Metro Parks proposes code changes addressing drones, vaping, temporary structures, and more

District opens 3-week public comment period

Metro Parks Tacoma is proposing the first updates to the city’s municipal park code in 10 years to address issues involving drones, vaping, temporary structures and more.

“With the development of new parks and facilities as well as significant population growth and changing use trends, the park district is updating its park code to help ensure all park users and guests can enjoy their experience”, said Peter Mayer, Deputy Director of Metro Parks. “Through interactions with users and consultation with Tacoma Police and other city staff, our park district staff have worked to clarify existing code provisions and address new issues in how people use Tacoma’s parks and facilities. Now we want to hear feedback from the community before we send a final package of recommendations to the Park Board and the City Council.”

The 5-member Park Board expects to consider the proposals in September. If the Park Board endorses the changes, the final decision rests with the Tacoma City Council, likely no earlier than October.

Here is a summary of proposed changes to Tacoma Municipal Code section 8.27:

* Clarifies the current prohibition of smoking in parks to include the use of e-cigarettes, vapor products or other nicotine-containing substances.

* Adds drones, “sky lanterns,” unmanned aircraft systems and motorized models as prohibited equipment except as specifically authorized.

* Aligns electric scooters, e-bikes, mono-wheel devices, surreys, scooters and similar devices with existing rules for bicycles that restrict them to designated roads, sidewalks, paths or trails.

* Limits permissible “structures” in parks to only those specifically authorized or are temporary and have only a roof and no walls.

* Clarifies continuous moorage at park buoys as three overnight periods within a 10-day period, regardless of whether they are consecutive.

* Authorizes the park district to adopt a code of conduct that regulates activities or behavior in parks to protect the public’s health and safety, to promote respect for the rights and needs of others, and to preserve park property.

Click here (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ParkCode) to submit a comment on any of the proposals. The full text of the proposed changes can be found here: https://www.metroparkstacoma.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/TMC-Code-Changes-08.07.19-Redline-FINAL-FOR-REVIEW.pdf.

The public comment period for this stage of the code development ends August 28. There will be additional opportunities to comment as the Park Board and City Council consider the proposals during their public meetings.

“Our philosophy is to emphasize education and voluntary compliance as we strive to provide a safe and welcoming experience for everyone,” said Marina Becker, Parks and Recreation Director for Metro Parks. “The vast majority of people use our facilities and services without affecting others’ enjoyment. These code changes are designed to give the park district and the Police Department, when necessary, some predictability and discretion in how to respond to situations where the behavior warrants.”

    – Metro Parks

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