New Tacoma, new leadership topic of forums

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People who have lived, worked, or played in Tacoma for more than even a few years are talking about the rapid rate of changes underway in the city, from the skyrocketing housing prices, rising number of higher-end restaurants and the lowering number of neighborhood dive bars.

More changes are in the works in the years to come, from amenities and prices to the names of the dais-jockeys at City Hall. Regardless of the change, none of it happens alone. Shifts and changes to one aspect of the city creates challenges, opportunities and changes in others, particularly transportation and housing issues.

“It’s a chicken-and-an-egg sort of thing,” said Downtown on the Go Coordinator Hally Bert, noting that the expansion of light rail service from downtown to the Hilltop will bring development opportunities, and yes, higher rents. But the rail service could lead to less reliance on cars and even offset any rental increases by allowing people to live car-less. “Housing and transportation are intrinsically linked.”

Downtown On the Go developed a roster of free community forums to help residents make sense of everything as those changes jump from plans and action plans to reality. The agency’s eighth annual Friday Forum Series this year will cover the issues of local politics, the environment, parking, transportation, housing, and equity, particularly on how they are all connected.

The first forum, from noon to 1 p.m. on Feb. 2, at the Pantages Theater lobby, will be moderated by Tacoma 2025 Program Manager Tanisha Jumper. Panelists will be Mayor Victoria Woodards and Councilmembers Ryan Mello, Chris Beale, and Lillian Hunter.

The city leaders will talk about their visions of the city in general, not particularly just about specific policies or proposed programs they are developing, and will also include a question-and-answer period. Future topics in the four-forum series will include local and regional experts in their respective topics.

Other topics include stormwater and transportation issues on Feb. 23, equity and environment on March 30, and parking, people, and development on April 27. These forums will occur from noon to 1 p.m. at Urban Grace Church.

2018 Forum Topics:

Feb. 2: Tacoma’s New Leadership

Located at the Pantages Theater

Tacoma is changing quickly, and a new slate of leaders will shape how the city meets the challenges and opportunities of urban development, environment, and equity. Panelists will be; Mayor Woodards, Councilmember Ryan Mello, Councilmember Chris Beale and Lillian Hunter, who will talk about what they are working on to create a more connected and sustainable Tacoma.

Feb. 23: Stormwater Pollution & Transportation

Located at the Urban Grace Church 

The number one source of petroleum and other toxic chemicals that end up in the Puget Sound is non-industrial pollutants; that’s cars, parking lots, and other household chemicals. The forum will address ways everyday Tacomans keep the water clean by using alternative transportation options.

March 30: Equity and Environment 

Located at the Urban Grace Church

Panelists from Tacoma’s neighbor to the north, Naomi Doerner, Ubax Gardheere, and Sudha Nandagopal will share Seattle’s experiences, lessons and insights about engaging, co-creating, and implementing community-centered economic development, environment stewardship, and transportation equity strategies.

April 27: Development, Parking, and What’s to Come

Located at the Urban Grace Church

Smart land-use policy can promote healthier stormwater and a healthier community. Development and parking impacts the city in many ways, from public health, the environment, and the economy.

For those who cannot attend, join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #DOTGForum and following@downtownonthego.

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