Morgan's Brain

Oct. 11, 2009 at 1:00am

Neighborhood Improvement Projects Coming Soon to a Location Near You!

Earlier this year, applications were sought out from neighborhood groups and residents for small neighborhood improvement projects. The city calls them Innovative Grants. While the amount of actual innovation employed can be debated, the total dollar amount requested far exceeded the city's allotted budget. This can be seen as a good sign: residents are interested in getting involved in improving their neighborhoods.

Over the years, I have been a strong advocate for the city to beef up this program. Funding for it has remained stagnant since it was created some 16 years ago. If the City of Tacoma had a stronger neighborhoods program in place, it could more easily attract the type of residents that today's companies seem to desire. Instead, companies are leaving Tacoma to seek them out elsewhere. A few years ago, I did a comparison of neighborhood grant programs. Seattle - to pick a random city - spent about $5 per resident on neighborhood grants. Tacoma? Not even a buck: about .75 cents. Do the results show? I think so. You can go to any neighborhood in Seattle and be amazed at community gardens, pocket parks, and art. The iconic Fremont Troll exists because of the neighborhood grant program. By the way, Seattle now has over 70 community gardens in its program. Tacoma? About 6. The critical piece that seems to be lost on Tacoma's leaders, is that in order to create residents that love their neighborhoods, you need to get them invested and involved. Neighborhood improvement grant programs do both.

Here is the list of 2009 City of Tacoma Innovative grant projects as approved by the neighborhood councils and then the city council:

Central Neighborhood Council

South "M" Street Lighting Project___________________________________________$7,425
Replace lights and light globes on South "M" Street.
South 9th and Ainsworth Speed Hump______________________________________$6,000
Install speed hump in the vicinity of South 9th and Ainsworth.
Heidelberg Skatepark Renovations_________________________________________$4,200
Renovate and add new features such as granite rails and new ramps to the existing skate park.
Blight Removal Delong Lake Bio-swale ______________________________________ $566
Purchase items for a neighborhood cleanup that would remove blighted conditions in the Delong Lake neighborhood adjacent to the bio-swale.


Eastside Neighborhood Council

Speed Hump East "B" Street ______________________________________________$6,500
Install one speed hump in the 6800 block of East "B" Street to reduce speeds in this residential neighborhood.
Street Lights, East 60th Area ______________________________________________$7,200
Install three streetlights in the neighborhood and/or vicinity of East 60th between Portland Avenue and "M" Street to promote safety and discourage criminal activities.
Replace Hand Rail on Hill Climb, East 34th Street____________________________$5,000
Replace a deteriorating steel hand railing on the hill climb stairs located in the rights-of-way near East 34th and "N" streets.

New Tacoma Neighborhood Council

Triangle Landscaping (7th & Yakima) _____________________ $5,900
Landscape and transform the triangle at the intersection of South 7th and "I"
streets with low maintenance, low water consumption plants to create a focal
point in the neighborhood.
Outdoor Covered Area, Tacoma Ave. Homeless Shelter______ $7,500
Install an outdoor covered area that will improve the appearance of the
exterior of the Tacoma Avenue shelter while also providing an area that is
protected from the elements where shelter guests can enjoy a meal.
Dome District Banner Brackets____________________________ $3,300
Purchase and install banner brackets at various locations in the Dome.
MLK Proud To Be American Banner Brackets_______________ $3,300
Purchase and install banner brackets in various locations in the MLK Business

Northeast Tacoma Neighborhood Council

Safe Traffic Circle Planting________________________________ $7,000
Remove overgrown plants that block the view of traffic and replace with
lower, yet attractive and low-maintenance plants to improve motorist safety
while negotiating the traffic circle at Norpoint Way NE and 49th Ave. N.E.
NET Neighbors and Safe Street Signage_ ___________________ $1,500
Produce and install six signs at various locations in the neighborhood to
demonstrate the community's unity against criminal activities and to deter
potential criminals.
Metal-Arch Directional Sign #8____________________________ $5,500
Produce and install directional/wayfinding signage as a continuation of
Phase 8 of previous efforts to help visitors and residents navigate their way to
locations and landmarks in the area.
NET Neighbors Lighting___________________________________ $6,000
Install lighting in areas that currently do not have adequate lighting to
reduce and deter criminal activities.

North End Neighborhood Council

Proctor District Tree Surrounds____________________________ $1,778
Refurbish the iron tree surrounds around street trees in the Proctor Business
District (Proctor from North 24th to 30th streets).
Head of Buckley Creek Restoration
(North 16th & Junett- Buckley Gulch) ________________________ $1,505
Transform and improve safety in this open space by improving the
deteriorating railing along the creek and by installing landscaping rocks and
planting materials.
Historic Pedestrian Lighting_______________________________ $7,354
Install historic lighting fixtures to improve security in the 3000 block of
North 13th Street.
Old Town Beautification Signage (Tacoma Ave./McCarver)__ $7,500
Two "Welcome to Old Town" signs will be produced and installed as gateway
signage to help remove blighted conditions and make improvements in the
Old Town Business District.
Puget Creek Kiosk/Boardwalk_____________________________ $7,500
Install a kiosk on the boardwalk along the Puget Creek watershed to educate
visitors about urban streams and the importance of protecting wetlands and
area habitats.
Pruning Historic Trees in North Slope
(Division/Sprague/North "M")______________________________ $3,720
($3,720 carried over from previous years)
Improve the health of street trees in the neighborhood and remove trees
damaged by storms and diseases.
Stump Removal in North Slope
(North "I", 4th & 5th vicinity)______________________________ $4,664
($4,664 carried over from previous years)
Improve the streetscape by grinding and removing tree stumps in the rights-of-
way. New trees will be planted to replace stumps that are removed.

South End Neighborhood Council

Project Cruise Control_____________________________________ $2,700
Install a speed hump in the vicinity of Tacoma Avenue South between 88th
and 91st streets to reduce vehicle speeds and improve safety in the area.
Project Peaceful-Fern Hill Alliance, Safe Streets_____________ $1,750
Produce five safety notification signs in cooperation with Safe Streets to warn
and discourage would-be criminals.
South 37th Speed Bump, Lincoln Safe Streets_ _____________ $6,500
Install a speed hump in the 1200 block of 37th Street in the Jenny Reed area
to reduce traffic speed to make it safer for children to cross the street and
reduce the flow of cars trying to avoid the traffic light on South 38th and
South M streets.
Fallen Rider's Outdoor Memorial (FROM)__________________ $5,112
Remove and replace broken and hazardous sidewalk around Triangle Park
at South 46th at Thompson and Yakima where the "Fallen Rider's Outdoor
Memorial" is located.

South Tacoma Neighborhood Council

Neighborhood Signage____________________________________ $3,000
Create a neighborhood gateway for neighborhood pride and identity by
installing four signs in the Manitou area.
Garden for Hope__________________________________________ $4,000
Improve handicap accessibility to the Manitou Community Center
community garden by installing a new pathway and constructing raised bed
gardens so the disabled can participate.
South Tacoma Way Greenway Demonstration Project______ $7,000
Install new handicap-accessible benches as part of the Greenway
Demonstration project on Tacoma Water property along the Water Ditch
Lights to Take A Bite Out of Crime_________________________ $5,000
Purchase dusk-to-dawn lights for distribution to low- to moderate-income
residents to provide them with better lighting for their properties that will
help deter crime.
South 45th and Lawrence Roundabout_ ___________________ $1,000
Enhance and beautify the roundabout at South 45th and Lawrence with
concrete, rock design, and plants.

West End Neighborhood Council

Barrier Free West End, Phase I_____________________________ $7,500
Identify areas in the West End where barriers to those with disabilities can be
removed and barrier-free accommodations can be installed.
Barrier Free West End, Phase II_ ___________________________ $7,500
Identify areas in the West End where barriers to those with disabilities can be
removed and barrier-free accommodations can be installed.
Barrier Free West End, Phase III ___________________________ $7,500
($2,500 carried over from previous years)
Identify areas in the West End where barriers to those with disabilities can be
removed and barrier-free accommodations can be installed.

comments [38]  |  posted under tacoma


by fredo on 10/10/2009 @ 10:25pm
$15K for 3 speed "bumps?" Wouldn't some potholes achieve the same objective at no charge?

$23K to identify areas where barrier-free accomodations can be placed? Why don't we just ask disabled people where they want some improvements?

by panachronic on 10/11/2009 @ 7:48pm
What about South Tacoma?

by tacoma1 on 10/11/2009 @ 8:40pm
Sadly, if I-1033 passes, there won't be any money left for anyone, let alone South Tacoma.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 10/11/2009 @ 8:51pm
downtown seems to have forgotten to put in an order for more parking lots.

by fredo on 10/11/2009 @ 9:13pm
Happily, if I-1033 passes, property owners will get some relief on their property tax bills and this would give them some extra spending power. Plus houses would be more affordable for low income people.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 10/12/2009 @ 3:28am
Affordable housing for low income people, now that is a laugh. I-1033 is all about helping the rich get richer on the backs of the poor. While we are at it why not cut the minimum wage a couple of bucks an hour, that will really help the low income people with their housing costs.

by fredo on 10/12/2009 @ 7:48am
Crenshaw@ It's all quite simple. High property taxes make home ownership more problematic for poor people. Why do you hate poor people? The low income people who can finally qualify for a home loan will be praising Tim Eyman.

And you still haven't explained to me how the minimum wage law benefits people who can't find a job. Please explain.

by ixia on 10/12/2009 @ 8:22am
Demanding lower property taxes and calling for the government to take care of sidewalks, street trees and pot holes only leave one with bitterness. Basic logic reveals the contradiction. You canít have your cake and eat it, too.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 10/12/2009 @ 8:40am
You may be right, fredo. I was down at the homeless shelter and the people were telling me that the reason they are in the homeless shelter is because of the high property taxes. They can come up with the down payments and pay the interest and principle along with the insurance and utilities. It is those pesky property taxes making home ownership so difficult. I also found out that those that looked at condos with property tax abatements found them to be more expensive than similar units without property tax abatements. Seems that property tax abatements help the developer's bottom lines but in the end cost the consumer more money, all the while starving the local governments of needed revenues.

Lowering minimum wages will be good for employers but no one is going to be hiring more people unless the economy picks up. I suppose a minimum wage can be set so low that it will make most any type of business profitable in any economy but at that point the minimum wage will probably be less than a dollar an hour. The smallest businesses are run by sole proprietors who pretty much do everything in the business. They will keep doing everything themselves until the economy improves to the point that the amount of business they have demands they have more employees.

by NineInchNachos on 10/12/2009 @ 8:45am
where can I go to learn more about Tim Eyman's nihilistic death cult?

by fredo on 10/12/2009 @ 10:41am
Crenshaw@ If I-1033 is such a terrible idea how do you explain the 61% approval level the measure enjoys in current polling?

by NineInchNachos on 10/12/2009 @ 10:44am
the conservative paper "Seattle Times" has come out against i-1033.

by tacoma1 on 10/12/2009 @ 10:48am
I noticed that too. Any time that right leaning rag advocates against some right wing agenda, ya gotta know it's a really bad idea. Here's the link below.

by fredo on 10/12/2009 @ 11:16am
Nachos claims that the Seattle Times is a conservative paper. To a hammer everything looks like a nail.

Earlier this year the Seattle Times was the recipient of a multi million dollar tax break courtesy of Governor Gregoire and her democratic cohorts. You wouldn't really expect them to editorialize against them would you? The Times anti-I-1033 piece was probably ghost written by one of Gregoires staffers.

by morgan on 10/12/2009 @ 11:18am
So how about that bio-swale?

by NineInchNachos on 10/12/2009 @ 11:23am
so far all the smart people I know are against I 1033. Is there a list of organizations I can read in favor of 1033? Realtors? No. Fire Fighters? No. Policemen? No. Teachers? No. Who can I trust Fredo?

by NineInchNachos on 10/12/2009 @ 11:24am
here you are morgan:

by fredo on 10/12/2009 @ 11:38am
There is wonderful statement regarding the I-1033 initiative in the Washington State Voters pamphlet which was just mailed out last week. It includes a five page analysis which is carefully annotated with revenue and implementation estimates.

The no on I-1033 camp is almost entirely made up of organized labor, i.e. government unions. I-1033 is a threat to prevailing wages for union workers so this position is not surprising.

Voters who like the way things are going in the State of Washington (record unemployment, record business failure rates, sky high property taxes, sky high sales taxes, infrastructural meltdown, high foreclosure rates) should vote against I-1033.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 10/12/2009 @ 11:58am
Sure, fredo, we want to end up like Colorado which passed a similar measure much to their regret. These days estimates mean nothing.

by tacoma1 on 10/12/2009 @ 1:00pm
The current economic crisis did not occur because of our school teachers and firefighters. They are the very people that will be directly hurt by I-1033, and of course the citizenry too. It occured largely because of the lack of government oversight during the Bush administration of the fraud in the financial market industries, the sub prime mortgage meltdown, and banking mismanagement. The only thing that I-1033 will do is cripple government to the point that they can't do their jobs, and thus allow for more mismanagement and corporate fraud. I-1033 is a tax break for the richest of the rich, and a cruel burden on the poor. That is exactly why Tim Eyman's wealthy backers are trying so hard to sell it to us.

by KevinFreitas on 10/12/2009 @ 1:02pm
Thanks so much for the update morgan! Very interesting to note the difference in how much is spent on such measures here versus in Seattle. I'd love to see more community parks/gardens, sidewalks, trees, etc and would be happy to pay $5 a year more in city taxes to help contribute to our 'hoods.

May have to apply myself next year to have some murals put in various areas around town.

by NineInchNachos on 10/12/2009 @ 1:12pm
video voter pamphlet:

by narndt on 10/12/2009 @ 1:25pm
Money for the Fallen Riders Park? It has a mini bike elevated on a pole.

by Nick on 10/12/2009 @ 1:29pm
Also, let's remember the average income in Tacoma is significantly lower than that of Seattle, as is the population count. So a more useful metric might be to look at percentages rather than raw dollars spent.

I think we would still find Tacoma neighborhood investment is a fairly low priority in our budget, which is unfortunate and something I would love to see (and vote to have) changed.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 10/12/2009 @ 1:31pm
I'm going to start asking for some money for a Fallen City Manager Park Memorial. City Manager on a Pole. I think I can get the funding.

by fredo on 10/12/2009 @ 7:24pm
Tacoma1@ The subprime mortgage meltdown didn't start under the Bush administration, but under the Clinton administration. Bush did contribute to the problem, agreed.

Locally, our problems have been largely self inflicted with our democratic controlled executive and legislative branches expanding spending at an unsustainable rate. The state teachers and firefighters didn't cause the crisis but they did provide endorsements and funding for the democrats and received pay raises for their efforts, so in a sense they share in the responsibility.

Low income people been priced out of the housing market for too long, and I for one will be voting yes on i-1033 to help give them a chance at the American dream: owning their own home.

by fredo on 10/12/2009 @ 7:43pm
"...Eyman's wealthy backers are trying hard to sell it to us"

The reported contributions don't back up this statement.

Yes on I-1033 $670,000 (about 1/3 from Eyman himself)

No on I-1033 $2,500,000 (almost entirely from large labor unions)

by NineInchNachos on 10/12/2009 @ 8:01pm
I watched the eyeman video voter pamphlet hosted at TV W.

Tim Eyman is a lot of things, but trustworthy is not one of them. Seriously creepy dude.

by ixia on 10/12/2009 @ 8:16pm
And just how did Eyman got his money?
To act like you and Eyeman are supporting poor people is quite distasteful. Just say you hate paying taxes, we already know that. To disguise it as support of your fellow beings? paleeeze!

by L.S.Erhardt on 10/12/2009 @ 8:28pm
Can we raise funds for the 250m tall Colossus of 'Tool?
Putting that in any neighborhood would bring mass prosperity, arrogance, the Wrath of God, and of course, tourism

Put the words "green" and "sustainable" in there, and people just throw money at you... kinda like putting ".com" at the end of anything 10 years ago.

by fredo on 10/12/2009 @ 8:39pm
Our society would be greatly served if people had a chance to own their own home regardless of income level. People who are renters are essentially transient and don't have a strong interest in community development. High property tax payments shut many would be home buyers out of the market. 1033 would probably reduce these high tax payments.

Why do so many people hate the poor?

How did Eyman get his money? I think he earns most of his money as professional initiative sponsor. The market is open for you to do the same thing. Is that relevant to evaluating the measure before us? How do government workers and labor union bosses get their money?

by NineInchNachos on 10/12/2009 @ 8:48pm
I also agree that people like Thorax O'Tool are essentially transient and don't have a strong interest in community development. All he does is print mean things on posters and point out areas of apathy.

removing city government and city services will make him want to buy a house and start to contribute. If you believe that I'm also selling the 11th street bridge for only $5000 K. Please make cashiers checks payable to RR Anderson

by fredo on 10/12/2009 @ 8:57pm
Morgan-sorry I hi jacked your topic. let's return to a discussion of neighborhood "improvement" projects. The funds are supposed to be used for projects which are (here's the key word) INNOVATIVE! I noticed precious little evidence of innovation in the approved projects. Thorax's proposed giant statue or giant puppet would be more innovative and people would be talking about it for years. How many people are going to remember or comment on a stupid speed bump. I don't want my tax money spent on speed bumps. Statue honoring Thorax...maybe.

by NineInchNachos on 10/12/2009 @ 9:05pm
I hear they don't pay taxes in Somalia. I hear it is a libertarian paradise. Not much speed bump activity their either I reckon.

by L.S.Erhardt on 10/12/2009 @ 9:15pm
The Fredo Memorial Speedbump... located at the scenic corner of 23rd & M... folks line up now for your spot on the tour bus!

I really do like neighborhood improvements. That new intersection in Proctor will be outright pimpn'.
We certainly need more sizzle 'round here with our substance. Yes, function is important, but dammit, so is form. Why do We (collective Tacoma, not necessarily those on FT) not care how T-Town looks?

It's a simple formula: awesome things to lure people to visit, very nice city to encourage them to stay. It's the nature of how things work for people. Imagine if you will:

Harold Lamb of Kenosha, WI loves cars. He comes to see the LeMay museum and is wowed by Gary Cooper's Duesenberg. While staying in the mid-priced (but very nice) hotel in the Brewery District, Harold takes a stroll and immensely enjoys the pubs, shops and restaurants in the Brewery District. His wife Peggy wants to see the Museum of Glass, and they eat dinner, having some smoked salmon at Johnny's Dock. They have a great time, and tell their friends.
Their friends in turn come to visit, and enjoy themselves. They visit the Narrows Bridges Tour, they go to the viewing deck at top of the Colossus of O'Tool and fall in love with the Puget Sound.
They are so enamored with the lovely city and it's incredibly walkable nature that they move here.

Sound like fantasy? You know, it could become reality. Neighborhood improvements are the Steak here, the real substance of the meal... it makes the city more livable and attractive. 820-foot tall statues of Local Heroes and car museums are the sizzle that satisfies the other senses and enhances the enjoyment of the steak.
They work OK by themselves, but in working together they create an irresistible, satisfying dish.

by fredo on 10/12/2009 @ 9:31pm
Tacoma has the sizzle, people who grew up here take it for granted or don't realize it. Our city is nestled between the gorgeous puget sound and Mt. Rainier. Its settled with lots of wonderful old homes and interesting architecture. If we could just maintain what we have and keep it clean lots of people like the Lambs would want to locate here.

But if we have to have a tourist attraction i guess the fredo memorial speed bump would be OK. But picture this...the Colussus of Thorax with one foot on the Emerald Queen Casino and and other foot on top of the ICE Detention Center. That wouldn't be too bad. RR did a sketch of just such a statue for Tollefson Plaza a couple years ago.

by L.S.Erhardt on 10/12/2009 @ 10:00pm
One foot on ICE? As long as that foot is wearing football cleats, I'm all for it.

by L.S.Erhardt on 10/12/2009 @ 10:12pm
Oh, and I forgot.

In regards to Sizzle, yes those of us raised here do take it for granted. That tends to happen.
But on the other side of the coin, We sure don't seem to advertise/brag about all that sizzle.