Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Myth-Information on Shoreline Issue

The City Council will soon consider an update to the City's Shoreline Master Program, a special zoning category of areas along the shoreline. 

One property of contention for nearby residents is the 130-year presence of industrial property currently operated by Sperry Ocean terminals. 

A lot of misinformation is repeatedly presented as facts.  Here are the facts to many of these myths.

 Myth -The Ships are derelict and foul the neighborhood.
 FACT - The vessels are owned by the U.S. Navy under contract to the Merchant Maritime Administration. They are well-maintained as part of the Ready Reserve Fleet. Emissions controls on the ships are tested annually and certified based on the testing. The ships are started 1-2 times per year. Soot from the neighborhood was tested by the City Environmental lab. The soot wasn’t produced by the sort of fuel the ships use.

 Myth – The ships can be moved to the Port of Tacoma.
 FACT – The ships are moored in natural deep water, which does not require dredging. The cost of dredging facilities in the Port waterways is too expensive to locate lay berthing facilities. They are not the “highest” use.

 Myth – Cruise ships can go there.
 FACT – The City cannot disallow a low-intensity use and put a high intensity use in its place. The Designation Criteria, Management Policies and District Intent of the S-6 do not allow for a cruise ship terminal.

 Myth – Moving Sperry Ocean Dock is consistent with the “Dome to Defiance” Plan.
 FACT – The “Dome to Defiance” Plan specifically and repeatedly recommends the Sperry Ocean Dock remain zoned for industrial deepwater moorage uses.

 Myth – There is no support for the Sperry Dock.
 FACT –The staff recommendation for Sperry Ocean was to keep it S-7. The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, Port of Tacoma, Citizens for a Healthy Bay all recommend that Sperry Ocean Dock remain wholly within the S-7; BNSF Railroad commented that Sperry Ocean Dock should remain within the S-7; The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 23, Tacoma Firefighters Union, Local 31 and Tacoma Brotherhood of Local Engineers and Trainmen have commented that Sperry Ocean Dock should remain within the S-7. Why does the City propose to move Sperry into non-conformance?

 Myth – Sperry can remain operating there in a grandfathered use. It doesn’t affect the business.
 FACT – Non-conforming or “grandfathered” uses put a caution on the title, increasing interest rates and decreasing loan terms. Non-conformance complicates the DNR lease renewal process. Changing the Shoreline Designation to Urban Conservancy is effectively a spot downzone for the property.

Guest Blogger:  Matthew Boyle, Grette Assoc., LLC

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Senior Senator Murray Holds Business Roundtable at the Chamber

Washington State’s senior U.S. Senator Patty Murray held a business roundtable with a select group of business owners at the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.

With her recent appointment to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, known colloquially as the “Super Congress,” this was a rare opportunity to speak with the Senator about important issues affecting the economies of Tacoma and Pierce County. As the Chamber continues to work on strengthening the local economy, it will provide more opportunities for businesses to advocate directly to government officials.

As City Councilman and business owner David Boe said, “I really appreciated the opportunity to sit down and explain my concerns to the Senator. There were a range of business leaders in the room. If there was one thing we were all clear on, it was that Congress needs to quit squabbling and start helping the economy.”

Senator Murray discussed with the group the importance of laying a solid foundation of quality infrastructure. This would require continuing partnerships between the federal government, local governments and businesses. One example of this partnership has been the Senator’s focus on encouraging service members and employers to connect with each other for long term employment.

The businesses represented also encouraged the Senator to not losing sight of creating educational opportunities and a skilled workforce while still working on options for people who have lost jobs but are starting new businesses.

Small business owner and President of Go Local, a local business advocacy group, Patricia Lecy-Davis pointed out that there are over 5,000 locally owned businesses in Tacoma. “Many new local startups are people who recently lost their jobs. As new business owners, many don’t know what tools are available to them.”

Senator Murray looked forward to having a comprehensive discussion with other legislators on how best to put people to work and support businesses of all sizes.

By Guest blogger David Schroedel

Senator Cantwell Advocacy Breakfast Highlights

On August 15th, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell stopped by Tacoma to have breakfast with the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and about 100 of its members. The chamber hosted the advocacy breakfast as part of its continuing representation of businesses with government at all levels. For members, it was a great opportunity to hear from the Senator as well as ask some questions about the state of the economy and how to protect the variety of investments in our region.

The Senator highlighted some of the key benefits of federal funds in the Tacoma area including the clean-up of two superfund sites – the Foss Waterway and the Asarco Smelter – both of which are now becoming desirable mixed use areas capitalizing on Tacoma’s waterfront. She also noted the additional funding provided for law enforcement and the success it has had in reducing gang activity.

Moving forward, Senator Cantwell is focused on maintaining infrastructure investments while continuing to encourage the growth of small business. This means improving access to capital through the approval of the Small Business Jobs Act. Expanding opportunities for small businesses to borrow will allow them room to grow and create more jobs.

One example of her commitment to small business growth has been her continued support of the biofuels innovation occurring here in Washington State. With Senator Cantwell’s support of the BCAP (Biomass Crop Assistance Program), state farmers have the opportunity to receive federal assistance to grow camelina. Through additional investment in production facilities, camelina has the potential to become a “green” alternative to traditional aviation fuels. Senator Cantwell noted that this type of investment builds on the Puget Sound’s long-standing involvement in the aviation industry.

After taking questions from the attendees, Senator Cantwell stuck around to chat with a number of local business owners. The Chamber looks forward to hosting future events with the Senator as we strengthen business ties within Pierce County.

By Guest blogger David Schroedel

Chamber Hosts University Place Candidate Forum

Local advocacy is an important component of the Chamber's mission. In driving to reach our commitment to assist in the election of business -minded public officials, the University Place-Fircrest Division of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber will be hosting a candidate forum for this year's City of University Place candidates.

The event will consist of a moderated debate between the candidates on various business and community issues and a post-debate to allow audience members and the candidates to engage in one-on-one dialog on the issues.

The University Place Candidates include: Kent Keel, Steve Smith, Chris Nye, Ken Campbell, Howard Lee, and Caroline Belleci.

Details of the event are below:

University Place Candidate Forum

Thursday, October 13, 2011
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Curtis High School Theater
8425 40th Street West
University Place, WA 98466

Price: Complimentary - Open to members and the general public
Info: Savannah Kimball, 253-683-4881.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shorelines Update: Some Wins, More Battles Ahead

The Tacoma Planning Commission has approved its recommendations to the Tacoma City Council for update of the Shoreline Master Program.

Unexpectedly, the Planning Commission did recommend some of the major points advocated by the Chamber and local businesses impacted by these regulations/zoning decisions. However, this process is not over. There are gains to defend and wrongs to right.

The Gains-to-Defend included:

1. NuStar property placed all into the S-10 industrial/terminals zone

2. All industrial businesses in S-8 mixed development zone can expand beyond its present property lines.

3. Deleted requirement for an Esplanade north of E. 15th Street on the E. Foss bank.

While not entirely satisfactory, the gains are major accomplishments that must be defended. We never thought the Planning Commission would choose the Chamber's recommendations on anything!

There are still Wrongs-to-Right. State law (WAC 173-26-211(5)(d), states “Priority given first to water-dependent uses, then to water-related and water-enjoyment uses.” This mandate has not been followed.

For instance, the Planning Commission:
4. Moved the zoning district for the Sperry Ocean Terminal into S-6 (recreation and pedestrian oriented), out of S-7 (industrial and terminal uses) resulting in a non-conforming use.

5. Still has no barrier along E. D Street to separate S-8 and M-2 Districts as specified in Council Resolution No. 36702, adopted in 2005.

As always, we knew that these issues would be decided by the City Council. The Council is scheduled for a Study Session on August 30 to discuss these issues and will have a public hearing September 27 to give all citizens, business and labor representatives a final opportunity to convince them of the rightness of their positions.

If you want help on background or identifying who your Council member is representing where your business is or where you live, contact Gary Brackett, 253-682-1720 for assistance.

Chamber Surveys Candidates Business Views

This November is filled with many races for local political office. The winning candidates will decide for the next two years, four years or longer (if re-elected) issues about taxes, regulations, incentives and the general business climate.

With businesses making up a key component of each community throughout Pierce County, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber is interested in how candidates’ views integrate with the views of our members, the businesses- and you should be too! The Chamber is committed to representing the interests of businesses so as to strengthen the local economy.

The Chamber appreciates the candidates’ willingness to run for office to represent your community in local government. To allow businesses to better understand their positions on a variety of related issues, the Chamber prepared a survey whose candidates’ responses will help us get to know them better.

While the Chamber is not endorsing candidates for office, it will publish candidates’ responses (or the fact of a lack of response) to the survey and distribute them to our members. Compare their responses to the candidates ads, and your own preferences!

Some very important races only have one candidate! Although there are many races whose winners will fill important jobs and make critical decisions, this survey will only focus on contested races, races in larger jurisdictions and jurisdictions in the Chamber’s primary service area and divisions.

Look forward to receiving your copy of the first Chamber’s Voter’s Guide around October 3. You are encouraged to download your copy and share with those in your business or professional networks who would be interested in candidates’ views on business and jobs.

City Manager Search Survey

The City of Tacoma is asking for feedback from people throughout the City about the next City Manager. Specifically, they want to know priorities, goals, personality, & management style.

To take part in the survey and influence the beginning of the search, please visit the City's survey site here.  The survey will run through September 12.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chamber Presents Alaska Governor

Gov. Sean Parnell has accepted the Chamber's Alaska Committee's invitation to visit, tour and speak in Tacoma.

He will be presented at the Transportation Club of Tacoma's September 12 luncheon.  You are invited to hear him by registering with the Transportation Club. 

Much is justifiably made of the economic partnership between Alaska and Tacoma.  The status as the obvious "lower 48" home port at the Port of Tacoma for both Totem Ocean Trailer Express and Horizon Lines gives the Tacoma metro a transportation hub for shipments to and from Alaska. 

Recent years have seen continuing economic development in our area directly tied to that home port advantage:  the recent relocation of Carlile Transportation Systems and the openings of both Americold and North West Company are perfect examples of how we enjoy economic growth by meeting the needs of Alaska's economy and population.

September 12, 11 am registration opens
La Quinta Inn
1427 E. 25th Street, Tacoma 98421

Monday, August 15, 2011

Two in One Day

Today the Chamber provided opportunities for businesses to speak with two United States Senators in one day—a historic event that highlights an important Chamber service: representing business interests with the government.

“We are honored to host both U.S. Senators here in Pierce County - meeting with businesses and looking at how we can work together to create jobs,” said Tom Pierson, Chamber President & CEO.

The Chamber hosted an advocacy breakfast held at the Pacific Grill Events Center with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell and then an afternoon session for a small group of business leaders with U.S. Senator Patty Murray at the Chamber office.

At the advocacy breakfast attended by about one hundred people, Senator Cantwell spoke on priorities such as access to capital under the Small Business Jobs Acts and expanding infrastructure improvement lending for roads and freight while highlighting accomplishments like the Asarco cleanup and airborne tanker jobs. Sen. Cantwell also took questions from the audience.

During the Q & A portion of the breakfast, Linda Remsberg, CEO of NoteWorld, asked about the regulatory burdens of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act bill. Sen. Cantwell responded that she felt Congress needed to focus on solving the actual problem rather than creating hundreds of pages of new, complex regulations. She looked forward to discussing the detailed impacts to Remsberg’s company later.

At the Chamber’s afternoon advocacy session, Senator Murray largely listened to comments from a group of business representatives. Sen. Murray asked about the business climate. Points raised included not losing sight of the multiple deficits in education and a skilled workforce while working on options for people who have lost jobs but are starting new businesses.

As President of Go Local, a local business advocacy group, Patricia Lecy-Davis pointed out that there are over 5,000 locally owned businesses in Tacoma. “Many new local startups are people who recently lost their jobs. As new business owners, many don’t know what tools are available to them.”

Senator Murray, a recent appointee to chair the U.S. Congress’ Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, looked forward to having a comprehensive discussion with other legislators on how best to put people to work and support businesses of all sizes.

View photos from today’s advocacy events at the Chamber’s facebook page.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chamber Testifies on Billboards

The Chamber testified at last night’s Tacoma City Council public hearing on the new billboard Substitute Ordinance No. 28009.

Jeff Brown, the Chamber’s Chair-Elect Select, conveyed the Chamber’s support of the section of ordinance that deals with the maintenance of billboards. Brown encouraged the City Council to continue discussion in good faith with Clear Channel on the mutually agreed settlement of the lawsuit on the existing billboard ordinance. Although the City Council voted to approve the new billboard code, it will be up to Clear Channel to determine if they wish to resume their court case.

While the Chamber did not take a position on digital billboards at the hearing, it was noted by the Chamber that five council members expressed that digital technology in advertising must be addressed.

The Chamber is willing to participate with other stakeholders in formulating guidelines for digital technology in billboards and signs. For more information contact Gary Brackett.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Debunking Myths about KORUS

A recent blog post by Tami Overby, VP of Asia, U.S. Chamber of Commerce addressees claims by opponents about the KORUS FTA and the North Korea's Kaesong Industrial Complex.

It's desperation time for the protectionists who oppose these job-creating Free Trade Agreements. In a last-ditch effort to undermine support for the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), opponents are circulating the bogus accusation that the agreement will allow North Korean goods into the United States. Specifically, they charge that KORUS will allow goods made in the special industrial zone in Kaesong, North Korea, to enter the U.S. market and even allow such goods to benefit from tariff cuts under KORUS.

Here are the facts:

• It is illegal to import anything from North Korea, and KORUS will not change that. By the way, it is not true, as opponents claim, that Hyundai Motors has leased land that is "located in North Korea." In fact, an entirely separate company known as Hyundai Asan has an investment deal in North Korea - and with KORUS, no company, including Hyundai Asan, will be allowed to export anything from North Korea to the United States.

• Opponents also claim that KORUS FTA rules of origin would surreptitiously allow North Korean goods from Kaesong to be imported into the United States. U.S. sanctions against North Korea always trump the KORUS FTA. As long as U.S. sanctions against North Korea remain in place, the allowable percentage of Kaesong content in South Korean goods is zero.

• One chief goal of KORUS is to strengthen our already robust alliance with democratic South Korea in the face of North Korean threats. The U.S. alliance with South Korea is the linchpin of not only security for the Republic of Korea and the United States but also for the Pacific as a whole. The democratic South Korean government has repeatedly said the same.

Senator Cantwell at Chamber Breakfast August 15

Monday, August 8, 2011

Billboards & Business

The Chamber is urging the City Council to show that “Tacoma is open for business.”

On August 9th the City of Tacoma will have an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to businesses in Tacoma and Pierce County by allowing the replacement of older static billboards with more innovative digital billboard.

One year ago, the City Council unanimously agreed to a compromise removing a large number of traditional static billboards while allowing their replacement with fewer, newer digital billboards as compensation.

As the voice for business in Tacoma, the Chamber believes the City Council’s compromise agreement is a workable solution that considers all sides of this issue in a responsible and responsive manner. Rather than a potentially lengthy court battle with the outcome unknown, the Chamber urges City council members to reach a real solution that allows for better advertising for local businesses with their Tacoma customers and a substantial reduction of the number of billboards in Tacoma.

Billboards benefit local businesses and non-profits by providing cost effective ways to advertise. In addition, they provide additional outlets for time sensitive information – like Amber alerts. The City of Tacoma itself recognizes the value of digital billboards with its installation of digital billboards at the Tacoma Dome and Cheney Stadium.

The City must uphold its commitments to the business community.

Please email your City Council and tell them businesses are an important part of the community and to uphold the billboard settlement. To do so, click here for the direct mail link. Also consider coming to the public hearing on Tuesday, August 9, 5 p.m. at Council Chambers, Tacoma Municipal Bldg, 747 Market St., 98402.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

KorUS: Path Ahead Clears

The U.S.-Korea FTA Business Coalition welcomed statements yesterday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell that they had agreed on a pathway forward for consideration of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, along with the Colombia and Panama trade agreements and Trade Adjustment Assistance, and urged Congress to move expeditiously to approve the agreements following the August congressional recess.

"We are encouraged that the leadership of both parties have reached agreement on the road forward for these agreements," said Lisa Barry, vice president and general manager, government affairs, Chevron, and a corporate co-chair of the U.S.-Korea FTA Business Coalition. "The opportunities KORUS offers to support hundreds of thousands of high-quality American jobs are too important for us to delay action any longer. It is important that Congress move as quickly as possible, following the August recess, to approve these agreements."

The U.S. International Trade Commission has estimated that the reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. manufactured and agricultural goods under the U.S.-Korea trade agreement would increase U.S. exports to Korea by $10 billion to $11 billion. The agreement has the potential to create as many as 280,000 jobs, according to an updated assessment of the agreement prepared by U.S. International Trade Commission economic staff at the request of the Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Trade.

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