Metro Parks proposes code changes

Metro Parks proposes code changes addressing drones, vaping, temporary structures, and more

Update: October 2, 2019

The Tacoma City Council voted 8-1 on October 1 to adopt all of the recommended updates to the Municipal Park Code. The Council made one notable change – it extended the effective date of the prohibition on structures with walls to December 1. The delayed implementation gives City staff and community service providers more time to identify alternative places for shelter. The other code changes take effect October 11.

Metro Parks thanks everyone who submitted thoughtful feedback during the process. 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.

View Ordinance 28615

Update: September 22, 2019

Metro Parks received over 300 comments about the proposed park code changes during a 3-week public comment period in August. Here is a summary of those comments. 

After reviewing the comments, the Metro Parks staff revised the language around “micromobility” devices, such as bicycles and scooters. The old language prohibited all such devices unless they were expressly allowed. In response to concerns from transportation advocates, the language has been reversed to say bikes, scooters and other devices are allowed unless expressly prohibited.

On Sept. 9, the Park Board voted 4-1 to forward the amended Municipal Park Code changes to the Tacoma City Council. The Council, which must consider Municipal Code changes over two meetings, is scheduled to take up the package on first reading on Sept. 24.


Full text of proposed changes 9/5/19 Tacoma Municipal Code Review & Adoption Process FAQ Public Comments

Background:

Metro Parks Tacoma is proposing 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. Now we want to hear feedback from the community before we send a final package of recommendations to the Park Board and the City Council.”

Here is a summary of proposed 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.

“Our philosophy is to emphasize education and voluntary compliance as we strive to provide a safe and welcoming experience for everyone,” said Marina Becker, Parks and Recreation Director for Metro Parks. “The vast majority of people use our facilities and services without affecting others’ enjoyment. These code changes are designed to give the park district and the Police Department, when necessary, some predictability and discretion in how to respond to situations where the behavior warrants.”

Review and Adoption Process

Citizen’s Guide to Navigating the Park Code Review Process

Staff from the City of Tacoma and Metro Parks Tacoma recommend updates to the Tacoma Municipal Code, Title 8, Public Safety, pertaining to the Park Code, to respond to current and emerging issues that impact patrons of the park system in Tacoma.

The Tacoma City Council is responsible for enacting and amending City laws, and because the Park Code pertains to parks within the City limits of Tacoma, the City Council will consider the adoption of the proposed changes after a review process occurs. The review includes, but is not limited to, the meetings listed below.

Opportunities to Observe and/or Provide Testimony

August 22, 2019 - 4:30 pm

City of Tacoma City Council- Community Vitality and Safety Committee Regular Meeting

Tacoma Municipal Building North, Room #16
733 Market Street, Tacoma, WA 98402

City of Tacoma Community Vitality and Safety Committee– The CVS Committee, in part, reviews proposed ordinances and resolutions referred to them and make recommendations regarding their adoption to the City Council. The CVS Committee has specific functions to assist in the review of policies, plans and provide a linkage between the City Council and other City departments and other bodies responsible for implementation of Council policies and plans. It’s important to note that Standing Committees, like the CVS, do not have the power or authority to commit the City or take any binding action on behalf of the whole Council.

The CVS Committee will consider the proposed Park Code revisions and make a recommendation on forwarding them to the City Council, pending further public comment and the Metro Parks Board considering the revisions at their September 9th, 2019 meeting.

Agenda information is posted here. The public is welcome to attend, public testimony will be taken.

August 26, 2019 - 6 pm

Metro Parks Tacoma Board Meeting

(note this is at a different location than usual Board Meetings)

Eastside Community Center
1721 E. 56TH Street, Tacoma, WA 98404

The Park Board will convene in a regular meeting. While the Board will NOT be taking up the Park Code matter at this meeting, the public may address the Board on any topic during the Public Comment portion of the Board’s agenda.

Agenda information is posted here. The public is welcome to attend and is invited to provide testimony associated with the proposed revisions and/or any other matter they wish.

September 9, 2019 - 6 pm

Metro Parks Tacoma Board Meeting

Metro Parks Tacoma Headquarters
4702 19th Street, Tacoma, WA 98405

The Park Board will consider the proposed Park Code revisions, invite public testimony and determine whether to recommend the changes be forwarded on to the Tacoma City Council for their review and subsequent adoption.

Agenda information is posted here. The public is welcome to attend and is invited to provide testimony associated with the proposed revisions.

September 10, 2019 - 5 pm

Tacoma City Council Regular Meeting- Citizen’s Forum

Tacoma Municipal Building Council Chambers- First Floor
747 Market Street, Tacoma, WA 98402

On the second Tuesday of each month, near the conclusion of the City Council meeting, time is reserved for a “Citizen’s Forum”. The purpose of this forum is to assist the Council in making policy decisions. Items of discussion are limited to matters over which the City Council has jurisdiction- like Park Code revisions. Arguments are not to be made in support of, or opposition to, any matter on this week’s agenda, however this time may be used to address the City Council on matters associated with their upcoming review and consideration of the proposed revisions to Title 8- Public Safety- Park Code. Please note that the City Council will NOT be taking up the Park Code matter at this meeting.

Agenda information is posted here. The public is welcome to attend and invited to provide testimony during the Public Comment portion of the Council’s agenda. For guidelines and procedures for appearing before the City Council, please familiarize yourself with these guidelines and procedures.

September 24, 2019 - 5 pm

Tacoma City Council Regular Meeting

Tacoma Municipal Building Council Chambers- First Floor
747 Market Street, Tacoma, WA 98402

Upon receiving a recommendation from the Park Board, the Tacoma City Council will conduct a “first reading” of a proposed ordinance reflecting the recommended revisions to Title 8.37- Park Code. Changes to Tacoma’s Municipal Code require a “first and second reading” by the Council. The “first reading” is a reading of the brief synopsis of the title of the ordinance and is conducted during a council meeting before the meeting at which the ordinance will be voted on. Pending Council deliberation, the proposed ordinance will be moved to a “second reading” at its next regularly scheduled Council meeting- October 1, 2019.

Agenda information is posted here. The public is welcome to attend and invited to provide testimony during the Public Comment portion of the Council’s agenda. For guidelines and procedures for appearing before the City Council, please familiarize yourself with these guidelines and procedures.

October 1, 2019 – 5 pm

Tacoma City Council Regular Meeting

Tacoma Municipal Building Council Chambers- First Floor
747 Market Street, Tacoma, WA 98402

The Tacoma City Council will conduct a “second reading” of the proposed ordinance and pending any Council deliberation, will consider formal adoption of the ordinance. Upon adoption, the revised Park Code becomes effective 10 days from October 1- thus the new park rules would be in effect on Friday, October 11.

Agenda information is posted here. The public is welcome to attend and invited to provide testimony during the Public Comment portion of the Council’s agenda. For guidelines and procedures for appearing before the City Council, please familiarize yourself with these guidelines and procedures.

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

Posted In: Park Board