Exit133 is about Tacoma

What Holds Back Tacoma’s Economic Development?

What holds back Tacoma's Economic Development? It is a provocative topic that stirs an expected range of reactions from defensiveness to concern that Tacoma isn't accomplishing more. The following piece is long for Exit133, but well worth the read. Blaine Johnson heard a question and went looking for answers over the last year. The topic stirs emotions in politicians, residents, businesses and visitors to Tacoma. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Where do we go from here?

One year ago, then City Councilman Jake Fey posed a question at the end of an Economic Development Committee meeting: “What holds back Tacoma’s economic development?”

The topic seemed sufficiently provocative that I have subsequently explored it with dozens of individuals ranging from positions of significant influence in the community to small business operators, people in the arts, politicians, governmental and private sector administrators and the proverbial man on the street. Many of the responses were in the form of lengthy emails conveying thoughtfulness and passion for the city. Nearly everyone asked for anonymity out of concern it might make their future dealings awkward. Their direct quotes are represented in italics.

While these opinions were being gathered there has been some encouraging investment in Tacoma. Still, we remain economically weaker than the region. – a chronic condition we struggle to overcome.

Much of the expressed passion was laced with frustration, in some cases annoyance, that Tacoma is not as economically vibrant as it should be. Given its assets - an appealing location globally as a gateway to Asia, regionally situated between the financial dynamo to the north and the state capitol to the south, functionally served by a great harbor and esthetically endowed with an accessible waterfront, museums and arts, and dramatic vistas in all directions - there is a feeling Tacoma is under-performing to its potential.

"Tacoma has always seemed to be victimized by business cycles and trends. It either is too slow in reading them or making the smart move in response to them. It’s a legacy that haunts us to this day and to not pay attention to where we have been puts into jeopardy hopes of doing considerably better in the future."

If trends can be seen as tides, Tacoma began with a tsunami and has ebbed and flowed with a lot of slack water ever since.  When Tacoma became the terminus for the Northern Pacific Railroad, the wave of migration from the east produced an almost incomprehensible surge of growth in population and building in the1880s.

Tacoma was at a pace with Seattle. Then the national financial panic of 1893 caused a large outflow of Tacoma’s population. The numbers were replaced by the 1900 census, but Seattle had captured the economic wave as the jumping off place for the Alaskan gold rush in 1898 and never looked back.  Tacoma never again caught a wave of that magnitude. 

Census population:

                   Tacoma            Seattle

1870             78                   1,151

1880             1,098            3,533

1890             36,000          42,830

1900             37,710          80,670

1910             83,740          237,100

1920             96,960          315,300

Thus, began a century of riptides that eroded Tacoma’s efforts to become the dynamic city that was originally perceived as its destiny. Still, into the 60s the city gathering place was downtown, where people worked, went to movies, restaurants, social clubs, watched parades and shopped on streets as busy as anywhere in the west.

"Tacoma’s economy was built on the extraction of natural resources. It was the timber capital of the world, but it remained a smelly, smoky place while Seattle was changing in the past 30 years and that got us stigmatized as a dirty industrial place to hold your nose and ignore as you drove through the area. The reality has changed, but the perception still hurts us regionally.”

The railroad delivered the people who created one of the major cities in the west. The automobile took the heart out 75 years later when the Tacoma Mall was built.

“By October 1965, there were 80 new stores in the mall, including 32 former downtown Tacoma mainstays. Suburbia all but killed Tacoma, leaving downtown a wasteland for decades. There are still many people in Tacoma and in the county who do not see how important a revitalized downtown Tacoma is economically.”

Concurrent with the exodus of business from downtown, was the heavy handed application of urban renewal that brought down many architecturally significant properties. The restoration of the Pantages Theater in 1983 is credited with stemming the tide of erosion and providing a toehold for the renaissance of downtown.

Leadership, praised and criticized, was referenced repeatedly in the responses to Jake’s question. There is a sense what happened in the 1990s was Tacoma’s best surge forward in 100 years, driven by a powerful Executive Council. 

“This was an extraordinary group of powerful, talented, decisive individuals with divergent interests who became partners in a focused task - business and civic leaders that included Bill Philip, George Russell, Erling Mork, Larry Killeen, Bill Honeysett,  Kelso Gillenwater, Ray Corpuz, George Weyerhaeuser and David Allen.

“Desperation breeds risk-taking. Tacoma was SO far down in the early 80’s, so forlorn, so desperate, we were willing to try anything to get out of our hole, even willing to suspend democracy, process and accountability and allow unelected power-brokers to break logjams and stimulate groundbreaking projects without oversight or permission from taxpayers, councils or commission.  We broke the rules and got things done. Can that be done again?  I wonder.”

This tidal surge was the guiding hand for such major downtown projects as the University of Washington Tacoma branch campus, Thea Foss Waterway, Union Station, the Washington State Historical Museum, the Chihuly Glass Bridge, the Museum of Modern Glass, the Columbia Bank building, the Pierce Transit center and the Theater on the Square development above it.  The key was leveraging vision with performance. 

“I would say what is missing today in Tacoma’s economic leadership, is 1) a lack of imagination, 2) a lack of decisiveness and 3) a lack of follow through.” The leaders talk a good game, but their actions are often contradictory, sending mixed signals about what they intend in regards to business.”

Much of what was identified as holding back Tacoma centers on us and the challenge/opportunity seems within our control if we can get our act together. 

Gaps & overlaps – This describes much of the criticism of how Tacoma pursues economic development. Criticism even comes from some of those directly involved with the various organizations responsible for economic promotion.  They cite a lack of communication and coordination, partly due to turf battles, that inhibits the most efficient use of the collective resources. Greater collaboration in this area is essential and could pay dividends. 

“We need to be sorting out/coordinating various economic development entities’ roles /responsibilities in such a way that our efforts are focused and meaningful in outcomes, and finding an agreed upon pathway whereby new initiatives/new projects have a chance to be advanced/discussed/condensed/prioritized by both public and private stakeholders. We need to do much better.”

There are over two dozen organizations involved with promoting Tacoma in one role or another.

“There is a lot of hand-wringing in Tacoma about how we can’t get any respect and we don’t have enough resources and it’s excuses, excuses . . . If you really want something, you figure out what needs to be done and you go do it. I think we not only lack vision, but we aren’t very efficient in using the resources we have dedicated to economic development. Why can’t all these organizations just develop one strategic plan?”

Beyond the banalities -  For all our assets and outreach opportunities, a number of criticisms were made about the lack of distinctive marketing for tourism as well as investment, such as the U.S. Open coming in 2015 to Chambers Bay Golf Course:  

“Everyone says this is going to put Tacoma on the map, let the world know who we are. Well, what exactly is our story and how are we leveraging that event to promote ourselves in the meantime. “

“Tacoma/South Sound has done a rotten job promoting itself. Last year Fortune Magazine featured a multi-page “advertorial” on Washington State . .  . The only mention of Tacoma was a few words mentioning the Glass Museum.  I called the person in charge and he said they made a special effort on Tacoma-Pierce County but got no traction or interest at all… where were the Chamber, EDB, VCB, City and County folks who are responsible for promoting us? Asleep?”

Several months ago, a consultant coming to Tacoma was unable to find one piece of literature about Tacoma at Sea-Tac Airport.  A recent check turned up a new Tacoma guide, which equaled the representation of Gig Harbor, LaConner and Winthrop.  

“We have this great story to tell about all our tourist attractions and yet we have been doing it in such a mundane manner, if at all.  We just don’t seem to be able to break out creatively. For all we have to offer, I would say the way we sell it is pretty lame.” 

For all the calls for boldness, perhaps the new visitor bureau slogan “Fearless Exploration” will define the mission ahead in finding ways to tell Tacoma’s story.

Civic mindset - While many saluted Tacomans as honest and hard-working, part of the mission is believing the story ourselves.

“If you want to get into a little psycho-babble, Tacoma has problems with how it views itself. There is a self-doubt that really good things can happen here. Every time we think were on our way, something stops us short. We’re going to be a big financial center and Russell bails on us. We’re going to have a downtown full of people living there and the real estate market collapses.

“What is worse than disappointment is a cynicism or jealously of anyone who might be getting ahead. A new restaurant opens and the ones around it feel threatened as if it’s a closed, net-sum-game. If people are afraid of growth and change, we’re going to miss out on the opportunities that are right there for the taking and I’m talking about New Urbanism, which should be Tacoma’s salvation.” 

Community involvement -  The City, which has a structure of 15 business districts and eight neighborhood councils overlapped in 17 mixed-use centers, is currently examining the effectiveness of these entities. The intention is to get close-to-home engagement by citizens and businesses.  Many of these entities are either functioning in name only or criticized for not promoting the communication for which they are designed.

Meanwhile, there are pockets of community activism where neighborhood spirit can be transforming, such as in the Theater District where businesses, residents and the arts community have produced a number of public amenities. The Hilltop Action Coalition is another citizen-based organization operating on local passion.

“People feel good when they join together in a common purpose, like cleaning up a vacant lot down the street, getting their exercise by walking around the block picking up litter, looking after each other in neighborly ways, that’s what can be happening all over Tacoma to make it the most livable city anywhere. That’s at the grassroots level that promotes quality of life and, believe me, it leads to economic value. Don’t forget it was community activism that saved Union Station and the Murray Morgan Bridge.”

The governing gauntlet –  City Manager T.C. Broadnax was described as “the mystery man from San Antonio who has come to town to clean up a mess and change the culture so that people will feel like trying to do business in this city.”  There was an era where the City leadership aggressively participated in development and promoted others to do the same through supportive staff. This was followed by a reversal of direction that discouraged many trying to do business in an already bleak economy.

“Trying to navigate the planning/permitting/licensing functions has  been a huge barrier for business small and large. In recent years there has been no ‘Culture of YES’, instead the systems and values are contradictory in codes, enforcement and operations.” 

Now, there are signs of a more cooperative approach being directed internally and the City is overtly trying to promote investment, including marketing properties it owns. That should help shift at least a few properties onto the tax roles, a welcome move with close to half of downtown properties and 38.4 percent city wide (highest in the state) tax exempt, including non-profits.

The value of developing vacant sites, including those in the private sector, can be significant, even with tax incentives to promote development of multi family or historic rehabilitation. An example is a parking lot site that paid $6,000 per year in property taxes and had crime problems. After a multi-family project was built on the site, the increased land value results in over $25,000 in annual taxes, even with a tax credit.

Of the approximately 12,000 business licenses in Tacoma, half are independently owned, many on the mom & pop scale.  The impacts of regulations and the process to meet those requirements can impose a heavy drag on the ability of those businesses to grow or even survive. A number of individuals cited the need for organizations responsible for promoting business to exhibit greater sensitivity to the needs of the entrepreneurial sector.  

“This City Council seems disconnected from the realities of running a small business when you look at some of the policies they have put forth. Warren Buffett said something about finding out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out. Well, the economy hasn’t come back in Tacoma like it has all around us and that means we don’t have the luxury to put all the social agendas on the backs of struggling business people like they can do in a place with a stronger economy.”

For decades, the void of a weakened local economy left little push back against treating the area as a dumping ground for the state’s social problems, from released prisoners to those in incapacitating distress. Local government needs to insist on Tacoma being treated in balance with other communities in the state, and the subsidized housing and special needs facilities need to be distributed fairly throughout the community.

Port of Tacoma –  If there was ever a trend that Tacoma nailed it is containerization.  I was in a management position at the port in the mid-80s when the first major on-dock intermodal infrastructure was built to accommodate the arrival of Sea-Land and Maersk shipping lines. The ability to move cargo between ship, rail and truck in a relatively uncongested industrial zone, operated with a lean and productive staff, an aggressive deal-making philosophy and a productive ILWU partnership combine to make Tacoma encouragingly competitive in a brutally competitive business.

As Seattle fights against the type of gentrification that has erased cargo handling from the waterfronts of Manhattan and San Francisco, Tacoma needs to stay lean, mean and independent.  While it is at it, its business acumen should be more engaged with the larger economic development agenda.

International engagement -  The first cargo of tea from Japan, to be transshipped eastward by rail, arrived in Tacoma in August 1885. Three months later a band of racist thugs led by the mayor force-marched the Chinese out of Tacoma. Ever since Tacoma has built its shipping trade with Asia, while struggling to attain significant commercial investment from Asia.

Positioned as a gateway to Asia, Tacoma is plainly failing to capitalize on a trend that has economically transformed areas such as Richmond,. B.C. and the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles through Chinese immigration over the past quarter century. There are many in China who have prospered during the economic boom who want to reposition their business resources into investments in the United States.  There is an opportunity to capture some of that “Made in China” capital through strategic, relationship-based connections.

Educational outreach – The colleges and even some high schools in the Tacoma represent collective resources that can be packaged and provide considerable enhancement to economic development, including the connection with international students.

Environmental remediation -  If there ever was a trend that leverages a previous one it is the clean up of industrial pollution from land and water. Tacoma is the poster child for transforming contaminated sites into high value reuse, with the Foss Waterway and the former Asarco site serving as living laboratories. The Center for Urban Waters should be developed into an institution of global prominence.

Arts – As widespread as the praise was for the cultural amenities, the museums and performance organizations, there was criticism that these attributes are under promoted.  There is a call for better packaging of our attributes to the outside world and also a need to ensure these assets are nurtured within the community. 

"Tacoma has an incredible array of museums and performance entities for a city its size. But, unless we fund and support these existing entities and organizations, rather than adding more, we risk draining the sustainability of these wonderful assets."

JBLM - In 1917, local business leaders promoted a bond measure to buy 70,000 acres and donate it to the federal government for what became Fort Lewis. Ten years later similar action created what became McChord Air Force Base. Today the combined facilities are the state’s second largest employer with 63,000 jobs.

“Despite the huge jobs and money spent locally for housing, food, cars, etc., we really haven’t maximized the asset that JBLM provides. As these well-trained, disciplined people leave the service, they are prime to be drawn into the local workforce, many as individual entrepreneurs. We are not doing what we could to connect with those people.”

New Urbanism – There were several specific mentions of this as a trend on which Tacoma will rise if it can effectively address the issues recited here. The best feature about pursuing the new is that it can be built on what Tacoma was made of originally –  a pre-automobile layout that served a pedestrian scale and public transportation. This is about density and diversity of uses, where people live, work, seek entertainment and shop within close proximity.  If we want a vibrant city, this is the script.

The takeaway -  If  Tacoma was a completely undeveloped site, sitting on Commencement Bay, people would be as wild about coming here as those tens of thousands were when they flooded in 125 years ago. Considering the amenities we have added even in the past 20 years we have to ask ourselves what is missing in our message that keeps us from fulfilling our potential. Inherent in that answer is what holds Tacoma back.

There are things we can do about what is lacking, to encourage how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves.  There are plenty of informed ideas and strategies layered under these snapshot  observations. Ultimately, it our performance that will determine if we are going to paddle in the slack tide or surge ahead to realize the potential that was recognized in a tsunami 125 years ago.

Blaine Johnson restores historic properties and has been active in community development in Tacoma for the past 30 years. 


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Comments

Dennis Flannigan

Good job Blaine. As a contemplator of the theme, I could add plenty, but have an observation. When the city and county fell in love with term limits for County and Tacoma elected offices; councils, Mayors and County Executives, we lost continuity of purpose. The elected history of both is about ten years. Each new official heads in a new direction. I know, I was one of them. So, the dreams of the last person in the job are trumped by the new dreams of the next official. It’s hard to build a consistent city or county view when roll over of dreamers is so regular. There are no anchor tenants any longer. Russell left, and State Farm’s arriving, but most big employers are government (Federal, State, City, school systems). Finding a civic voice for businesses both small and large is fragmented because the employers are virtually all small businesses. The Executive Council was a remarkable force; a gift to the community by Tacoma centric philanthropists. The were the last visible private civic powers in the city. As they retired, or withdrew with their civic priorities pretty much accomplished, they were replaced by wonderful people, but most are part timers. Here while rising in their corporations, but moving on after CEO apprenticeships. It will be a tough job to find leadership you want to follow. Hope it happens.

August 28, 2013 at 10:34 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Ken

Thank you for the thoughtful collection of theories.

“Tacoma has always seemed to be victimized by business cycles and trends. It either is too slow in reading them or making the smart move in response to them.”

Who is “it”?  The only way a local government affects economic activity is through regulation and taxation.  The rest comes from people making decisions in their own best interests.

Economic Development comes from a demand for goods and services.

Demand for goods and services comes from people who live in the area.

People live in the area because they or their families work there.

People work in an area because employers (and self-employers) need them.

Employers need them because they perceive a demand for their goods and services, either in the local market or in a broader market they can serve from the job-site.

So the driver of economic development is employers (including self-employers) who perceive a demand for their good and services.  The government affects this only through regulation and taxation, and the rest comes from people making decisions in their best interests.

August 28, 2013 at 10:55 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Robert M

Great article. I also would like to add my two cents:
1) Focus on education. I am fortunate to be part of a good local Tacoma public elementary, middle and high school. I voted on the levy so that others in Tacoma can increase their possibilities. If Tacoma could focus on creating the best, most effective schools in the state, it would immediately attract families from across the Puget Sound. And while this might be a distracting trend - creating foreign language immersion programs in all Tacoma schools would attract families from across the region. It’s no accident that the area around Beacon Hill Int’l Elementary (Public) School is vibrant and attracting families from around Seattle compared with areas immediately adjacent to that particular elementary school.
2) Creating a business-friendly environment by decreasing regulations and reducing the union noise. In any given election cycle, I am always sad to see elected officials trump each other on who is the most labor friendly candidate. While this is a perfectly reasonable thing to discuss, I wonder why officials don’t try and trump each other on who is the most business-friendly candidate. This may be why Bellevue has surpassed Tacoma in job creation over the past couple of decades. Reduce regulations on small businesses: zoning, planning, shrink the codes. Foster business development, not a culture of clip-board box checking enforcers and process owners.

August 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Sid

Crime, vagrants, open street drug use and hookers are out of control here.  Public safety is a huge problem in Tacoma.  Many cities do also have these issues, but it seems that you can’t turn a corner in downtown without running into a person urinating, injecting themsleves, begging, or being creepy.  It also happens in many business districts.  It gets old and people leave, because they feel the police are not prepared to tackle these complex issues that are handled with antiquated methods.  Public safety is a huge concern in places that are already struggling to stay competitive.  People want to feel safe and businesses want their employees to feel safe also.  Lack of accountability by our code enforcement agency is partly to blame too.  Why would I want to open a business in a district where I will put so much money in and my neighbor can leave their place trashed and no one will make them comply to the code.  TACOMA IS NOT A PROACTIVE CITY, IT IS A REACTIVE ONE.  It is a sad day when the citizens of Tacoma have to be convinced and assured with such tenacity by our city government that the 2% utilities tax rate will go only to roads.  It speaks volumes of how we look at the competence of our city staff.  Most people don’t trust our city leaders.

August 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

  It is a sad day when the citizens of Tacoma have to be convinced and assured with such tenacity by our city government that the 2% utilities tax rate will go only to roads.  It speaks volumes of how we look at the competence of our city staff.  Most people don’t trust our city leaders.

If we didn’t have a history, people like me might be persuaded to accept the promises made. BUT, we do have a history and there is absolutely no excuse for being naive and not demanding to be protected from the type of run-away spending we have a history of funding with our tax dollars up front.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I hope that the majority of voters are in no mood to be fooled again. We were not fooled in 2006, but our legislators were when they removed many of the constraints that were attached to State Motor Vehicle Fuel tax revenues remitted to jurisdictions. This opened the floodgates and permitted those dollars to be used to fund pet projects that have only the most tenuous connection to being transportation related.

The sense I get is that some, but not all, of our Council members and our Mayor are salivating at the opportunity to get their hands on new dollars to spread around as they please. I am not at all interested in pleasing the people who were elected to serve me and the rest of the community, I am interested in pleasing myself and a majority of voters who actually pay the taxes that fund our government operations. When the government my taxes pay to fund fails to provide basic services, it does not please me one bit and at that point no amount of museums, reconciliation parks, rain gardens and on and on and on ad infinitum is going to do a thing to mitigate that.

This problem is not unique to Tacoma, Spokane is facing the same problem. As for being skeptical regarding how the powers that be would take advantage of the lack of enforceable legal restriction on how this money could be spent, I cannot begin to count the number of times I have sat in regional meetings and heard some bureaucrat say: “There is no teeth in the law” as they proposed raiding some pot of money in order to fund someone’s pet project.

There are absolutely no enforceable constraints on how this Prop 1 money can be budgeted and spent and there isn’t a single legal restriction there at all to point to should this money be diverted to something only vaguely related to what it is being sold as. Not only are there no teeth, there is no legal constraint what so ever on these proposed Prop 1 revenues.

 

August 28, 2013 at 1:05 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Stephen Battey

We should look at why businesses leave tacoma, russel left when they couldn’t build a large enough office space for themselves in tacoma. Why? A 400 foot height limit on buildings in the city.

If tacoma wants to keep up and be the big city it was destined to be its time to let that height limit go.

Personally, I think enough of Tacoma’s historic towers have been saved for us to start knocking down and building over derelict buildings.

August 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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James

Seriously? You think building height restrictions downtown are a deterrent to economic development?! The building height restrictions in South Lake Union have really held back economic development there. I’m kidding, of course. I suppose you want to throw F.A.R. restrictions out as well? Tacoma’s historic buildings are perhaps the City’s greatest asset. We should be preserving and updating these buildings, not tearing them down to allow for taller buildings that, to the best of my knowledge, NO ONE is trying to build in Tacoma. Russel paid pennies on the dollar for the WAMU building. That’s why they left. And they’re not occupying anywhere close to the majority of that building.

August 28, 2013 at 4:09 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Stephen Battey

Nobody is trying to build them because they can’t, and there are plenty of buildings that will probably never be renovated and will remain derelict until they fall down or need to be torn down. I’m not even saying eliminate the height restriction, just raise it. Tacoma doesn’t have enough office space for big business and large employers.

If tacoma ever wants to host more than regional call centers and sleazy night clubs in its down town it needs to grow up.

August 28, 2013 at 4:51 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Robert M

I do think that building height is a great example of over-restrictive city regulations. Many of the issues the ciry has with respect to business-friendly climate could be solved one small issue at a time.

August 28, 2013 at 9:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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jim Haneline

There needs to be a mini-regional look, i.e. Pierce County wide.  Similar to Louisville, KY and Jefferson County Ky.  A cross the board, from public protection, schools, every aspect of gov.  Here we plan a tax on Tacoma Power, who acquired a system that has a larger land mass than the City of Tacoma, and then put a 2% tax on non-residence, to spend only on residence (can’t say citizen, and offend Seattle).  Combine both Pierce County and Tacoma, and get past the them and us!

August 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Susanne Marten

I certainly agree that we need to exam a regional approach. We have 13+ municipal governments all trying to support the same functions. Regionalism not only offers an effective way to reduce duplication but this approach could create unity in business recruitment and development campaigns.

September 2, 2013 at 7:00 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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fred davie

What’s holding back Tacoma?

1.  Local B&O tax
2.  High local sales tax
3.  High local property tax
4.  Excessive pay for public employees
5.  Tarnished credit rating
6,  anti-business city council
7.  high unemployment rate
8.  high foreclosure rate

August 28, 2013 at 2:51 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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darin dressler

Lack of leadership at the top for the last 10yrs. The lost decade. An apathetic mayor and council with no public credibility and didn’t care. Banning mini casino was the top moral imperative at the expense of the Tacoma economic come back. A hostile attitude by the council set the tone for the business environment and gave city staff a pass for doing nothing.


The current city council is not much of an improvement. The 5-4 vote on the light route was outrageous and shows that the council remains a broken,dysfunctional institution. The upcoming charter review is a chance to set things right. Tacoma needs a strong mayor and full time council with staff. If the council really wants to assure the public that the 2 percent tax will be spent on roads them make it a charter amendment. Seattle has parks funding as a charter amendment.

Ultimately it takes a change of attitude at city hall and a concern about public credibility.

August 28, 2013 at 4:23 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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J.P.

It’s just a matter of population. Tacoma is too small to support all the special interest groups that seek support from local government to thrive economically. The local government is not willing to make the difficult decision to choose who it is that they will support… And who it is that they won’t.

Gambling, drink, loud music and fun… Retirees, quiet, 4PM senior discounts and hospitals, etc. Something!

So you get a too large number of businesses that can’t find enough customers to survive.. But barely… Businesses struggle on a starvation diet and then die.

Until such time as local government refuses to choose winners… And loosers (i.e. have a strategy that focuses on those businesses that have a good probability of financial succes!).... All will struggle to exist on a starvation diet…

Tacoma has all the ingredients to thrive (beautiful location, transportation links in place to attract people from Vancouver, BC, Seattle, WA and Portland, OR.

Until someone in local government finally has a vision that they are willing to fight for - and - is willing to not simply pander to everybody and dilute limited available resources, Tacoma will simply idle from administration to administration…

We need a “big idea.”

August 28, 2013 at 4:35 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Published Author RR AndersonRegistered

What is holding us back?  Two words:  Street Trees.    They ruin everything!

August 28, 2013 at 5:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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jim Haneline

The latest item, that both Tacoma and Pierce County need to team up on, STOP sound transit from putting a ride fee on the down town link.  The sales job by Tacoma to business years ago was to use the link and not build more parking garages downtown.  Same when they pushed for UW Tacoma.  Now it is all of a sudden a “cash” source for Sound Transit.  Tacoma better get with it, or it is just another one of those “what sounds good at the time, and who will remember why”.

August 28, 2013 at 7:32 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

“If the council really wants to assure the public that the 2 percent tax will be spent on roads them make it a charter amendment. Seattle has parks funding as a charter amendment.

Ultimately it takes a change of attitude at city hall and a concern about public credibility.

You are on the right track, but words mean things and constraining our transportation dollars cannot refer to something as nebulous as “spent on roads,” the limits on the money have to be extremely specific and unambiguous or the public will be frustrated by the language in the constraining clause or clauses. Believe me, if I had a buck for every time I have personally heard some bureaucrat say “there are no teeth in the law” I could retire a rich man today. This requires an iron clad legal definition on EXACTLY where and on what our transportation money can be spent on or it is a wide open barn door that the Council and administration can and will drive tractor loads of our money through on the way to feather the nests of their friends, family and long time business associates. Those are the facts and it is time to face up to them.

August 28, 2013 at 8:22 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Xeno

Let’s get straight and also get over that Tacoma lost the regional economic epic-center battle to Seattle.  Only after we get over our comparisons of Seattle that we can move on and become something greater without hanging on to the past.

Tacoma needs to find a way to be a niche secondary city like Bellevue or Spokane in attracting business.  People fled Tacoma in the 80’s because it was blighted, crime ridden, industrial wasteland.  That has led to a historical bad reputation to the city, “Tacoma Aroma”, “Birthplace of COPS” ect.  The question is what do we define Tacoma now rather than being sour grapes about the city’s past.  While other cities are becoming tech hubs or wine-countries with historical quaint downtowns, Tacoma has potential but no overall vision other than, “Look! We cleaned up that trash-heap of a downtown to look presentable!”.  The City effectively has no brand to sell to business to locate here.  Our Chamber of Commerce is nothing more than a plutocratic good-ol boys club that lacks innovation.  Ultimately we have to work on answering the question of why Tacoma is a destination spot for anything when other cities have been able to niche out their purpose.

If I were to say describe the culture of the following cities:

1) Bellingham
2) Redmond
3) Olympia
4) Tri-Cities

You could probably get a good idea of the type of person and businesses that are located there.  Tacoma is a jack of all trades, master-of-none.  Our colleges don’t focus on our primary industries in the city like the Port of Tacoma or Healthcare industry.  This lack of synergy does nothing to develop the brand and culture of the City. 

Although these are mostly negative comments the reason I love living in Tacoma is its potential.  We are the City of Destiny but we’ve lost the vision of our destiny in recent years.  How do we turn potential into purpose?  We need to collaborate into something where the citizens can have pride of ownership of their city.  Only then will people want to locate here and have that pride as well.

August 28, 2013 at 9:26 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tom Layson

I think a lack of diverse voices in the media is a huge problem here. The inability to keep local TV and radio in the south sound reinforces the labels of “small time” and “second tier” every day at a conscious and subconscious level. There is no buzz, no media energy, no news, no opinion, no debate in the non-agency and non-policy-insider public arena. With one dominant and relatively unchallenged media voice here, the civic engagement and buzz-worthiness of Tacoma is about what it is in Orting, or Puyallup or any of Seattle’s other bedroom communities.

August 28, 2013 at 9:28 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

I think a lack of diverse voices in the media is a huge problem here. The inability to keep local TV and radio in the south sound reinforces the labels of “small time” and “second tier” every day at a conscious and subconscious level. There is no buzz, no media energy, no news, no opinion, no debate in the non-agency and non-policy-insider public arena. With one dominant and relatively unchallenged media voice here, the civic engagement and buzz-worthiness of Tacoma is about what it is in Orting, or Puyallup or any of Seattle’s other bedroom communities.

The Editor and senior staff at The News Buffoon as well as the people they were reporting on in City government were Senior Fellows in The American Leadership Forum, which is a kind of “secret society,” wherein membership is by invite only and policy is discussed and debated among those who are “in.” This alone disqualifies The News Buffoon from consideration as a legitimate news source. However, it goes deeper than that - City government is one of the larges purchasers of space in the paper and without this revenue source it is debatable whether or not The News Buffoon could even survive.

We see the affect that this has on their “reporting” when we take a look at how The News Buffoon has chosen to present Prop 1 to it’s readers the last couple of weeks. Basically the articles are a regurgitation of the City line with absolutely no questioning of what is being said. I do not comment in The News Buffoon, but from time to time will read their articles and the comments posted below them. There are legitimate questions posted in the comments below the articles and if The News Buffoon were a legitimate news source and not a house organ for City and County government they would be asking serious question of City spokespeople. They simply don’t and that is about all you need to know to make an informed decision on whether The News Buffoon is a legitimate journalistic enterprise or a sham.

August 29, 2013 at 7:50 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacoma nana

WOW, you sound bitter. Might I suggest that you do more research into American Leadership Forum before throwing around wild accusations. If they are a ‘Secret Society’ how do you know about them?
Can you give an example of a policy that was discussed and debated?  What was the outcome of the policy discussion?
And staying on topic, how have they held back Tacoma’s economic development?

August 29, 2013 at 9:59 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

I prefer cynical, disgusted and fed up.


Are you the least bit familiar with the term “secret society?”
A secret society is a club or organization whose activities and inner functioning are concealed from non-members. The society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence. The term usually excludes covert groups, such as intelligence agencies, or guerrilla insurgencies, which hide their activities and memberships but maintain a public presence. The exact qualifications for labeling a group as a secret society are disputed, but definitions generally rely on the degree to which the organization insists on secrecy, and might involve the retention and transmission of secret knowledge, denial of membership or knowledge of the group, the creation of personal bonds between members of the organization, and the use of secret rites or rituals which solidify members of the group.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_society

I would say that ALF possesses enough of the traits to qualify as a sort of secret society.

August 29, 2013 at 10:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacoma nana

Since you dodged the relevant questions I asked to pontificate about your tin foil hat conspiratorial nature of the unknown by citing Wikipedia, I will ask this follow up:

Which traits do they possess ?
Could you describe “the use of secret rites or rituals ” ?
Could you please share some of “secret knowledge” ?

August 29, 2013 at 10:28 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

Program graduates - called Senior Fellows - are empowered to serve as catalysts in their communities, bringing stakeholders from other sectors together to collaboratively address the most urgent public concerns. In ALF Founder Joseph Jaworski’s words, Senior Fellows are thus able to “break legislative and bureaucratic gridlock and get things done.”

In other words ALF serves as a shadow government in which policy positions can be developed and implemented. It serves as the modern version of the “smoke filled rooms” of Tammany Hall.

August 29, 2013 at 10:29 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

Instead of citing wickipedia, the above quote is straight off the ALF website

August 29, 2013 at 10:33 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacoma nana

Rhetoric and distortions do not make for good arguments. With over 400 ‘Senior Fellows” it hardly sounds exclusive, like a secret society or a modern version of Tammany Hall responsible for all the ills of society.

Thank goodness you have not found about about the Pythians and their secret temple in downtown Tacoma.

However, you still have failed to make any connection to the topic at hand.

August 29, 2013 at 10:56 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

That is a quote straight off the ALF website. If the Pythians were involved in politics I would concern myself with them as well.

August 29, 2013 at 11:11 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Christine

That is a quote straight off the ALF website. If the Pythians were involved in politics I would concern myself with them as well.

Maybe the Pythians are involved, but they are so secret that no one knows!

August 29, 2013 at 12:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

ALF would be a secret society along the lines of Tammany Hall and there is absolutely no question that Tammany Hall was a “secret society.”

Tammany represented a form of organization that wedded the Democratic Party and the Society of St. Tammany ( started in 1789 for patriotic and fraternal purposes) into an interchangeable exchange. The weave of city politics was the triangulation of the Mayor’s office, the Democratic Party and the social club organization.

ALF serves the same purpose in Tacoma that Tammany Hall served in New York.

August 29, 2013 at 10:42 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

Nana,

Why would mission and cornerstones be password protected and only available to Fellows and Senior Fellows if ALF were not a secret society?

http://www.alftacomapiercecounty.org/aboutus/mission-and-cornerstones/

August 29, 2013 at 10:54 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacoma nana

Columbia Bank, Amazon, Net Flix, Facebook, well about every site on the internet has password protections.

You are still failing to make a connection to the topic at hand, how have they held back Tacoma’s economic development?

August 29, 2013 at 11:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

So ALF that claims it’s “mission is to join and strengthen leaders to better serve the public good.” Will not let the public examine their mission statement and you find nothing amiss.

Actually the topic was lack of diversity in the media. Just because you joined the discussion you do not get to decide to mischaracterize or redefine Mr Layson’s words to fit your agenda.

August 29, 2013 at 11:25 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacoma nana

August 29, 2013 at 11:32 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

My apologies, it thought I was commenting in this thread:

http://www.exit133.com/articles/view/what-holds-back-tacomas-economic-development#.Uh-gxBuUT0Y

No you did not. If you wanted to comment on the story you would have done so. You consciously joined this thread and tried to hijack it and set up straw man arguments in order to provide yourself with a forum in which to defend ALF.

August 29, 2013 at 11:49 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacoma nana

Yes, I did.

I ‘m still waiting for you to make any of your arguments relative to any topic not related tin foil conspiracy arguments.

I would ask you to prove that Public Works employees of the City of Renton don’t waste all day posting on blogs about conspiracies, but since you have spend the last two hours doing that I would suggest either you have a hell of lunch hour, a complete lack of oversight or you are posting during Taxpayer work hours.

I’m retired, whats your excuse?

August 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

I’m on vacation.

August 29, 2013 at 12:19 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

Not that it is any of your business, but as the father of a two month old baby I am entitled up to 12 weeks of leave. I could take leave in one lump, or I can spread it out and take it in increments.  Today I took some time off.

August 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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John D

JDH,
I’m terribly sorry you weren’t invited to join ALF. This is the only reason I can come up with to explain your vitriol. Somehow, you’ve turned an organization whose goal is to empower people to “serve as catalysts in their communities, bringing stakeholders from other sectors together to collaboratively address the most urgent public concerns” into something worse than the Pentaverate (with the Queen, the Vatican, the Rothchilds, the Gettys, and Colonel Sanders, before he went tits up!).  Oh my god, the evil they must represent!  And to make matters worse, they want to “break legislative and bureaucratic deadlock and get things done”. What kind of unholy cabal must this be.

And as far as their site being password protected, I’m assuming that you’re aware that this the year 2013, and that this whole computer technology thing’s probably be sticking around for a while.  You don’t get to poke your nose into anything and everything you want, because maybe, just maybe, it’s just none of your business.  There’s a huge difference between a private organization, and a “secret” organization.

 

August 29, 2013 at 11:58 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

I prefer cynical, disgusted and fed up to vitriolic, but whatever:

Strawman #1 - I have no interest in joining ALF, never had any interest and never will have any interest.
Strawman #2 - Your extension of the value of password protection THAT PREVENTS READING the Mission Statement of an organization that purports to serve the public interest is preposterous at best

August 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Sid

I think Tacoma, WA is terrified to admit that it is a working class average city and there is nothing wrong with that.  It does not mean that it has to be dirty, or unsafe.  That is what we are, The Most Average City in America, how’s that for a niche.  I keep seeing Keep Portland Weird decals, but people in Portland work hard at being weird.  Here in Tacoma, people don’t really have to, it’s a given.  WKRP in Tacoma would be just as fitting, as the original hit series WKRP in Cincinnati.  Eugene, Oregon has three separate local news programs with a population of fifty thousand less than Tacoma, WA, we have zero, no voice in the media.  Our newspaper is not the best either.  We need to stop trying to force Tacoma into being something it is not.  We are not an artsy city, or a musical mecca, or a cinema haven, we are an average city and it is beautiful here, world class scenery.  We just need new blood in our city government, people with ideas that are innovative.  When I look at the Murray Morgan bridge and Suntan Man walking on 6th Ave., I see Tacoma at its finest.

August 28, 2013 at 10:28 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

“We just need new blood in our city government, people with ideas that are innovative.”

You hit on an important point. All of our elected government come from an insider cabal and though the names and faces change there is no change. I would suggest that voters consider any affiliation what so ever with the American Leadership Forum to practically disqualify any candidate for any elective office. Endorsement by The News Buffoon should raise red flags too.

I would also suggest that opening the phone book and randomly selecting replacement Council members instead of having the Council place their personal choice in an empty position would yield better results than the current system.

August 29, 2013 at 7:36 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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James

You still use a phone book? Hmmm.

August 29, 2013 at 7:56 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

The book, Plunkett of Tammany Hall was first published in 1963 and contains chapters like, “honest and dishonest graft,” “the curse of civil service reform,” “reciprocity in patronage,” ” Tammany leaders not bookworms,” “dangers of the dress suit in politics,” “on the uses of money in politics,” ” bosses preserve the nation,” and “Tammany the only lasting democracy.” Plunkett’s formula for staying on top for seven decades of New York City rule was; ” Tammany is the ocean, reform the waves, and there is a lot of unofficial patronage to ride out the storms if you know the ropes. Why don’t reformers last in politics? Because they are amateurs and you must be a pro. Politicians do not have to steal to make a living because a crook is a fool and a politician can become a millionaire through ‘honest graft.”

ALF serves as Tacoma’s Tammany Hall, the purpose of ALF is to ensure perpetuity of the grasp on the reins of power.

August 29, 2013 at 11:06 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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talus

The aroma is often alive and well along I-5, near the Dome, and even around UWT yesterday morning (in unusual force!).  Anyway, the smell and look of Tacoma and Fife from I-5 hide all our good traits from the rest of the region and perpetuate a damaging reputation.  Seattle looks great from the freeway, while all of Tacoma’s charms are concealed and then some.

Not that Tacoma isn’t improving somewhat in spite of all that, but it is a big drag on our economy and reputation.

August 29, 2013 at 7:57 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Sid

You are correct talus, Tacoma from I-5 leaves much to be desired.  That I-5 portion is also very dirty.  Maybe getting some color on the dome and landscaping the heck out of that portion of I-5 might help.  There is nothing that calls out for people to take an exit and visit tacoma.  Other cities use their topography and historic features to bring in tourism.  Maybe we need to reduce the amount of sister cities that we have and start getting our planning and development people to start thinking more about Tacma.  I just read that Tacoma Goodwill opened their designer store in Downtown Olympia.  The other one is in the Proctor district.  Why not downtown Tacoma?

August 29, 2013 at 8:19 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Gary Schelhammer

First of all our economic system, World wide, is based on growth and expansion.  This “God of Growth” is a false God.  Tacoma was an exciting town post WW2.  I do remember being with my mother shopping and the city was alive with commerce.  Pacific Ave. was full of hustle and bustle, neon lights and pedestrian traffic.  The Tacoma Mall put an end to the vibranat life of Tacoma.  I have been participating in the regrowth of the inner-city for the past 20 years.  The Gentrification of empty lots and slum areas came to a halt as a result of the Realestate bust.  Now here we sit on our hands waiting for someone from the outside to bring developement to our City of Destiny.  OK, that is perhaps a good thing to allow someone from the outside to help Tacoma with and infusion of Imagination and Capital.  My focus has been on the 6 1/45 acres, the “Jewel in the Crown” that sits idle while the City Fathers, the Movers and Shakers spend their time on petty Turf Wars and fail to properly market this exceptional property.  It could be brought to the Worlds attention.  There are people looking for an opportunity to become part of our future.  These Entrepenures may come with new visions and a fresh vitality.  As I travel to other countries it becomes obvious to me that we are not the most modern of cities with the most uptodate infrastructure.  Perhaps it is time to open up to the Future.  Our thoughts of progress may be based on outdated ideas.  Whether or not the Old Guard realizes it, the future of Tacoma, of the World must become a Green Future.  Why don’t we lead the way with new Green Ideas and Green systems.  Let the City of Tacoma market our Jewel in the Crown as an incubator for Tacoma’s Green future.  Let us reach out throughout the World and expose this opportunity to anyone and everyone with a Vision.  I believe in the Future of Tacoma but we must expose ourselves and market our opportunities to the World.

August 29, 2013 at 10:55 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

“Whether or not the Old Guard realizes it, the future of Tacoma, of the World must become a Green Future.  Why don’t we lead the way with new Green Ideas and Green systems.  Let the City of Tacoma market our Jewel in the Crown as an incubator for Tacoma’s Green future.”

How has this been working on a national level? How about on an international level? My inclination is that Mr Schelhammer fancies himself as CEO of Tacoma’s own version of Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison and has visions money flowing from taxpayer’s pockets into his own. None of these so called “green” enterprises have paid off for the public yet, but there have been a lot of people who have gotten filthy rich at the expense of others.

August 29, 2013 at 11:43 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tom Llewellyn

Too much complainin’/ Not enough lovin’.

What we don’t have:
Big city hassles.
Big city costs.
Big city snobbery.

What we have:

Waterfront
Mount Rainier
Point Defiance
A welcoming attitude
Racial and economic diversity
Cool museums
Great colleges
Cheap cost of living
And, ahem, a burgeoning art scene.

Stop feeling sorry for yourselves. This is a great place to live. Sure, work to make it better. But in the meantime, start touting what a great place it is. Because it is a great place. Best city in the state to live in.

August 29, 2013 at 11:35 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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DW16265Registered

Too much complainin’/ Not enough lovin’.

What we don’t have:
Big city hassles.
Big city costs.
Big city snobbery.

What we have:

Waterfront
Mount Rainier
Point Defiance
A welcoming attitude
Racial and economic diversity
Cool museums
Great colleges
Cheap cost of living
And, ahem, a burgeoning art scene.

Stop feeling sorry for yourselves. This is a great place to live. Sure, work to make it better. But in the meantime, start touting what a great place it is. Because it is a great place. Best city in the state to live in.

Oh come on now, I much as I love Tacoma I know it’s definitely not the best city in the state. Tacoma has so much soul passion and all the traits you mentioned but Bad schools, outdated infrastructure, and the Industrial grit the plagues the city center gives the city a bad repuation and keeps it from being good. Whats wrong with cleaning up the city? Alot of cities can use a facelift. Focus on transforming the urban center for the next 10 years, not so it’s Seattle, but just an exciting inviting city. Even more things to do, places to see, a large park in the city center, a new arena that is better fit for better events, more pedestrian friendly. A place that can hold huge events that bring money into the city. People wouldn’t ever have to go visit because all their needs were in the city. Doesn’t need to be fancy, just better.

January 7, 2014 at 5:27 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Sid

I did want to bring something up that I have noticed around Tacoma.  Many properties that have been derelict for a long time have been snatched up and turned into marihuana businesses.  I have also heard people starting to reffer our area as to the beginnings of a Mecca for this type of establishment and after just reading that the federal government will not sue Colorado and Washington, they might be onto something.  Maybe that is the calling of Tacoma, who knows.

August 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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PLD

Thank you Blaine for finally pulling the trigger on this. I and many others have appreciated the question being posed.
This has been a conversation swirling around for a very long time.
Here is my take, and I have shared this with many of you before.
We have three major barriers here:
1. No one wants to be the entity to step out and take the big risk for fear of failure. (The failure is doing nothing)
2. Most folks want someone else to do it or at least pay for it.
3. Everyone holds on to what they think us “theirs”, and wants sole credit for a success.

The fear of failure keeps us in the “litigious” and “liability” state of mind which disallows for creative solutions. (Example the recent crosswalks incidents)

There is always the argument of whether it should be a “private” or “public” responsibility. This slows us down a great deal.
We are seeing many examples of projects that can be accomplished with willingness like the project in MLK with the City, THA, Kevin Grossman, and Pat Rhodes.
(Although we are already experiencing gentrification based on property value assumption with the light rail going to MLK because the DASH center is being displaced for hopes of “better” tenants, and I’ve heard many others who were Spaceworks tenants may be at risk)
Now lets get the Historic Post Office, the Armory and Old City Hall rolling with creative uses.
We have codes that penalize a motivated building owner for constructing an ADA ramp cause it puts them over a square footage ratio by 150 ft. Really? Lets get reasonabl about how we interpret our regulatory guidelines. We should want people to develop here, and we make it so hard!

The behavior of “turf” and “entitlement” has to be eliminated! We are all in this together. Old/young, Biz/non profit, Govt/education, and yes even transient folk. There are so many entities that want good for Tacoma, we just need to come together as equal participants. The same 200 chatter class voiced are holding us up.
If you are from the old guard and own a business or property here, and all you do is down talk this city, you should just leave!

The biggest things we lack are Shared VISION and SELF ESTEEM.

Let’s dust ourselves off, look to the left and the right if us, spot someone else who gives a hoot, be kind to ourselves and start talking about what we can do next.

I’m sure this article has offended some and sparked others. If it gets us talking its successful.

We need to:
1. Come together
2. Map our assets
3. Identify gaps and overlaps
4. Identify partners
5. Share passions
6. Create the vision
7. Quantify the skills
8. Delegate the roles
( Include our learning institutions)
9. Craft the message
10. Draft a plan
11. Get to work
12. Tell the rest of the world
How GREAT Tacoma really is!

I’m ready, are you?
http://www.tacomaneedspld.com

 

August 30, 2013 at 6:45 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Gary Schelhammer

JDHasty, I find that your comment, referring to me, is based on your ignorance and I do not take it as a personal insult.  Please consider that Germany and China are going full speed ahead with Green Solar and leaving the USA in the dust.  I did not mention the City of Tacoma subsidizing a Green project.  I simply hope that we all realize that the future is HERE NOW and the Conservative attitude that you display will get Tacoma no where but marching in place.

August 30, 2013 at 7:03 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JesseRegistered

What holds back Tacoma’s economic development?  Blaine nailed it with selecting the right quotes from folks.  From the mall killing downtown, shopping missing, security issues, perception, lack of infrastructure, B&O tax, JBLM and it’s transient society, the location and personality of the port, etc.  But, there’s one thing missing.  That’s the fact that Tacoma is so often “managed” and not “lead.”  So often you see a decision come through that’s analyzed from the perspective of a spreadsheet.  Those decisions take no account of how people will react to the decision or what may come next because of said decision.  When there’s something that requires “out of the box” thinking, a consultant is hired so if things go wrong, they have a third party to blame.  This is not leadership.  Leadership has big ideas.  BIG IDEAS.  You don’t see much of that from the city or county governments… although I think that is changing slightly.

Example:  Look at the new county building location choice as just one example of this.  It takes into regard nothing about economic impact or long range costs versus a downtown location.  It’s a decision straight out of a spreadsheet.  A leadership decision on this would be to take into account how people would react to 980 jobs inside the grid versus outside of the downtown grid.  I guarantee that 980 jobs located inside the grid would have a much larger economic impact over where they are proposing putting the jobs.  Look at what 900 jobs from State Farm is doing for downtown…

August 31, 2013 at 9:19 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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