The City of Lakewood has responded to our long-standing complaint about traffic in Tillicum. I’ll get back to that in a minute.
The genius of government – even genie of government – is that the “guiding spirit” (genius) and the genie (the one exiting the lamp) both serve the one calling it forth.
At least that’s the way representative government is supposed to work.
But when a genie goes bad, it’s time to stuff ‘em back in the bottle.
On election eve my conversation with, actually complaint to, a candidate for office was interrupted by a phone call. He put me on hold for a moment and when he returned he said he’d just received a customer service follow-up call from a company that manufactures toilet handles one of which my politician friend had ordered and with said product he was not happy. It had broken shortly after installation. The representative was very sorry to hear that and shared that in fact others had expressed similar sentiments – hence the call. ‘Be assured we will make this right such that you will be receiving by next-day-delivery (or some other timely response) a new toilet handle from a different manufacturer.’
How ironic that in the very midst of my diatribe about the lack of representation in the public government sector my candidate friend got just the happy opposite from the private business world.
For a lousy toilet handle.
I asked him why the difference in customer service?
“Because the goal of government is getting your money,” said this candidate running for office. “The goal of business, on the other hand, is making it their business to keep yours.”
Nobody likes being told what’s going to happen with money they thought was theirs; property they thought they owned; communities they call home; or decisions taken out of their hands.
For example, when Lakewood’s Assistant City Manager and Director of Community Development Dave Bugher testified before the State Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) about the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) plan to run Amtrak trains through the city, Bugher was asked what community outreach WSDOT had performed.
‘What community outreach?’ Bugher essentially responded.
Specifically, Bugher complained, “generally the tone of WSDOT’s activities was not one of identifying and addressing issues so much as informing people the project is forthcoming and refuting any concerns. In numerous cases, WSDOT’s response to our various written comments was along the lines of ‘we came and told you why that concern is invalid.’ Community outreach (by WSDOT) seemed more geared toward telling and not asking.”
So what do toilets and trains have to do with Tillicum’s long-standing complaint about traffic and how it’s been handled by the city in our town?
The most recent development in what a former city councilman called “one of the lows” of his eight years on the council – Camp Murray’s encroachment upon the neighborhood streets resulting in four times the average number of cars traversing the town no thanks to the relocation of Camp Murray’s gate – is a city response, the night before Halloween, to a letter sent over a month previous by the board of the Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association (TWNA).
We wanted the city to explain how it justified spending $85,000 of the $100,000 settlement money – by which Camp Murray was allowed to move its gate – for curbs and sidewalks on Union Ave. instead of “traffic calming,” the latter being the specific and “only use of these funds.”
Though Desiree Winkler, Transportation Division Manager, initially told community residents (May 1) that “perception of speeding along Portland is higher than studies show,” complaints to the contrary resulted in a follow-up that in fact verified residents’ fears.
Accordingly, the city is responding in a two-phase approach to slowing folks down which you can read in this PDF letter from the city.
As to our question how curbs and sidewalks define “traffic calming” and serve to save lives, not just pay and pour more money into pavement, the city also responded with a statistical contrast that starkly describes – in just days after Halloween – the horrors on the main business thoroughfare thus providing substantive rationale for where indeed the money is needed more.
Relatedly, a recent article on the Municipal Research Services Center website for the State of Washington reflected on “the tragic events this summer in Ferguson, Missouri, made worse by the lack of ongoing community involvement, let alone active engagement, and exacerbated by feelings of exclusion.”
Bob Jean, Washington City/County Management Association Range Rider, rightly concluded that Ferguson – and for that matter any town or city – “cannot heal itself until it rebuilds trust and confidence, and a more representative city council and police department truly reflecting all the community” are the primary means to that end.
For an example of a city that “reaches out and engages the community,” Jean wrote readers should “look to Lakewood.”
I agree. We have been heard – not told, but heard. Good for us. Good for all of us.
We can handle that.
Another Lakewood stretch of the truth. (We would not want to say ______!) Lakewood received $100K from the state military. I know this because I had them show me the transfer of funds to an escrow account that was specifically labeled for the use of the City of Lakewood for any additional construction of traffic calming devices to be used primarily, as I understood, on Portland Ave. and Berkely. Mostly Portland. To this date no additional traffic calming devices have been added to the original Lowenburg Bump located on Portland. From all of the information that I have been able to glean, Lakewood is well aware of speeding as well as stop sign violations occurring on Portland. Just the other day the city had portable radar out for the day. From what I now understand, $85K of $100K may have been used for non-traffic calming devices. Side walks on Union? Just how much did Jack In the Box and Popeye contribute to side walks and street widening, and a useless yellow raised street divider?
Prior to the Gate Construction, according to the city spokesman, no reportable accidents had occurred at the corner of Berkely and Union. Someone decided that a raised street divider was justified. Now several businesses, not including Jack and Popeye, have been segregated off. Why?
Again, I questioned the city and state formally about the $100K escrow. We were promised that these funds would be used for traffic calming on the residential streets of Tillicum, not the business section. I will be formally questioning the city and state as to the amount still being held by the city in escrow. If the monies have been expended, I will be asking for formal documents via FOIA.
Susan Rothwell says
It was $50,000 that Jack in the Box contributed. Gerties Grill has no money to influence anyone; hence the curb in front of our business. We have been in talks with the city to have it removed. Their reasoning for it is that it protects us from the backup of RR traffic across Berkley, over the bridge and onto the off ramp. Really? I have been on this corner forever and can tell you that traffic backs up LEAVING Tillicum, not coming into Tillicum.
Today, Nov. 6, 2014, I have sent an email letter to Mr. Don Wickstrom who advised me this morning that the $100K is still in the escrow fund, but that $85K of it is for use on Union and Berkeley. My reply letter to him is as follows:
It was not my understanding that these monies would be used for improvements at Union and Berkeley. It is in writing that these monies would be used for additional traffic calming in the residential areas. Again, this is in writing from the city and was in the land use permit. I do not understand the total disregard for the specified use of these funds. This money was earmarked, in writing, for use within the residential areas and not for the commercial areas. I would hate to get into another campaign on this issue, but if we have to expend time and expense to correct the site of the city for the use of this money then we will. Here we go again. To save time, what is the exigency to use this money for what you have stated? What is the calming of traffic effect for the use of this money on Union? Another broken promise to the residents of Tillicum that was made in writing to assure the residents that these monies would be used for the intent. In essence the city has broken a promissory contract to the residents of Tillicum. The “Lowenburg Speedbump” on Portland Ave. does not seem to eliminate speeders. Also, there is a 20 MPH school zone on Portland. Has the city provided a camera patrol to this area on a random basis? They do for the Catholic school located in Lakewood near Lakewood City Hall? If not, why have we not been afforded a camera patrol in an unmarked van?(Deputize me and I will sit there on random occasions for free and take pictures of speeders)
The three way stop at the corner of Portland Ave. and Berkeley is a joke. There is no free left turn from Portland onto Berkeley coming from Camp Murray. Make some money for Lakewood and hand out tickets to the numerous violators that run this stop sign, along with the violators coming up Berkeley at high speed and running the stop sign at Berkeley and Portland. (lend me a camera and radar and I will get you some real hard evidence)
Lets take it a step futher. Reserve weekend at Camp Murray is out of control. Speeders, stop sign busters, yield right of away total disregard. These people come here once a month and do not, I say do not have any perception as to where they are, and really don’t give a damn. Maybe a little traffic calming by our local police on reserve weekends might help calm some of these issues and the word would get out. Or maybe, the city made Camp Murray a promise not to disturb the personnel. Who knows?