Legislative Policy Manual
(Adopted by City Council on October 19, 2015)
COMMUNITY, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, TRANSPORTATION, AND INFRASTRUCTURE
I-5 JBLM Corridor
The I-5 JBLM corridor is fully funded in the transportation revenue package adopted by the Legislature. The City will work with WSDOT to ensure timely progress of the project. The City will continue to advocate for any appropriations or policy changes needed to advance the project in the best interests of our community and region.
South Sound Military & Communities Partnership and Joint Base Lewis McChord
The City is a strong partner with Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) and a founding member of the South Sound Military Communities Partnership (SSMCP). JBLM is an employment hub for the City of Lakewood, and Lakewood has the 3rd largest city population of active duty service members in the greater Pierce and Thurston Counties region.
The SSMCP’s mission is to foster communication, understanding and mutual benefit by serving as the most effective point of coordination for resolution of those issues which transcend the specific interests of the military and civilian communities of the South Sound region. Its membership includes Pierce and Thurston County local governments, JBLM and the WA Military Department, and economic development, social services, health care, educational, transportation, and military support organizations. Current SSMCP priorities include expanding missions at JBLM and thus spurring local economic development off base; workforce transition; active duty, military family and veteran awareness of health care and social service availability; and increasing state level support of military presence in Washington.
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 maintaining the Governor’s Subcabinet on Military Downsizing; strengthening financial, legislative and political support for military presence in Washington in anticipation of future force restructuring or defense contract reductions due to sequestration, Department of Defense budget reductions, and/or base realignment and closure (BRAC) rounds; continuing to support the Washington Military Alliance (WMA), and providing financial assistance for local military advocacy agencies such as Forward Fairchild, the Puget Sound Naval Bases Association, SSMCP, and veteran support groups such as RallyPoint/6.
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.
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.
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.
Local agencies, including the City of Lakewood, lack resources for infrastructure funding. As a result, city roads remain in disrepair; general fund dollars are taken from other important services to repair roads; or a combination thereof. Given that the Public Works Assistance Account has been discontinued, the city supports the state developing new infrastructure funding programs that are viable in the current political climate.
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).
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.
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.
City Financial Liability for Offender Medical Costs
The City supports legislative proposals that reduce the cities’ financial liability for offender medical costs. Cities and counties are financially responsible for medical costs associated with an offender’s injuries incurred during the commission of a crime, even if that individual has insurance. This is inequitable and is challenging for local agencies to budget. The city supports proposals that change this current practice.
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 the State Legislature to balance budgets by shifting responsibilities to cities.
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.
Police Body Cameras
Advancements in technology now enable law enforcement agencies to equip their police officers with body-worn cameras. However, current state laws around public disclosure impede the use of this technology. The city supports legislation that removes barriers to the use of police body cameras.
Permanent Funding for the Western State Hospital Community Policing Program
Since 2007 the City has operated a highly effective neighborhood policing team to respond to hundreds of calls for police service at Western State Hospital. The City of Lakewood requests permanent funding for this program at a level that covers the full cost of the program. The City also requests that the funding amount appropriated to the community policing program be re-assessed if Western State Hospital expands.
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.
Release of Offenders to County of Origin
The City supported legislation that expanded Department of Correction’s “county of origin” policy that sends offenders back to their county of origin upon release, to also include offenders released from the Special Commitment Center operated by the Department of Social and Health Services. The City will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the expansion of this policy.
The City encourages the state to satisfy the McCleary Supreme Court decision, and develop a plan on how to fully fund education by 2018. In doing so, the City requests that the Legislature recognize quality schools also need to be located in quality communities. As such, fully funding education should not be done at the expense of funding allocated to local governments.
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.
North Clear Zone (NCZ) – Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM)
The City supports SSMCP in seeking funding to acquire and relocate the businesses within the JBLM North Clear Zone.
Clear Zones (CZ) and Accident Potential Zones (APZs) are areas where the potential for aircraft accidents has been identified through the Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ) program. The CZ is a 3,000 by 3,000 foot zone at the end of the runway where there is the highest statistical possibility of aircraft accidents. Any existing or future development in the CZ is of concern. Development in the CZ increases the likelihood of flight obstructions such as physical structures, smoke, and glare, and challenges the military’s ability to safely carry out missions. Development should be prohibited in this zone. Any use other than airfield infrastructure (e.g., approach lighting) is incompatible in the CZ. McChord Air Field’s NCZ is unique, being valuable industrial land, not farmland. With no alternative uses, the property’s value is in its development potential. This increases the cost and difficulty of acquiring Clear Zone properties.
McChord Field (formerly McChord Air Force Base) contributes millions of dollars to the local economy annually and the Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest employer in Pierce County. Both Pierce County and Lakewood have long been aware of the threat posed to military operational missions by physical encroachment in the NCZ. Existing encroachment has already required McChord to maintain a planning option of extending the base runway 5,000 feet to the south in order to accommodate potential mission changes that might arise in the future. To the DoD, the only land use with the NCZ that is deemed compatible is agriculture (except livestock). If financial means were made available, the federal government has clear authority to condemn land necessary for public purposes under 28 USC 1358. Incompatible development in the NCZ has rapidly occurred within the last 20 years. During the BRAC 2005 evaluation, McChord Field was given a lower military value due to encroachment.
Lakewood proposes an amendment to the Growth Management Act (GMA) guidelines that specifically directs the exclusion of Clear Zones and Accident Potential Zones from calculations by regional planning bodies in assigning population growth targets to cities and towns. The City wants to ensure land use compatibility with military installations by mitigating known impacts and preventing future encroachment.