Tacoma City Council, Port of Tacoma to discuss public access on tide flats shoreline

Tacoma City Council is scheduled to hold a joint study session with the Port of Tacoma Commission on Tues., July...


Tacoma City Council is scheduled to hold a joint study session with the Port of Tacoma Commission on Tues., July 10 at noon to discuss a plan for public access on the Port of Tacoma tide flats.

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.

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.

In addition to the public access plan, councilmembers and commissioners will discuss air quality on the tide flats and the environmental health of Puget Sound and Commencement Bay. Over the past year, there have been many projects and issues that have required the attention of both the City and the Port. Most of these projects have occurred in the areas of transportation, preserving the health of and access to Commencement Bay, and air quality. At Tuesday’s study session, staff from the City and the Port will review progress on these projects, emerging issues, and the joint support that will continue to be needed from both the City and the Port to continue to move the efforts forward.

City Councilmembers and Port Commissioners will not take public comment during the study session, which will be held in the Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market St., Room 16. Audio from the session will be broadcast live on TV Tacoma and online here. On-demand audio archives are available on the Web within 24 hours of the meeting here.

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