City Council approves changes to Park Code

Metro Parks Headquarters

Code changes address drones, vaping, temporary structures, and more

The Tacoma City Council voted 8-1 on October 1 to adopt all of the recommended updates to the Municipal Park Code. The code changes took effect on October 11, 2019, with one notable exception – the effective date of the prohibition on structures with walls was extended to December 1.

The delayed implementation gives City staff and community service providers more time to identify safe spaces and services for people experiencing homelessness. On November 19, the Tacoma City Council approved a contract with the Low Income Housing Institute to establish an emergency shelter site about a block from People’s Park. The site, which will be set up in December, will provide up to 22 micro-shelters and serve up to 35 individuals experiencing homelessness for up to seven months. Read the City’s full announcement.

Metro Parks thanks everyone who submitted thoughtful feedback during the process of updating the code for the first time in a decade. The park district received over 300 written comments, and numerous Tacoma residents spoke during the Park Board and City Council meetings. All of these code updates are designed to help make our parks safe and accessible for everyone.

Metro Parks staff will continue to work in partnership with the City of Tacoma and other community organizations to provide vital services to people in need. More information about those efforts can be found at www.cityoftacoma.org/homelessness.

View Ordinance 28615

Background:

Metro Parks Tacoma developed the first updates to the city’s municipal park code in 10 years to address issues involving drones, vaping, temporary structures and more.

“With the development of new parks and facilities as well as significant population growth and changing use trends, the park district is updating its park code to help ensure all park users and guests can enjoy their experience”, said Peter Mayer, Deputy Director of Metro Parks. “Through interactions with users and consultation with Tacoma Police and other city staff, our park district staff have worked to clarify existing code provisions and address new issues in how people use Tacoma’s parks and facilities.”

Here is a summary of changes to Tacoma Municipal Code section 8.27:

  • Clarifies the current prohibition of smoking in parks to include the use of e-cigarettes, vapor products or other nicotine-containing substances.
  • Adds drones, “sky lanterns,” unmanned aircraft systems and motorized models as prohibited equipment except as specifically authorized.
  • Aligns electric scooters, e-bikes, mono-wheel devices, surreys, scooters and similar devices with existing rules for bicycles that restrict them to designated roads, sidewalks, paths or trails.
  • Limits permissible “structures” in parks to only those specifically authorized or are temporary and have only a roof and no walls.
  • Clarifies continuous moorage at park buoys as three overnight periods within a 10-day period, regardless of whether they are consecutive.
  • Authorizes the park district to adopt a code of conduct that regulates activities or behavior in parks to protect the public’s health and safety, to promote respect for the rights and needs of others, and to preserve park property.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Hunter George, Chief Communications Officer, hunterg@tacomaparks.com, (253) 305-1065