The Tacoma Sun

LIGHT FOR ALL
 

City Council Candidate Patricia Lecy-Davis Gives Her Position on Critical Issues in Tacoma

By Erik Bjornson

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Below are the questions and responses sent to Patricia Lacy-Davis candidate for Tacoma City Council Position 2, formally held by Washington State Legislator Jake Fey.  Robert Thoms was appointed to this seat nearly a year ago and is running for this position as well.  The questions being asked to city council candidates this year from the Tacoma Sun are very specific and address such issues as parking, feather sign regulation/ban, and the barriers to the  efforts rebuilding Tacoma. 

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1) What education and experience do you have to qualify to be a member of the Tacoma City Council? What books have you read that you believe that would give you insights as to how to be an effective councilmember?

Answer: 
Being a business owner in a creative service industry gives me a Myriad of skills needed to serve our community.
-Acceptance
-Intuition
-Initiative
-Listening
-Flexibility
-Communication
– Authenticity
-Commitment
-Humility
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Understanding the needs of clients who sometimes are not able to clearly communicate what they actually want, sometimes not being able to confidently ask for what they need, and often mistaking the reality of other unspoken needs and desires being able to be addressed by a simple service seems very much like the job expected from a council member. I find most times people just want to be paid attention, authentically listened to and validated for their feelings. Occasionally there is not an actual solution, but being heard is enough.
Also employing creative people has taught me to be satisfied being a partner in this particular stage of someone’s growth. People are on their own journeys that belong to them. I simply am here to mentor and support someone to his or her next phase of evolution. Many of my staff members have gone on to be their own business owners. Some have chosen other careers. There is always a shelf life, and we all just show up as best we can for that period of time.
As an ALF alumni, becoming a servant leader is the most rewarding role to be engaged in.
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Books: Now Discover Your Strengths, The Tipping Point, The Four Agreements, Reveille for Radicals, and Who Moved My Cheese.
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2) Growth management: Question: Over the last 30 years, Pierce County has been known for suburban sprawl which has caused the loss of farmland, pollution, traffic congestion and disinvestment in Tacoma. During the last 10 years, Tacoma has grown less than 5000 residents while Spokane grew by 13,000 and Pierce County grew by 95,000. If you are elected, would you work to add more density to the City of Tacoma? How would your plan, if any, be different from what is in place now?
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Answer: 
There is a great need for collaboration between Tacoma and Pierce County regarding this issue. The expansion of communities farther out from our core create a drain on services, increasing costs, and continue to disconnect us more and more. Density is a crucial piece of the puzzle for the future of transportation, quality of schools, the environment, and even food safety and sustainability. We need to recognize that trading farmland for strip malls is not the way to responsibly enhance our society. Looking for innovative ways to grow food, and create clean energy is very achievable in our area, and we really need to have a regional conversation about what we want Tacoma to “GROW” like in the next 5/10/20 years.
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3) “Feather Sign” Regulation Question: The Tacoma City Council recently passed an ordinance to ban feather signs in some parts of Tacoma. Some businesses such as Brown and Haley use feather signs and believe they increase sales. The city of Tacoma has purportedly held off on enforcing the feather sign law until some revisions or a repeal is considered. If elected Tacoma City Council, what regulation, if any would you support concerning feather signs in Tacoma. What areas, if any, should they be banned in?
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Answer: 
I’m very frustrated by the recent decision made by council regarding feather signs. Not because I like them, nor do I really want to see a plethora of them downtown OR down So. Tacoma Way. My frustration is the personal bias with which this decision was made. Also making a blanket restriction on them so quickly rather than taking the initiative to develop a comprehensive sign code involving businesses in the conversation from neighborhoods, mixed use and commercial centers was unfair. I do not believe that all businesses are the same, and have the same needs and strategies to attract clients. There are many communities dealing with this discussion currently, and we could learn from some of them solutions that have been determined.
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4) Parking Management Question: Because of varied demand, Seattle has 9 different priced parking zones with based on demand. Olympia maintains 4 different priced zones. Portland 4. Even Spokane has two different rates for parking. Yet the City of Tacoma continues to charge the same rate for parking despite wildly different demand for parking in downtown Tacoma. Failing to vary rates on demand has resulted in large parking vacancy almost void of vehicles (such as on S. 7th by Puget Sound Pizza) and other areas which a parking space can rarely be found (such as in front of the UWT on Pacific Ave) What efforts would you support, if any, to have the City of Tacoma vary rates in downtown Tacoma to more closely track demand in that area?
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Answer:
I believe that paid parking is, and has been a good thing for most businesses in Tacoma based on the feedback I have heard from both businesses and customers. The purpose of paid parking is and SHOULD be solely for creating a regular 15% vacancy for visitors. The complaints about parking have usually been from folks who do not understand that purpose, and want to park in front of their own businesses, or did not realize the past problems of City employees consistently taking up all available parking. Not all businesses have the same customer patterns and needs, nor do all areas have the same parking patterns, so It is crucial that we become resilient and intentional with our system. The cost of the long term garages need to be balanced with the cost of on street parking, so that frequent parking moves to garages affordably. 
It must be more attractive for someone to desire paying for garage long term parking vs. continuing to park on the street. In the UWT area, the 2 hour limit is a challenge because students tend to push the envelope by parking to attend their classes. Adjusting that area to 90 min. may be a solution, since the parking fill rate is more like 105%, spaces fill at about a 20-30 second rate. Other areas may warrant a longer limit because 2 hours is not long enough to go to the dentist, or doing lunch AND shopping is not possible, In that area, maybe the rate should be higher and limit longer. 
We have the technology, we should employ the willingness to be resilient and flexible with this system to make it work to it’s fullest potential. The most frustrating part is the aggressive ticketing for things that are seemingly “unrelated” to parking, like tabs expired, wheels not turned when there is no hill, and being too far from the curb. There should also be a gracious commitment to at least a 5 min. leeway on ticketing. “Revenue” is not supposed to be a directive of the system.
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5) Rebuilding Tacoma Question: Despite the progress made, Tacoma still has a large number of vacant lots, and empty and blighted buildings relative to other west coast cities. In fact at least two new surface level parking lots have been created downtown in the last couple of years (the Sauro site and the site where the Luzon building was). What role can you and the City of Tacoma take, if you are elected, to support the rebuilding of downtown Tacoma and Tacoma’s mixed use centers?
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Answer: 
Our building codes and regulations need to be aligned with our stated desires. Our regulatory inconsistencies are a huge barrier in Tacoma. If we could get out of the way and provide a clear path for things like “Live/work” “Work/live”, apodments, communal living, and urban growing, density wouldn’t be an issue. I have a hard time understanding why it costs more to rehab an old building, than tear it down and build new. There are ways to exempt the 60/40 flaggings of needing to do seismic upgrades, for people who are “doing the right thing” innovatively and efficiently. 
Putting in a sprinkler system that costs the building owner 1000’s of dollars shouldn’t go against their threshold of investment casting them more regulation and money. They should get a credit for it. I will continue to work with Planning and development services to break down these barriers on or off council. I have created working relationships with directors of theses departments and have frequently helped business and building owners communicate effectively getting to good desired end results. It can get better still though. There is a willingness to craft a culture of getting to “yes.”
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6) What specific policy would you seek to have passed in the City of Tacoma, if any, if elected to the city council? 7) What policy decision, if any, has the Tacoma City Council taken in the last 10 years do you disagree with? How would you have handled the issue differently if at all?
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Answer:
I would advocate for Business B&O restructuring. I’m not talking about getting rid of B&O but creating a more innovative and sustainable methodology. I’ve been educated on some specific language that ends up in us leaving a great deal of money on the table, and I also feel that the concept of “exemption” could be attached to more of an incentive type program like rewarding businesses for innovative and green practices, paid sick leave, etc. Give the “Good Actors” ways to submit for exemptions rather than a blanket gross earning threshold.

Also, there is a great need for the challenge of “Lowest Bid” language in contracts. This has a lot of unintended consequences, often results in poor quality of work, breeds bad practices, and low wages, and often costs more in the long run by the job not being done correctly the first time.
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More more information on Patricia’s campaign, see her campaign Facebook page.

published September 5th, 2013

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Erik // Sep 5, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Thanks for participating Patricia!

  • 2 Fred // Sep 5, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    The regulation of feather signs is a “critical issue?”

    By all means lets not get the candidates position on the upcoming utility tax, the overpayment of city employees, the lack of focus on the council, the recent budget problems, the city credit ratings or any other insignificant issues obscure the important business of feather sign regulation.

  • 3 Justin // Sep 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Fred, the utility tax will be addressed in future posts.

  • 4 Erik // Sep 6, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Thanks for the comment Fred. The feather sign issue alone might not be the singularly the most pressing issue facing the city.

    However, it is one of the latest regulations having been addressed by the city and will be examined again in the near future so it is a very contemporary issue. Also, it will be a good current example of how the city currently deals with businesses in the city and their efforts at surviving.

  • 5 RR Anderson // Sep 6, 2013 at 11:29 am

    nobody cares about feather signs! If business depends on feather signs you are creativity bankrupt. Ask some REAL questions…. What are their views on the Kalakala?

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