The other comment regarding the plan was a repeat of requests to include a library as what the commenter called a necessary resource for healthy development for both children and adults. A member of Tacoma's Sustainability Commission spoke in support of the two sustainability-related resolutions on the agenda. We also heard from a commenter with concerns about the cost of garbage trucks on this week's purchase resolution. This same commenter spoke last week to voice his concerns on a couple of items related to wastewater treatment, and it sounds like City staff addressed his concerns, and even gave him a wastewater treatment plant tour.

 

REGULAR AGENDA

PURCHASE RESOLUTIONS

Resolution No. 38905 A resolution awarding a contract to Western Peterbilt, Inc., in the amount of $2,322,753, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Solid Waste Fund, to purchase six Hybrid Automated Side Loader collection trucks, for an initial one-year term, with the option to renew for two additional one year terms, for a projected contract total of $6,193,152 - Specification No. ES14-0170F. [Gary Kato, Division Manager; Michael P. Slevin III, P.E., Director, Environmental Services]

Following up on the concerns expressed during public comment, staff explained that the resolution will cover the purchase of six garbage trucks in the first year, with the option to purchase additional vehicles at roughly the same price in the following two years. The trucks purchased will be hydraulic hybrid trucks which store the energy from breaking in the hydraulic cylinder to be used for acceleration. Staff described the technology as working well for the collection vehicles, because of their numerous starts and stops. In conjunction with the recent switch to every-other-week garbage pick-up, staff expects the savings in fuel to payback the costs of the vehicles in a four to six year time period, depending on variable like the price of gas.

 

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution No. 38906 A resolution establishing a Green Events Program to advance the City’s commitment to sustainability and greenhouse gas reductions by requiring large, City-sponsored or funded events to implement sustainable practices and report on those measures. [Kristin Lynett, Sustainability Manager; T.C. Broadnax, City Manager]

The new program aimed at reducing waste from events in Tacoma will work on a points system, with points awarded based on green practices. Medium and large events requiring a special event permit from the City will be required to participate in the program, as will City-sponsored or City-funded events of any size. Other events may voluntarily participate in the program to reduce waste and earn the City's new Green Events seal. In 2014 the program will operate as a pilot, with qualifying events required to complete a score card and work with Solid Waste on a waste reduction plan, but not required to make a specific number of points. At the end of the pilot year, staff will use paticipant experiences evaluate targets and criteria before full implementation.

 

Resolution No. 38907 A resolution reaffirming the goal of 70 percent waste diversion by 2028; and developing a Sustainable Materials Management Plan for the City to meet its diversion goal and reduce environmental impacts by managing materials throughout their lifecycle. [Kristin Lynett, Sustainability Manager; T.C. Broadnax, City Manager]

 The resolution formally sets a goal of 70% diversion of waste by 2028 for Tacoma, which is currently at only 33% diversion. The setting of the goal, and implementation of supporting strategies is a recognition that the landfill in Graham that currently receives Tacoma’s waste has a finite capacity. When that landfill is full, Tacoma will have to search for new space on the other side of the state. By working to reduce the waste that goes to the landfill, Tacoma will delay the increased costs and environmental impacts of that move. City staff will now develop a plan with interim goals and diversion strategies in areas including a focus on life-cycle thinking, construction and demolition practices, commercial and residential recycling policies, minimizing disposable packaging, and a focus on reducing “upstream” impacts for purchases.

 

FINAL READING OF ORDINANCES 

Ordinance No. 28221 An ordinance amending the Comprehensive Plan by adding a new element to be known as the Hilltop Subarea Plan. [Brian Boudet, Planning Manager; Peter Huffman, Director, Planning and Development Services] 

Councilmember Walker introduced an amendment to add a paragraph to the ordinance.

Whereas the Hilltop Subarea Plan includes expanded goals and action strategies that continue the City's commitment to supporting vibrant, mixed-income neighborhoods, and recognizing that the City's adopted policies promote this type of mixed-income neighborhood strategy on a city-wide basis, these and other relevant strategies should be used to inform city-wide affordable housing strategies as part of upcoming city-wide planning efforts, such as the Human Services Strategic Plan, Citywide Strategic Plan, and 2015 Comprehensive Plan Update...

Walker also described some 11th hour additions to the plan, which make changes regarding displacement of existing residents, library and literacy services, and employment.

Language we heard over the last few weeks sets affordable housing goals for both affordable (80% of the median income for the county) and low-income housing (50% of the median income) each at 12.5% of the housing stock. Those numbers are the strongest in Pierce County. The intention is to extend that conversation to targets discussed in broader citywide documents.

Regarding concerns for the inclusion of a library in the plan, Walker didn’t go so far as to explicitly add a library to plans, but instead added the words “library oriented” to sections discussing “literacy services,” and promised to continue to work with the libraries and stakeholders to ensure needs are being met.

Finally, regarding jobs, Walker described a recent Tacoma Housing Authority report showing that most workers at the hospitals in the neighborhood live outside Tacoma. To address this imbalance, language was added encouraging job readiness training for and recruitment of Hilltop residents.

The ordinance, as amended, was adopted.

 

Ordinance No. 28222 An ordinance amending Chapters 13.06, 13.06A, 13.12, and 13.17 of the Municipal Code, to refine zoning and development regulations for the Hilltop Subarea Plan, as an element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. [Brian Boudet, Planning Manager; Peter Huffman, Director, Planning and Development Services]

The ordinance was adopted without further comment.

 

FIRST READING OF ORDINANCES

Ordinance No. 28223 An ordinance amending Chapter 12.13 of the Municipal Code, relating to Click! Network Cable TV Products, to increase rates for Click! Network cable television services, effective July 1, 2014. [Tenzin Gyaltsen, Click! General Manager; Ted Coates, Power Superintendent]

Click!'s costs for the content and service it provides continue to increase, and it passes those along to customers, allbeit at a lower rate than other providers. The pattern in the past has been that as Click! is force to raise its rates, Comcast follows shortly thereafter with an increase. With no end in sight to the ever-increasing costs for cable programming, and decreasing customer base due to competition from competing sources of entertainment, the Council had some tough questions for staff, which we'll hope to hear good answers to at next week's final reading of the ordinance. Council members Mello and Thoms both asked that staff share a breakdown of the increase, showing how much comes from upstream costs passed along, and how much is coming from other sources such as employee costs, etc. They also asked that Click! staff share any discussions of cost-saving efforts or potential changes to adapt to the changing market. We'll look forward to answers to all those questions.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS AND APPEALS

This is the date set for a public hearing by the City Council on the Six-Year Comprehensive Transportation Improvement Program for years 2015-2020 and the Amended 2013-2014 Transportation Program. [Dan Seabrands, Assistant Division Manager; Kurtis D. Kingsolver, P.E., Director, Public Works]

There was no comment from the public regarding the annual update to the transportation plan.

 

CITIZENS’ FORUM

Comments at this month's Citizens' Forum covered wide variety of topics.

Two speakers not from Tacoma spoke against the recently passed resolution requiring background checks for all gun sales in City-owned facilities. Both speakers cited federal and state regulations, which they believe supercede a regulation like the one passed by Tacoma. The speaker from Graham questioned the cost of defending the regulation in court. Apparently misunderstanding how these things work, the commenter from Arlington, Washington told the City Council that if no action was taken at the meeting on the issue, they would move forward with "public and/or legal action" against Tacoma, the Mayor, and the Council. We found a copy of the letter sent to Council here.

At the prompting of City Manager Broadnax, Tacoma's City Attorney explained that Tacoma's new rules are based on the City's proprietary capacity to control how its facilities are used. In other words, like other private business owners, the City can regulate what goes on at property it owns and operates, and the regulations are not trying to go further than that. 

We heard from another commenter with several items of interest; he referenced concerns over the quality of work being done on some of Tacoma's recent street reconstruction projects, questioned the cost and purpose of fluoridating Tacoma's water, and offered his support for Click! as an alternative in the cable market.

Other commenters shared the work of the Emergency Food Network, encouraged Council to continue support for the cycling community and bicycle infrastructure, asked that the City look into partnering with the hospitals on road improvements around those institutions, and encouraged the City to pursue action against tax evaders.

We heard more disturbing stories from the regular monthly commenter. 

The commenter from public comment returned to share more thoughts on cost savings, and to thank Council for all their hard work.

 

REPORTS BY THE CITY MANAGER

City Manager Broadnax had three items to share this week.

  • Fair Housing Conference – On May 22 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in partnership with other local and regional entities, the City of Tacoma’s Neighborhoods and Community Services Department will host the 28th annual Fair Housing Conference. It will be a chance for the community to come together, to build relationships, understand fair housing laws, and promote equal access to housing for all. More information at cityoftacoma.org/fairhousing.
  • Summer Jobs 253 – For a second year Tacoma Public Schools, Workforce Central, and the REACH Center will be working together to place kids in summer jobs. The goal is to place students in 105 positions this summer. 75 positions have been identified so far, so Broadnax encourages local businesses to get involved. More information at summerjobs253.com.
  • Street closure – On Saturday, May 17 Market Street will be closed from St Helens to South 9th while crews perform work that will lead to energy savings for the Tacoma Municipal Building. A 40 year old roof top heating and ventilation unit will be removed by a large crane, and replaced with a 240 square-foot heat recovery unit. This energy conservation project is expected to provide measurable efficiencies, with an expected 30% reduction in energy use, for a savings of $60,000 annually. The project is more than 50% funded by grants and utility rebates.

 

COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

Councilmember Boe had quite a few updates to share.

Lots going on for Bike Month. Find these events and more at bike253.com.

  • This Thursday is Zeit Bike and Inky Spokes at the Tacoma Art Museum. You're invited to ride your bike down and enjoy cycling-themed work and more at TAM, with admission free for third Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Friday is Bike to Work Day with Brake Breaks at various locations around town from 7 to 9 a.m. and again from 4 to 6 p.m.
  • The Steel Wheel Alley Cat Poker Run this Friday is an all-ages 10 to 15 mile bike ride to complete the best poker hand, with prizes and a 21+ after party.
  • Saturday, is the Kidical Mass Family Ride. Meet at 10:30 a.m. at People’s Park to decorate bikes and then take a short ride to McCarver Elementary with a stop at the playground and treats.

Lots of Historic Preservation Month events too.

And goings-on in the arts, as well.

Councilmember Lonergan reminded us that community cleanups continue, with two events this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. - the Lincoln West and Jennie Reed neighborhoods at Jennie Reed, and the Lincoln Lawgs, Lincoln South, East Abes, Four Star-East Tanglewood, and Whitman neighborhoods at Lincoln High School. Find out more at cityoftacoma.org/communitycleanup.

 

ADJOURNMENT

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


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