One night at a council meeting, seven council members were talking when one of them asked, “Do you know what the Port of Tacoma and North Sumner have in common?” One of them replies, “What?” “They’re both zoned as Manufacturing Industrial Zones (MIC), and they’re both about 2,300 acres.” Ba-da-boom.
But no one laughed, as though the most tasteless joke in recorded history had just been uttered at a convention of nuns. And it is a tasteless joke, as Sumner would become the first MIC zone outside the Port of Tacoma and Frederickson in all of Pierce County.
Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow would like everyone to believe the infusion of federal money under MIC into the whole northern half of Sumner will not have an effect on our future quality of life. Truck traffic will not come, car traffic will hold steady, green space and the golf course will remain, and future housing (prohibited in the MIC), will find all kinds of room in our downtown core. Yeah right.
The evidence from staff reports prove the opposite. While Sumner’s population increases 25% over the next 20 years, MIC related commuters will increase 80% while the industrial base increases by 135%. Other requirements are heavy haul corridors (truck-only highways-MIC Sec. 39.6); Prohibition of non-MIC land uses and housing (MIC Sec. 36.4 and 37.2 – which means the golf course will have to be sold); Transit, new rail lines and trucking facilities (MIC Sec. 38); and links to high density housing (MIC Sec. 36.5) just to name a few. In summation, this means Sumner’s character will disproportionally change in relation to it population and character. For an example, look at how Fife is affected by it’s proximity to the Port of Tacoma.
The rallying cry for MIC is if we don’t get federal money for MIC, your taxes will have to be raised to pay for it all. That’s city-hall-code-speak for “you will have MIC, and you’ll pay for it one way or another.” This of course is a false choice.
We don’t have to do anything more to this half of Sumner than we are right now. Without MIC, the 24th Street interchange was built, businesses under the M1 and M2 were being built, the golf course and other uses (soon to be prohibited by MIC) were still allowed, and future housing densities have a place to be deposited if we need it. Once an MIC goes into place, it has no better chance of being reversed than other MICs in our region due to the build-up of infrastructure and the money invested.
North Sumner should continue to be reserved for diverse and flexible uses that leave us options for the future. For those of us who want peace and tranquility, I hope you will let the Mayor and the Sumner City Council know what you think the Valley should look like over the next 20 years. Of all the actions we can take today that will define our future, this is it.
City of Sumner Councilmember
Former Vice-Chair of the Pierce County Regional Council