Before the March 21 meeting to approve a large homeless micro-village in the wetlands near Spanaway Lake…

By Marianne Lincoln

Act before, not just at, the meeting, Write to your councilmember; write to all of them. If you think it is a bad idea to tear down trees shading a large Federal wetland that feeds into Spanaway Lake, Coffee Creek, Spanaway Creek, Morey Creek, Clover Creek, Chambers Creek, Chambers Bay and then Puget Sound heed this story.

First of all, most of us really would like to help the thousands of homeless neighbors in our county. But, we resent using the bleeding heart stories to violate a Federally designated wetland. When the area was proposed for the Cross Base Highway, environmental groups turned out in force to stop it. There was an Environmental Impact State and a Supplemental EIS done on the project. The Environmentalists lobbied the County and State. We never got the highway through. But on this new proposal, suddenly the area is deemed DNS – that’s a “Determination of Non-Significance” in environmental lingo. Not even a State SEPA (State Environmental Protection Act) checklist and comment period was opened! If that puzzles you, good. It absolutely does not seem right.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD), may be unable to finance this wetland area and the County is planning on using Federal funds to create it, $23 million. Here is a quote from HUD’s site:

“An environmental review is the process of reviewing a project and its potential environmental impacts to determine whether it meets federal, state, and local environmental standards. The environmental review process is required for all HUD-assisted projects to ensure that the proposed project does not negatively impact the surrounding environment and that the property site itself will not have an adverse environmental or health effect on end users. Not every project is subject to a full environmental review (i.e., every project’s environmental impact must be examined, but the extent of this examination varies), but every project must be in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and other related Federal and state environmental laws.”

Also the EPA has a lot to say about funding for wetlands, if you feel like digging further.

Other properties in the county have been identified where this Microhome Village could be sited. Much of the proposal and site plan of this particular one was created before the public was even aware of the project. County regulations require that the site be in the Urban Growth Area (UGA) which makes finding larger parcels more difficult. Many have already been built out. Swapping parcels in and out of the UGA is not beyond the ability of the County either. They are only required to make the net change zero.

The question is, will they do the right thing for our wetland or not? Large portions of Clover Creek are already dry during many months of the year due to the lack of ground water infiltration. That is because we are using up our sole source aquifer that is rainwater based with the current level of housing. The upper aquifer layers are drying out. Aquifer mixing is a special subject of its own in wetland laws of the State and Federal government. You cannot just pipe the Green River water into the South County.

In recent years, Spanaway Lake has had many issues with toxic algae blooms and other water quality problems. So much concern was generated that a Lake Management (taxing) District was formed. Then, just as that group and the Friends of Spanaway Lake are getting projects operating, this Micro Village comes along in the headwaters.

When a public meeting was held to inform residents about the project, Sprinker’s Rainier room was packed and overflowing. It was not a friendly crowd. Executive Dammeier was present, but left his associate, Steve O’Ban to answer the lively questions. The meeting ran long, a couple hours longer than originally planned. The crowd was riled and not willing to go home without answers.

So get prepared to attend March 21, 2023 in the County Council Chambers at 3 p.m. or by the Zoom link you will find at the top of the meeting agenda page. (at that link, the agenda is not yet there as of this writing)

There are three items impacting this decision:

2022-81sAn Ordinance of the Pierce County Council Levying an Additional Sales and Use Tax of One-Tenth of One Percent for Housing and Related Services as Authorized by RCW 82.14.530; and Amending Pierce County Code Chapter 4.28, “Sales and Use Tax,” and Section 4.48.020, “Special Revenue Funds.”
R2022-163A Resolution of the Pierce County Council Authorizing Release of Funding for a Microhome Village Project Pursuant to Provisos to the 2022-2023 Pierce County Biennial Budget.
2023-5sAn Ordinance of the Pierce County Council Allowing for Shared Housing Villages in the Residential Resource Zone of the Frederickson Community Plan Area, Mid-County Community Plan Area, Parkland-Spanaway-Midland Communities Plan Area, and South Hill Community Plan Area of Unincorporated Pierce County by Amending Title 18A of the Pierce County Code, “Development Regulations – Zoning”; Adopting Findings of Fact; and Setting an Effective Date.
Proposed resolutions required to facilitate the Micro Home project in Spanaway

And remember to keep score of where the votes are. This information is useful when deciding if you ever want to vote for someone again. It is the people, not the special interests, that should control our County.

Steve O’Ban 253-798-6134
Bruce Dammeier 253-798-7477
Jani Hitchen 253-798-3308
Paul Herrera 253-798-2222
Robyn Denson 253-798-6654
Ryan Mello 253-798-7590
Amy Cruver 253-798-6626
Dave Morell 253-798-3635
Marty Campbell 253-798-6653
Pierce County Council 253-798-7777


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Sally Boyle says:

    Thank you !!

  2. Jean Sensel says:

    The fix is in.

  3. Esther Kronenberg says:

    The project used an MDNS, a mitigated determination of non- significance, as a threshold determination. This violates a 2005 Court of Appeals case, City of Olympia vs. Thurston County, which clearly states an MDNS CANNOT be used as a threshold determination. That is the law.

    1. Lincoln says:

      Thank you. Now how do we get the County to follow the law?

      1. Esther Kronenberg says:

        Tell the Department of Ecology their MDNS regulation, WAC 197-11-350, is being abused and needs to be repealed. Write an email to

  4. Marianne Lincoln says:

    I had to correct the email, His last name the e is before the i… Schreiner.
    Sent, for whatever it is worth.

  5. Matt says:

    Get ready these politicians want to create another permanent “taxing authority” like schools parks library sound transit utility boards to lock in new continuous taxes to pay for their quid pro quo shady deals. Unlike years past, the new normal is that these politicians create “unelected boards” to do their dirty work. Just look at how many public properties TPU board & sound transit has gifted (sold under market value) to developers under pretext “affordable homeless” it’s a racket.

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