The Lakewood City Council study session kicked off with a review of the third quarter police data with Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro.
Zaro highlighted progress made in areas like reducing property crimes and motor vehicle thefts. These two areas saw declines over previous quarterly reporting.
- Motor vehicle thefts are down 46% overall in 2022 with a 17% reduction from second quarter.
- Theft is down 14% from second quarter.
- Property crimes also saw a significant drop over the last year. The total reported for third quarter 2022 returned to levels more on par with what the city typically handles.
- The city saw an 11% reduction in person crimes year-to-date compared to 2021. These are crimes against other people. Comparing third quarter 2022 to prior third quarters with a year-over-year perspective, the third quarter 2022 total is the lowest it’s been in six years.
Financial review: Council recived an overview and update on the 2023 property tax levy, reviewed the year-end budget adjustment and looked at the city’s financial forecast over the next six years.
State law allows cities to increase property taxes annually up to 1%.
The city will hold a public hearing on this proposed 1 % increase at its Nov. 7, 2022 regular City Council meeting that begins at 7 p.m. Final consideration of the tax levy ordinance is scheduled for Nov. 21, 2022 at 7 p.m.
Review of protection and preservation of public spaces: City Attorney Heidi Wachter reviewed legislation from other cities aimed at preventing people from camping or occupying public spaces. Using these spaces in this way encroaches on public access.
A recent court case, Martin v. Boise, made it illegal to arrest people for camping in public places when shelter space is not available.
In Lakewood city code prevents people from camping or erecting, maintaining, using or occupying a temporary tent or shelter in city parks. Violators may be issued a civil infraction. Erecting or installing objects in city right of way are similarly a civil infraction.
Lakewood police do not arrest people for “camping” but regularly clear illegal dump sites and resolve trespass issues at the request of property owners. These issues have not been as common on public property in the city. In addition, the department’s community service officers regularly contact unhoused individuals and offer to find them services. This is in addition to work the city’s Behavioral Health Contact Team does.
A draft ordinance was provided for Council review and discussion that proposed to allow removal of illegal camps and campers, provided available shelter space is confirmed before action is taken. Council will take up discussion of this draft ordinance and how to proceed at a future meeting.
Naming Colonial Plaza: Council concluded its meeting with a conversation about renaming the festival street on Motor Avenue commonly referred to as Colonial Plaza. The city redeveloped this streetscape in 2019, adding public space elements as well as curb and gutter, sidewalk, on-street parking, street lighting, landscaping and bench seating at Motor Avenue in front of the Lakewood Theatre and Best Western Lakewood.
More information will be shared as Council directs how it wants to proceed.
What’s on deck: The Lakewood City Council does not meet Monday, Oct. 31 because it is a fifth Monday. Its next meeting is a Nov. 7, 2022, regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tentative agenda items include:
- Issuing a proclamation declaring Nov. 11, 2022 as Veterans Day and the month of November 2022 as Veterans Appreciation month.
- Issuing a proclamation recognizing the Korean Women’s Association (KWA) 50th anniversary.
- Reports from the Lakewood Youth Council and Clover Park School District
- Public hearings on:
- The proposed 2023 property tax levy
- The year-end (2022) budget adjustment
- The 2023-2024 Proposed Biennial Budget
- Final consideration of Ordinance No. 775 related to tree preservation code updates (this was continued from Council’s Oct. 17 regular meeting).
- Final consideration of a resolution considering the Garry Oak as the official city tree.
- Reports by the City Manager: Review of 2023 Comprehensive Plan amendment docket.