Tacoma mayor wants to meet you for coffee and promote affordable housing and good jobs

At Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards’ State of the City address, she announced she wants to meet and hear from more members of the community.

“We can passively accept the changes that emerge as our future unfolds, or we can choose to take a more active role in shaping our future as a city,” Woodards said.

Outreach was a topic continually revisited through her address, held Wednesday at University of Puget Sound’s Schneebeck Concert Hall. Her new “Coffee with the Mayor” series, starting in April, is set to become a signature piece of that.

“Connecting directly with our residents and businesses has always provided me with the level of perspective I need to make better policy decisions, and I look forward to implementing this new tool,” Woodards said in a Wednesday news release introducing the event schedule.

The theme of her State of the City address was “Our Destiny in Motion,” and Woodards cited progress made over the past year, including the unanimous passage of the city’s biennium budget as the result of several community outreach sessions among other input from the public. She also highlighted initiatives led by each City Council member.

“I may be your mayor, but I can’t take credit for anything we’ve achieved,” she said Tuesday. “It takes all of us being present and engaged to fulfill this destiny, a destiny that jointly belongs to all of us.”

Among other State of the City highlights:

Affordable housing: On the heels of last year’s tenant protection work and with the city’s Affordable Housing Action Strategy created, Woodards wants the city to double-down on its efforts in making Tacoma an affordable place to live. The council is moving forward with one piece — new regulations for accessible dwelling units. An upcoming ordinance would make it easier to create affordable secondary dwelling units on properties.

“There is no way to address (homelessness) without ensuring our community has enough affordable homes,” Woodards said.

Development: The mayor commended efforts to streamline the permit process to encourage residential and commercial development.

Planning and Development Services, for example, aims to reduce the time to issue a new commercial permit by 14 days.

“In a developer’s world, where delays cut directly into any potential profit, that’s a 25 percent time reduction,” Woodards said.

Jobs/Living wages: She noted 2,167 jobs were created in Tacoma last year, mostly by businesses between five and 50 employees. In tandem with making the city an easier place to start a business, and also encouraging more green jobs development, Woodards also sees businesses that offer living wages as a key priority, reducing barriers and working with the business community to increase the number of jobs that can sustain people.

“If we don’t grow living-wage jobs, we’re offering no hope for the future,” she noted.

Streets: Woodards made special note early on of improvements in city streets, citing number including “3,600 potholes” permanently repaired last year, along with the ongoing work for more transit friendly development and the hope of a fast ferry service for Tacoma. On top of the streets initiative, she added that the city has secured $52.3 million in grant funding and additional $3.9 million in partnership dollars.

Recycling: The mayor reminded residents to go online and take the city recycling survey. As a result of higher recycling costs, various plans are proposed, including the end of curbside recycling. The survey is at TacomaRecycles.org/Changes and runs through March 15.

Tacoma Reads: “There, There: A novel,” by Tommy Orange is the book selected for Tacoma Reads 2019, in partnership with The Puyallup Tribe. The author will be in Tacoma this fall for a book discussion.

A schedule of the rebroadcast of the address on TV Tacoma, along with a video of the address, is at https://www.cityoftacoma.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=6538.

“Coffee with the Mayor”

You’ll have to pay for your own coffee, but the goal of Mayor Victoria Woodard’s new initiative is to hear from residents in each council district, with different times offered for each event to capture as many people as possible for feedback.

Here’s the schedule:

April 13, 10 to 11 a.m., Red Elm Cafe, 1114 Martin Luther King Jr. Way

May 17, 8 to 9 a.m., Location TBD (Downtown Tacoma)

June 5, 10 to 11 a.m., Bella Latte, 6450 Tacoma Mall Blvd.

July 18, 5 to 6 p.m., Bertolino’s, 2421 S. Union Ave.

Aug. 16, 9 to 10 a.m., Old Town Tacoma Anthem Coffee, 2312 N. 30th St.

Sept. 14, 9 to 10 a.m., Location TBD, Northeast Tacoma

Oct. 21, 6 to 7 p.m., Starbucks, 3737 S. G St.

Nov. 18, 6 to 7 p.m., Location TBD

Dec. 5, 5 to 6 p.m., Antique Sandwich Co. 5102 N. Pearl St.