Smart Growth Stories: Mayor Marilyn Strickland on development in Tacoma, WA

Tacoma, WA Mayor Marilyn Strickland considers her city “the best kept secret in Washington State,” and smart growth strategies are helping make the city an even better place to live and work.

“Tacoma kind of got bypassed during the whole urban renewal phase of the late 60s and 70s, so as a result a lot of historic property did not get razed,” Strickland says. “So we have this beautiful stock of old warehouses and historic property.”

Strickland is a member of the Advisory Board of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, a nonpartisan group of municipal officials who share a passion for building great towns, cities, and communities. As part of her work with the Council, Strickland discussed some of the exciting new projects under way in Tacoma, as well as the challenges local officials face in creating new development, in the video above.

“One of our biggest challenges is attracting private investment that doesn’t require a large government subsidy. And I think as we talk about what that means, we need to increase our density. We need to build walkable neighborhoods, we need a very very good, solid public transportation system. And we have to make sure that we’re able to attract employers and people don’t have to drive a long distance or ride a long distance to get to work.”

Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan is working to make these improvements a reality. The Plan sets forth goals and policies to protect the health, welfare, safety, and quality of life of Tacoma’s residents, and is amended annually in accordance with the State Growth Management Act. In addition, the City’s award-winning Mobility Master Plan was first adopted by the City Council in June 2010 as part of the Comprehensive Plan. The Mobility Master Plan is helping the City meet its goal of developing a comprehensive network of bikeways and pedestrian walkways citywide to enhance the safety and comfort of all users.

Mayor Strickland recognizes that improving these aspects of everyday life for Tacoma residents is a big part of creating a better place to live overall. “When we talk about smart growth, transportation, economic development – those things are all connected.”

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Local Leaders Council