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Connies Council Corner: A New Year – 2017

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A new year at the Council just started and I thought that I would talk about some of the issues that we will be working on.
Behavioral health and homelessness is at an epidemic level in our county and something needs to be done.  At the end of 2016 the County Council considered a one-tenth of one-percent sales tax to pay for Behavioral Health services. Sadly, it failed. I see how the tax makes it possible for the city of Tacoma to provide necessary support for suffering families and I strongly believe it could reduce the burden on our county jail and other justice services. I pledge to work with the public and Council to find a way to address this horrible situation. In preparation for the vote the Council commissioned an analysis done by Human Services Research Institute (HSRI). We have formed an Ad Hoc Committee on Human Services that I will be chairing. Our task will be to review the analysis by HSRI and work toward implementing the recommendations that are cost neutral or minimal. We will be forming a coordinating committee made up of stakeholders for input on these recommendations. I hope to also work with this committee to finalize next steps for program development.
Public safety remains a big priority of the County Council. We added five new deputy sheriffs to the Sheriff's Department this year. In 2016 we created the Property Crimes Unit to target an up-tick in burglaries. And to further bolster community crime prevention efforts, I worked to increase funding for Safe Streets by $30,000, giving them a total of $185,000 out of the general fund. This increase covers a new “crime prevention mobilizer” to help citizens start block watch groups and coordinate with law enforcement. We continue to support our Superior Court’s Drug Court and Mental Health Court as well as the District Court Mental Health docket.
One of my goals is to make sure that economic development in Pierce County is a top priority for our Council. Every day, 135,000 people who live in Pierce County drive outside of Pierce County to work. That is 40 percent of our work force! We need to do a better job of connecting people with local employment opportunities, and attracting new businesses in our County. Recently, a number of people interested and invested in economic development gathered to discuss an unified approach to make Pierce County the economic development leader in the South Sound. Known as the South Sound Alliance, we envision the Alliance as a collective dedicated to seeking creative solutions to community and economic development issues in the region and will focus on data-driven responses to selected common issues or challenges facing our region. The intent of the South Sound Alliance is to be multi-jurisdictional, multi-stakeholder, public, and private partnerships dedicated to working together to make the South Sound Region a destination of choice. It is only natural that the University of Washington-Tacoma, led by Dr. Ali Modarres, Director & Professor, Urban Studies, will host and support this collaborative through the assistance of researchers specialized in areas of urban and regional development. The university was established in 1990 to meet the needs of the South Sound community and will serve us well in this regional economic development endeavor.
I'm excited about the "Chambers Creek Properties Master Site Plan." We already know how outstanding the site is. The Soundview Trail is always busy. People love the playground and the larger parking lot. Chambers Bay hosted the record-breaking 2015 U.S. Open. And we got the great news that the course will host the 2019 Four Ball Championship too. And we have given the community the opportunity to plan what the next decade of development will look like for the rest of the 900 acre site, especially the area surrounding the Wastewater Treatment Plant. After all, this is the public’s park! We're still in the process of public meetings and gathering feedback this year, but it's sure to be an exciting time.
Plus, the Chambers Bay Resort project is moving forward. The $45 million private investment will replace the temporary clubhouse, and continue down the hill to the Central Meadow with a multi-level hotel, spa, clubhouse, and restaurant and event space. The plan also includes adding more trails and public access. I am also excited that the developer Chambers Bay Development, LLC includes several Pacific Northwest partners such as Tom Douglas Restaurants, Columbia Hospitality and Absher Construction Company just to name a few.
So we have a busy year ahead. And I want to encourage you to contact me about these and any other issues of importance to you. I can be reached at: (253) 798-7590 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Or check out my new blog at

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