Council examines Tideflats Subarea Plan


By John Larson

Tacoma City Council heard an update on planning for the future of the industrial lands along Commencement Bay during its March 26 study session. The process began with three local governments participating – the City of Tacoma, Port of Tacoma and the Puyallup Tribe. The City of Fife and Pierce County were later brought on board. The five governments have mutually agreed to a process on a subarea plan. The project, which has a budget of $1.2 million, aims to develop and complete a Tideflats Subarea Plan.

Mayor Victoria Woodards noted that the port is the economic engine of the area and that the plan will help the city and its partners work on a variety of issues. She described it as a historic effort that may end up as the largest intergovernmental planning process in the history of Pierce County.

Councilmember Ryan Mello said he is excited about keeping the port competitive and preserving family-wage jobs.

Stephen Atkinson, a senior planner with the city who is the project manager of this plan, said it is required by the state Growth Management Act as well as Vision 2040, a long-term plan established by Puget Sound Regional Council.

Assistant City Attorney Steve Victor said that this is an addition to the council’s current authority, not a replacement. The plan does not take away any existing the council has, he noted.

Councilmember Conor McCarthy called the plan “a Herculean effort” that will establish a long-term for the port in regards to jobs and environmental protection. He said the plan should have two major objectives – to do no harm and to do something better. McCarthy pointed out that he is not an expert on fire safety and liquid natural gas and other fuels. “I need someone to rely upon when I make policy decisions.”

Councilmember Robert Thoms inquired about a stakeholders advisory group. Atkinson said nominations will be made this summer and the group should convene by fall. Victor said each government will appoint two people to serve on the committee.

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