Tacoma’s Port and Tideflats (from Citizens for a Healthy Bay)
A process has begun that will shape the future of Tacoma’s Port and Tideflats.
Last month the Tacoma City Council voted to begin a subarea plan for the Tideflats. The plan, which will include chances for public input, will consider land uses in the Tideflats and how the area will be used moving forward. This represents a powerful opportunity to create a healthier, sustainable Tacoma with an economic engine powered by the clean jobs of the future.
However, the subarea plan will take 3-5 years to complete, during which our community will be left vulnerable to new fossil fuel projects. These projects would be “grandfathered in” regardless of the results of the subarea plan, locking us into a path before we’ve had a community conversation about concerns regarding fossil fuels in the Tideflats. That’s why the Tacoma Planning Commission is considering short-term Interim Regulations while the subarea plan is developed.
Here’s where things get interesting. Interim Regulations are critical both for Tacoma’s protection in the short-term and for the best subarea plan possible. Tacoma is highly likely to be the site of new fossil fuel projects, and failing to hit the pause button now will suck the air out of any conversation about the future of the Tideflats.
Last week we learned more about Interim Regulations from the Planning Commission. While nothing is final yet, the Commission is moving forward with their review and expressed interest in the pause Tacoma needs. This is extremely encouraging, and we are grateful to see the Planning Commission listening to the needs of Tacomans.
Please join us in thanking the Planning Commission for taking this threat seriously and encouraging them to pause future fossil fuel projects!
Here is a draft letter to the commissioners. Just add your name and the date, and email it to Senior Planner Lihuang Wung at email@example.com. This is a critical moment for Tacoma, and the Planning Commission needs to hear from you!
The Interim Regulation and Subarea Plan processes are far from over, and you can count on us to keep you in the loop. We’ll have more info for you soon.
As always, please reach out to me with questions or to get more involved.
Conservation Engagement Coordinator
Citizens for a Healthy Bay
From our friends at Citizens for a Healthy Bay:
Summer is here, and Citizens for a Healthy Bay has some great opportunities to get outside while making a difference! Below are two events that we still need a hand with. Check them out, invite your friends, and simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (253) 383-2429 to RSVP! As always, we will provide gloves, tools, and all necessary equipment. You just need close toed shoes and appropriate clothing to work in.
What: 10th Annual Summer Shoreline Cleanup
When: Saturday July 22nd, 10:00 – 1:30
Where: Yowkwala Beach inside Tyee Marina (5618 Marine View Dr. Tacoma 98422)
First up is our most popular beach cleanup event. We will be collecting marine debris from the shoreline and surrounding beaches of 3 habitat restoration sites. Join the land crew or bring your kayak or paddle board and travel the shoreline looking for trash. There will also be a picnic lunch after the event! This opportunity is always a blast, and is suitable for a wide age range.
What: Wetland Restoration Day
When: Friday, August 4th, 9:00 – 12:30
Where: Gog Le Hi Te Wetland (1402 Lincoln, Ave. Tacoma WA)
Next is a day restoring valuable wetland habitat along the banks of the Puyallup River. Home to birds, river otter, coyote and of course our native salmon, the Gog le hi te Wetlands are a Tacoma treasure that needs the care of dedicated folks who love and respect nature. Invasive plants such as the Himalayan blackberry, and common tansy, find this type of habitat an easy target. Help us stop the spread of invasives so that native plants (and animals) can thrive!
For more information visit https://www.healthybay.org/get-involved/volunteer/
Conservation Engagement Coordinator
Citizens for a Healthy Bay
APPLICANTS SOUGHT FOR TACOMA NARROWS AIRPORT ADVISORY COMMISSION
Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier is seeking applicants for one airport user position and one Gig Harbor Peninsula Community Plan area resident on the Tacoma Narrows Airport Advisory Commission (TNAAC). These members will serve 4-year terms, November 1, 2017 - October 31, 2021. Positions are uncompensated. Applications must be received by 5:00 pm, July 28, 2017. To learn more about the commission, membership requirements and the application/selection process, please visit the Pierce County TNAAC web site: http://www.piercecountywa.org/tacomanarrows. Click on “Advisory Commission.” The TNAAC is a Pierce County Executive-appointed, Council-confirmed Advisory Commission, created by County Ordinance 2009-31 per Pierce County Code Title 2 – Administration, Chapter 2.89 entitled Tacoma Narrows Airport Advisory Commission. Additional information can be obtained by calling Lauren Behm, Pierce County Interim Airport & Ferry Administrator at (253) 798-2421 or via email: email@example.com.
http://www.piercecountywa.org/DocumentCenter/View/2288 - Here’s a quick link to the application.
Second Lake Kapowsin Work Party, July 15
We had a great work party last Saturday at Lake Kapowsin boat launch with a total of 19 volunteers. Thanks to all that helped!! Fish and Wildlife access managers Derek Hacker and John Evans also came and worked on the parking area green spaces to increase visibility for security. We cleared about 740 feet of an existing shoreline access trail (on WDFW property) that was overgrown with blackberry and some of the little spurs that access the lake shore. Trash was cleaned up as well. The trail has some big wet spots and could use some rock to firm those up; perhaps next time we could add that to the list. It turned out that a weedwhacker/brushcutter was the standout tool for the day, but a lot of us got quite a bit done with loppers as well. We also sent out two boats to patrol the lakeshore for trash, so if you want to help with that next time, bring a boat! A long reach grabber is a must for that task.
Below is the flyer for the July 15 work party – mark your calendar if you can come! And share with friends, paddlers, fisherman and duck hunters.
Thanks, hope to see you out there -
Aquatic Reserves Program Manager
Aquatic Resources Division
Tacoma and the Tideflats:
Nationally they have opened up coal, oil and gas industry opportunities, with effects rippling across the country, and fossil fuel export projects are already starting to come together right here in Tacoma.
The Tideflats are in the bullseye of the push to expand oil and gas development nationally, and we must make a choice to protect our future now.
We cannot afford to become a shipping hub for massive energy export products. The Tideflats provides an economic engine for Tacoma, and the petrochemical industry should not chart the wrong course for our future. Tacoma’s manufacturing hub provides high-wage jobs and the promise of being a center for clean energy and industry. The threats are already upon us, with new types of oil and gas coming into our region and giant petrochemical projects like gas-to-methanol. Unfortunately, this will only intensify.
Let’s take a stand here in Tacoma – join us in petitioning city leaders to take action now:
We call on the City of Tacoma to prohibit new fossil fuel exports now and turn our City of Destiny towards clean industry, manufacturing and moving valuable cargo that supports high wage jobs over the long term.
Tell the City Council now – say no to fossil fuel exports and yes to protecting our Tideflats for local jobs that build our city for a sustainable, prosperous future.
Thank you for all you do!
Conservation Engagement Coordinator
Citizens for a Healthy Bay
From our friends at Citizens for a Healthy Bay:
As you may have heard, President Trump recently began rolling back the Clean Power Plan and other regulations aimed at fighting climate change. Tacomans know all too well that environmental regulations are foundationally important for the protection of both human and environmental health. We know that the time to act on climate change is now, and removing protections against fossil fuels moves us in the wrong direction.
Make no mistake, Tacoma is in the crosshairs for a future fossil fuel export facility – just like the methanol refinery was slated for Tacoma, we can expect other projects looming on our horizon. These fossil fuel export projects take a heavy toll on our environment and our waters. Greenhouse gas emissions lead to global warming and ocean acidification, which in turn kills salmon, decimates shellfish beds and generally threatens the entire marine ecosystem. Spills or other incidents can cause even more devastating local effects.
Fortunately, our fate is not determined by the actions of those in the White House. We have a part to play in addressing fossil fuels today! Now is the time to demand our local leaders take immediate and decisive action to prevent any fossil fuel export projects from ever coming to Tacoma, period.
Here’s where you come in. Please contact your local elected officials and tell them we need to act now to prohibit future fossil fuel export projects.
Call, email, write letters. Make it impossible to be ignored. Below are some links to contact info for elected leaders in the City and Port of Tacoma. Let’s take our future into our own hands!
First priority: email Mayor of Tacoma Marilyn Strickland
Second priority: call your Tacoma City Council representative
Your message can be as simple as this:
Dear [Elected Official],
With President Trump endangering our community’s future by rolling back climate protections, we need to take action at the local level. Please advance local action to prohibit fossil fuel exports now – not a year from now.
If we want long-term sustainability and prosperity, we can’t continue to fight off threat after threat as they knock on our door. We need proactive regulations to keep them out for good. Not only is this possible, it’s essential for the future of Tacoma.
Conservation Engagement Coordinator
Citizens for a Healthy Bay
Proposed “Beyond the Crest RV Park”, Graham, WA
This proposed, very high-density 237-site RV Park development, would be located on the Orting-Kapowsin Highway, in a rural, forested, R-10 zoning.
Below are facts and notes the local residents want you to know about, and on which they certainly could use your support! Contact Patty Villa by emailing her: firstname.lastname@example.org
Info/Notes from Patty Villa, representative neighborhood spokesperson:
- Currently, this area is a very quiet neighborhood, with its native trees and vegetation dominating.
- Neighbors are on well water- with common single source aquifer serving the area.
- Graham Community Plan allows this only on a “small scale” in R10 zoned areas to serve tourism. This is not small scale and does not support tourism as it is the farthest point in Plan area from tourist activities. Surrounding neighbors are on large, treed lots.
- There is inadequate ingress/egress at a dangerous location on Orting Kapowsin Highway.
- There is no enforcement of the requirement that RV’s can only be there for a limited (short) stay.
- Graham LUAC failed to address non-compliance with the Community Plan of this proposed development. It is not small scale, it is not in conformity with the character of the rest of the area, it does not leave a tree canopy, it is far too large- too intense a development- for an R10 area.
- Graham LUAC failed to take into consideration the public comments when making its recommendation to the county (they had a recommendation pre-written and brought to the hearing- before the public had a chance to speak about their many concerns). This is unethical.
- Over 50 people crowded into the fire station – standing room only, but their concerns were not addressed or acknowledged by the Graham LUAC.
- The failure of the LUAC to consider public testimony at the only public hearing is a breach of trust with the public. County Councilman Dan Roach agreed that this was improper and recommended that LUAC’s get more training on their jobs.
- Graham LUAC recommended to deny the proposed development based on “an incomplete application”. This leaves this inappropriate development wide open for completion once application is complete.
- The LUAC did not require that they
o 1) do something else with sewage,
o 2) did not ask for improvements to the road way/access,
o 3) did not ask that it be reduced in size to fit the community character or the requirements in the community plan that it be “small scale”,
o 4) did not require larger water pipes to enable proper “Fire Flow” in case of emergency,
o 5) did not consider the impact on the natural habitat of local wildlife- including protected species of small brown bat, etc.
- Human waste is proposed to be dumped onsite with the sewage effluent sprayed on the ground, onto available pervious surfaces.
- This development is right above a neighborhood, community well. The cost for additional water treatment would fall on existing neighbors, not developers. Their septic effluent will likely negatively impact the neighbors and the entire ecosystem.
- This is a highly unsustainable plan for sewage and gray water handling. There is no sewer hookup available in this rural area, and no space adequate for a septic field to handle this potential volume.
- Healthy wildlife population regularly traverses this forested land, including a local elk herd, deer, bear, brown bats, and more. No consideration is given for their ability to get to and from their habitat areas. Once cut off from their habitat, they become isolated and significantly at risk.
Call to Action:
Please consider writing a letter to Pierce County. Letters to the hearings examiner need to include the name of the proposal and number.
"Beyond the Crest RV Park" number 830162, 830163, 830165
Letters can be sent to Christian Shope (email@example.com ; 253-798-7122)
By Adam Ashton
Pierce County Councilman Rick Talbert had flashbacks as he watched the implosion of Northwest Innovation Works’ bid to build a methanol plant at the Port of Tacoma.
It took him back to a campaign on the Tacoma City Council a dozen years ago that stymied a condominium development near the port over fears that a residential project would slowly undermine Pierce County’s manufacturing core.
His side won, putting up obstacle after obstacle until developer Mike Cohen sold land on the east side of Foss Waterway and moved on to his project at Point Ruston.
This time, the pro-industry coalition that blocked Cohen’s condo proposal could not buy enough time for Northwest Innovation Works to even finish its environmental review despite the promise of more than 200 hundred jobs at the port and a significant boost to local property, sales and business taxes.
Now Talbert is among the local business and political leaders who are trying to figure out what the project’s failure portends for the future of Pierce County’s industrial hub.
They don’t say they want a new methanol plant, but they’re looking for a way to maintain the port’s historic role as a job-generating sector while also respecting the priorities of the environmental activists who rallied to block Northwest Innovation Works.
Talbert, who supported the completion of the methanol plant’s environmental review but was neutral on the plant itself, said the area’s economy is at stake.
“Our community is one that was built on industrial jobs, and as far as I’m concerned, our future is still in that area. We need to be working to promote good, industrial, family-wage jobs,” Talbert said.
In the wake of the methanol plant’s demise, business groups around Tacoma are talking about conducting an educational campaign to stress the port’s importance. Tacoma City Council members, meanwhile, are floating the idea of imposing new land-use regulations on the port so they can shape the kind of business proposals that may move forward.
And leaders at the port say they want to hear from the public before they begin in earnest to seek a new development proposal for the long-vacant, 90-acre former Kaiser Aluminum smelter site eyed by Northwest Innovation Works.
They don’t want a repeat of the public relations debacle Northwest Innovation Works ignited.
“I don’t know what the expectation of the public is,” port Chief Executive Officer John Wolfe said. “I think we’re still trying to sort that out, and the best way for us to do that is to create some forums in which we have some further outreach to the public so we understand what their expectations are.”
The surprise he and other port leaders have expressed in recent months reflects the failure of a project that came to Tacoma with the backing of Gov. Jay Inslee and that fit the industrial zoning requirements for a large site inside the port, usually signs that a proposal would sail through the development process.
If you have a community that’s against everything, it’s awfully hard to recruit businesses that want to come here.
Port of Tacoma Commissioner Don Johnson
Like Wolfe, activists who protested the Northwest Innovation Works proposal say they’re retrenching as they gather ideas about what they’d like to see at the port.
“We are looking at all of his, hoping for a new vision,” said Claudia Riedener of the anti-methanol group Red Line Tacoma. “We are for jobs, but we want something (environmentally) sustainable.”
Although Northwest Innovation Works had cited public uproar for its decision in February to put the project’s environmental review on hold, the company insisted last week that mass protests did not weigh on its decision to cancel it. But port proponents worry the activists may have left a lasting imprint.
“If you have a community that’s against everything, it’s awfully hard to recruit businesses that want to come here,” Port Commissioner Don Johnson said. “Manufacturing is what pays. We want all the stuff people make, but we want them to make it someplace else. It is concerning to a new company that wants to come to town.”
Approximately 100 demonstrators attended a rally outside the Greater Tacoma Trade & Convention Center Tacoma in February, opposing the proposed methanol plant. Officials who withdrew the proposal say protesters didn’t affect the decision. Drew Perine firstname.lastname@example.org
At a minimum, the project’s failure may reinforce a signal that fossil fuel-dependent enterprises face serious political obstacles if they plan to develop sites in the Northwest.
Wolfe noted that the methanol protests closely followed last summer’s activism targeting Shell Oil’s plan to dock an Arctic drilling rig at the Port of Seattle. Energy-related industries likely took notice of both developments, he said.
Northwest Innovation Works’ proposal included significant water and energy use, potentially consuming 10 million gallons of water a day in the production of methanol for plastics manufacturers based in China.
It also could have delivered millions of dollars in new tax revenue to the city and Pierce County, as well as potentially reduced greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale by offsetting dirtier coal-fired methanol production in China. The city of Tacoma, for example, is staring at a deficit of $3 million to $10 million dollars as it heads into its budget-writing season early this summer.
At city hall, Councilmen Ryan Mello and Robert Thoms want to get ahead of the next port development proposal by organizing joint meetings between the City Council and the Port Commission to set a shared vision for the city’s industrial future. Both plan to work with City Manager T.C. Broadnax, and they may turn to the city Planning Commission early on.
Last week, they joined in a unanimous vote at the council adopting a new environmental action plan for Tacoma. It calls on the city to take steps to reduce water use, cut greenhouse gas emissions and employ more solar panels in producing energy.
“We’re not going to have coffee shops and condos in the middle of the Port of Tacoma, but here’s the thing, industry doesn’t have to be antithetical to health or sustainability,” said Councilman Anders Ibsen.
I’m of the mind that we want to have jobs that aren’t of our polluting past, and we have an opportunity to be really clear about the kinds of jobs we want.
Tacoma City Councilman Ryan Mello
Thoms in March wrote an opinion column in The News Tribune in which he argued the city may want a “less industrial” future at the port. He had earlier suggested that the city could stop the methanol project by rezoning the property. Such suggestions — as well as the length of the environmental review process and the complexity of developing a brownfield — were the reasons Godley cited for the cancellation.
Mello had maintained a neutral stance on the proposal until Northwest Innovation Works’ announcement last week. Now, he’s more outspoken about considering new land-use regulations for the port.
“I’m of the mind that we want to have jobs that aren’t of our polluting past, and we have an opportunity to be really clear about the kinds of jobs we want,” he said, listing aerospace manufacturing as the kind of business proposal that may work well at the port.
Other council members say the failure of the methanol proposal may have effectively set land-use policy without the imposition of new planning rules. They’re wary of placing new regulations on industrial land, and they say the political uproar would not necessarily carry over to a new project.
“You had a major player take a look at it and see that it’s not feasible. With them withdrawing, them saying an urban, industrial area is not the right area, they’ve already through precedent reset land use-policy in the port,” City Councilman Marty Campbell said.
Councilman Joe Lonergan said the city should be open to many kinds of proposals for the Kaiser site. He said the port has been looking for a business to develop it for than a decade, and it has not yet found a workable proposal.
The city’s two main business lobbies, the Economic Development Board and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, likewise are reluctant to rezone industrial land in the port.
“We don’t want to rezone and lose our industrial lands,” Chamber President Tom Pierson said.
Those groups are aiming to get the public more familiar with the kind of work that takes place at the port now so residents have a sense of what modern manufacturing looks like. Both groups will have a seat at the table as boosters for local industry if the City Council and Port Commission take steps to set guidelines for the kind of businesses they want to recruit for the Kaiser site.
They say the vacant site remains an attractive one because of its access to a deep water port and rail lines. Within the next 13 years, a $2 billion extension to state Route 167 should improve access for trucks, too.
“The opportunity is ripe because we don’t have a specific project in front of us right now that can get in the way of that conversation, so that’s the silver lining, Economic Development Board president Bruce Kendall said. “There’s nothing to fight over.”
Yes, there was public pressure, but I’ll go back to Northwest Innovation Works’ own statements. They say that didn’t factor in their decision. It really isn’t a stretch for me to believe that Northwest Innovation Works wasn’t that concerned with public opinion. I will take them at their word that this was a business decision.
Tacoma City Councilman Marty Campbell
Wolfe and port commissioners say they have not yet set a meeting with the City Council members, although they said they’re open to one. They’re also looking for ways to engage with residents early on so they’re not blindsided again by protests late in a development process.
That may mean embracing social media. The port followed state open government law in advancing the methanol proposal, and The News Tribune wrote about the project several times over the past two years, but it did not capture the public’s attention until last fall.
“We’re going to go over and above, whatever we do. The last thing we want to do is to make it seem like we are hiding something from the community, because we never did,” Port Commissioner Dick Marzano said.
Marzano questioned whether some of the port’s longtime businesses, such as a pulp mill and an oil refinery, would be able to start their business permits in the face of the activism Northwest Innovation Works sparked.
He’s concerned the next round may focus on Puget Sound Energy’s proposal to build a liquid natural gas production and peak-shaving site at the port. He says it’s an environmentally friendly project because it will make comparably clean LNG available to ships passing through the port that normally run on diesel. Some members of Red Line Tacoma, the group that drew attention to the methanol plant, have already turned their attention to opposing the PSE proposal.
In the methanol autopsy, port supporters across the spectrum said backers of the next proposal will have to answer questions from the public more effectively than Northwest Innovation Works did. That’s why they say the activism that seemed to slow and then kill the methanol plan may not carry over to the next proposal.
“Yes, there was public pressure, but I’ll go back to Northwest Innovation Works’ own statements. They say that didn’t factor in their decision. It really isn’t a stretch for me to believe that Northwest Innovation Works wasn’t that concerned with public opinion. I will take them at their word that this was a business decision,” Campbell said.
Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article73481632.html#storylink=cpy
Friends of Pierce County is recruiting new board members for 2017
To join, simply contact Marian at FOPC@comcast.net for a application or download form under Board tab on this website. After the board reviews your application, you will be set up with an interview with the board.