Photo by zargoman

Chris Karnes at Tacoma Tomorrow has a blistering take-down of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s decision not to support Pierce Transit’s measure at the ballot this November.  At stake is a draconian scenario– a devastating 50% reduction in service should the sales-tax increase fail to pass.  Accompanying the cuts could be major economic impacts, many of which seem to have been overlooked by the Chamber.

Karnes estimates that tens of millions annually have already been diverted out of the county since service reductions began in 2007, and that additional cuts might exacerbate that impact more than twofold:

In total, more than a hundred million dollars that could have stayed in Tacoma each year, in the form of good jobs for bus drivers and money in people’s wallets, will head out of town in the form of car payments and gas, if Proposition 1 fails in November.

The most significant difference between this year’s vote and last year’s is that PT is dealing with a new service area, one significantly smaller than its predecessor and which omits exurban cities that have had historically anti-transit voting records.  While the new demographics are more favorable toward a ‘yes’ vote, the spread of misinformation, or at least lack of information, can easily corrupt the hearts and minds of voters who will believe anything they read.

17 Replies to “The High Road for Pierce County”

  1. No longer matters for me, my last Pierce County acquaintance is picking up stakes and moving to King county – TODAY!

    He’s commented he’ll be glad to no longer be crammed onto the 1 like a sardine as it stops every few feet.

  2. Those opposed to sales tax in general do have a point. I wish other options were on the table, but the legislature won’t put other options on the table, and certainly not for Pierce County if this proposal goes down, on a presidential ballot. I’d like to think of this sales tax increase as a bridge to buy time to transition to more progressive, stable funding sources.

    If this does go down, Pierce County’s transit system, and its economy, are toast.

  3. So what this tells me is that either the Tacoma Chamber isn’t bright enough to look at current trends and make forecasts, or that they don’t care about the knowledge economy.

    If you want smart educated young people to move to your area/stay in your area, you need transit. This isn’t like other parts of the country where a token gesture for transit made by the only large city in the area works b/c it is a regional hub and the young people don’t know any better (I’m thinking Raleigh, Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham, etc).

    But hey, if Tacoma doesn’t want those people or those jobs, bully for Seattle.

    1. Tacoma is a mill town. Unfortunately most or all of the paper mills, saw mills and smelters have shut down. It’s has a great natural harbor, good rail connections and, ironically lots of cheap land. The only downside is that container ports and bulk cargo like grain, scrap metal and raw logs don’t provide anywhere near the number of jobs per ship that they used to. Other than that Pierce County’s only growth industry is the military. If JBLM sees large reductions in troop strength the economy tanks (pardon the pun). To try and woo high tech companies away from Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue and Redmond would be tilting at windmills. But if they were going to try and say keep companies like Russel from pulling up stakes lower taxes would be the way to do it. Young people may like transit but it’s the old farts that sign the pay checks that decide where to locate.

      1. Right. Obviously Russel wanted lower taxes which is why they moved from Tacoma to Seattle.

      2. Fair point. Russel moved because they were able to buy up one of the old WaMu buildings for pennies on the dollar. What sort of sweet heart deals in addition were they promised? Big companies don’t pay the same rates as the little guys. The King County Assessors Office has to be the most corrupt entity we have. Always commercial property is way undervalued when compared to sales prices. When there’s a budget crunch it’s home owners who see their assessments jump 10% when the market drops 20%. What did Tacoma have to offer? “Wait, stick around and we’ll get you better bus service!” Yeah, that’s going to be a winner with the brokerage set.

      3. Bull. Russel moved to Seattle b/c they wanted to be in Seattle. If a cheap building was all they wanted then why did they not go to Detroit?

        Does the idea that some companies LIKE infrastructure and a young innovative and educated workforce, and don’t mind paying a little more for such things so incompatible with your ideology that you really can’t see it?

      4. Clearly you don’t know the history of Russell Investments:

        1936 — Local businessman Frank Russell starts a small brokerage firm in Tacoma, Washington.

        You’re ideology would preclude you from being part of their investment team. It’s a pretty strong implication that they believe Tacoma has no hope of appreciation in the foreseeable future. Tacoma can continue their old union mill town ways and continue to go down the tubes; or they can turn the ship around. Washington didn’t really “lose” Boeing but it should be a wake up call.

      5. Are you just arguing to argue now?

        B/c I agree Tacoma needs to step up and try to turn their economy around, that’s what my initial post was about, but what the Chamber apparently doesn’t want/know how to do.

      6. I will agree with your statement, “they don’t care about the knowledge economy.” I don’t consider finance to be the knowledge economy but that’s debatable since “trading” now days is largely about who has the best computer algorithm. The piece in Tacoma Tomorrow has it completely backwards. It’s been a catch phrase in the Puget Sound for years, “New cars cost less in Puyallup.” Drive through Fife and the radish fields have all but been replaced with luxury car dealerships and RVs. Having a tax advantage over King County makes a difference when someone’s spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Pierce County and even Tacoma is poorly laid out for effective transit. More money isn’t going to change that.

      7. Sorry, Bernie. My brother-in-law worked for Russell and his “ideology” did not enter into his success there. He did hate the Tacoma commute, however, and rode transit when he worked in Seattle and in the New York area. He now works in London and they have never owned a car there, nor do they plan to. Of course London has a few differences as compared to Tacoma, but the fact remains that when they lived in places that offered decent transit they used it.

        My niece knew all the Tube stops between their flat and Daddy’s office at age 3, and gleefully would announce the upcoming stops to the bemused passengers in her car: “Marble Arch!” I love her…. :)

      8. I don’t know where or why your brother chose a long commute when it would have been a breeze from somewhere like Browns Point. Or if commuting via transit was all important there would have been numerous choices DT or the North End. Russell was in Tacoma for over 60 years. That means people working there had made their choice about where to live based on a Tacoma headquarters. That means the move resulting in a much longer commute following the move. Of course many will relocate. Russell’s reasons for the move in addition to buying their own building at a great price was to be in the financial center of Seattle. SeaFirst many years back tried moving their HQ to Spokane because of the lower cost of just about everything. It was a disaster. Tacoma never really had a chance with the real estate market and the demographics against them.

      9. Well, my sister had some say in the matter! :) They probably would’ve moved to Tacoma in time (although they much preferred living in Seattle and not a suburban, although lovely, area like Brown’s Point) but other opportunities presented themselves and they took them. The point being that even though they would’ve preferred a place with solid transit in Tacoma, the lack thereof would have really limited their choices (or perceived choices, which often amounts to the same thing).

      10. Russell is in the banking/financial industry. It’s particularly prestiguous in that industry to be in the big-city downtown with an office on a high-numbered floor. Plus, it’s easier to have face-to-face business meetings and dealmaking if you’re in the same neighborhood where most of the other financial people are.

      11. prestiguous in that industry to be in the big-city downtown with an office on a high-numbered floor. Plus, it’s easier to have face-to-face business meetings and dealmaking if you’re in the same neighborhood

        Exactly the point I was trying to make. It’s why Russell also has offices in London, Singapore, Tokyo, etc. Those cities have great transit because they’re some of the largest urban areas on the planet. Tacoma didn’t really stand a chance no matter how much money it poured into transit. It’s a shame for Tacoma that Russell’s influance wasn’t able to attract like minded companies. That is, lure them away from Seattle as they’ve had success with the container business. But that, as they say is “life in the big city.”

  4. Isn’t it typical for “Chamber of Commerce” organizations to be completely out of touch with the needs of commerce?

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