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Legislative Policy Manual

Adopted by City Council on November 3, 2014

Community, Economic Development, Transportation, and Infrastructure

I-5 JBLM Corridor

The City supports full funding of improvements to the I-5 Joint Base Lewis McChord Corridor to relieve congestion and allow for future economic development of Lakewood and the surrounding region.

South Sound Military & Communities Partnership & Joint Base Lewis McChord

The City is a strong partner with Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) and a participant in the South Sound Military Communities Partnership (SSMCP). JBLM is an employment hub for the City of Lakewood. The SSMCP is a primary point of coordination for military-related issues that affects the region as a whole to include workforce development to provide opportunities for those military personnel leaving the service each year, transportation and infrastructure, education, and healthcare and wellness. The City of Lakewood supports the ongoing efforts of the SSMCP and supports policy decisions that assist JBLM. The City also believes in a strong commitment from the State in support of military affairs, such as the Washington Military Alliance (WMA), to include financial assistance in support of local advocacy agencies such as SSMCP.

Economic Development Tools

The City supports programs that may be developed to assist local governments in improvement of neighborhood residential and commercial area rehabilitation, through tax incentives, grants, loans and other programs. The City also supports legislation that provides economic development tools that the City may use if it so chooses. This legislation includes, but is not limited to: the multi-family housing tax incentive, tax increment financing, lodging tax, the Main Street Act (a series of small tax incentives for neighborhood business districts), complete streets grant program, community facility financing, shared state revenue for construction of convention and special event centers, additional shared state revenue for urban renewal and other public facility improvements, and innovative approaches to property tax assessment that reduces the current incentive to allow property to remain blighted.

Annexation

The City believes that annexation laws should encourage the logical development and expansion of the City to provide for a healthy and growing local economy and efficient services. The law should also facilitate and ease the annexation of unincorporated islands adjacent to City limits. The City supports legislation that will further modify state annexation laws to reduce the administrative process of annexation and further encourage and incentivize annexation of existing unincorporated islands. A recent model that provides a temporary shift in sales tax revenue to incentivize very large annexations needs modification to recognize that most annexations involve far fewer than 10,000 people.

Boundary Review Board

Boundary Review Boards are a quasi-judicial administrative body empowered to make decisions on such issues as incorporations, annexations, extensions of utilities, etc. by cities, towns, and special purpose districts. These Boards can approve, deny, or modify a proposal. Decisions are appealable to the Pierce County Superior Court. Because most issues are appealed to the Superior Court the City of Lakewood believes the Boundary Review Boards are duplicative and supports legislation that results in their elimination.

Local Authority for Land Use and Planning

Local governments must maintain final decision making authority on local zoning, land use, and planning, including local zoning and regulation of house-banked card rooms and other businesses. Specifically, the City opposes any effort by either the State Legislature or Congress to preempt local land use or taxation authority.

Public Works Assistance Account

The City supports reforming the Public Works Assistance Account by restoring its revenue sources, streamlining its processes, and allowing the Public Works Board to expand uses for its loan program and make other modernizations.

Parks, Recreation & Urban Forestry

The City of Lakewood is in need of state assistance to improve, maintain and expand its local park system and the open space areas of the City. The City supports ongoing funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) and the Youth Athletic Fund (YAF).

If the WWRP program is fully funded with $95 million in the 2015-17 Capital Budget, the City will receive $193,950 in funding for Phase II of Springbrook Park (Acquisition and Development), and $250,000 in funding for Waughop Lake Trail at Fort Steilacoom Park.

If the YAF fund is fully funded to $12 million, the City will have the chance to compete for these funds (e.g., lighting or turf upgrades at Fort Steilacoom Park) in a competitive grant process. Maximum grant award is $250,000.

Fort Steilacoom Park: Transfer of Ownership

Fort Steilacoom Park is currently owned by the state (DSHS), and leased to the City of Lakewood. The current lease will be up for renewal in approximately 11 years. In the meantime, an extension has been requested for grant application purposes. The City would like to transfer ownership from the State to the City, which would require legislative authorization. The City of Chehalis accomplished a similar ownership transfer for Stan Hedwall Park in the 2013-15 state budget. The City is currently exploring with DSHS and the Department of Enterprise Services whether a similar ownership transfer is possible for Fort Steilacoom Park. We have also reached out to Pierce College since their campus grounds are also leased from the State. As these conversations progress, the City is supportive of any needed legislative authorization.

Local Transportation Funding

The City supports a local funding component in future state transportation packages, and requests that cities be provided with a dedicated transportation revenue stream. Both the state and the county have dedicated transportation revenue streams; the gas tax and the county road levy, respectively. Cities lack a dedicated transportation revenue stream to maintain and operate local streets. As a result, city roads remain in disrepair; general fund dollars are taken from other important services to repair roads; or a combination thereof. A dedicated transportation fund source would improve roads and help make cities more financially sustainable.

SR 167/SR 509 Puget Sound Gateway Project

The City of Lakewood supports completing State Route 167 by adding the remaining six miles between Puyallup (SR-161) and Tacoma (SR-509) originally envisioned in the highway’s design 30 years ago.

Capital Funding Request: Towne Green

During the 2014 legislative session, the City requested $500,000 for the Lakewood Towne Green, which was proposed to be included as part of a development project at the Towne Center. The 2014 House Proposed Capital Budget proposal included $250,000 for the Towne Green, but a final capital budget was not adopted. It’s now uncertain whether the project is ripe for receiving funding because progress with the developer is moving slower than anticipated. The City expects to pursue this funding request once an agreement is reached with our developer partner.

Limiting Additional Freight on Point Defiance Bypass (Lakeview Rail Line)

With the development of the Point Defiance Bypass project in support of Amtrak passenger rail coupled with increasing demands on freight rail, there is concern that the Point Defiance Bypass project could eventually lead to carrying increased freight traffic in addition to new passenger rail. The City opposes increased freight traffic along this corridor that is above and beyond the activity already in place and does not have a destination point within Lakewood.

Finance

State-Shared Revenues

The City supports restoration and continued appropriation of committed state shared funds, such as Liquor Excise Taxes and Profits, Streamlined Sales Tax Mitigation, City-County Assistance Account, Municipal Criminal Justice Account, Annexation Sales Tax Credit, and public health funding. Support legislation that provides cities with tax revenue from the sale of marijuana.

Fiscal Home Rule (alternative to State-Shared Revenues)

The city recognizes that it is increasingly difficult for the state to continue its historic role of providing state-shared revenues to the local level. The city will evaluate fiscal home rule proposals as they are introduced.

General Fund Revenue

The City supports legislation that will increase, expand, or favorably restructure its revenue-raising ability. In consideration of the continued growth in demand for services that exceed revenue growth and inflation, the City supports the following revenue options:

  • Give local governments increased local option flexibility in all areas of taxing authority.
  • Eliminate remaining non-supplanting language and restrictions on use of certain revenues in local option tax authority. This language excessively limits City Council discretion regarding funding priorities.

Unfunded Mandates & Other State & Federal Budget Impacts

Mandates from the Federal and State governments are rarely accompanied with adequate new revenues or taxing authority, but instead force the City to reduce funding levels for other services. The City opposes efforts by Congress and the State Legislature to balance budgets by shifting responsibilities to cities.

Public Safety

Authority to Appoint Municipal Court Judges

The City supports cities’ ability to appoint a municipal court judge and to maintain courts and supports further technical and financial assistance for the administration of municipal courts.

Traffic Enforcement Cameras

The Legislature has authorized local government to use traffic enforcement cameras in limited situations, including red light enforcement at certain intersections and speed control in school zones. Traffic enforcement cameras have proven to be a success in reducing instances of speeding and violation of traffic signals. The City supports the use of traffic enforcement cameras. The City also supports legislation allowing images from traffic enforcement cameras to be used by law enforcement in criminal cases if there is probable cause.

Jail and Court Costs

The City supports legislative proposals that reduce jail and court costs, and maintain the City’s flexibility in providing jail and court services. The City supports additional funding for local grants through the Office of Public Defense, and clarifying local authority to set standards for public defenders. The City also supports maintaining the flexibility to select the most appropriate manner in which to provide jail services.

Expansion of “Fair Share” to Special Commitment Center Offenders

The City supports legislation expanding the current “fair share” law, which requires Department of Corrections to send prisoners/offenders back to their county of origin when they are released from the Special Commitment Center run by the Department of Social and Health Services. Currently, a disproportionate number of those being released from the Special Commitment Center are residing in Pierce County. Since the beginning of 2012, 41 detainees have been released, and 15 of them are in Pierce County.

General Government

Public Records & Open Meetings

The City respects the right of the public to have access to legitimate public records and documents. The City believes its ability to recover the costs of searching for, gathering and reviewing requested documents is also in the public’s interest. The City supports reasonable reforms to the public records act. The City opposes requiring the recording of executive sessions or other restrictions on legitimate uses of executive sessions.

Regulating Enhanced Service Facilities

In 2013, legislation passed allowing adult family homes to transition to enhanced service facilities (ESFs). Because of the City’s proximity to Western State Hospital, it has a significant number of adult family homes that under this new law could be transitioned into ESFs. For example, the neighborhood of Oakbrook, directly north of Western State Hospital, has 26 adult family homes. ESFs are intended to serve those that have greater needs than those in an adult family home. The City is concerned that ESFs should not be located in residential areas in the same manner as adult family homes. This last interim, DSHS completed rulemaking on the regulations that Enhanced Service Facilities must follow. The City supports legislative changes that impose greater regulation on ESFs than is included in the adopted rules.