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

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