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Tag: Shorelines Master Program


Tacoma council adopts updates to city’s shorelines plan

Tacoma’s City Council approved an update to its Shoreline Master Program late Tuesday, beating a state deadline and putting the council’s stamp on a massive document five years in the making with an array of late amendments.

Council members said while their final tweaks to the city’s shoreline rules won’t necessarily make everyone happy, several of them said the updated plan provides key compromises that business and industry, residents and recreationalists should be able to live with.

“I think we ended up in a place that really demonstrated our ability to collaborate,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said.

The proposal – an overhaul that includes updated goals, policies and development regulations for 42 miles of city shorelines, now goes to the state’s Department of Ecology, which will review it to determine if it complies with state law.

In 2003, Washington’s legislature approved new guidelines for local governments to conduct a comprehensive review and update of their respective shorelines programs, many of which hadn’t been changed since the 1970s. The guidelines detail procedural steps and substantive requirements that must be met.

Chief among the council’s final amendments to the plan adopted Tuesday is a new unique district on Tacoma’s downtown waterfront that includes the Tahoma Salt Marsh and Sperry Ocean Dock – an area that had become a battleground during the overhaul process.

Stadium residents and supporters of a proposed public esplanade from the Tacoma Dome to Point Defiance had sparred with Sperry’s supporters and other business interests over whether the industrial Schuster Parkway District that houses the dock and its hulking Marine Administration ships should be down-zoned into a more recreation-friendly mixed use designation now held by the neighboring Ruston Parkway District.

Under the amendment proposed by Councilman David Boe approved Tuesday, a new transition district is created between Schuster Parkway and Ruston Way. It allows industrial uses now permitted along Schuster Parkway, including Sperry, to be conditionally permitted, but new lay-berth facilities – terminals for ships longer than 300 feet — would be prohibited. It also reduces allowed heights along the shoreline from 100 to 35 feet, as a way to accommodate the area’s sloping, mostly residential bluffs above the waterfront.

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Tacoma: Public gives council earful over shoreline recommendations

With the Tacoma City Council finally poised to take up a recommended overhaul of the city’s waterfront rules after five years of process, members of the public flooded City Hall Tuesday to once again give council members an earful of opinions before any decision is made.

And once again, divergent testimony prevailed during what became a marathon public hearing over the city planning commission’s recommended updates to Tacoma’s Shoreline Master Program.

Commentary largely broke into two camps: Those who back the status quo of a working, industrial waterfront along Schuster Parkway; and those who support a long-envisioned public esplanade from the Tacoma Dome to Point Defiance.

Longshoremen, seafarers, chamber of commerce representatives and other business interests implored the council to reject the planning commission’s recent recommendation to downzone the area’s current industrial classification under which deep water port user Sperry Ocean Dock now operates.

“Gentrification and de-industrialization is just plain wrong – it’s morally wrong,” Scott Mason, president of Tacoma International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 23, told the council. “…We need these jobs. We need to be creating more high paying jobs, not less.”

Meanwhile, Stadium residents, citizen activist groups and local schoolchildren urged council members to support the commission’s recommended rezone for the area to encompass Sperry, the Tahoma Salt Marsh and the Jack Hyde and Chinese Reconciliation Parks into a more public-friendly mixed use classification. The rezone would one day potentially support incorporating the 1.2-mile “missing link” of industrial waterfront into an envisioned seven-mile public esplanade.

“I urge this council to put the city and its citizens first by endorsing (the zoning change) to make a pedestrian friendly walkway from the Dome to Defiance,” Linda Heaton, a Stadium resident and member of the pro-esplanade “Walk-The-Waterfront” group, told council members.

At one point, at least 70 citizens had signed up Tuesday to tell the council their views on the pending shorelines recommendations, Mayor Marilyn Strickland said.

The conflicting viewpoints Tuesday underscores the complexity involved in coming to a waterfront plan that the community at large can live with.

It also further defined conflicting and entrenched positions among stakeholders that have hardened during a review process that dates to 2006 and involved thousands of pages of drafts and redrafts and more than 60 public meetings.
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