Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Editorial: Way to go, "leadership"

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Update: Corrected Weyerhaeuser which was misspelled repeatedly throughout this article.

I don't generally use this blog as my own place to editorialize, though admittedly, it was the graffiti problem years ago that led me to start it in the first place. And granted, I haven't posted on here much anymore because I haven't had the time.

But I want to take a quick moment to just say how dismayed I am at Weyerhaeuser's news today that they're leaving Federal Way for Seattle. Visit the buildings surrounding its campus and just marvel at all the unused office buildings that have been unable to secure tenants.  It's a shame really - freeway close, beautiful wooded settings, attractive buildings.

But once again, Federal Way's complete lack of vision and leadership is quite apparent. I want to believe in this town. I've started a business in this town. My wife and I have several other business ventures we hope to eventually start here in Federal Way. We live here. Our children are in a great school here. But I've said it before and I'll say it again - this town lacks any sort of vision and any sort of pride or identity.

Anyone else will tell you that Federal Way sucks. Unprompted, that's what the trolls are writing on the news articles about Weyerhaeuser's defection. And we have done nothing to contradict that. We have done nothing to say "No we don't."

We are, roughly, Bellevue, circa 1960. If we don't get our act together soon, in 40 years we'll be indistinguishable from Fife or Milton. (No offense, guys, but I don't know what you have to offer.)

We need some strong leadership now that says "This is what Federal Way is."

If I were mayor, I would immediately do the following:

(1) Move City Hall downtown. (Don't know where downtown is? This would help clarify.)

(2) Take a long, hard look at our zoning.
(a) First off, no one's in those really nice office buildings east of the 5 because there is NOTHING ELSE THERE.  It doesn't help that the Washington State Department of Transit eliminated the quick hop onto the 18 to Crossings when they upgraded the connection. Some essential basic services (i.e. restaurants, banks, gas stations, dry cleaners) are needed east of the freeway.
(b) Create more places where businesses can flourish in Federal Way. If the Twin Lakes Golf Course is going to go under, that, too, could be a nice place for some smaller office buildings and incubators.
(c) Stop allowing new housing construction. It just clogs up the roads leading to the freeway because it just invites more people to live here with nowhere here in town to work.
(d) Zone the rest of downtown for 6+ story buildings, pronto. And then give the land away if you have to.
(e) Ring the edges of the city with low density retail where it makes sense.

(3) Finish the street grid in downtown.

(4) Recruit some companies from Tacoma. That's where we got Weyerhaeuser.

Otherwise, we're left the large-but-shrinking non-profit World Vision (wonder if they'll ask the city to rename Weyerhaeuser Way) and the hospital. Oh, and two Wal*Marts. (And that's not something to brag about.)

We need strong leadership who can chart a course for our city - define a vision, a voice, a plan. No more throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. Barring that, we might as well widen 348th and 320th and add onramps to the 5 north at Military, 336th and 288th so that everyone can get to their jobs in Seattle a little quicker.



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