And the Camp Murray gate-relocate similarity.
Lakewood City Councilman Mike Brandstetter wants to know how the zoning that allows for three-story apartments planned for Oakbrook – four buildings at 40 feet tall housing 66 units covering nearly 3 acres to include a multipurpose building and 121 parking stalls – differs from what happened in Tillicum with the relocation of Camp Murray’s gate.
Short answer: It doesn’t.
The matter is on the council’s study session agenda for Monday, March 24, 7 P.M. at City Hall.
Brandstetter’s is a good question – one he raised earlier in March (click here and scroll to p.010) – but one for which the answer is a foregone conclusion if Tillicum is the abused example.
Tacoma News Tribune staff writer Brynn Grimley reported this past February 24 that folks in the jeweled-street-named Oakbrook neighborhood – Agate, Amber, Coral, Garnet, Jade, Onyx, Ruby, Sapphire, Sardonyx, Turquoise, and Zircon – think traffic accompanying the three-story project “would tarnish the area.”
Somehow ‘Speed-Bump Lane’ doesn’t fit Oakbrook’s ambiance.
Much less its demographics.
But it did Tillicum.
In contrast to Tillicum with its median household income at $37,335, Oakbrook’s is just shy of $60,000. Nearly four times as many people live below the poverty level in Tillicum as those in Oakbrook (37.2 to 10.2 percent). Households led by single moms in Tillicum: 23 percent. In Oakbrook – half that. Oakbrook has twice the percentage of both married couples and married couples with children, and nearly 25 times as many homes with four bedrooms (1,229 to 49).
All to say that Oakbrook is to Tillicum and Woodbrook what day is to night.
But the two neighborhoods do have similarities.
And neither knew what the city had allowed until too late.
According to Grimley’s article about the ‘Ruby-rub’, “most people who live nearby didn’t know the land was zoned multifamily until the project was proposed earlier this year.”
Tillicum first found out about the Camp Murray gate-relocate by way of a July 20, 2010 press release from the Washington National Guard about the fall groundbreaking only to discover that Lakewood staff had already been working with base personnel on the project for two years.
Upset Oakbrook neighbors “say the development does not comply with the covenants” dating from 1960.
Tillicum celebrated its Centennial in 2010.
“City zoning,” wrote Grimley concerning Oakbrook, “supersedes the covenants, requiring the high-density development.”
City Councilman Paul Bocchi, who lives in Oakbrook, “thinks the project doesn’t fit the neighborhood and worries about the traffic impact on narrow residential roads winding through the area.”
Tillicum residents thought, and still think, the same way.
“Camp Murray admitted that their gate relocation will ‘continue to divert more traffic – an additional 900 vehicle trips – through the residential neighborhood along Portland Ave, adding to the 2,700 daily vehicles’” already jammed into that less-than-one-mile stretch, but they – and the city – argued the streets could handle the traffic.
Besides, Portland Avenue serves “only a small residential area,” Camp Murray wrote in itsFebruary 10, 2010 Environmental Assessment (pp.46,47).
Tillicum shelled out upwards of $20,000 to have its day in court opposing both the City and Camp Murray in an eleventh-hour court decision in favor of Lakewood and the military.
The Tillicum neighborhood lost.
It lost not just in terms of money but it lost a measure of its identity – that for which Oakbrook is now battling.
Jane Jacobs, in “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” (1961), charged that “as a sentimental concept, ‘neighborhood’ is harmful to city planning.”
When city engineers debate on “‘how much traffic streets should carry’ it is an example of a civic dispute reduced to arguments over numbers in which case ‘the point has usually been lost,’” observes Knute Berger of Seattle’s ‘official backing of happiness.’
“Communities are more than formulas,” opined Berger. “They are a way of life.”
A community ought not to be for sale to the highest bidder, to the one with the most money, or the one with the most might and power.
A community does not simply occupy space that somebody else wants.