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Tacoma City Council Meeting - May 6, 2014
Mayor Strickland proclaimed May 6-12, 2014 as Harvey Felder Week in Tacoma. 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of Felder's appointment as director of the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra. The Mayor said that Maestro Felder has overseen a makeover of the TSO that has made the orchestra's music accessible and approachable to many audiences. On Saturday, May 10, at the Pantages Felder will conduct his final show before retiring from his position with the TSO.
The Mayor also proclaimed May 2014 as Tacoma Historic Preservation Month. Strickland called historic preservation an important component of fostering a strong civic identity, celebrating our history, attracting investment, and pursuing sustainability, and encouraged the people of Tacoma to participate in activities throughout the month. As historic preservationists at the City and in the community look to the future of preservation, they will be taking the theme of National Historic Preservation Month - "embark, inspire, engage" - to heart. There will be a renewed focus on telling the story of preservation, and its importance to the community, and on communication and outreach. Everyone is invited to celebrate local achievements in preservation with the 2014 Historic Preservation Awards presentation at B Sharp Coffee House this Thursday at 6 p.m.
Mayor Strickland also proclaimed May 2014 as Bike Month in Tacoma, and encouraged everyone to get out and enjoy the various benefits of cycling, both on their own, and in organized Bike Month events. We also got to hear a couple fun little bicycle limericks, accompanied by a bike bell chorus. See what you miss when you miss a Council meeting?
Public comment came on a wide variety of topics this week. We heard three voices in support of the background check requirement for gun sales on City property; all described the requirement as reasonable and responsible. We also heard from a couple of commenters on the importance of including a library in the Hilltop Subarea Plan. Both described the importance of a library to the community, particularly to young people. Several commenters also spoke on the Charter Review Committee's recommended changes. Two of the commenters asked the Council to side against the recommendation for a change in form of government; one citing the expense of a change at a time when the City's budget is in a less than strong situation. Former Tacoma Mayor Harold Moss asked the Council to carefully consider whether there was any compelling reason for such a change, describing the current structure as functioning well. The third commenter on the subject, Charter Review Committee secretary Justin Leighton, thanked everyone, specifically City staff, who worked on the lengthy and involved process. A final speaker voiced some concerns over the purchase resolution item and the ordinance creating a Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator-in-Training position. The words "over-budgeted" and "willy nilly" came up.
Resolution No. 38897 A resolution awarding a contract to Ace Pipe Cleaning, Inc., in the amount of $547,945.21, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Wastewater Fund, to inspect approximately 86,000 linear feet of 18-inch through 72-inch diameter wastewater sewer pipes using a combination of closed circuit television, laser profiling, and sonar profiling for the Wastewater Trunk Line Condition Assessment - Specification No. ES14-0026F. [Geoffrey M. Smyth, P.E., Division Manager; Michael P. Slevin III, P.E., Director, Environmental Services]
Councilmember Boe pointed out that despite the large amount spent in this resolution, the final bid actually came in under the amount originally budgeted for the project. Staff further explained that although the City has the capacity to inspect smaller mains using in-house technology and employees, these larger mains require technology beyond what the City has. The large mains being inspected are some of the oldest in Tacoma, and the exploratory work done with this resolution will show which can be lined and reinforced to extend their life, and which will need replacing.
Resolution No. 38898 A resolution authorizing the submittal of the 2014-2015 Annual Action Plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by the deadline of May 15, 2014. [Shannon Johnson, Contract and Program Auditor; Ricardo Noguera, Director, Community and Economic Development]
Following an April 22nd public hearing, the recommendations need to be forwarded to HUD by the May 15 deadline.
Resolution No. 38899 A resolution declaring surplus and authorizing the conveyance of a .45-acre parcel of Tacoma Water property near the intersection of State Highway 165 and Ryan Road in Buckley, Washington, to the City of Buckley. [Gloria Fletcher, Senior Real Estate Officer; Linda McCrea, Water Superintendent]
As Tacoma doesn't need the property in question, the City negotiated a sale to the City of Buckley. The ordinance was adopted without Council comment.
Resolution No. 38900 A resolution accepting the final report containing the recommendations of the 2014 Charter Review Committee. [Doris Sorum, City Clerk; Elizabeth Pauli, City Attorney]
Former Tacoma Mayor and Charter Review Committee chair Bill Baarsma presented the recommendations of the committee to Council. Some of those recommendations are minor housekeeping details, some technical in nature. Changes have been recommended that would make the Charter's language gender-neutral. Some of the changes are intended to address accountability and clarification of relationships among various City departments. There are major changes, including a recommendation for a switch to a mayor-council-CAO model of City government, which Baarsma described as reflecting best practices for that approach. With the hand-over of the recommendations, Baarsma declared the committee's job done, although somehow, we're guessing this isn't the last we've heard from them.
It's now up to the Council to decide whether or not to pass along the recommendations of the committee to the voters. With a thank you to staff, to the citizen volunteer committee members, and to everyone else involved in the process, the Council accepted the CRC's recommendations. Now we'll see what they do with them.
Resolution No. 38901 A resolution requiring background checks for firearm sales on City-owned and/or City-managed property; and directing the City Manager to put all necessary and appropriate procedures in place for said purpose. [Kim Bedier, Director, Public Assembly Facilities]
Mayor Strickland explained that the Council does not give specific approval to every event that comes to City facilities, and that the gun show issue had caught them off guard. Strickland went on to explain that the goal is to ensure that everyone who buys a gun at these shows gets a background check, a requirement she described as nothing extraordinary - every dealer already has to pass that requirement. Other council members spoke to the issue as well, including Councilmember Campbell, who explained that his reasons for supporting the measure come from his perspective as a gun owner and a small business owner, as well as a legislator. Campbell explained that he supported the resolution both as a way of leveling the playing field for the small businesses that are already required to perform the checks, and because he sees it not as an erosion of rights, but as a way of further limiting access to guns for that those who should not have them.
The general consensus was that although the requirement of background checks could not prevent all criminals from acquiring guns, it could at least put the City out of the position of facilitating such an acquisition. Councilmember Ibsen called the resolution neither pro- nor anti-gun, but rather pro-common sense. Mayor Strickland said the fact that she only received five emails related to the issue, and that all five were in favor of the checks, showed it to be common sense legislation. The resolution passed with unanimous support.
FINAL READING OF ORDINANCES
Ordinance No. 28219 An ordinance amending Chapter 1.12 of the Municipal Code, relating to the Compensation Plan, to implement rates of pay and compensation for a new classification entitled Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator-in-Training, represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 483, Water Pollution Control Unit. [Tara Schaak, Labor Negotiator; Joy St. Germain, Director, Human Resources]
The ordinance passed without further Council comment.
Ordinance No. 28220 An ordinance amending Chapter 6B.60 of the Municipal Code, relating to Boilers - Engineers and Fireman Certificates, to provide an exemption for the operation of hot water boilers at the Central Treatment Plant. [Hugh Messer, Interim Division Manager; Michael P. Slevin III, P.E., Director, Environmental Services]
This one also passed without further comment from Council.
FIRST 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]
Planning staff addressed some of the comments we've heard from the public over the last few public sessions. In regard to access to healthy food options, staff said the plan includes community garden and farmers' market elements. In regard to the question of the library, although the plan does not explicitly call for a library to be located in the Hilltop, it does include consideration of access to youth, family, and literacy services. Access to affordable housing is addressed. Height limits will not be changed by the plan.
Councilmember Walker shared that as the plan approaches final approval and inclusion in Tacoma's Comprehensive Plan, she and others are working on a handful of final amendments. Specifically, these amendments, to be offered next week, will be related to library and literacy services, and to issues of affordable housing and displacement of current residents. Walker mentioned that she and others are looking at those issues both in terms of the Hilltop plan, but also in the broader picture of City strategic planning and the Comprehensive Plan.
Councilmember Boe clarified that although the Hilltop EIS and Subarea Plan process has considered SEPA and other environmental considerations for the area as a whole in advance of development, site-specific considerations will still be dealt with on a site-by-site basis. Boe also clarified with staff that the affordable housing issue is similarly being considered on a subarea-wide basis, and that numbers cited were intended to guide decisions in the overall development of the subarea, rahter than to dictate to individual developers what their projects should contain. Affordable housing in the Hilltop currently is significantly higher than the 25% goal - perhaps closer to 65%, staff said. The inclusion of specific target percentages in the plan is meant to acknowledge that as development continues, housing prices are likely to increase in the area, and the requirement for affordable housing is intended to maintain the Hilltop as a mixed-income community into the future.
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]
This ordinance would enact code amendments associated with the approval of the Hilltop Subarea Plan. One of the issues identified in the planning and public outreach process was a desire to reclaim the name of the Hilltop. Part of that will be demonstrated in the renaming of the mixed-use center in the area, which will now be called the Hilltop Mixed-Use Center, rather than the 11th and MLK MUC, or other title. There will be an accomanying slight expansion of the MUC, a few rezones, mitigation requirements associated with the area, and other minor adjustments.
REPORTS BY THE CITY MANAGER
City Manager Broadnax announced that this is Public Service Recognition Week, a week intended to recognize the work of public employees who provide many and diverse services to the public at all levels from local to national. Broadnax encourged anyone who knows a public servant to let them know they're appreciated, and to give them a hug. Consider this our digital hug to all you public servants out there.
COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
Government Performance and Finance Committee – Councilmember Lonergan shared issues recently addressed by the committee.
Heard and forwarded recommendations regarding Click! Network cable TV rates. Discussions covered market challenges and requirements for cable TV. Programming costs have increased by an average of 11% in 2014 for Click! If adopted by Council, the new rates would pass those costs along to customers with an average cable TV rate increase of 10%.
The committee's next meeting will be a joint one with the Audit Advisory Board on audit-related topics. There will also be a discussion of for-hire transportation companies.
Councilmember Boe reminded us that Bike Month is in full swing, but it's not too late to register in the Bike Month commuter challenge at piercetrips.com. Boe shared a few other Bike Month events, including Bike to School Day on May 7, the first Tacoma Tweed Ride on May 10, and the Cyclofemme ride planned for Mother's Day. May is also Historic Preservation Month, and you can join in the various events for that as well, including honoring Tacoma's Historic Preservation Award recipients at a reception this Thursday. In the category of the arts, the Grand is sponsoring a viewing party for its 72 Hour Film Festival at Urban Grace. The Felder Farewell concert will be held at the Pantages this weekend, and both the Tacoma Young Artists and the Hilltop Artists have events as well.
Deputy Mayor Woodards reminded us that on Wednesday, after riding our bikes to work we can join Councilmember Boe as he leads his Walk Tacoma Architecture Walk through downtown Tacoma.
Councilmember Walker echoed the invitation to the Tacoma Symphony performance on Saturday evening, and to the Cyclofemme ride meeting at the Spar in Old Town at noon on Saturday.
Councilmember Thoms was absent this week.
For more on the items on the agenda, see our City Business Preview for the week.
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