Who Sues A Neighborhood and a Church to Build a Storage Facility?
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Who sues a neighborhood of working-class families, and a neighborhood church, in order to build a four-story storage facility?
An out-of-town developer from Spokane has sued 29 owners, and is serving lawsuits to the owners of an additional 33 homes, in an effort to build an unwanted four-story-tall CubeSmart storage facility in our mid-century Central Tacoma residential neighborhood. Why are they suing us? Because these homes are part of a decades-old, legally-binding neighborhood covenant, which protects our neighborhood from commercial development.
This covenant is more binding than the prevailing zoning, so the developers have sued our neighborhood in an attempt to void the covenant. If they succeed, they plan to build a massive, 920-unit, 120,000 SF storage facility, occupying an entire block of S Lawrence between S 18th and S 19th, where six single-family homes once stood. As a result, our neighbors and a neighborhood church have been forced to take on an expensive legal battle to defend our covenant and neighborhood.
Defending yourselves against a big-pocketed developer isn't cheap. If you'd like to chip in for our cause and help neighbors fight back, please consider donating to our Go Fund Me Account. Any amount contributed would be greatly appreciated by our community! https://www.gofundme.com/no-4story-storage-in-Tacoma-Neighborhood#updates
Months ago, the City of Tacoma rushed through a land-use approval for this development, without notifying our neighborhood council in advance so that we could provide input, as required by law. In doing so, they ignored a number of critical issues:
- height impact on adjacent parcels and residential structures
- insufficient street width for moving trucks (can you imagine frequent rental trucks coming through your neighborhood, with drivers who don't normally operate them?)
- lack of sufficient parking for proposed office and retail spaces
- storage ingress/egress facing residential properties
- potential garbage spill-over
- potential for people to live in the facility
This last concern, of people living in storage units, is already a well-documented issue in both King and Pierce Counties, and has been corroborated by Code Enforcement officers within Tacoma. This underscores the need that our community has, not for storage, but for affordable housing. We're not opposed to development in our neighborhood – but it should be housing. It's the right thing to do, and as our covenant makes plain, it's legally binding. Let’s keep the storage units South of S 19th and not in a neighborhood.
These issues didn't have the opportunity to be properly considered or debated prior to the permitting process, due to the City failing, at a minimum, to notify our neighborhood council and impacted resident of the proposed project when they were supposed to do so. For the developers' part, they've shown no interest in working with or compromising with our neighborhood, instead opting to bribe residents to vote to release them from the covenant – a process requiring 50% resident approval, which they don't have. If residents don't accept the bribe, they are added to the developers' lawsuit. This is a harassment tactic intended to cause fear and financial stress, in a community which includes a number of elderly and financially vulnerable residents. It's not right and it's not okay.
When residents reached out to the City for help, they've been told "It's a private matter," and that the City won't get involved. But our neighbors are in this situation, largely due to the failure of the City to follow the notification procedures prescribed by our local laws. If we can't hold the City accountable, who will?
So our neighborhood is speaking up and saying, "Enough is enough!" We don't need a large, monolithic, storage unit facility in residential Central Tacoma. We need more affordable housing, which is entirely possible under the current mixed-use zoning. It's unconscionable that the City of Tacoma's failure to carry out its legal obligations to our community has resulted in an entire neighborhood of working-class citizens and families being harassed with a strong-arm lawsuit by a deep-pocketed out-of-town developer with no roots or interest in our community.
We are hoping that by bringing awareness to this situation, we can convince the City of Tacoma to rescind their improperly approved land-use permit, and to provide residents with our full and rightful appeals process, which we were improperly and illegally denied.
If the precedent is established that developers can use strong-arm tactics to build whatever they want, wherever they want in Tacoma, your neighborhood could be next. So we ask you to please stand in solidarity with your fellow neighbors and Tacomans, and sign our petition to tell the City of Tacoma that this is not okay.
Thank you for your support!
Defending yourselves against a big-pocketed developer isn't cheap. If you'd like to chip in for our cause and help neighbors fight back, please consider donating to our Go Fund Me Account. Any amount contributed would be greatly appreciated! For more info:
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