Tacoma City Council Meeting - May 21, 2013

The meeting began with a moment of silence for Tacoma firefighter Albert Nejmeh, who collapsed while working at the scene of a medical emergency on May 14, later passing away.  Nejmeh was a 12 year veteran of the Tacoma Fire Department.  He was well-respected will be greatly missed.  A public memorial service will be held Friday, May 31 at the Tacoma Dome.


Mayor Strickland proclaimed the month of May 2013 as Tacoma Historic Preservation Month.  The theme for National Historic Preservation Month this year is “See, Save, Celebrate,” and the Mayor encourages everyone to recognize and participate in observing the month.  Maybe you want to get out and see and celebrate one of Tacoma’s 165 historic landmarks and 6 historic districts.  Or maybe you want to get involved in the conversations currently going on about saving Tacoma’s historic cobblestone streets or plans to redevelop the Pochert and Kellogg-Sicker buildings.


Long-time Tacoma City Council gadfly and recently declared Tacoma City Council candidate Robert Hill returned as the only commenter this week, with a shalom and a “hail Obama,” to comment on the items on the purchase resolution.  He’s excited by item one because of the potential for improving the sidewalks around the Jack in the Box, and expressed concern that item three take into account the importance of increasing the speed of the Link (this may be the first time we’ve heard the phrase “bullet trolley…”).



Purchase Resolution No. 38676 Awarding contracts to:

1. Northwest Cascade, Inc., on its bid of $584,520.25, plus sales tax and a 10 percent contingency, for a cumulative total of $642,972.28, budgeted from the Streets Special Revenue Fund, for roadway repair on South 25th Street from Jefferson Avenue to C Street – Specification No. PW12-0469F; [Chris Larson, P.E., Engineering Division Manager; Kurtis Kingsolver, Interim Director, Public Works]

2. Capital Industries, Inc., on its bid of $522,925.00, sales tax not applicable, budgeted from the Solid Waste Fund, for metal solid waste and recycle containers, for an initial two-year term, with the option to renew for three additional one-year terms, for a projected contract total of $1,307,312.50 – Specification No. ES13-0131F; and [Gary Kato, Acting Solid Waste Division Manager; Michael P. Slevin, III, P.E., Interim Director, Environmental Services]

3. Midvale Electric, Inc., in the amount of $140,000.00, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Public Works Tacoma Rail Mountain Division Fund, for a cumulative total of $993,380.00, to increase and extend the contract for continued federally-mandated grade crossing system signal inspections and maintenance through June 30, 2014 – Specification No. TR10-0129F. [Alan Matheson, Chief Mechanical Officer; Dale King, Tacoma Rail Superintendent]

The resolution passed without council comment.

PUBLIC HEARINGS AND APPEALS (Will begin at approximately 5:30 p.m.) This is the date set for a public hearing by the City Council on the proposed 2013 Annual Amendment to the Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Regulatory Code, as recommended by the Planning Commission. [Lihuang Wung, Senior Planner; Peter Huffman, Interim Director, Planning and Development Services]

This is an annual process in which the City updates Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Code, which address a range of issues around new growth and development, along with other issues related to vision and future planning.  The amendments being considered are a result of that process, and come both from citizen requests and City reviews of the documents for consistency with Tacoma’s goals and with county, state, and federal regulations.


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This year’s amendments include five changes to the Land Use Code and three to the Comprehensive Plan. Comprehensive Plan changes include a required review of citywide planning policies for consistency; a clean-up of the transportation element, which includes an updated “unfunded projects” list and the incorporation of environmental justice; and changes to land-use designations that signal a move by the City to a clearer, simpler system of designations that will be more readily understood by the public. Land Use changes include proposed changes to drive through regulations aimed at reducing the potential for conflict between pedestrians and cars in Tacoma’s pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods, as well as additional standards for drive throughs in mixed-use centers and downtown; a streamlining of technical procedures for amending the code; an increase of the number of lots included in the smallest category of subdivisions from four to nine, along with accompanying guidance on neighborhood access and public process; an update to signage regulations dealing with on-site digital signage and pedestrian-oriented signage; and finally some general regulatory clean-up to allow variances in the downtown code where they had not previously been allowed, creating a minor variance level for minor requests, and a new use category of “craft production” to allow for small home-grown/boutique scale operations.

Councilmember Boe had a few questions about the proposed changes to drive-through regulations, primarily in the downtown area. Boe questioned whether the requirement for drive-throughs to be located in a building included stacking spaces for waiting drive-through users (the answer is yes), and how that works for businesses that would require large numbers of stacking spaces. The answer was that the intent here is to restrict drive-throughs in downtown, and therefor this change will likely prevent some businesses from locating in the downtown core.

We heard from two public commenters.  Mr. Hill came forward again to speak on his concerns regarding the implications of the proposed drive-through code amendments for users of Segways and for his clients in his capacity as lobbyist for independent stripper and exotic dancer referral and dispatch service.  Mr. Hill also voiced concerns over the lack of consideration given to Segways in the transportation element, worrying that they might not fit in bike lanes, among other worries.  The second speaker was a representative of the Master Builders Association, speaking primarily in support of the increase in lot numbers allowed for a short plat, but voicing concerns over the public process requirements.  


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Questions about strippers and Segways notwithstanding, the 2013 amendment is scheduled to go before City Council on June 18, with a final vote expected on June 25.  






Neighborhoods and Housing Committee – Councilmember Walker shared the work of the committee.

  • Heard a presentation on the third round of Safe, Clean, and Attractive projects, which are cross-departmental efforts to make the city more liveable. This round of projects addressed issues including improvements to gateway entrances to the city, teen activities on the Eastside, improving Wapato Hills, and recovering overgrown sidewalks.
  • Received information on the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation’s Spark grants program. These $1,500 microgrants are intended to attract people to philanthropy and build on efforts already underway in the community. The next round will be in October.
  • Heard a presentation from Tacoma Housing Authority on the Hillside Terrace development, which will replace worn out public housing stock with new mixed-income developments, and will result in a net increase in the number of subsidized housing units available in the area.
  • Received a report on Tacoma’s nuisance code.

At the next meeting the committee will hear about organized neighborhood groups and receive an update on the demolition code.

Councilmember Boe reminded us that Bike Month continues with a few events in the next couple weeks.

  • Tuesdays at 6:30 pm: recreational bike rides starting at Tacoma Bike in Proctor. 
  • Fridays at 5 pm: Bike Commuter Meet-Ups at the Broken Spoke (21+) 

  • Wednesday, May 22 at 5 pm: Bike to a Better Tacoma at the Harmon Hub
  • Boe also had an update for us on the Pacific Avenue Streetscape and other adjacent construction work. Beginning May 28 and continuing through July 19 southbound Schuster Parkway will be closed to traffic. So beware of that closure, plan accordingly, and support the Pacific Avenue businesses that will be affected by all this construction.


Councilmember Campbell invited everyone to the ribbon cutting for the newest portion of the pipeline trail at the South 48th Street trailhead. The trail will connect Salishan and Swan Creek to 48th Street. That’s 8:30 am on Thursday, May 30.

Campbell also announced that June 1 will be the next community clean up in the Jennie Reed neighborhood.

Mayor Strickland closed the meeting with an announcement that there will be no Council meetings next week due to the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Councilmember Mello was absent.



For more on any of the items on this week’s agenda, see our City business preview.

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Published Author RR AndersonRegistered

now this is service!

May 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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