Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Say It Like You Mean It

Today (Oct. 29), public comments are due for the Environmental Assessment of a Lifestyles Center on Ft. Lewis.

This issue was earlier blogged on the Chamber's Live Wire website here. You are encouraged to view the materials linked in that earlier blog.

The Chamber solicited comments from its members. Those comments were actually received as phone calls. As explained in the enclosed letter here, those comments were divided into two opinions:
  1. the local economy is large and diverse enough to satisfy the consumer needs of soldiers and their families.
  2. this proposed Lifestyles Center is such an important quality-of-life amenity for soldiers and their families that it should be supported.

The Chamber shared this perspective with our comments to the contact point for the project on Ft. Lewis. You are encouraged to share your concerns - but do it today for official consideration.


I received the following invite from our Senators' staffs for our members to attend workshops on federal funding. Information is below:

Good afternoon, Mike.

The staff of Senator Cantwell and Senator Murray will be holding their annual federal funding workshops throughout Washington State in November. Please see the attached document for dates and locations. Please R.S.V.P to the email address if you would like to attend. Also, please forward this email on to anyone you think would be interested. Below is a short list of what will be covered at these workshops. Thanks and I hope to see you there.

- Tips on Submitting a Successful Grant application
- Finding the right funding source for your project
- Working with your congressional delegation
- Current outlook and Trends for Appropriations

Monday, October 27, 2008

Presidential Fact Checking

With all of the speeches and political ads on television nowadays, it is sometimes hard to believe what is being said by the candidates or their campaigns.

CNN provides a fact-checking blog for the presidential election. Go to CNN’s Political Ticker to find out what is true, false or misleading about the latest statements and ads.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shoreline Open House Focus

Last night's Shoreline Master Program update focused on rehabilitation and public access, especially for the Foss Waterway's S-8 shoreline district. That district encompasses the industrial northeasterly portion of the area.

An Open House is not an opportunity to present hard position statements to a public body, but rather an opportunity to discuss with City staff and their consultants the desires of interested and affected (not the same persons usually) parties.

Frank Erickson, Tacoma Youth Marine Center, was heard discussing the aspects of public access in the industrial northeasterly part of the S-8 shoreline district. His points: homeland security and industrial safety, registered. But, others commented that the public could simply walk around those areas!

Gary Brackett, the Chamber's Manager for Business and Trade, talked with another table group staffed by one of the City's consultants. He noted that the City had amended its Comprehensive Land Use plan to restrict the land north of E. 11th Street from residential and hotel-motel uses. Thus the most logical development was for industry like in the balance of the port-industrial area. But, he said that development was hampered for market forces taking advantage of economic opportunities by the inclusion in interim shoreline rules excluding property owners expanding industrial operations beyond property boundaries.

The Comprehensive Land Use Plan looks to market forces to allow development to influence the future land uses of the Foss Industrial Peninsula. But, the Shoreline Master Program interferes with market forces by trying to make the most logical uses uneconomic.

Brackett proposed that these land use restrictions be removed for the Foss Industrial Peninsula portion of the S-8 shoreline district, or that the area from E. 11th Street to the tip of the peninsula where it abuts the port-industrial S-10 district be included in that S-10 district.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Small Business Forum in Tacoma

The Washington Policy Center will launch a series of six statewide small business forums later this month.

The forums aim to update small business owners on policy changes that affect their business operations. Attendees will hear from WPC research staff, get a preview of the 2009 Legislative session and discuss how the November elections could affect them.

The $25 cost includes a meal and forum materials.

Locations include:

  • Spokane, Oct 29, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., at the Spokane Red Lion at the Park.
  • Tri Cities, Oct. 30, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Red Lion Hotel - Richland Hanford House.
  • Bellevue, Nov. 12, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., at Bellevue's Red Lion.
  • Central Washington, Nov. 13, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., at Wenatchee's Red Lion Hotel. Register through Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce.
  • Tacoma, Nov. 18, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m,. at Tacoma's LaQuinta Inn. Register through Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber with Judy Singley or 253-627-2175.
  • Vancouver, Nov. 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Red Lion at the Quay.

For more information, e-mail Washington Policy Center or call 206-937-9691.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Way of Life-Style

First presented publicly at the Chamber's Military Affairs Committee Oct. 8, AAFES is proposing a Lifestyle development in the heart of Fort Lewis.

Immediately catching significant attention in the News Tribune with an article and a column, this rising public interest still can take advantage of a public comment period until Oct. 29. Public comments may be made to Bill Van Hoesen or by mail to:

Public Works
ATTN: Mr. Van Hoesen
Box 339500
Ft. Lewis, WA 98433-9500

For a more indept review, AFFES has agreed to our posting of their downloadable PowerPoint as made to the MAC and the viewable video of the proposed Ft. Bliss Lifestyles Center that was linked to the PowerPoint.

For a comprehensive overview, interested persons wishing to become as knowledgeable as possible, may contact Van Hoesen for the Environmental Assessment or download it at this site.

The Chamber is considering its input during the public comment period. You may contact Gary Brackett or 253-627-2175 or leave your comments on this blog.

Thriving in the CHAOTIC Economy

The Chamber is working with Moss Adams to present to manufacturers and logistics companies ways to thrive in the present economy of high fuel prices, the weak dollar and pressures on profitability. The details:

Thriving in Our Current Economy:
A Seminar for Manufacturing and Distribution Industries
November 6, 2008
Bell Harbor Conference Center – Seattle, WA
7:30 – 8:00 Registration
8:00 – 12:20 Program
Contact Jennifer Partridge 425-303-3186

So, are the soaring fuel prices, weak dollar, and high cost of doing business placing unrelenting pressure on your profits? If you don't have strategies to offset these difficult times, the cumulative impact upon your business will be profound.

Owners, CEOs, CFOs, and controllers: Join us for a seminar designed specifically with you in mind. Whether you are in manufacturing or distribution, your company will benefit from the following topics: An economic update, cash flow management, state and local taxes minimization strategies, and GAAP and tax update. Do more than weather the economic storm, thrive in it!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Port-Industrial Area Shoreline Update

The City of Tacoma has taken up the necessity of updating its Shoreline Master Plan. The earlier initiative was derailed and delayed due to environmental groups advocacy that a Critical Areas Protection Ordinance must be done first.

Now that that process is out of the way, the City has organized an Open House on THURSDAY, Oct. 23, 5 p.m. at the Foss Waterway Seaport, 705 Dock Street, Tacoma 98402.

At the Open House, City staff will be presenting information, taking comment and answering questions about the following:
  • Draft Restoration Plan

  • Draft Shoreline Use Analysis

  • Draft Public Access Inventory and Opportunities

  • Draft Foss Waterway Public Access and Use Analysis

While the Chamber has stressed to City staff that existing shoreline plans prohibit existing manufacturing from acquiring adjacent parcels and expanding operations or otherwise consolidating parcels for manufacturing purposes, there is no guarantee that this point has been "taken."

(T)he (manufacturing) uses may not be expanded beyond property boundaries owned, leased, or operated by the industrial user on January 1, 1996. INTERIM REGULATIONS, 13.10.110 (A-D) - S-8 SHORELINE DISTRICT – THEA FOSS WATERWAY

Despite advocacy for a change in the City's Comprehensive Plan to prohibit residential and hotel type uses north of the Murray Morgan (11th Street) Bridge, sentiment still exists in some adherents to change the face of the Foss Waterway by limiting the market opportunity for manufacturing.

This Open House is your opportunity to speak for your own best interests in continuing the manufacturing sector in the northeast Foss Industrial Peninsula.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Downtown Post Office Impacted

A film permit has been issued to film in the old courthouse above the Post Office on A Street from 10/13-10/22.

Court A will be closed to traffic. Most parking around the Post Office will be closed. The principal exception will be on the east side of A Street. They are already moving in props, etc. On Monday, 10/13, all the large trucks, gondolas (with lights) and generators will be parked permanently around the Post Office.

All filming will be inside the building. Filming itself will be on the third floor, so access to postal services and boxes should not be impacted.

If you have any questions or find problems, email Nancy P. Grabinski-Young, Economic Development Supervisor, Tacoma Community & Economic Development Department or via phone: 253.591.5394

Volunteer for Tacoma Planning Commission

The Tacoma Planning Commission will have 3 openings available.

Positions are for 3-year terms (January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2011), and represent Councilmanic Districts No. 1 and No. 3, and the Development Community.

Planning Commission
Appointing Authority: Mayor, confirmed by City Council
Number of Members: 9
Term of Membership: 3 years
Composition of Membership: One member is appointed by the City Council for each of the five council districts. The Council appoints to the four remaining positions an individual from each of the following: (a) the development community; (b) the environmental community; (c) public transportation, and (d) a designee with background of involvement in architecture, historic preservation, and/or urban design.
Associated City Department: Community and Economic Development
Staff Liaison: Lihuang Wung
General Information: (253) 591-5682
Meeting Information
Planning Commission Home (including agendas and Minutes)
Purpose: Develops and updates the Comprehensive Plan and its element plans/programs that protects the quality of life in Tacoma and which manages the growth and development of the city; conducts periodic land use studies of geographic city areas; and provides an effective and efficient land use regulation and process system.

Applications are due to the Mayor’s Office by Friday, November 14, 2008. Go to the City's website, click on “Planning Commission”).

TV Tacoma Replays Pierce Co. Exec. Debate

TV Tacoma - the City's 24-hour government information channel - will be replaying the Pierce County executive debate originally held on Oct. 1, 2008.

Presented by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, this program features Pierce County executive candidates Shawn Bunney, Calvin Goings, Mike Lonergan and Pat McCarthy.

The debate is also available on Comcast and VOD as detailed here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Huff, A Puff, A Blow Down the Door

The US EPA has notified the Governor that it intends to adopt boundaries that encompass most of the Tacoma-Pierce County metro area. The target date: December 18.

We've not seen much initiative to take advantage of the runup to the issue of what will be the Wapato Hills Puyallup River Valley Nonattainment area for PM-2.5. The primary exception has been DOE/PSCAA's funds for replacement of woodsmoke sources, as woodsmoke is the acknowledged violating pollutant. Even that meager source is shared with other areas, like Marysville, that are close but not yet in nonattainment.

The Chamber has recommended both to the City of Tacoma and Pierce County that they begin now an advocacy effort to redefine the transportation prioritization dollars to include mitigation for air quality nonattainment. PSCAA, DOE and EPA all seemed determined to include the port-industrial area in the boundaries even though that area's monitors continue to evidence air quality within defined federal standards.

The federal processes allow communities two years to plan to achieve attainment and one or more years to achieve it. Yet, so far, our region is ignoring the impending regulatory burden, mayhap because it hasn't actually happened yet.

As EPA will join the Federal Transportation Administration and the Federal Transit Administration in overseeing any federal grants, it is more than timely to begin the planning processes so as to most urgently return healthy air to our metro and avoid the unintended consequences to our economy by a bureaucracy most interested in regulating rather than actual air quality.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Want To See It?

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber's recently held Pierce County Executive debate, which was moderated by Mike Weinman, will be televised beginning on October 6 when it will run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10 AM and again on Saturday at 3 PM. Thanks to Comcast for their sponsorship!

Spoiler Alert!
Of course, if you can't wait until then, the entire program is available on Comcast On-Demand by going to:

On-Demand > Get Local > Around the Sound > Pierce Co. Debate > Pierce Co. Executive

In either case, be sure to have your popcorn ready!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Candidates Spar Over Issues

A lively debate was held between the candidates for Pierce County Executive. The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber hosted the four candidates -- Pierce County Council Member Shawn Bunney, Pierce County Council Member Calvin Goings, Tacoma City Council Member Mike Lonergan and Pierce County Auditor Pat McCarthy -- for a 90 minute debate concerning business issues.

Moderated by Mike Weinman, the candidates were asked about broader county issues, like transportation and the budget, as well as the Business Climate Agenda. The audience, comprised of more than 100 business leaders, heard the candidates discuss the need for completing SR 167 and the Cross Base Highway. All agreed Pierce County needs to ensure it receives its fair share of regional funding.

On the issue of the Business Climate Agenda, the candidates spoke about maintaining no-net loss of industrial lands, protecting the military installations against encroachment and enhancing tourism.

Some of the quotes heard from the candidates during the debate:

"[Under my leadership], Pierce County will be a model of open government, a model of accountability and a model for a healthy community." - Council Member Bunney

"We need leadership with vision to look beyond the horizon into the tomorrow." - Council Member Goings

"For me, it's about people, not things." - Council Member Lonergan

"People make promises, I believe in making a difference." - Auditor McCarthy

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Public Works Utilities 2009-13 Rates

Your Chamber representative, Gary Brackett, has been a multi-year participant in the City of Tacoma's Environmental Services Commission. He views the primary duty is to represent business interests, as that's the slot he fills.

The ECS is preparing its recommendation to the Tacoma City Council for the 2009-13 Rates for Wastewater, Surface Water and Solid Waste utilities. Last rate case, the Chamber was a robust advocate for the City's prompt adoption of cost of service principles (customers pay what it costs without class subsidies) for solid waste. The City Council agreed.

(Other utilities including wastewater, surface water, power and potable water, follow the cost of service principle.)

For decades the City had "moved" toward that principle for solide waste, but had made little progress. Then, the City Council adopted a schedule that would restore cost of service principles. The City is still following that schedule. And although cost of service has not yet been achieved, this new rate case retains that schedule. As a result, businesses will see 0% to 1% increases for several more years. System-wide, the rates will increase an average 4.9%.

Ratepayers are not so lucky with surface water. The City is faced with complying with its NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permit. That permit's terms are causing an aggressive capital program and will result in system average rate increases of 7.8%.
Of lesser impact will be the wastewater utility. There system average increases are proposed to be 6.2%. This proposed increase has been reduced from a staff suggested 7.5%, by eliminating some staff positions, reducing capital expenditures and passing on a cogeneration project. Its discharge permits are not expected to cause concerns.
An issue that remains unsettled is a residential volumetric rate that would charge residential customers a differential rate depending on the size (volume) of the container, rather than follow cost of service principles. As long as that incentivized rate is contained within the residential class, Brackett, as the business representative, does not intend to support a position. The Chamber has followed a similar position with incentivized power and potable water residential rates.