Monday, August 07, 2006

Bending the Amendment

What might otherwise have been a rather staid committee meeting for the Tacoma City Council this afternoon was enlivened with dramatic outbursts and a surprising revelation.

The revelation was the presentation of a letter from A.F. Evans Development, potential developers for the controversial Winthrop Apartments, announcing that they had reached "feasibility limbo" on the project and disclosing that their purchase and sale agreement with the building's owners has expired. Whether the Winthrop's availability will lead to a bid by other interests or is simply a bargaining tactic remains to be seen.

The drama of that revelation was temporarily overshadowed by incendiary verbal exchanges between downtown merchants and at least one Councilmember as discussion on the Miller Amendment ensued. Several merchants expressed the opinion that the concentration of large low-income projects in the vicinity of 9th & Broadway is a blight and leads to civic disorder. Councilmember Tom Stenger characterized their opinions as "bigoted".

In the end, the committee determined to bend--not break--the Miller Amendment:
  • City staff was asked to come back to the committee with recommendations for policies that will encourage more low-income housing without entirely voiding the Miller Amendment (e.g., suggesting an appropriate mix of subsidized and market rate units);
  • Staff was also asked to look into what measures (if any) the City might take to enforce better management for low-income projects;
  • Councilmembers also asked for suggestions on how to better address the public disorder evidenced in the area around the Winthrop and Olympus projects.

1 comment:

  1. I was pleased that the council committee instructed staff to look at the overall housing strategy.

    City Manager Anderson has long advocated for integrated housing as other cities have.

    I am hopeful that the city will proceed in that direction.

    Building large low income Winthrop like "projects" housing has long been abandoned by most cities because of the problems with them in favor of integrated housing units and having areas of a city integrated.

    It was encouraging also to see so many people show up last night to the council committee and express their concerns and experiences downtown. No one knows better than these folks what is happening downtown as they are there nearly everyday.

    (Also, nice work in getting the A.F. letter posted in the Winthrop posted so quickly. You "scooped" the rest of the media and the other blogs)