Tacoma City Council Meeting - November 18, 2014


December 2, 2014 was proclaimed as #GivingTuesday in recognition of the national day of philanthropy falling on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. In Tacoma New Phoebe House will be using their #GivingTuesday to invite supporters to help them raise funds for the children’s play area at their transitional housing.



Two commenters thanked the City for extending its health plan to cover services specifically for transgender people. The rest of the comment was on the Yareton hotel development agreement on this week’s agenda.

One speaker, who has been working with their Des Moines hotel project, shared his experiences working with the developer. He specifically addressed the issue of labor, saying that de facto the workers on a project of this scale and complexity are overwhelmingly union. A union rep expressed concerns that the City had not added a requirement for union workers to the negotiated development agreement with Yareton, and the owner of the Courtyard Marriott across from the Convention Center voiced concerns that his guests continue to have safe and easy access to the hotel’s designated parking at the Convention Center.

Bennish Brown with the Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitor’s Bureau described his sentiments about the project as “cautiously excited” – cautious because of the potential impact on existing businesses, but excited for the potential to increase capacity at the Convention Center. Brown also added his desire to ensure that there is a commitment for rooms for the Convention Center as part of the new hotel deal.




Resolution No. 39046 A resolution appointing and reappointing individuals to the Audit Advisory Board, Board of Ethics, and Tacoma Arts Commission. [Doris Sorum, City Clerk; Elizabeth Pauli, City Attorney]

The resolution was adopted, adding the named individuals to the commission and boards.



Resolution No. 39047 A resolution authorizing the increase of a contract with David Evans and Associates, Inc., in the amount of $198,715, sales tax not applicable, for a cumulative total of $3,660,999, budgeted from the Transportation Capital Fund, for the Puyallup River Bridge Replacement Project - Contract No. 4600003988. [Chris E. Larson, P.E., Engineering Division Manager; Kurtis D. Kingsolver, P.E., Director, Public Works]

Councilmember Boe recused himself from discussing or voting on the item to avoid any potential for the appearance of a conflict of interest. The resolution was adopted without further comment.



Resolution No. 39048 A resolution authorizing the execution of a Development Agreement with Yareton Investment & Management, L.L.C, for development of a hotel and mixed-use project on an approximate two-acre City-owned site located at South 17th Street and Broadway, adjoining the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center. [Ellen Walkowiak, Business Development Manager; Ricardo Noguera, Director; Community and Economic Development]

The proposed $150 million mixed-use project at 17th and Broadway would be broken down into two phases. In phase one, the project is expected to generate 1,000 construction jobs and 200 full-time jobs. The hotel, expected to open its doors in four years, would be the first of two 240-foot towers, with the second to go ahead after full completion of the first, if the market supports it.

Councilmember Boe said it seems almost too good to be true, but no public subsidies will go to the development of the hotel, with the developer paying full market rate for the land, and agreeing to other requirements.

Yareton CEO Chun Yang spoke briefly, saying that he had been impressed by Tacoma since first visiting three years ago, and that the scenery reminds him of his hometown of Shanghai. He said that he looks forward to working with the City and to building a hotel that will be a landmark and a contribution to the future development of Tacoma.

Read more from Exit133 for details of the Yareton Convention Center hotel project, including a timeline.


Resolution No. 39049 A resolution approving the 2015-2016 Administration and Operating Budget for the Tacoma Community Redevelopment Authority. [Carey Jenkins, Housing Division Manager; Ricardo Noguera, Director, Community and Economic Development]

This resolution approves the TCRA administrative budget, not the program related budget, which is dealt with elsewhere. The two main revenue sources for this budget are repayments from loans overseen by the TCRA and new funds received from the state and other funding sources, a portion of which can be used for administrative functions.

This biennial budget includes significantly reduced personnel costs, as the TCRA dropped from two accountants to one, but adds back a new part-time financial assistant to help with the work.


Resolution No. 39050 A resolution the authorizing execution of a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Tacoma Joint Labor Committee, effective January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016. [Joy St. Germain, Director, Human Resources]

The resolution authorizes the agreement, which includes benefits, for the seven member unions that make up the Joint Labor Committee. Those benefits include the continuation of medical coverage with some changes, including the addition of a high deductible health program option, an additional two days of unpaid holidays per year for reasons of faith or conscience per state law, and those transgender medical services (treatment related to gender dysphoria) we heard about during public comment. The agreement also includes a provision for a wellness committee to implement and oversee an employee wellness program to keep costs down and employees healthier.

Councilmember Mello pointed out that this agreement represents only about a 1% cost increase, compared to previous years where the increase had been in double digits.


Resolution No. 39051 A resolution authorizing the execution of a five-year Master Service Agreement with Optic Fusion, Inc., in the amount of $695,800 plus a 10 percent contingency, for datacenter co-location services located at 1101 A Street. [Steve Taylor, Manager; Jack Kelanic, Director, Information Technology]

Two datacenters deliver City of Tacoma IT services to the City and its citizens. A 2010 assessment of the physical architecture of the City’s information systems found a high risk of failure, and gave three options to fix the problem: retrofit the existing system, build a new one, or find a commercial co-location option. The co-location option was found to be the quickest, least disruptive, most cost-effective fix, mitigating risks, enhancing continuity, providing 24/7 onsite support and automated monitoring for 100% uptime. Unless of course something catastrophic happens to all of downtown Tacoma…



The four ordinances up for a first reading this week all relate to tax levies for 2015. Two ordinances each are required to set the general property tax levy and Emergency Medical Services tax levy – one sets the total amount to be collected, the second sets the percentage and dollar amount increase over the past year. Of the property taxes you pay, the City keeps about 20%.

Ordinance No. 28256 An ordinance authorizing a 0.115703 percent and $62,033.37 increase in the 2015 general property tax revenue collection. [Tadd Wille, Budget Officer; Andy Cherullo, Director, Finance]

Ordinance No. 28257 An ordinance fixing the amount of the 2015 Ad Valorem property tax levies. [Tadd Wille, Budget Officer; Andy Cherullo, Director, Finance]

Ordinance No. 28258 An ordinance authorizing an increase in terms of both dollars and percentages for the 2015 Emergency Medical Services property tax levy. [Tadd Wille, Budget Officer; Andy Cherullo, Director, Finance]

Ordinance No. 28259 An ordinance fixing the amount of the 2015 Emergency Medical Services property tax levies. [Tadd Wille, Budget Officer; Andy Cherullo, Director, Finance]



This is the date set for a public hearing by the City Council on the 2015-2020 Capital Facilities Program. [Tadd Wille, Budget Officer; Andy Cherullo, Director, Finance]

The Capital Facilities Plan is a list of the projects, both funded and unfunded, that the City would like to see completed in the next six years. In evaluating projects for inclusion in the plan, staff considers the need for the project, whether or not it is likely to get funding, whether or not it addresses a need or request expressed by the community, and how well it ties in with Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan. 

Most of the projects included in the 2015-2020 CFP have been carried over from previous plans. 97 projects were removed from the most recent list, due to being completed, consolidated with another project, or put on hold. 75 were added, representing about $140 million. New projects include improvements to municipal facilities, the Prairie Line Trail, citywide pedestrian infrastructure, fire stations, Stadium Way and Schuster Promenade, Lincoln Business District streetscape, wayfinding signage, and Tacoma Rail tracks, as well as Les Davies Pier removal and Dock Street piling replacement.

No one came forward to speak at this public hearing. The final draft of the CFP is scheduled for a first reading December 2, with a final reading on December 9. The draft document is available on the City website


--------------- City of Tacoma Transportation Benefit District Governing Board Agenda --------------


This was the date set for the first public hearing by the Transportation Benefit District Governing Board on the proposed 2015-2016 Transportation Benefit District Budget and Spending Plan. [Tadd Wille, Budget Officer; Andy Cherullo, Director, Finance]

The TBD, established in 2012, collects a $20 vehicle fee for the purpose of maintaining and improving streets and public transportation in Tacoma.

The Transportation Benefit District spending plan allocates this revenue to projects that will improve safety, travel time, air quality, nonmotorized connections and accessibility, and reduce the continued degradation of the city’s transportation infrastructure.

Revenues for 2013 to 2014 fell a little short of the expected $4 million, but crews were still able to make temporary and permanent repairs to potholes; chip seal, grind, and overlay roads; install ADA curb ramps; and improve traffic signal systems.

2015-2016 will be the first full biennium for the TBD, which is expected to bring in nearly $4.8 million, which will again go to chip sealing of residential and arterial blocks, paving of residential blocks, crack sealing streets, permanent pothole repairs, lane replacements on degraded asphalt, ADA curb ramps associated with the residential street paving program, and traffic signal upgrades.

A second public hearing for the TBD budget and spending plan is scheduled for next Tuesday, same time, same place. Following that hearing, an ordinance approving the plan is scheduled for a first reading on December 2, and a final reading December 9.

-------------------- ADJOURNMENT --------------------------




It was a pretty packed house for Citizens’ Forum this week. The main topic of discussion was the issue of a mandate for employers in Tacoma to provide paid sick leave to employees, but we also heard about plans to improve the sports field at Annie Wright, and a few other topics.

More than two dozen speakers, including pastors, nurses, union representatives and workers, and others, spoke on the topic of paid sick leave. All who spoke were in favor of the City passing an ordinance requiring Tacoma employers to provide sick leave to employees. In the past we’ve heard comments of a more general nature, asking the City to mandate paid sick leave; this week’s comments were more specific, focusing on details of a not-yet-released ordinance being drafted by Mayor Strickland and others. The Mayor’s proposal has not formally been published yet, but some details of a possible proposal generated concerns for commenters: a feeling that the three day minimum being discussed was not sufficient, and a concern that the ordinance not make union represented employees exempt. We heard a lot about the detrimental impacts of not having access to sufficient paid sick leave. There was also a recurring theme of how mandated paid sick leave fits with Tacoma's identity as a progressive city that supports the working class.

Four commenters from the neighborhood around Annie Wright School spoke on their concerns related to planned improvements to the athletic field there. They expressed concerns over design plans including new lighting and a large retaining wall, and the impacts of the improvements on both the surrounding neighborhood, and nearby green space. A representative from Annie Wright explained their need for improvements to the aging facilities, and unsuccessful efforts to find other solutions, including trying to find space at other schools and to make improvements to Garfield Park. The school has made adjustments to its proposal, including lowering the height of the lights from 80 feet to 50, and setting an absolute lights-off time.

In relation to this issue, neighbors also shared frustrations with the City’s public notice process, which they said only sent notifications to neighbors within 100 feet of the modifications, gave only two weeks notice, and included difficult to locate and decipher documents. The commenters asked that the City revisit its processes, considering them from the perspective of affected citizens.

A handful of other issues came up. One small business owner and resident asked that the City continue to invest in bicycle infrastructure, and two of the more regular commenters at Citizens’ Forum continued to comment on their usual non sequitur themes. 



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

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Hey guys, thanks for the audit advisory board community volunteer position FYI you posted on Twitter a couple of months ago. I forwarded that to my wife and she was appointed on 11/18 to that position. Wouldn’t have happened without your post.

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Glad to hear it! Congratulations to your wife, and thanks to her for serving.

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