Bulletin Board: News from Tacoma and Beyond

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CHANGES TO ACCESSORY DWELLING UNIT REGULATIONS NOW IN EFFECT

 

The Tacoma City Council adopted Ordinance No. 28576 on Tuesday, March 19, passing a package of changes to the City’s Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations. Those changes are now in effect, and an updated tip sheet and ADU Design Guide are currently posted on TacomaPermits.org.

Accessory Dwelling Units are an infill housing option intended to provide flexibility to homeowners and increase the variety of housing options and price points, consistent with the scale and character of residential neighborhoods.

“The Council is committed to ensuring Tacoma has vibrant communities that stay affordable for our most vulnerable residents,” said District 5 Council Member Chris Beale. “Expanded access to ADUs will provide much needed housing alternatives that are particularly valuable for families seeking multigenerational housing options and seniors seeking to age in place. We will also see more density through residential infill, a key strategy to increase livability throughout the city.”

The adopted regulations include amendments to various sections of the Tacoma Municipal Code, Title 13 – Land Use Regulatory Code, allowing detached accessory dwelling units in various single family zoning districts, which were previously only permitted through the Residential Infill Pilot Program. The changes have simplified the code and created additional flexibility for both attached and detached accessory dwelling units.

To find out more about ADUs, visit cityoftacoma.org/DADU or contact Senior Planner Elliott Barnett at elliott.barnett@cityoftacoma.org, or call (253) 591-5389.

 

 

MAY IS ‘PUGET SOUND STARTS HERE’ MONTH

 

The City of Tacoma is teaming up with a number of local organizations from across the region to celebrate Puget Sound Starts Here Month in May. A calendar of events offers activities to help community members experience the benefits of living near the Puget Sound.

Participate in Sound-healthy behaviors at local events including:

  • Bike Month takes place during the month of May, and participants can enjoy a variety of bike-related events and activities all month long. For a full listing of events, visit bike253.com.
  • Workshops on yard waste and worm bin composting, rain barrels and more, weekends at the EnviroHouse (3510 S. Mullen St.). For more information and to pre-register, visit cityoftacoma.org/Envirohouse.
  • Apply for a Make a Splash Grant for a reimbursement of up to $4,000 to complete a project to help prevent stormwater pollution. Applications are due Friday, May 31.
  • Do you know a person or group who deserves recognition for their tireless efforts in helping to prevent stormwater pollution? Give them their time to shine as a #OrcaHero by posting their story with a picture and tag @PugetSoundStartsHere on Facebook through May. Visit Puget Sound Starts Here #OrcaHero for more information.
  • Apply to be a sponsor of a Neighborhood Pet Station to keep pet waste out of Puget Sound. For more information, contact Program Manager Aaron Copado at acopado@cityoftacoma.org or call (253) 502-2220.
  • Choose to use a professional car wash to keep suds off the streets and keep oil, heavy metals and toxic chemicals out of Puget Sound.
  • Pick up some TAGROat the Central Treatment Plant to give your lawn or garden a boost.
  • Join the City and Pierce County at the Tacoma Rainiers for K-9 Innings on Sunday, June 30, game time 1:35 p.m., at Cheney Stadium (2502 S. Tyler St.). Bring your dog out to the game, celebrate Puget Sound Starts Here and meet Scoopy Doo.

The goal of these events is to raise awareness and empower residents to make a difference in improving the health of Puget Sound. Learn more at PugetSoundStartsHere.org.

 

 

JINKINS’ MEDICAL DEBT BILL ONE OF SEVERAL VICTORIES

 

The governor has signed a pair of consumer protection bills related to debt, and two more are on the way to his desk.

Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) is the sponsor of HB 1531, which reduces the chances of medical debt spiraling out of control for patients and their families.

“You wouldn’t hand over your credit card to be swiped by a retailer without first knowing what you actually owe. But that’s often what we’re required to do to get medical treatment,” Jinkins said. “This bill will help reduce medical bankruptcies and protect people’s finances.”

Medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. HB 1531 lowers the interest rate that often accrues before a patient ever sees a bill, prohibits health care providers from selling medical debt to collections agencies for at least 120 days after the first billing, and requires that patients are informed about opportunities to apply for charity care.

“The 2019 session had a lot of big wins for consumers, and I’m thrilled that four of them were bills the House Civil Rights & Judiciary committee championed,” said Jinkins, who chairs the committee.

Other debt-related consumer wins include:

  • HB 1066, sponsored byChristine Kilduff (D-University Place), increases fairness and transparency for consumers by putting an end to the practice of “pocket service” by debt collectors. With pocket service, a person can receive a debt-related summons that is difficult or impossible to verify. The consequences of ignoring a valid summons can be extremely damaging, including liens, wage garnishment, negative credit reports – even bench warrants. This bill has been signed into law.
  • HB 1602, sponsored byKristine Reeves (D-Federal Way), which will help ensure working families are not left destitute or homeless by wage garnishment. It brings down the interest rate on the consumer debt owed, and lets people retain more of their wages so they can pay for necessities, like rent.
  • HB 1730, sponsored byAmy Walen (D-Kirkland), which makes clear that the 10-year statute of limitations on debt cannot be unexpectedly revived through unscrupulous debt collection practices. Known as “zombie debt,” restarting the clock on the statute of limitations often leaves people in an endless cycle of debt.

 

 

LAND USE COMMISSION TO CONSIDER COMMUNITY PLAN UPDATES

 

The Land Use Advisory Commissions for Frederickson, Mid-County, Parkland-Spanaway-Midland and South Hill will consider proposed updates to each area’s community plan at public meetings in May and June.

Community plans provide direction on how growth and development will occur. The plans address topics such as zoning, transportation, the look and feel of the community, and access to services and amenities.

Using community feedback gathered over the last few years, Pierce County and the commissions for the four community plan areas have drafted updates to the plans and development regulations.

Each commission will hold two public meetings about the proposed updates in its plan area. There will be an open house prior to each meeting where attendees can view displays and talk to Pierce County staff. An online version of the open house is available at www.piercecountywa.gov/cpupdate.

“Involvement from community members is crucial to ensure the final plans reflect the character, vision and goals of each community,” said Dennis Hanberg, Pierce County Planning and Public Works director. “We encourage the communities to provide feedback during the update process, which will continue throughout 2019.”

Verbal and written comment will be accepted at the first meeting of each commission. Written comment will be accepted at www.piercecountywa.gov/cpupdate.

  • South Hill: The meetings will begin at 7 p.m. May 13 and May 20 at Emerald Ridge High School, 12405 184th E. in Puyallup. An open house will run from 6-7 p.m. both nights.
  • Mid-County: The meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. May 14 and May 28 at the Pierce County Skills Center, 16117 Canyon Rd. E. in Puyallup. An open house will run from 5:30-6:30 p.m. both nights.
  • Frederickson: The meetings will begin at 7 p.m. June 10 and June 24 at the Pierce County Skills Center, 16117 Canyon Rd. E. in Puyallup. An open house will run from 6-7 p.m. both nights.
  • Parkland-Spanaway-Midland: The meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. June 12 and June 19 at Sprinker Recreation Center, 14824 C St. S. in Tacoma. An open house will run from 5:30-6:30 p.m. both nights.

After considering public testimony and amendments proposed by commission members, each commission will submit a final recommendation to the Pierce County Planning Commission and Pierce County Council.

The Planning Commission is expected to hold public hearings in summer 2019 and send its final recommendation on each plan to the Pierce County Council. The council will then hold hearings, determine whether to adopt the proposed changes for each plan, and set an effective date for the final plans.

Check the meeting calendar and sign up for meeting updates at www.piercecountywa.gov/cpupdate.

To learn more about the proposed updates, community members can call the Community Plans Hotline at (253) 798-2799, email CommunityPlans@piercecountywa.gov, or send a letter to Pierce County Planning and Public Works, Attn: Long Range Planning, 2401 S 35thSt., Suite 2, Tacoma, WA 98409.

 

STATE OFFICIALS URGE ACTION ON YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH TRENDS

 

Recently released Healthy Youth Survey data (https://tinyurl.com/y5p7npj9) show a high and increasing number of Washington youth reported feeling so sad or hopeless they stopped a usual activity or seriously considered suicide in the past year. The number of students who reported feeling anxious, nervous or on edge or not being able to stop worrying is also on the rise.

Based on statewide rates, a typical 10th grade classroom of 29 students would include about:

  • 10 students who said they felt nervous, anxious or on edge or couldn’t stop or control worrying in the last two weeks;
  • 12 students who have felt sad or hopeless for two weeks or longer in the past year; and
  • three students who attempted suicide in the past year.

These numbers may seem high, in part because we don’t talk openly about mental health and may not realize how many students are feeling distress.

Survey results also show deep disparities, with certain groups of students feeling distress at significantly higher rates. Female students and students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual reported higher rates of feeling sad, hopeless or anxious, and were more likely to have experienced bullying in the past month.

Differences in rates for racial and ethnic groups vary from question to question, but non-Hispanic students who are Native American/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander or multiracial experience higher rates of feeling sad or hopeless than students who are non-Hispanic and white.

While the trends are concerning, adults and peers can help students in distress. Caring adults, along with knowledgeable schools and communities, can help young people feel connected to a support network and learn skills to cope with the challenges they face. Talking to an empathetic listener and using coping skills can help de-escalate a crisis. Suicide is preventable and mental health conditions can be treated.

Here’s how to help:

  • Have open conversations about mental health.Only about half of students said they have adults to turn to for support when they feel sad or hopeless. About 13 percent of 10th graders who reported feeling sad or hopeless for at least two weeks in a row said they didn’t have anyone to talk to. It can be difficult to start a conversation, but there are many resources available to guide you.Visit https://tinyurl.com/y3h3kbsv.
  • Know what to look for and ask questions.Keep an eye out for common signs of distress and the warning signs of youth suicide. If you’re concerned someone is thinking about suicide, it’s important to ask them directly, even if it feels uncomfortable.
  • Encourage youth to reach out for support.Everyone needs help sometimes. If you know a young person who is struggling, encourage them to talk to a trusted adult or access free, confidential support 24/7 by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or texting HEAL to 741741 for the Crisis Text Line.
  • Prioritize safety.If you believe someone is in immediate danger of suicide and has access to a firearm or other potentially deadly means, call 911. If they’re struggling but not in immediate danger, help them make a safety plan and connect to services.

Everyone can play a role in supporting youth mental health. To learn more about the Healthy Youth Survey and access data reports and resources, visit www.AskHYS.net.

The Healthy Youth Survey is administered every other year by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Department of Health, Health Care Authority and Liquor and Cannabis Board. In 2018, more than 230,000 students throughout Washington State took the survey.

 

CARING AT HOME IS THE KEY

 

About eighty percent of us will need some form of long-term care in our lifetime. The reality is that most of that care will be provided at home, not a health care facility. Oftentimes the care provided is not medical, but rather assistance with basic tasks. Today more families are relying on in-home support of a loved one for both short and long-term care.

“Keys to Caring @ Home” is an opportunity to learn about caring at home and the services available in your community. The presentation will discuss how to effectively work with providers, pay for care while avoiding expensive services and the difference between home care and home health. Knowing the right questions to ask can save families hundreds and thousands of dollars over time.

The conversations will be held on May 13, 12 p.m. at the Pierce County Annex, 2401 S. 35thSt., Tacoma .

While many families pay for care out-of-pocket or through health insurance, there are also several publicly funded resources that may help them pay for care. With some programs the eligibility for receiving assistance is very generous. This may save families on the cost of care but might also enable care to be extended over additional weeks or months.

“There is no cookie-cutter solution when it comes to needing care at home,” said Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources manager Aaron Van Valkenburg. “The needs of each care recipient and the situation of each family often dictate the mix of care that needs to be provided. Quite often the most important part of planning for care is knowing the right questions to ask when the need arises.”

“Keys to Caring @ Home” is an informational event sponsored by Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources. Each session is free and open to the public. Anyone of any age can attend. No RSVP is required. For more information about the presentations, call the Pierce County Aging and Disability Resource Center at (253) 798-4600 or 1 (800) 562-0332.

 

 

COMMERCIAL SITE LISTINGS, DEMOGRAPHIC REPORTS NOW JUST A CLICK AWAY

Under the leadership of County Executive Bruce Dammeier, Pierce County’s Economic Development Department and the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County (EDB) have announced the launch of an extensive online search tool of the Commercial Broker Association (CBA) listings: InvestPierceCounty.com. The new website gives business owners, brokers, site selectors, and communities access to a comprehensive search tool to find available commercial and industrial sites and buildings in Pierce County, along with demographics and analytics.

“InvestPierceCounty.com provides great data resources to decision makers as they analyze and select business locations,” said Dammeier. “This robust new tool combines technology and data into one place to help businesses locate, expand and grow in Pierce County.  It’s a great way to showcase all of the opportunities our county has to offer.”

What information is on InvestPierceCounty.com?

The online tool is a free, searchable database of hundreds of available buildings and sites, combined with maps of demographics and customized reports.

Michael Cleary, GIS WebTech chief operating officer, notes that the collaboration’s efforts make it “the first in the State to partner with GIS WebTechto integrate CBA data, combining the most advanced economic development solution with the best properties data in the state.”

Powerful analytical tools generate updated, on-demand reports. Users can overlap “layers” of data, combining property listings with labor market information, Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data, zoning and infrastructure maps, and even recreational areas for customized reports showing local amenities.

Who benefits from InvestPierceCounty.com?

  • Brokers use the GIS solution and access available market data to showcase available properties to decision-makers.
  • Site Selectors and Business Owners gain consolidated access to regional data to inform site selection decisions.
  • Communities utilize reliable, third-party data sources to support their business recruitment and retention efforts.

“Quality of life starts with a good job, and investors who create jobs need good data,” said Bruce Kendall, president and CEO of the EDB. “We’re excited to partner with the County to provide the business community with a tool its members can use to explore and create those great job opportunities right here in Pierce County.”

Visit InvestPierceCounty.com to explore Pierce County’s available commercial properties and the communities in which they are located.

 

 

 

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