Last Week at the Pierce County Council — September 9th, 2017

Last Week at the Pierce County Council — September 9th, 2017

Tuesday Study Session

Chambers Bay Resort Development — At the August 29th Council meeting the Chambers Bay Master Plan update failed to get a majority to pass and was postponed until the September 12th Council meeting. As a result, we met with Dan Putnam and Dan Absher who were the developers selected by the previous Executive to move forward with negotiations. The Executive’s staff also also answered questions.

The issue at hand is whether to allow the previously identified golf villas to initially serve long-term tenants. In state law the line between hotel lodging and tenancy is at 30 days. While the developer has a financial incentive to convert units to the former as they will earn a much higher rate, they’re also concerned the market will not support low enough vacancy rates initially and would like flexibility to sign leases.

To be clear, the built environment for this proposal has not changed. It’s actually shrunk a bit. It also does not impact the park itself. It’s built into an unused hillside identified throughout the public process and approved by the University Place Council. It’s also now clear to me that this arrangement has always been known by the Executive and staff. Unfortunately, it wasn’t something I’ve ever been briefed on or supported.

Here are the concerns I have expressed:

  • It’s clear that the developer wants to be able to use multi-family financing to reduce capital needs. That may make all the business sense in the world to them, but more equity is a safer bet for the County’s interests. Was this considered in the selection process?
  • There is a significant economic benefit to hotel units compared to regular housing. The former brings money in from outside the county and pay sales, B&O, & lodging tax. The latter are residents with the same economic impact as you or me. The main strategy behind creating a destination course was to add outside dollars to our economy by bringing in travelers who drop their money and then leave. Creating a regular course and park would have significantly reduced the County’s investment in the site.
  • Is there any risk by allowing permanent residents in that portion of the site? Tenants aren’t owners, but they do have more rights than hotel guests. After talking with the developer I’m satisfied that these concerns can be dealt with in the ground lease. Mr. Putnam’s connection to the USGA in particular, is assurance we’re on the same page here.
  • The County needs to balance its business needs to develop the long-planned resort, with ensuring we’re doing right by the public’s property and investment.
  • I think it’s important to note Mr. Putnam’s connection to the community that I wasn’t aware of previously. He actually lives immediately adjacent to the site. He jokes that there’s just a small group of people who have walked the trail more than he has. In addition, he has two sons playing professional golf. His personal interests are unusually and closely tied to the County’s interests here. Mr. Absher is also a longtime County resident and business owner. I point this out because the rhetoric has gotten a little overheated. What I can chalk up to miscommunication at the County has been interpreted by some as underhanded and that’s a shame.

Council Meeting

R2017–83 Chief Sagers of West Pierce Fire received the proclamation declaring September 11th Patriots Day in Pierce County. Gig Harbor residents may want to attend the dedication of the 9/11 memorial — 10am at Gig Harbor Fire Headquarters on Bujacich.

R2017–84 Declaring September to be Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Staff from Mary Bridge Oncology accepted the proclamation noting the County’s important role in social determinants of health.

R2017–86 Authorizing the Hiring of a 9th Court Commissioner

Last year Superior Court proposed the addition of an additional court commissioner that would be focused on domestic violence. Despite the creation of the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center, and partnership with the Pierce County YWCA, domestic violence rates remain unacceptably high.

Councilwoman Roach opposed for previously stated reasons, believing we that judges should be elected, and that we’re giving unfair advantage in the form of experience to commissioners who may want to run for judge. Motion passed 5–1.

R2017–92 Surplus Property — Hester

R2017–96 Setting the District 2 In-District meeting, Sept 20th, 6pm at Sumner Sportsmen’s Club.

Bold Actions Subcommittee, Puget Sound Partnership’s Salmon Recovery Council

I was there to represent the Washington State Association of Counties and comment on new proposed policy language to support salmon recovery and restoration.

Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health

The Board approved a rule change that allows for non-action items to be heard without a quorum.

Reports on:

  • TPCHD’s emergency planning
  • A new Vital Records/County Auditor “No Wrong Door” partnership. Both offices will cross-train employees to provide each others services.
  • A new food safety social media campaign reminding Pierce County residents to #PracticeSafeFood

Puget Sound Regional Council — Growth Management Policy Board

Full certification recommended for Lakewood, the City of Seattle, and King County.

Staff briefly teed up the Vision update. This is our regional growth plan.

We had a lengthy discussion of the “growth centers” element of Vision. Centers are areas of regional significance where we focus population and employment growth along with transportation investments.

In reaction to social equity element, I suggested that we not just focus on centers. We cannot meet housing demand without attention to other urban unincorporated areas outside growth centers. I also suggested analysis of the impact of historic injustices such as redlining. The body was broadly supportive with some suggestions for improvements.

I joined representatives from Kitsap and Snohomish County urging caution on de-designation of centers when the market hasn’t achieved goals, but planning and infrastructure investments by the local jurisdiction have met expectations.

Opioid Work Group

I briefed on the interaction between the work group and Countywide Task Force which I will co-chair, and the summit we’re planning for early December.

The work group began review of the strategies and the decision filter to evaluate them.

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