Some modest proposals for improving Tacoma

February 6, 2014 

By Tom Llewellyn

Dear Marilyn, Marty, Joe, Victoria, David, Ryan and those other three people whose name no one can remember:

For your consideration, I propose the following 10-point citywide improvement plan for 2014, in priority order. Accomplish these things and you’ll have a happier group of voters. And the other 80 percent – the ones who don’t vote – will likely be happier, too.

10. Give up on the city-run Click Network and instead install a city-run bakery on Sixth Avenue—one that makes crusty loaves of sourdough bread. And cheesy breadsticks, too.

I know we have Corina Bakery by the Grand Cinema and I love it, but it’s too far to walk. Maybe not for you. But for me. Legendary Donuts doesn’t count, because all they do is donuts, and they get the cake/glaze ratio all wrong. (Hint: Too much cake and not enough glaze.)

9. Use tax loopholes to woo a big sustainable timber-based company to the port.

Tacoma used to be known as the Timber Capital of the World. We used to be home to Weyerhaeuser and Cheney Lumber and all the middle-class jobs that came with them. Our aroma used to stand for something. Nowadays, people associate timber with clear-cuts and killing spotted owls, but done correctly, timber can be an amazing renewable resource.

8. Entice an Ethiopian restaurant to relocate from Seattle to Tacoma.

Last time I checked, Yelp listed nearly 40 Ethiopian restaurants within Seattle city limits. Seattle has an official population of just over 634,000. Tacoma’s population is 202,000, so we should have at least a dozen good Ethiopian eating options. But right now, we have none. That’s unjust. The hungry people of Tacoma demand injira, right here in our own deprived city.

7. Build more on-campus housing for University of Washington Tacoma.

UWT gets my vote as the single most vital fixture for downtown. Every day, the neighborhood around it continues to be vibrant and hopping. Until classes end. Then it goes dark. Compare that to the U District in Seattle or the Gonzaga University district in Spokane, where live-on-campus students provide a funkiness, vibrancy and slight smell of vomit that lasts until 2 a.m.

6. Commission the Tacoma poet-laureate to write a sexually charged teen vampire novel set on Pacific Avenue. Based on my recent visit to the town of Forks, this is the most surefire way to bring in the tourists. And take it from a father; teenaged girls know how to spend money.

5. Paint the Andy Warhol Tacoma Dome Flower on the T-Dome. Why haven’t we done this yet? It would be a landmark and a photo op. Right now, it’s just an eyesore. And nobody poses for a selfie in front of a dome covered in dirty triangles.

4. Use eminent domain to co-opt Brown & Haley, then create a plant tour like the Tillamook folks do with their cheese factory in Oregon. Have you been to that? Other than the free samples, it’s lousy. But there’s a line three dairy aisles long every day from May to September.

3. Build an official city robot. Because robots are cool.

2. Give away do-it-yourself pothole repair kits. This is not my idea. My friend Lance Kagey came up with this one.

You can already buy these kits online for about 20 bucks. If the city gave them away, each one could come with a bumper sticker that says, “I fixed my pothole and stopped swearing at the City Council.”

1. Vote yourselves raises. I don’t really think this is a good idea (at least not until the potholes are fixed), but if it will help get the rest of this list accomplished, I’m not above greasing the skids.

Tom Llewellyn, a former reader columnist, is a husband, father, creative director, street artist and published young-adult author. Find his Tacoma-based novels at tomllewellyn@blogspot.com

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