To clarify, military presence is not an “issue” in Lakewood – it so happens are many interesting topics that arise from having a national military installation next door. Lakewood neighbors Joint-Base Lewis McChord and is home to thousands of armed forces service members and their families. Many veterans also live in Lakewood. The City often corresponds with JBLM related to flight traffic, land use, noise, and other matters. Lakewood wishes to preserve its strong, mutually beneficial relationship with the military.
Thousands of former service members live in Lakewood. After serving our nation, veterans deserve dignity and respect.
Many veterans return to civilian life with trauma. Lakewood is home to the American Lake VA Medical Center and other facilities that support the care and mental health needs of veterans.
The City erected a monument to veterans in front of City Hall, surrounded by bricks chiseled with the names of local veterans as submitted by their families.
The Lakewood Municipal Court offers a Veterans Treatment Court, a diversion program to help veterans overcome misdemeanor charges and substance abuse issues. The program is voluntary – participants follow case management plans with programs for mental health, physical health, and sobriety. The goal is improvement, not incarceration.
“Veterans can be vulnerable and ask for help, and actually get help. Everybody learns from everybody in this court. It’s a model for how justice should look. I’m happy to be involved.”
Lisa Mansfield, Municipal Court Judge
Air Traffic & Noise
You may have noticed that C-17s routinely fly overhead as they take off and land from JBLM. In certain areas of Lakewood, heavy flight traffic may contribute to noise and potential crash hazards.
Lakewood has designated two areas North of the base as “Air Corridor Zones”. Within these zones, the City has rules to prevent dense development. These areas should remain somewhat dispersed to avoid catastrophe in the event of a crash. Aircraft have crashed in Lakewood in the past, though not since the 1970’s.
You can find these Air Corridor Zones on the Eastern edge of this Lakewood Zoning Map.
Additionally, the military occasionally conducts artillery training on the nearby base. This training creates noise from time to time. JBLM’s Public Affairs Office typically issues warnings ahead of artillery trainings.
Land Use & North Clear Zone
The establishment of Air Corridor zones (see above) is one example of a land use issue.
Another is the JBLM North Clear Zone. The United States Military Department is working to prevent civilian encroachment of airfields and is expanding the JBLM airfield to create a larger buffer around the runway.
Several Lakewood businesses are in this “North Clear Zone“, and the City is partnering with them and the national government to arrange the relocation of these businesses, hopefully within Lakewood.
Military Family Housing
Many military families are feeling the effects of increased housing prices in Pierce County. Rent & home prices are increasing quickly. The military has even considered increasing housing allowances.
The City is working to improve market conditions by incentivizing development to increase available housing inventory, with a focus on affordable homes & units.