Friday, April 25, 2008

BIA Security Contact Information

One of the charges of the BIA is to promote safety and security in downtown. The City of Tacoma Police and the BIA Security Team patrol the 84 blocks of the BIA between 6 a.m. and 3 a.m.. During these hours the Security Team also provides security escorts to anyone within the boundaries of the BIA.

To request an escort or to contact BIA security call (253) 383-1131

To contact the Tacoma Police Department’s Cops on Bikes call (253) 692-5891

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Urban Design Experts Consider Tacoma

This week the City of Tacoma has been fortunate to host two of the leading thinkers in Urban Design and Planning.

On Tuesday Danish Architect, Lars Gemzoe of Gehl Architects provided suggestions to the City Council, City staff and the public on how Tacoma can enhance its public spaces, particularly Tollefson Plaza. Gemzoe and his firm promote a people oriented design philosophy. They believe that creating a quality environment for people is paramount and must be considered before anything else in order to achieve a lively and sustainable public realm. In their planning efforts Gemzoe and his firm first considers the people that will use the space, next they consider the space itself and lastly they design the buildings. This philosophy and the “12 Quality Criteria” they advocate are crucial to successful public spaces.

In regards to Tollefson Plaza, Gemzoe suggested that the City start by looking at the Plaza from the larger perspective of how and what it connects to; paying special attention to a potential connection with the Thea Foss Waterway. Additionally, Gemzoe emphasized the need to activate the Plaza’s edges with well designed buildings that will frame the space and provide “eyes on the street.”

On Wednesday author and urban advocate, James Howard Kunstler spoke to a packed house at the Theater on the Square. In his lecture Kustler described his perspective on the global energy crisis, which he refers to as the “long emergency.” According to Kustler, this energy emergency can not be resolved, as many believe, through technological innovation. In the second half of the lecture Kunstler moved abruptly from oil to urban form.

In his thoughts on what makes a desirable urban environment Kunstler described strategies for activating urban spaces by paying thoughtful attention to the design and use of adjacent buildings. Similar to Gemzoe, Kunstler recognized that currently Tollefson Plaza is framed entirely by transportation uses. Promoting more active uses along some of the edges of the Plaza has the potential to draw more people to the space.

The advice of both experts is timely, as the City and citizens of Tacoma are currently faced with tough decisions about the form and function of our downtown. The decisions we make today about Tollefson Plaza, downtown parking and the Thea Foss (just to name a few) will have long term ramifications for how Tacoma evolves.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tacoma ACTS Promotes Green Business in South Sound

Monday morning at the Chamber’s annual Environmental Award Breakfast Stewart Young of BCRA launched the Tacoma Alliance for Clean Technology & Sustainability (Tacoma ACTS). Tacoma ACTS is a business alliance aimed at expanding the South Sound’s green economy. This new effort will:

  • Highlight and support green businesses in six environmental areas: sustainable design, clean energy and renewable fuels, energy efficiency, water conservation and treatment, waste management and recycling, and environmental protection and remediation.

  • Develop green businesses by providing educational opportunities relevant to green jobs and environmentally freindly business activities for both public and private sector organizations.

  • Advocate for the needs of green businesses to establish Pierce County as a leader in green industries. Work with policy makers, business owners and community activists to establish a cohesive agenda for incentives, regulations and policies that benefit and promote green business.

The alliance is currently recruiting members and community advocates. Stewart Young and Dale Anderson of BCRA, Jeff Stallings of Print Northwest and Joanne Buselmeier of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce are the founding members of the alliance. For more information on Tacoma ACTS or to find out how you or your business can join check out the website at or email

Monday, April 21, 2008

The BIA Blog is Back

After a nearly two month long hiatus the BIA Blog is back.

For more than 22 years Paul Ellis has been the Chamber’s go-to-guy for issues that effect downtown and the Chamber Divisions in Fredrickson, Parkland, Spanaway and University Place/Fircrest. In March Paul embarked on a new endeavor in the Midwest, opening up a great opportunity at the Chamber. I was selected to take over Paul’s duties, including management of the BIA.

I am a native of Tacoma and Vashon Island and am thrilled to be back in Tacoma after three grueling years as a Seattle resident. I come to Chamber from the City of Seattle where I was involved with the South Lake Union Streetcar implementation efforts and Streetcar sponsorships. I previously worked in Tacoma as the Campaign Manager for Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, and served on the campaign staff of Congressman Norm Dicks.

I love Tacoma and am looking forward to providing a fresh perspective to the development efforts occurring here. In my new role I will expand on the Chamber’s efforts with the downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA), the Regional Access and Mobility Partnership (RAMP), and I intend to promote downtown transportation strategies that will benefit residents, retailers and visitors to Tacoma.

I attended high school at Charles Wright Academy in University Place and received my B.A. from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. I recently completed Masters degrees from the University of Washington in Public Administration at the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs and in Urban Planning. My graduate studies focused on transportation policy and community development.

I am thrilled about the strength and commitment of Tacoma’s growing downtown community and am looking forward to working with all of you in the years to come. Please check back regularly for updates on downtown Tacoma and the BIA.

You can reach me at (253) 627-2175 x123 0r