They like us!

Apologies to Sally Field and her infamous Academy Award speech but it feels awesome when outside people or organizations recognize your work.

This week’s decision by the Hearing Examiner to approve the Conditional Use Permit and deny the appeal of our SEPA (State Environmental Protection Act) mitigated determination means the Tacoma Rescue Mission’s (TRM) Good Neighbor Village for chronically homeless individuals can move forward!

The Hearing Examiner wrote a very thorough and thoughtful decision after hearing seven days of testimony from the applicant, the appellant, our staff, and nearly 50 members of the public. His decision is 79 pages in length (excluding more than 350 exhibits), and is exhaustive in detail and description.  It includes 33 conditions, but gives TRM a very clear path ahead with construction starting later this summer.

This validation is a key to the County’s next payments under our partnership agreement with TRM and jump starts their private fundraising efforts.  Most importantly, it means hope for a better life is on the horizon for many people trapped in chronic homelessness.

Getting to this critically important step to create the Village was years in the making and required the expertise of many, many of our colleagues.  When expressing thanks to a large group, you always run the risk of forgetting someone, but I am going to try anyway and ask for grace from anyone I miss.

Thank you to the people from my team, especially Steve O’Ban, Dan Grimm, Brian Hardtke and Alice McDaniel. They were instrumental in managing important aspects of the project. Their leadership, insight and perseverance were essential.

My thanks to the many technical experts in Planning & Public Works (PPW) who reviewed, evaluated, guided and testified regarding the Village.  Jen Tetatzin, Rob Jenkins, Sean Gaffney, Dennis Dixon, Brandon Smith, Scott Sissons, Austin Jennings, and Sue Larson are especially deserving of appreciation and praise.

I appreciated our great representation during the hearing by the Prosecutor’s Office. Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys (DPA) Todd Campbell and David Owen provided fantastic support and counsel.

I’d also like to thank Sheriff Troyer and his team for their contributions about the security and safety plans for the Village.  The Hearing Examiner called out Sheriff Troyer’s excellent testimony in this regard.

Sharing the importance of the Village with both supporters and critics has been a large task for the Communications team.  Thank you to Libby Catalinich, Kyle Schmidtke, Erin Babbo, Kari Moore, Andriana Fletcher, Jenny Burger, Riley Egge and Taylor Angulo for the months of web and social media content, videos, presentations, community engagement meetings and media relations.  As a reminder, here is the excellent video they made describing the Village.

And I wanted to extend a special note of appreciation to Michael Yoder of Associated Ministries and Michael Mirra, formerly of the Tacoma Housing Authority.  These two tireless advocates for the “least fortunate among us” were key to explaining the critical need for the Village.  They are a dynamic duo of strong community leadership!

I can’t wait to celebrate the groundbreaking later this summer!

Another tremendous validation came to us last Saturday night at the Northwest Regional Emmy Awards celebration. Defying the odds, we won our second Emmy award for the Inside Pierce County video series!  The “repeat” win for PCTV and me was a surprise, but our talented video production team is truly exceptional. Their skill in creating, shooting, and editing our behind-the-scenes series stands up to any competition – and we have the hardware to prove it!

In case you missed them the first time we shared them, here are the 2023 Emmy award-winning Inside Pierce County videos:

Congratulations and thanks to Megan Hutton, David Kellman, Jeremy Acree, and Peter Gudmunson for telling the Pierce County story so well!

I hope you have plans to enjoy this much-needed sunny weekend!

Thanks for reading,