(IMAGE COURTESY PORT OF TACOMA)
The Port of Tacoma is developing a public access plan to identify specific needs and opportunities to provide the public with access to the shoreline. Public access is defined as the ability of the public to reach, touch and enjoy the water’s edge, to travel on the waters of the state, and to view the water and the shoreline from adjacent locations.
The City of Tacoma’s updated Shoreline Master Program requires public agencies, including the Port of Tacoma, to provide public access when development projects require a City shoreline permit. In the past, the City waived public access requirements for projects with safety or security concerns. However, under the new program, if safety or security issues prevent public access from being provided on-site, the City will require public access be provided at another location. State law allows port authorities to develop their own public access plans through a public process to satisfy local government requirements.
The public access plan under way aims to provide shoreline access in desirable locations, increase public awareness of the Port and its public access opportunities, and provide a streamlined and predictable shoreline permitting process.
The Port expects to complete the plan this summer. To that end, there will be several opportunities in June and July for the public and other stakeholders to provide input and feedback about the Port’s plan. Upcoming public meetings will be held as follows:
Thurs., June 21 at 12 p.m. — Port of Tacoma Commission meeting, The Fabulich Center, 3600 Port of Tacoma Road;
Weds., June 27 at 4:30 p.m. — Tacoma City Council environment and public works committee meeting, Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market Street, Conference Room 16;
Tues., July 10 at 12 p.m. — Tacoma City Council / Port of Tacoma Commission joint study session, Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market Street, Conference Room 16.
The Port of Tacoma has six public access points: Dick Gilmur Shoreline Restoration and Kayak Launch, a habitat restoration and kayak launch along Marine View Drive; Gog-le-hi-te I, a public overlook that provides views of wetland habitat along the Puyallup River that supports a healthy ecosystem for juvenile salmon, plants and a variety of wildlife; Julia’s Gulch, approximately 70 acres of open space, including a steep forested slope that serves as a natural buffer, located between the tide flats and residential Northeast Tacoma; Observation tower, located in the parking lot of the Administration Building, the four-story towering provides panoramic views of the Sitcum Waterway, rail yards and marine terminals; Place of Circling Waters, 26 acres of restored habitat at the mouth of Hylebos Creek, including a public overlook that provides views of intertidal marsh, stream channels and forested open space; and Rhone Polenc, a public overlook that views of salt marsh and mudflat habitat ideal for young salmon.
More information is online here.