They call it need. They call it supportive housing. They call it mental health crisis. They use all the words they can to evoke empathy for their cause. What they are not saying is they are using this bleeding heart approach to cause harm to Spanaway water resources and its political future.
“They” are Pierce County and Lakewood officials. Boundaries for legislative and council districts have been drawn from Lakewood into the Spanaway and Parkland areas for the past 20 years, since Lakewood formed a city. This editor has the notes from the redistricting meetings. Parts of the 28th legislative district which is mostly controlled by voters in Lakewood and the 6th Council District, also majority Lakewood have added to the lack of resources, the cancelling of the Cross Base Highway and other redirection of potential resources to improve the area. Republican representatives such as Dick Muri have been very vocal for years in their complaint that building the Cross Base Highways would cause the military base to close, by placing road boundaries around their space. This thought process does, however, ignore that there are hundreds of square miles of range lands out there too.
Now the County Executive’s Office along with former Republican State Senator from the28th District, Steve O’Ban who is now Senior Counsel to the County Executive is one of the main people behind the planning of the Tiny Home Village proposed for the wetlands southeast of Spanaway Lake. This village would be almost 300 tiny homes, built on a wetland area that the Audubon fought to keep from being a highway. Now that wetland would be infused by septic systems, adding to the pollution problems that Spanaway Lake neighbors and residents have already been feverishly trying to correct, even taxing themselves in a local use district to try to raise funding to clean up the lake.
This link tells about Tiny Home Villages. The idea itself is honorable. The complaint in Spanaway is the location chosen is a sensitive wetland. In addition, the Spanaway location is specifically for those difficult to place, people with mental health issues and drug problems. The nearby neighbors fear that these people may receive monetary support monthly, when there is still month at the end of the money, they will break into neighboring homes and businesses and pilfer other peoples hard earned assets. It is a mixed bag of problems and an awful thing to place inside the boundaries of a small area that has been trying to become incorporated. The monetary support needed and potential crime generated by such a place would be a heavy burden for a fledgling city government to afford. Hence, it may cause the area to be unable to incorporate.
In the words of Pierce County “Through Ordinance 2022-49s, shared housing is already allowed in urban residential areas. It is a permitted use in higher density residential, commercial, and mixed-use zones.” Urban is the key word. The property they are planning for the Spanaway site is currently secluded, forested wetland, not anything that could possibly be confused with an urban area. Here is a photo.
Comments on zoning changes are being accepted, but close today, December 19, 2022. We, the public, are not being given information in enough time to respond. We, the public, have also hardly been fed any information about this project until the planning stages were very far along. It is a hallmark style of our current County Executive’s office that people should remember if he decides to move on to another political office after 2024. A pretty face and charming words may conceal more detrimental plans beneath the surface. In his tenure, many wetlands have been scraped off the face of the earth in Pierce County. (Brookdale Golf Course, 208th Street farm, Parkland near Christiansen School for a few). Pierce Communities Coalition has been trying to get in comments whenever possible and our wetlands friends in the watershed committees have been grumbling through many emails. Low-income housing and homeless issues have increased due to the buying up of low-income apartments and rentals that are being replaced by large scale warehouse projects in Lakewood’s American Lake Gardens, Spanaway, Frederickson and Elk Plain.
December 13, 2022, there was Planning Commission hearing, here is the presentation. Proposed Amendment: Allow shared housing villages as a conditional use in the Residential Resource (RR) zone in the Parkland-Spanaway-Midland Communities Plan Area.
January 3, 2023 is a Planning Commission Public Hearing on the project according to linked documentation. 2023 meetings are not yet listed on the page for the Planning Commission. On the same date and time is a Project Open House on January 3, 2023 @ 7pm at Sprinker Recreation Center in the Rainier Room for an open house focused on the proposed Pierce County Village. The open house will be in person and live streamed on the website. The open house will include a presentation and a question and answering session. Sprinker Recreation Center – Rainier Room, 14824 C St S, Tacoma, WA 98444.
Written comment. To submit written comments to the Planning Commission, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish your comments to be distributed to the Commission in advance of a hearing, comments must be received via email by the Clerk of the Commission 48 hours before the hearing.
The Tiny Homes Village site will be accessible from the end of 176th Street where it turns onto Spanaway Loop Road. If you have ever taken a walk up there, you know how the area sits peaceful, undisturbed and very wet surrounding Coffee Creek which flows into Spanaway Lake’s southeast corner.
The City of Lakewood had a hearing on December 12 regarding a million dollar donation to this Tiny Home Village Project, but the funds have not yet been released as there were citizens raising questions about the use of septics rather than sewers and water quality issues affecting the groundwater in the entire region.
Please, add your voice to Pierce County’s project proposal.