THE TACOMIC


Q: Poor Richard's Final Answer to the Old City Hall question?

A: THE TACOMA METHOD - City of Destiny's TRIED and TRUE FALL-BACK
posted Nov 30, 2010
save old city hall, tacoma method, tacomic, history, poster, fun
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Hello Seeker! Are you looking for practical solutions to age old questions like how do you save THE cultural icon of your city?  Consider THE TACOMA METHOD!  What better way to pay tribute to a building that empowered such evil in the first place?  Of course the Tacoma Method only works on people who are actually in the city... so you'd have to trick the absentee-deadbeat landlords here first (candy cane roca?) before you could expel them once and for all.  EVEN SO, send your ideas to City Manager Eric Anderson... he could really use them.  Meanwhile a lonely The News Tribune reporter writes some stuff too

Old City Hall Update



BEFORE: 100 Tacomics Book by RR Anderson

by Erik on 11/30/2010 @ 1:07am
Save Old City Hall by (almost) any means necessary!

If the Space Needle was about to be irreparably damaged, I doubt Seattle would have let so much time passed.

If Tacoma loses Old City Hall, the city will be a shadow of itself.

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 2:27am
doesn't the ends justify the means?

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 2:29am
coming up with ideas for saving things worth saving is above Eric Anderson's pay grade.

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 3:54am
THANK YOU ANONYMOUS TIPSTER!

***another stratford project***

www.capitolhillseattle.com/2010/07/21/ta...

www.seattlepi.com/local/385132_fire28.ht...

www.seattlepi.com/photos/popupV2.asp?Sub...

QUOTE: "i pass by this eyesore on the bus almost every day. it's gotten more run down since the fire. if they don't have the money to do something about this relatively small project, i'm not sure how they plan to take care of something as big as old city hall. oh well."

by The Jinxmedic on 11/30/2010 @ 6:11am
I, of course, am somewhat of a connoisseur of period handbills. Therefore, I heartily approve of this Tacomic.

I also approve the creative editing of my Luzon/OCH photograph. Very nice.

by Jesse on 11/30/2010 @ 6:49am
Wasn't the Tacoma Method iin 1884-ish? City Hall = 1893.

That evil was hatched somewhere else.

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 8:03am
whatever! they both have "18" in the numbers!

by fredo on 11/30/2010 @ 8:06am
I think I'm starting to understand:

Depriving Chinese people of their property rights=bad thing
Depriving Rich White people of their property rights=good thing

by KevinFreitas on 11/30/2010 @ 8:21am
Screw property rights in this case, @fredo, I'm afraid. If the owners want to let an icon on the National Historic Register go to crap then they forfeit their rights -- especially if a caring city and its people want to lend a hand to preserve it for generations to come and not let it rot from the inside and fall on our heads later.

I'd be the first to phone in a blighted house in my neighborhood and am thankful we're all doing the same here with Old City Hall.

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 8:22am
"like"

by The Jinxmedic on 11/30/2010 @ 8:25am
"doublepluslike"

by fredo on 11/30/2010 @ 8:39am
So clearly, people forfeit their constitutional right to dictate the management of their private property whenever that property is an icon on the national historic register.

I'm just playing the devil's advocate, I'm not advocating for the demise of OCH.

by Mofo from the Hood on 11/30/2010 @ 8:40am
GreatSeizuresGhost!

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 9:31am
from mah facebook:

Michael Sean Sullivan: I'm thinking the City of Tacoma should press to get the building back from the Stratford Group if they are unable to act. Maybe a new Old City Hall makes sense. Muni Court, non-profits, cultural players and urban mixed uses. Right now with no sprinklers, water in the electrical system and power off and on the building is in peril. No cash flow and insurance value higher than market. The Tacoma Hotel scenario setting up like weather fronts before a snow storm.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/30/2010 @ 9:33am
From the webstite of one of the current tenants of the
OCH, Halo Construction:

24-Hour Emergency Response
If you are in need of emergency services for a residential or commercial loss, you can call 877-334-HALO (4256) anytime, day or night. A live Halo customer service representative is available 24/7 to answer questions and gather information about your particular loss. Once the necessary information is obtained, our crews can arrive fully prepared for your job. View our 24-Hour Emergency Service Coverage Area map.

Halo Emergency Response Services include:

Board-Ups
Plumbing Emergencies
Temporary Electrical Facilities
Water Extraction
Temporary Heating and Lighting
Debris Removal
Shoring-Up of Damaged Structures
Full-Service Restoration
Halo Provides Full-Service Restoration in the case of:

Natural Catastrophes
Fire & Smoke Damage
Water Damage
Vehicle Impacts
Fallen tree removal
Wind Damage
Damage due to Vandalism and Malicious Mischief
Temporary Repairs
Asbestos Abatement

Just a little bit ironic, don't you think?

by captiveyak on 11/30/2010 @ 9:55am
Fredo --- i like your style.

People don't forfeit their constitutional right to dictate the management of their private property whenever that property is an icon on the national historic register. They lose it when they neglect or passively contribute to the elimination of a public value item. The historic register status indicates that the property is of special public value. People lose their right to manage their private property when they pollute public waters as well. Same concept.

by The Jinxmedic on 11/30/2010 @ 10:00am
Fredo, owning a building on the National Register is similar to owning a house in a housing development with a restrictive homeowner's convenant. There are things a property owner can and can't do to the appearance of the property, and properties must be maintained within certain standards specified by the convenant. These convenants absolutely and without question supercede certain property owner's rights. This is completely legal, and is all pretty standard. These rules (especially in the case of housing developments) can be rigidly enforced, as the convenant is agreed to by the act owning the property (sort of like a software user's license). So who enforces the rules and standards regarding National Register properties? Apparently, no one.

by fredo on 11/30/2010 @ 10:08am
So people who own a property that is "of special public value" don't actually own the property, they just make themselves available to pay all the bills?

And how do the historic vigilantes expect to gain access to the building? Is there a sympathetic locksmith in town who would be willing to forfeit his license and bond to spring the doors open?

And when one of the historic vigilantes falls through a hole in the floor and is paralized who will be picking up the tab for his care?

And who will be picking up the tab for an attorney to defend the people who are arrested for trespassing, breaking and entering and burglary?

I'm not sure how the destruction of a lovely old building which would make people sad is the same as polluting the public waters which would be likely to have a detrimental effect on public health.

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 10:16am
loss of icon = psychic pollution = detrimental effect on public health

by fredo on 11/30/2010 @ 10:23am
Well if loss of an icon results in detrimental effects on public health I would expect there are some measurable health effects from the demolition of the Luzon building. Could we see the statistics on that?

by captiveyak on 11/30/2010 @ 10:27am
Fredo -

there are a lot of other buildings that aren't historic. no one's forcing the poor landlords to buy historic structures. they purchase with the understanding that the building is of public value beyond its environmental or safety impact.

by fredo on 11/30/2010 @ 10:39am
"there are a lot of other buildings that aren't historic. no one's forcing the poor landlords to buy historic structures. they purchase with the understanding that the building is of public value beyond its environmental or safety impact." captiveyak

Is there any evidence that the owner selected this building because of its historical significance? It's possible it was purchased in spite of its significance.

Zimmerman purchased the historic old elks building, not to preserve it's history but, just to make a buck. He allowed the building to deteriorate in the hopes that someone would come and rescue it at a profit to himself. This is a rather sinister approach to property management but it happens all the time. I don't remember anyone offering to go in and fix up the Elks Building.

by The Jinxmedic on 11/30/2010 @ 10:40am
Fredo- stop paying property taxes and see who "owns" your property. After all, no one actually "owns" anything in this country. It's all make-believe.

Also, what Captive Yak just said.

by fredo on 11/30/2010 @ 10:56am
has anyone claimed that the OCH taxes are delinquent?

even if they are delinquent, the owners may have several years before such delinquency could force a change in ownership.


by captiveyak on 11/30/2010 @ 11:01am
Fredo -

According to the assessor's data, taxes are current.

by The Jinxmedic on 11/30/2010 @ 11:18am
I did not make any claim regarding tax delinquency on the Old City Hall property. I merely used the reality of property taxes as way of illustrating the myth of "ownership" of real estate.

After all, you may eventually pay off your mortgage- but the property still technically belongs to the government. You are simply "leasing" your property through payment of property taxes.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/30/2010 @ 11:34am
By the time your mortgage is paid off your property taxes are most likely higher than your entire mortgage payment was when you first purchased your house.

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 11:37am
for entertainment purposes only:

www.thestratfordcompany.com/prev/project...

www.thestratfordcompany.com/prev/team.ht...

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 11:39am
www.thestratfordcompany.com/oldcityhall/...

by jenyum on 11/30/2010 @ 12:40pm
One of their other Seattle projects, Dexter Place, currently has a foreclosure rate of 66.67%, ranking 4th out of 98 developments in the area. Judging from the median home sale price in the past 12 months of $9,445, I'd guess there have been a lot of foreclosure sales.

source:
seattle.blockshopper.com/condos/developm...

by fredo on 11/30/2010 @ 1:02pm
"By the time your mortgage is paid off your property taxes are most likely higher than your entire mortgage payment was when you first purchased your house."Crenshaw

This is priceless. A liberal makes an unflattering observation on the confiscatory nature of property taxes.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/30/2010 @ 1:44pm
It is an unflattering observation but it is the truth. Just a reminder that you really don't own property in this country, the government owns it but lets you use it, improve it, and be taxed on it. At the end of the day property ownership is an illusion.

by The Jinxmedic on 11/30/2010 @ 2:59pm
That's what I was trying to say...

by JesseHillFan on 11/30/2010 @ 3:01pm
"It is an unflattering observation but it is the truth. Just a reminder that you really don't own property in this country, the government owns it but lets you use it, improve it, and be taxed on it. At the end of the day property ownership is an illusion."

Yet many states within the U.S.A. don't have property taxes

by The Jinxmedic on 11/30/2010 @ 3:32pm
These states have no county, city, borough, township, parish, town, or village property taxes, either? Somehow, I doubt it.

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 3:51pm
just live in a state of mind.

by cisserosmiley on 11/30/2010 @ 4:17pm
Arizona has very low property tax - the max unemployment benefit is $240 a week (WA.-$560 a week) ironically that state has both sales and income tax (and a very small property tax) and it's a total crap hole. Moral of the story is WE WASHINGTONIANS pay about average tax, but we live in a top ten state for good livin'........................how is this possible?

by The Jinxmedic on 11/30/2010 @ 4:22pm
It's called "deficit spending".

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 7:24pm
whole lotta nuttin honey

blog.thenewstribune.com/politics/2010/11...

by oldbrickhousefarm on 11/30/2010 @ 7:50pm
The remediation effort should have commenced a week ago, but all we have is a study session followed by a sound off at City Council. Where is our leadership, courage and GRIT!!
.
Informal poll to the Citizens of Tacoma & Pierce County:
.
Given contractual protections from Union Bank and the ownership group you would be in first position to proceeds from the imminent foreclosure sale of Old City Hall.....Are there those of us out there who would put our money behind our words to see the remediation effort commence immediately??
.
If so, COUNT ME IN for a 5-figure loan!



Read more: blog.thenewstribune.com/politics/2010/11...

by Erik on 11/30/2010 @ 8:35pm
Read the News Tribune article where councilmember David Boe and Mayor Strickland fight to save Old City Hall:

City regulators have little or no legal authority to force the owners of Old City Hall to clean up the historic building after a ruptured water pipe flooded parts of it last week, City Manager Eric Anderson told city council members Tuesday.

During an update on Old City Halls situation at the councils study session, Anderson assured council members the city is doing all it can to ensure the privately-owned building doesnt go the way of another downtown landmark: the Luzon Building.

A tenant watches watches water flowing from a broken pipe inside Old City Hall last week.

We want to make sure we are doing everything we can do to avoid losing the building, Anderson said.

But Anderson added: We cant just go into a (private) building and clean it up without an immediate public danger.

Unlike the 118-year-old Luzon, which the city razed last year after 30 years of neglect and private restoration efforts failed, Old City Hall does not represent a public safety hazard, Anderson said.

Its not in imminent danger of collapse, he said.

On a hypothetical scale of 1 to 10, with 10 posing an immediate threat to public safety, Anderson described the 122-year-old Old City Hall building as closer to a 1.

But at least one council member disagreed with Andersons assessment.

Id put it closer to a 5, said Councilman David Boe, an architect by trade, just because of the insidious nature of water in a wood-framed structure.

Boe added there is significant concern with allowing water to stand over time in Old City Hall, a situation he said could create structural, mold or other problems and potentially limit interests from outside parties that may want to take on the project.

Youve got to dry that building out, Boe said. What concerns me with a wood-framed structure in the interior and were heading into the wet months (is) there needs to be a plan going forward, and not just wait for the insurance claim.


blog.thenewstribune.com/politics/2010/11...

by NineInchNachos on 11/30/2010 @ 9:19pm
might as well have given a 35K a year raise to a lumpy sack of potatoes in a neck tie.

by The Jinxmedic on 12/1/2010 @ 3:32am
What NiN said.

by fredo on 12/1/2010 @ 7:00am
and the ratings continue...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y9IBwihU4w&feat...

by captiveyak on 12/1/2010 @ 7:24am
my position on taxes is prosaic:
The rest of the world can go to hell as long as I get what I want from the government at the lowest imaginable price. It is the government we're talking about here, after all -- so some faceless person who I do not have the burden of having personal knowledge of should be required to have a lower quality of life than I do in order to make said goverment affordable to me. Said government should not be an attractive employer to competent educated individuals, either. That way, my taxes will not be spent on high-wage employees, and I can kvetch about govenrment incomptence. I choose to conveninently forget that i cannot be surrounded by a world going to hell without actually being in hell myself. I am not so soulless as to deny the need for a "safety net", though. The government should be able to step in and offer a hand up to people who are literally - not figuratively - sinking in quicksand. It is impossible to pull yourself up by your bootstraps out of literal quicksand.

Of course, all of this means that most of the current government is chaff to be burned - vestigial limbs to be hewn off. A dizzying galaxy of unnecessary BS hoping to god that no one finds out about the sweet teat they've been suckling off in their darkened corner. The govenrment should run on a dime and turn on a dime.

If that means that there are no resources to deal with situations like OCH, so be it. The concept of an OCH obviously was not agreeable to the market. The market rules all. We can't let OCH become another government-baby money pit.


by fredo on 12/1/2010 @ 7:44am
good stuff captiveyak!

people who don't like the way the city is run will be happy to learn that there will be some elective seats opening up on the city council in just a few short months. get your committee together print up some signs. maybe you will be the next connie ladenburg!

by captiveyak on 12/1/2010 @ 7:56am
What we need is another Boe -- someone interested in nuts-and-bolts approaches to tangible community betterment. He's not a skilled politician ambitious for higher office, but an expert in a field useful to the City. I don't know how you make someone like that appealing to voters, who tend to not pay attention to nuts and bolts (which explains the continued profitablity of PR firms).

by Mofo from the Hood on 12/1/2010 @ 8:01am
Government=Machine=System=Noncompassion

by NineInchNachos on 12/1/2010 @ 8:38am
CaptiveYak , whenever you decide to run as a nuts and bolts candidate, you will have the support of the Tacomic. I'm already thinking of catchy Pro Boe/Like Ike bumperstickers for his retention campaign

by fredo on 12/1/2010 @ 10:17am
Just one year ago the electorate was given the opportunity to elect a mayoral candidate who had strong private sector experience, was a respected local architect, and enjoyed no labor union entanglements.

Instead we decided to go with a candidate who was an entrenched civil servant, beholden to local labor unions, and who had practically zero private sector experience.

If you voted for this "leader" then please have enough self respect not to complain about the way the city functions.

by NineInchNachos on 12/1/2010 @ 10:27am
Fredo, how is title of mayor relevant in city manager forms of government?

by fredo on 12/1/2010 @ 10:30am
The mayor in a city manager form of government commands what is referred to as the "bully pulpit." I don't have time to give you a civics lesson. But you can probably google it.

by captiveyak on 12/1/2010 @ 1:03pm
The blame here truly doesn't lie with the city, but with negligent landowners who have no accountability until bricks start falling. The city is showing good stewardship by revising the historic building program.

I do think the City needs to step up the demand for an official inspection and damage assessment. The owner has no motivation to provide a thorough or accurate report to the public. There is nothing that should stop the city from requesting entry to inspect the building.

After all, public resources are being used to monitor the building as a fire hazard.

by NineInchNachos on 12/1/2010 @ 1:40pm
saw tacoma power inspecting building today

by fredo on 12/1/2010 @ 2:26pm
"The city is showing good stewardship by revising the historic building program." captiveyak

could you provide a link to the revisions so that people who are interested might review them?


by morgan on 12/1/2010 @ 5:42pm
This is ironic: the current owners of Old City Hall bought it from the former owners of the Luzon.

by NineInchNachos on 12/1/2010 @ 5:55pm
OMG!

by morgan on 12/1/2010 @ 5:59pm
If my math is right, based on the last purchase price of $2.7M (which I think flooding reduces value) - it would take 540 people with $5,000 to buy it all cash. Hmmm...

by cisserosmiley on 12/1/2010 @ 6:04pm
less an OMG! more of an OF COURSE!
Now, all of you transplants to T-Town...get all Xenophobic and start a campaign against non-Tacoma owners. We should require at least one owner be from Tacoma, then the city council could get rich buying into development consortiums as the "tacoma" guy...

by NineInchNachos on 12/1/2010 @ 6:33pm
cissero your comment is true to the intent of this cartoon. I give you an INT3GRITY rating of +1 (but more like 5)

by Dave_L on 12/1/2010 @ 6:45pm
Morgan: "This is ironic: the current owners of Old City Hall bought it from the former owners of the Luzon.
And we Lose-On.

by captiveyak on 12/1/2010 @ 7:06pm
Fredo, et al:

i'm currently preparing an article addressing the City's plans to amend our Historic Preservation program. It will post tonight. No one else seems to be covering the topic, and it seems worth a gander.

by NineInchNachos on 12/1/2010 @ 8:52pm
keep on rockin in the free world CaptiveYak!

www.exit133.com/6084/tacoma-historic-pre...


by NineInchNachos on 12/2/2010 @ 8:32am
I like the forward leaning stance of this blog post:

i.feedtacoma.com/Erik/5-things-city-taco...

by captiveyak on 12/2/2010 @ 10:41am
The city needs to stop sitting on its fearful little hands and get into that building TODAY. we don't have time to wait for the next council meeting or for Webb's insurance issues to work themselves out. This has officially become ridiculous.

by Erik on 12/2/2010 @ 10:47am
@RR: Thanks!


by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 12/2/2010 @ 11:20am
this might be helpful: last year (and even as far back as 2008), i covered the city's plans to overhaul the historic preservation program for the tacoma daily index. i got distracted by other stories (wedge historic district, winthrop hotel interview series, pierce county historic survey, etc.) and haven't revisited the issue, but there was some good background info in those articles.

the articles have since been archived on our web site (hyperlinks no longer work), but i've copied/pasted them below. enjoy!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

City will review historic preservation program in 2009 (11/26/08)

By Todd Matthews

The City of Tacoma's historic preservation program could undergo some major revisions in the New Year as city officials prepare to embark on the development of a citywide historic preservation plan.

In a memo written earlier this month by Community and Economic Development Director (CEDD) Ryan Petty to City Manager Eric Anderson, Petty cites a need to examine the program in order to respond to recent inquiries from residents and councilmembers.

"Over the last several months, the City Council has received several requests from the community for improvements and additions to City policies and procedures relating to Historic Preservation," states Petty in the Nov. 10 memo. "In addition, staff and the Landmarks Preservation Commission have identified the need to address other important areas related to the City's historic preservation program."

Petty adds that CEDD will address these issues through the development of a citywide Historic Preservation Plan. Funding for the comprehensive review is included in the proposed biennium budget, and would be conducted by the Planning and Landmarks Preservation Commissions next year.

Issues raised in recent months and expected to be addressed in the coming year include:

-- A revision to the streets and public places naming policy;

-- Development of a citywide monument and commemorative marker policy;

-- A review of demolition permit applications;

-- Development of procedures to "de-list" historic properties;

-- Development of code enforcement procedures for historic properties and districts;

-- A revision to review procedures for historic district designation; and

-- Establishment of additional historic districts, including the "Wedge," Whitman Area, and West Slope neighborhoods.

"This doesn't happen often," said historic preservation officer Reuben McKnight this week. "I think it shows a heightened level of interest in historic preservation. The program is 30 to 35 years old. Since 2005, we haven't made many updates at all. I think we can be much more detailed and focused."

McKnight points to a busy year for historic preservation in 2008 as one reason for the policy work: the local advocacy group Historic Tacoma has asked City Hall to consider a demolition policy with an eye toward preserving and re-using older structures instead of sending building materials to landfills; representatives from the Wedge, Whitman, Old Town, and West Slope neighborhoods have expressed interests in creating historic districts; and some city councilmembers have asked McKnight to look at whether current policy adequately addresses naming public places and de-listing some properties.

"There are a lot of policy areas that we can always improve," he adds. "Certain things we don't have in our code presently that we have been asked to look at."

Petty and McKnight are scheduled to make a presentation to City Council during a study session Jan. 13.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Tacoma City Council will discuss historic preservation program Feb. 3 (01/30/09)

By Todd Matthews

Tacoma City Council is scheduled to review the city's historic preservation program during its noon study session Feb. 3.

In November, the Index reported the program could undergo some major revisions in the New Year as city officials prepare to embark on the development of a citywide historic preservation plan.

In a memo written in November by Community and Economic Development Director (CEDD) Ryan Petty to City Manager Eric Anderson, Petty cited a need to examine the program in order to respond to recent inquiries from residents and councilmembers.

"Over the last several months, the City Council has received several requests from the community for improvements and additions to City policies and procedures relating to Historic Preservation," wrote Petty in the Nov. 10 memo. "In addition, staff and the Landmarks Preservation Commission have identified the need to address other important areas related to the City's historic preservation program."

Petty added that CEDD will address these issues through the development of a citywide Historic Preservation Plan. In December, City Council voted to approve $200,000 in its 2009-10 biennial budget toward completing a comprehensive historic preservation plan and funding additional historic resource inventories, updating existing inventories, and digitizing data.

Issues expected to be addressed during Tuesday's study session include:

-- A revision to the streets and public places naming policy;

-- Development of a citywide monument and commemorative marker policy;

-- A review of demolition permit applications;

-- Development of procedures to "de-list" historic properties;

-- Development of code enforcement procedures for historic properties and districts;

-- A revision to review procedures for historic district designation; and

-- Establishment of additional historic districts, including the "Wedge," Whitman Area, and West Slope neighborhoods.

"This doesn't happen often," historic preservation officer Reuben McKnight told the Index in November. "I think it shows a heightened level of interest in historic preservation. The program is 30 to 35 years old. Since 2005, we haven't made many updates at all. I think we can be much more detailed and focused."

McKnight cited a busy year for historic preservation in 2008 as one reason for the policy work: the local advocacy group Historic Tacoma has asked City Hall to consider a demolition policy with an eye toward preserving and re-using older structures instead of sending building materials to landfills; representatives from the Wedge, Whitman, Old Town, and West Slope neighborhoods have expressed interests in creating historic districts; and some city councilmembers have asked McKnight to look at whether current policies adequately address naming public places and de-listing some properties.

"There are a lot of policy areas that we can always improve," McKnight added. "Certain things we don't have in our code presently that we have been asked to look at."

Petty and McKnight are scheduled to make a presentation to City Council Tuesday in Room 16 of the Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market St. The Council will not take public comment during the meeting. Audio from the session will be broadcast live on TV Tacoma and on www.tvtacoma.com .

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Heavy lifting ahead for City's historic preservation office (02/05/09)

By Todd Matthews

One could argue the single area of Tacoma related to historic preservation that will receive the most attention and biggest overhaul this year is the City's own historic preservation program.

In December, City Council allocated $200,000 in its 2009-10 biennial budget toward completing a comprehensive historic preservation plan and funding additional historic resource inventories, updating existing inventories, and digitizing data.

That work was laid out in detail Tuesday during a presentation to Tacoma City Council during its noon study session. According to Historic Preservation Officer Reuben McKnight, the presentation aimed to provide an overview of the work item requests received last year, and provide a plan for addressing those items over the next 18 months.

Here are some of the initiatives the City's historic preservation office will tackle in 2009-2010:

1. Establishment of additional historic districts / Residents in three Tacoma neighborhoods -- the "Wedge," Whitman, and the West Slope -- have contacted the City with an interest in designating their neighborhoods as historic districts. This year, the historic preservation office will explore how to better streamline a process to serve residents interested in creating historic districts. "There are currently questions that are not totally resolved," said McKnight. "How are they made? Who carries the cost? How can the planning and landmarks preservation commissions be better coordinated?"

2. Updates to the city's historic property inventory / A major inventory was conducted between 1977 and 1982. Since 2003, the inventory has been updated periodically as funding has been available. According to McKnight, a majority of data are old or incomplete, methodology has changed, and the 50-year cutoff date for historic properties has moved since the last survey. "It really needs to be thoroughly vetted and made complete, and entails a significant overhaul," said McKnight.

3. Revised policy for naming historic areas / In 1989, City Council adopted a resolution guiding citizens on how to request naming historically significant areas of town. "The indications are that it may be time to take a look at how that works and ways to improve it," said McKnight. One effort that could benefit from a policy improvement is a plan under way to re-name D Street Overpass to Delin Crossing in honor of Nicholas Delin and his 19th Century timber mill once located on Tacoma's tide flats.

4. Demolition permit review process / Originated by the advocacy group Historic Tacoma, one proposed idea is for a demolition review ordinance that calls for a developer seeking a demolition permit for a building 50 years or older to also submit photographs of the building's condition and documentation of its age to the city's historic preservation office and landmarks preservation commission for review. Reviews would not prevent demolition of older structures, but would be effective in assessing the historic significance of the structure and the impact of demolition on neighborhood character. If the structure is deemed historically significant and eligible for the city's register, a defined period of time would be set during which a nomination could be submitted. McKnight said the goal is to provide City Council several alternatives for a demolition review process.

The City is also expected to explore procedures for "de-listing" historic properties; code enforcement for historic properties and districts; a policy for commemorative markers and monuments; a review of whether incentives for landmarking historic properties are effective; a comprehensive survey of religious structures; and a city-wide archaeological study.

The topic of historic districts received the most attention from councilmembers because it can be a controversial issue. Preservationists want to keep a section of the city protected for future generations; homeowners fear the designation will cripple their abilities to make modifications to their homes. Among the three historic districts on the city's register, only one is a residential historic district (North Slope). In 1999, an effort to create a historic district in Old Town failed after homeowners turned out en masse at City Hall to protest the idea.

"[Old Town] was a tremendous controversy," recalled Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma during Tuesday's meeting. "We really have to find a way of gauging the support. You're going to get vociferous pushback from people in the area. It should be a strong majority of people who live in the area committed to making that work."

Councilmember Mike Lonergan was concerned that staff would spend time and energy up front on a topic that can be "highly controversial and impose restrictions on property rights" only to see there isn't enough community support for City Council to comfortably approve the creation of a particular district. He was also concerned over the number of neighborhoods seeking historic district status.

"The idea of historical significance can be lost," said Councilmember Mike Lonergan. "If everyone is special then no one is special. We're going to have to really focus.

"I'm wondering if we're not starting to go in a direction where we have a long line of people wanting to declare their building or whole section of the city historic," he added.

And he asked where historic preservation fit into everyday needs for the average Tacoman. "Many people live in a historic house, but they may be saying just fix my historic street," he said. "Use resources and energy on obvious needs."

McKnight agreed historic districts are touchy. But he noted that recent interest in historic districts have come from residents within the proposed district boundaries. "It's important to restate none of these historic district proposals originated from the City," he said. "They all came from neighborhood groups. When and if these get to formal review, there will be a very thorough public process."

Councilmember Julie Anderson said she supported residents' interests in historic districts.

"I'm glad that grass roots activism has initiated these requests," she said. "The amount of money staff have estimated to assist with inventory and vetting of historic districts is a very low cost. I respect Councilmember Lonergan's remarks, but I look at it as preserving a fabric of the city. They may be street after street of very ordinary houses, but they tell a story of the evolution of our working class and development of neighborhoods. I'm glad we have vehicle to allow citizens to work it out. I also respect the fact that should citizens decide they want to create districts, it comes at a cost. There are restrictions. I think it's a worthwhile experiment and look forward to how it turns out. I suspect 100 years from now we will be so lucky to have these historic districts. It's preserving whole areas of cloth within our city."

This week's discussion traces back to last year, when the historic preservation office began receiving queries about the program from citizens and councilmembers.

In November, the Index reported the program could undergo some major revisions in the New Year as city officials prepare to embark on the development of a citywide historic preservation plan.

In a memo written in November by Community and Economic Development Director (CEDD) Ryan Petty to City Manager Eric Anderson, Petty cited a need to examine the program in order to respond to recent inquiries from residents and councilmembers.

"Over the last several months, the City Council has received several requests from the community for improvements and additions to City policies and procedures relating to Historic Preservation," wrote Petty in the Nov. 10 memo. "In addition, staff and the Landmarks Preservation Commission have identified the need to address other important areas related to the City's historic preservation program."

"This doesn't happen often," McKnight told the Index in November. "I think it shows a heightened level of interest in historic preservation. The program is 30 to 35 years old. Since 2005, we haven't made many updates at all. I think we can be much more detailed and focused."

McKnight cited a busy year for historic preservation in 2008 as one reason for the policy work.

"There are a lot of policy areas that we can always improve," he added. "Certain things we don't have in our code presently that we have been asked to look at."

Tacoma's historic preservation office dates back to 1973. Approximately 140 landmarks are listed on the city's historic register. In recent years, an average of five buildings have been nominated and added annually to the register (in 2008, 10 buildings were added), and 1,100 buildings are included in the city's local historic districts. Annually, the landmarks commission reviews 60 to 80 projects ranging from design review, historic nominations, and special tax incentives related to preservation.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Consulting team will review Tacoma's historic preservation policies (06/02/09)

By Todd Matthews, Editor

The City of Tacoma's Community and Economic Development Department announced today it has selected a consulting team to review the city's development and historic preservation policies as part of a comprehensive overall improvement.

In a statement released today, the city's historic preservation officer, Reuben Mcknight, said Winter & Company has been tasked with making sure new development work and historic preservation interests are in synch. "We're interested in providing more clarity and certainty for developers and the preservation community," said McKnight.

The $100,000 project directs Winter & Company to scour the City's development and historic preservation policies for inconsistencies and make recommendation for relevant updates to the City's comprehensive plan; update the historic building inventory, which now numbers approximately 2,000 properties; and create a more user-friendly database of those properties.

The City Council committed funds to this project and a related $100,000 review of the City's archaeological resource protection policies to make development easier while protecting the integrity of the City's unique historic building stock.

The team, led by Nore Winter, includes Donovan Rypkema, an expert on the economics of historic preservation, Michael Sullivan with Tacoma-based Artifacts Consulting, architect Jack Williams, and experts in the fields of code development, public process, and urban design.


by NineInchNachos on 12/2/2010 @ 8:21pm
thanks todd! these comments will help fill out Volume II :)

by fredo on 12/2/2010 @ 8:37pm
"The $100,000 project directs Winter & Company to scour the City's development and historic preservation policies for inconsistencies and make recommendation for relevant updates to the City's comprehensive plan; update the historic building inventory, which now numbers approximately 2,000 properties; and create a more user-friendly database of those properties.

The City Council committed funds to this project and a related $100,000 review of the City's archaeological resource protection policies to make development easier while protecting the integrity of the City's unique historic building stock."

Judging by the city's inability to react to the OCH dilemma I would suggest that the $200,000 spent by the city on consultanttion and review was money that could have been flushed down the toilet with exactly the same effect.

by cisserosmiley on 12/3/2010 @ 4:09am
Let's all practice the idea of letting OCH go by the historical gem wayside. Imagine a new building, tall and all glassy with a wimsy but neo name...ochtower condominiums invites you to not move to a vacant esplanade...maybe we could entice an international finance firm to locate to tacoma's new clocktower financial center, no need to sloppy second in the russell building when BofA , AIG , or even a resurected Maddoff private capital could move in.

by NineInchNachos on 12/3/2010 @ 8:26am
Meconium Condominiums

by NineInchNachos on 12/3/2010 @ 8:26am
A handful of buildings in Tacoma are worth going to the wall for to ensure that they arenít lost to history.

At the top of that list is Old City Hall, the 117-year-old former civic building whose elegant Italianate lines have graced many a touristís postcards over the years. The very idea that this iconic landmark is being so badly abused by its current owner should have every true Tacomanís hackles up.


Read more: www.thenewstribune.com/2010/12/03/144969...

by NineInchNachos on 12/7/2010 @ 12:50pm
this just in!

I'm reporting a story for tomorrow about what, if anything, Union Bank could do for Old City Hall. Union Bank is now the holder of the mortgage after Frontier Bank failed, and Union Bank is proceeding with foreclosure. The building is scheduled for auction in January. The bank has referred all comment to building owner George Webb. He told me yesterday that he'd have more details today on cleanup efforts at the building.

Read more: blog.thenewstribune.com/business/2010/12...

by KevinFreitas on 12/7/2010 @ 3:20pm
So OCH owner Webb said they hired the mitigation company right away then why the F*** have they not be moving fast enough to get things dried out first then assess damage after? Good on the United Way for taking care of their space in the Sprague Building! A great example of what to do.

by Erik on 12/7/2010 @ 3:20pm
Interesting.

This is how the drying machines look like that could save Old City Hall. Here is the one outside the United Way Building.



OCH needs one of these fast!

by morgan on 12/7/2010 @ 4:25pm
Is the power back on yet at Old City Hall?

by NineInchNachos on 12/7/2010 @ 4:57pm
UPDATE, 3:20 p.m.: The story about the bank won't run immediately (pesky editors), but Webb called today. Here's what he told me:

He is negotiating with the bank over loan payments, and that it knows about the flood. He also said he's told the bank he's hired Adjusters International to work with Fireman's Fund, his insurance company, and to conduct water migration and environmental studies at the building at 625 Commerce St.

The water soaked carpets and is dripping through asbsetos-lined ceilings, Webb said, so repair isn't as simple as ripping everything out. The studies will point toward the next step in repair.

"We're trying to do the right steps so we don't add insult to injury here," he said.


Read more: blog.thenewstribune.com/business/2010/12...

by NineInchNachos on 12/9/2010 @ 8:33am
ďItís very edgy and very controversial, but there are jurisdictions that have done so,Ē said Greg Griffith, deputy state historic preservation officer.

Read more: www.thenewstribune.com/2010/12/09/145791...

by NineInchNachos on 12/10/2010 @ 10:34am
"Union Bank of California plans to auction off Old City Hall in downtown Tacoma next month if an ownership group fails to pay a little more than $320,000 in missed mortgage payments, late fees, and related costs by Dec. 27, according to a legal notice published in Thursday's edition of the Tacoma Daily Index. "

www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/li...

by NineInchNachos on 12/13/2010 @ 8:24pm
ouch blog.thenewstribune.com/business/2010/12...

by JesseHillFan on 12/13/2010 @ 11:32pm
I knew it.It's now going to end up as another parking lot.
Bids for the demolition soon.

by NineInchNachos on 12/13/2010 @ 11:57pm
oh.no.not.again.

by jenyum on 12/14/2010 @ 7:46am
"The City should do nothing, it's a private matter" is trending just above "Leave it be and grow edible mushrooms on."

whatshallwe.com/s/9d8ebf8cf9baad56

by NineInchNachos on 12/15/2010 @ 9:45pm
here is one historic structure that is highly vulnerable to moisture attacks...



Eric Anderson says there is nothing we can do. Let's give him another raise!

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 12/15/2010 @ 10:34pm
Not enough room on the What Should We Do thing. Have a strip club owner buy it and call it Old Titty Hall.

by cisserosmiley on 12/16/2010 @ 1:51am
we could park old cars in it and call it a museum

by The Jinxmedic on 12/16/2010 @ 6:30am
Which wise sage was it that once said, "A city of parking lots is like a face with no teeth"?

Any West Virginia jokes, anybody? Beuller?

by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 12/17/2010 @ 8:23pm

tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.c...

by NineInchNachos on 12/17/2010 @ 9:15pm
Do we believe George Webb when he says his building is not for sale before the 300,000 gallon Poseidon Adventure ?

by jenyum on 12/18/2010 @ 8:55am
At the City Council Study Session he said it was listed 2 years ago.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 12/18/2010 @ 9:26am
You can tell George Webb (or any other real estate developer) is lying because you can see his lips moving.

by NineInchNachos on 11/17/2011 @ 8:09am
update! www.thenewstribune.com/2011/11/15/190770...