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Tacoma City Council Meeting - October 22, 2013

PROCLAMATIONS/RECOGNITIONS/PRESENTATIONS/ANNOUNCEMENTS

Mayor Strickland read a recognition of the 20th Anniversary of Neighbor’s Park. This little park at 8th an I streets came out of a collaboration between the neighbors, the City, and Metro Parks, which turned a neglected corner into what one neighbor called "a jewel of a park." The park has received awards and other recognitions in its 20 years of existence. 

The Mayor proclaimed October 22, 2013 as Joeseppi’s Senior Softball Team Day. The Joseppi's team is made up entirely of players over the age of 80, and this year they were ranked the #1 over-80 team in the state, with 7 wins and no losses against the top 80s and over teams in the world, winning the 2013 world championship 18 to 12 over a California team. Way to go guys.

The Mayor also proclaimed October 2013 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The public is invited to join the City and other community organizations in raising awareness of domestic violence with a ceremony, including a moment of silence, this Friday. Wear purple, and come to Tollefson Plaza for the ceremony between 11:30 and 12:15 on Friday.

We also got introduced to Tacoma's new court administrator Michelle Petrich. Welcome, Michelle.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

Public Utility Board member Bryan Flint spoke to say he looks forward to working with the Council to review the management of Tacoma's utilities management. Flint also had some nice things to say about City employees taking care of Tacoma during recent stormy weather.

 

REGULAR AGENDA

PURCHASE RESOLUTIONS

Resolution No. 38757 A resolution awarding a contract to R. L. Alia Company, on its bid of $587,931.90, plus sales tax, plus a 15 percent contingency, for a cumulative total of $676,121.69, budgeted from the Wastewater Fund, for the replacement of 1,900 linear feet of wastewater sewer pipe in various locations within the city - Specification No. ES13-0211F. [Geoffrey M. Smyth, P.E., Science and Engineering Division Manager; Michael P. Slevin, III, P.E., Director, Environmental Services]

The resolution was adopted without comment.

 

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution No. 38758 A resolution creating an ad hoc steering committee, to be known and designated as the Tacoma Public Utilities Ten-Year Management Review Steering Committee, to conduct a comprehensive management review of the Department of Public Utilities; and appointing members of the City Council and Public Utility Board, the Finance Director, the Deputy Director for Administration, and one member of the City Council as an alternate. [Mayor Marilyn Strickland]

More than 100 years ago Tacoma voters decided to purchase a public utility, which would have the citizens of Tacoma as shareholders. The City Charter requires a review of the utility's management every 10 years. The committee will take a few months to conduct this latest review.

 

FINAL READING OF ORDINANCES

Ordinance No. 28181 An ordinance amending Chapter 1.12 of the Municipal Code, relating to the Compensation Plan, to implement rates of pay and compensation for employees represented by the Professional and Technical Employees Union, Local 17, and changes in classifications to reflect the organizational structure. [Joy St. Germain, Director, Human Resources]

The ordinance passed without further comment.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS AND APPEALS

This is the date set for a public hearing by the City Council on the proposed interim land use regulations concerning the production, processing, and retail sale of recreational marijuana. [Brian Boudet, Planning Division Manager; Peter Huffman, Interim Director, Planning and Development Services]

The passage of I-502 led to a state level conversation around regulating the brand new marijuana industry. The state just finalized their rules last week, and the Liquor Control Board is scheduled to begin considering applications for licenses in mid-November. Tacoma is considering regulations for the new industry in three categories: licensing, enforcement, and land use. This week's hearing focuses on land use rules, looking at where the three categories of uses (production, processing, and retail) will be allowed and where they will be prohibited.

Under the regulations being considered, production (growing and cultivation) and processing (converting and packaging raw marijuana into sellable products) would be permitted in the city's intensive industrial districts. Retail uses, including the sale of related paraphernalia, would be allowed on a stand-alone basis in zoning districts where other retail is currently allowed, unless that land falls within the 1,000 foot buffer zone around "sensitive uses." Those sensitive uses are defined by the state (public parks, playgrounds, childcare, recreational and community centers, libraries, schools, game arcades, transit centers) and by the City (jails and correctional facilities, courthouses, drug and alcohol detox and treatment facilities). Looking at the map, those buffer zones cover a large portion of Tacoma, leaving pockets where the uses would be allowed.

We heard from a half dozen commenters with varying points of view. A Port representative asked that the Council reconsider allowing retail uses in the tide flats area, citing safety concerns around an increase in the number of drivers unfamiliar with Port traffic patterns (reading between the lines, we have to wonder if those concerns are increased by the possibility that those drivers might also be high...).  We heard also from a couple of other commenters professionally affiliated in one way or another with the topic offering their opinions, on the implementation of land use regulations.  

As often seems to be the case in comments regarding marijuana legalization, some of the comments strayed from the specific topic of land use regulations. We heard some thoughts comparing marijuana to other substances including alcohol and oxycontin, and one speaker shared his opposition to marijuana legalization in general, calling it a "doorway to deeper sin."

 

REPORTS BY THE CITY MANAGER

City Manager Broadnax shared an event this Thursday, the Tacoma/Pierce County Equity Summit, which will be held at the Bates downtown campus by the City in partnership with other non profits. The discussion will focus on the state of equity in our area, with topics including housing, transportation, jobs, and the environment. 

 

COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

Government Performance and Finance Committee – Councilmember Lonergan shared topics covered by the committee.

  • Received July and August budget reports. Council will hear the third quarter financial report at next week's study session.
  • Heard an update on the multi-city tax portal, which is a collaboration between Tacoma and other larger cities in the region to streamline and simplify paying B&O taxes and applying for business licenses in multiple jurisdictions. That portal is set to launch in the third quarter of 2014.
  • Heard a presentation on a possible agreement with Light Speed Networks for installation and operation of fiber optic cable in the city. That agreement will be considered at next week’s City Council meeting
  • Received the state auditor's presentation on Tacoma's 2012 federal programs audit. No significant deficiencies were identified, but one finding regarding Tacoma's COPS grants in 2009 and 2012 will result in a review and strengthening of the City's grant tracking systems.
  • Heard an update on the work of the Fiscal Sustainability Taskforce, which is finalizing recommendations to be presented to the committee in December.

Councilmember Campbell shared a few events.

  • Flavor – a fundraiser for Tacoma Community House this Thursday. 25% of your dining bill at participating restaurants will go to TCH programs that help immigrants in our community.
  • Proyecto Mole's Restaurant Antojo Takeover – 25% of dinner proceeds go to Proyecto Mole, a program which helps Latino students in Tacoma schools graduate and become leaders in their communities.
  • Metro Parks Harvest Fest – Metro Parks will be hosting Harvest Fest events at the Portland Avenue Community Center, People's Center, and the STAR Center. The free events will feature carnival-style games, arts and crafts, hot cocoa, popcorn, and more.

Councilmember Woodards announced that Tacoma's gang prevention project received another state grant $133,000 from the state, and remarked on the impact made by relatively small investments in the program.

Councilmember Walker reminded us that Tacoma's annual Art @ Work Month is this November, and the opening party and Amocat awards party will be this Monday at the Foss Waterway Seaport. The Amocat Awards honor those who provide distinctive contributions to the arts in Tacoma. Everyone is welcome to join this free event.

Councilmember Boe gave us another Pacific Avenue Streetscape update; the last of the concrete is being placed, so come down to Pacific between 7th and 9th. Walk the sidewalks, make use of the parking now available, check out rain gardens - both done and in progress, and support the businesses.

Councilmember Thoms announced this Thursday's Grand Cinema screening of American Winter. The film follows the intimate stories of families struggling with the economic downturn. The film will be followed by a discussion next door at Corina.

Councilmember Ibsen announced the Tacoma-Pierce County Affordable Housing Consortium's Excellence in Affordable Housing Awards, which celebrate stakeholders and advocates for affordable housing in our community.

ADJOURNMENT

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


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