Tacoma City Council Approves Mall Neighborhood Plan with Support from Community

May 17, 2018

Futurewise is excited to announce that the Tacoma City Council voted unanimously to approve the Tacoma Mall Subarea Plan on Tuesday, May 15. The plan is an innovative example of smart urban growth, including increases in transportation access, implementation of affordable housing incentives, and promotion of resident and environment health by encouraging green infrastructure.

A dozen Tacoma residents addressed the Council to specifically support the inclusionary zoning ordinance, which requires developers of 15+ units to build 10% affordable for households who earn 50% of the area median income (incentives include height bonuses, reduced parking requirements, and multi-family tax exemptions). Many of these residents shared their struggles finding affordable housing in Tacoma. They commended the plan for providing more options for low-income households and asked for inclusionary zoning to be implemented city-wide.

Molly Nichols, the new Tacoma Outreach Coordinator for Futurewise, echoed the resident support for this plan, identifying the inclusionary zoning ordinance as a crucial step. Futurewise agrees that inclusionary zoning should be expanded city-wide. Forty perecent of households in Tacoma pay more than 30% of their income on housing. Since 1990, rents have increased almost 40%, home values have nearly doubled, and household income has only increased by 20%. Inclusionary zoning is one of many policies that can be implemented to address this challenge.

Futurewise enthusiastically praised the reduction in parking requirements. Parking was reduced from 1 parking stall per unit to 0.5 parking stalls per unit, and no off-street parking is required for each affordable housing unit. Parking significantly increases the cost of building housing, so reducing the requirements will make the housing more affordable. And making this area pedestrian-friendly with access to transit will reduce the need and reliance on single occupancy vehicles to get around the city, reducing congestion and improving the environment.

Futurewise is eager to engage with the community and the City to help implement this plan and to advocate for expanding inclusionary zoning and reduced parking requirements across the city.