Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What City Leaders Heard

Yesterday was a day for stakeholders to sound off on a number of issues that will drive downtown Tacoma's future development. What did members of the Tacoma City Council hear?

City Manager Eric Anderson presented his final set of recommendations regarding future parking and transit needs, including:
  • Streetcars designed to share the streets with cars and bikes and buses, unlike Sound Transit's Link, which is separated from other vehicles;
  • A citywide system of dedicated paths for bicycles and pedestrians;
  • Pay stations levying “market rate” charges to park on the street, with prices varying based on the section of downtown and the time of day;
  • More parking garages spread around the fringes of downtown rather than taking up valuable real estate in the city’s core;
  • Parking revenues directed into a separate enterprise fund, rather than the city's general fund;
  • Elimination of city-mandated parking requirements--or at least a cap on the number of parking spaces required.

Anderson’s report lacked specifics about funding, timing and other details. If the City Council approves of the broad outline, he recommended forming an advisory committee to figure out how to implement the ideas. It could be nine months to a year before anything final comes to the City Council for approval.

Following the transit and parking report, Anderson laid out the costs to Tacoma of cutting off the access between downtown and the Tideflats via the decaying Murray Morgan Bridge--and he made it clear that he expects the state to pay for them.

It used to take a police cruiser five minutes to get from downtown Tacoma to the Tideflats; since the emergency closure of the bridge last week, the length of that journey has increased by seven minutes and by more than three miles. The city has added one fire engine and an extra police officer to limit the bridge closure’s effect on emergency response times, but the extra units will cost the city about $190,000 a month in overtime pay and equipment costs.

Residents and property owners on both sides of a controversial proposal to raise the allowed building height along a portion of the Thea Foss Waterway testified later in the day before the City Council. The proposal would allow a tall, skinny approach dubbed a “tower/podium” building form. Approved by the Tacoma Planning Commission following a lengthy public process, the proposal would allow only one tower in a project to be 180 feet tall; additional towers would get progressively shorter by 20 feet. It also would require an average 100 feet of space between towers to preserve view corridors.

The council is scheduled to hear a first reading of a proposed ordinance November 13th and could finalize action on November 27th.

1 comment:

  1. We are getting closer and making progress to a modern parking system.

    Tacoma needs to follow through and remove its antiquated off-street parking requirement as have the below cities if it wants to be competitive and have a downtown which has a continuous retail frontage.

    This 1950s suburban policy that crept into Tacoma's zoning code has been a disaster, and hence, has been rejected in most model west coast cities.

    This Tacoma holdover requirement has placed Tacoma at a competitive disadvantage and kept much of downtown blighted.

    The days of Tacoma being satisfied in having downtown pocked with empty lots like the one next to the Drakes Building on Pacific needs to end if Tacoma is going to make the area into an attractive downtown and have more "feet on the street" it desires.


    Bellingham Municipal Code 20.12.010 - Parking

    B.2.a. Central Commercial, Core and Fringe only: Uses are exempt from parking requirements, except for hotels and motels, which shall provide the number of spaces required in BMC 20.12.010 B. 3. below.


    Title 18 – UNIFIED DEVELOPMENT CODE 18.38.040 Parking and Loading

    EXEMPT: Land uses within the Downtown are exempt from all parking requirements…


    Seattle Municipal Code MNC 23.49.019

    A. Parking Quantity Requirements.

    No parking, either long-term or short-term, is required for uses on lots in Downtown zones . . .


    Chapter 33.278.400 C(2)

    C. In Commercial zones

    2. Off-Street Parking. No Off-street parking is required.

    San Francisco

    Has eliminated off street parking requirements.