Tacoma City Council to discuss Link light rail expansion, local economic report

Tacoma residents will have plenty of opportunities this week to learn more about what’s happening in city government.

On Tuesday, Tacoma City Council will hold its regular weekly study session and council meeting.

Also on Tuesday, Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee will meet to receive its quarterly update on the City of Tacoma’s Economic Indicators Summary, a report that provides data on economic trends in the community and the City of Tacoma’s efforts to support economic development.

Tacoma City Council’s Infrastructure, Planning, and Sustainability Committee will meet on Wednesday, and, finally, on Thursday, Tacoma City Council’s Public Safety, Human Services, and Education Committee will meet to discuss a range of topics.

Here is a look ahead at some notable meetings, events, and issues on deck this week at Tacoma City Hall.

TACOMA LINK EXPANSION PROJECT

Tacoma City Council has scheduled a study session Tuesday to hear from Sound Transit staff and City of Tacoma staff on the Tacoma Link light rail expansion project.

Earlier this year, Tacoma City Council selected, and the Sound Transit Board approved, a Tacoma Link expansion in the North Downtown Central Corridor as the preferred corridor for potential expansion of Tacoma’s Link light rail system. The corridor includes the Stadium District and the Martin Luther King Jr. mixed-use center. According to Sound Transit staff and City of Tacoma staff, that action concluded the Alternatives Analysis phase of the expansion project and initiated the current phase of conceptual design and environmental review. Sound Transit and the City of Tacoma have been working together to identify the specific streets within the corridor that could effectively serve as the alignment for the potential expansion. During the study session on Tuesday, Sound Transit staff and City of Tacoma staff will present the potential alignments for discussion and receive comments from Tacoma City Councilmembers. Staff will also review public outreach efforts that will be conducted to gather community comments on the potential alignments.

Also on the study session agenda Tuesday, City of Tacoma staff will present recommendations for proposed revisions to the existing City of Tacoma Neighborhood Council language in the Tacoma Municipal Code, as well as solicit comments from councilmembers on a new Standards and Guidelines document. These recommendations were provided to Tacoma City Council’s Neighborhoods and Housing Committee in August and November. An ordinance proposing revisions to the City of Tacoma’s Neighborhood Council program and governance language will receive its first reading during the Tacoma City Council meeting on Tues., Dec. 10. In addition, on Tues., Dec. 17, Tacoma City Council is scheduled to consider a resolution that would create a Standards and Guidelines document to provide City of Tacoma staff with programming and contracting direction.

Councilmembers will discuss these issues during a study session, which will be held on Tues., Dec. 10, at 12 p.m. in Room 16 of Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market St. Audio from the meeting will be broadcast live on TV Tacoma and online at tvtacoma.com. On-demand audio archives are available on the Web within 24 hours of the meeting online at tvtacoma.com. A copy of the agenda is available online here.

TACOMA’S THIRD-QUARTER ECONOMIC ACTIVITY REPORT

Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon to receive its quarterly update on the City of Tacoma’s Economic Indicators Summary, a report that provides data on economic trends in the community and the City of Tacoma’s efforts to support economic development.

According to a Dec. 3 memo prepared by City of Tacoma Community and Economic Development Department Ricardo Noguera, the local economy improved between the second quarter of 2012 and the second quarter of 2013 in several key areas such as revenue related to sales as well as business and occupation taxes, as well as employment related to construction and Port of Tacoma-related activity.

More specifically, Noguera notes the following:

  • The City of Tacoma experienced 5.1 percent growth in sales tax revenues and 11.4 percent growth in business and occupation tax revenues. Motor vehicle sales and parts, retail sales, wholesaling and building construction were the major contributors to the increase in sales tax revenues. The rise in retailing and wholesaling associated with construction contributed to the growth in business and occupation tax revenues;
  • The number of residential building permits increased 12.5 percent, while their value grew by 38.9 percent. The number and value of commercial building permits rose 7.6 percent and 65.9 percent, respectively. Major permits issued during the third quarter of 2013 were related to the renovation of MultiCare’s Rainier Pavilion, Port of Tacoma’s Pier 3 upgrade at Husky Terminal, and University of Puget Sound’s Wheelock Student Center remodel;
  • Education and health services continued to be the largest employment cluster with 45,200 jobs. It is also the fastest-growing targeted sector in Tacoma, with an increase of 1,800 jobs (or 4.1 percent) since the third quarter of 2012. Professional and business services, with its 24,400 employees, grew by 800 positions (or 3.4 percent) year over year. Other clusters involving financial services, warehouse/distribution and information technology remained relatively stable;
  • The City of Tacoma issued 51 new business licenses during the third quarter of 2013, which represents a 10.6 percent increase when compared to the third quarter of 2012;
  • Sixteen Small Business Enterprise firms received contracts during the third quarter of 2012, as compared to 15 firms during the third quarter of 2013. The average size of contracts increased from $47,500 to $126,000. The larger Small Business Enterprise contracts were primarily due to extensive City of Tacoma Public Works projects, such as the Stadium Way Improvement Project and the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project.

Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee is scheduled discuss this issue during a meeting on Tues., Dec. 10, at 10 a.m. in the Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market St. (Conference Room 248), in downtown Tacoma. A copy of the agenda and the City of Tacoma’s Economic Indicators Summary for the third quarter is available online here.

CITY SEEKS DEVELOPER FOR 1.5-ACRE HILLTOP SITE

Also of interest, the City of Tacoma has issued a Request for Development Proposals for mixed-use, transit-oriented, commercial-residential development on roughly 1.5 shovel-ready acres at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and South 11th Street, in Tacoma’s historic Hilltop neighborhood. The site is owned by the Washington State Department of Commerce.

A pre-bidders conference will be held on Mon., Dec. 16, at 2:30 p.m. in the Visibility Center on the ninth floor of the Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market St., and first proposals will be accepted starting Weds., Jan. 15, 2014 at 11 a.m., and every Tuesday thereafter at 11 a.m., until the solicitation is closed by the City of Tacoma.

A copy of the Request for Development Proposals is available online here. Proposals and questions from developers should be directed to Chuck Blankenship in the Finance Department’s Purchasing Division at cblankenship@cityoftacoma.org.