Dennis Hanberg on Planning for Growth in Pierce County

Marguerite Giguere
/ September 20, 2017
Dennis Hanberg (AKA Mr. Hanberg) joins us to talk about what's happening in planning and public works at Pierce County and how the county relates to Tacoma's growth.

In this episode

  • Dennis's Move to Tacoma story Dennis moved to Tacoma in 1979 from Port Angeles where he was a health inspector. He worked for a local land use consulting firm for 30 years. When he bought, mortgage rates were at 10%. He moved to University Place and then moved into West Tacoma itself in 1987.
  • "The Best Permitting Agency in the State" Dennis was hired by the previous County Executive Pat McCarthy to create "the best permitting agency in the state." By streamlining decision making, the agency was able to create better processes to help with permits.
  • Merging Public Works In early 2017, the new County Executive Bruce Dammeier merged Public Works and Planning together under Dennis.
  • How does the City relate to the County? The County is planning based around "the Growth Management Act" in the 1990s. Dennis said it was late, it's hard to add more infrastructure and transportation is harder (more traffic).
  • The problems of growth Large areas of urban areas south of Tacoma *should* be incorporated, but prefer to stay unincorporated, which changes how the county treats those areas and how they relate to Tacoma and Puyallup.
  • Urban areas should merge with cities Dennis says the county *wants* to give urban areas of unincorporated Pierce County to the cities they are near. He wants to build density around PLU and Sprinker. He wants to add density around Pacific Avenue at those nodes.
  • Are we ready for building up? Pierce County needs to plan for 60,000 new residents in unincorporated Pierce County by 2030. Tacoma needs to plan for 79,000 new residents. Dennis isn't sure we're ready as a community, citing resistance in Proctor as an example.
  • Affordability Marguerite and Dennis talk about the challenge of affordable housing, which Dennis says has been a problem for decades. He thinks the model of displacing people to unincorporated areas and forcing them to drive doesn't work.
  • Comprehensive Plans Dennis says the most important way to get involved to advocate for affordability (and other civic changes you want to see) is to get involved early by affecting the comprehensive plans of cities and counties. Try to get on an email list where you get notifications, he says. You can fill things out online and the information comes to you.
  • Grab Bag Marguerite and Dennis talk about self-driving cars, automation, Millennials, where we place jobs in our region, and more.

Dennis Hanberg (AKA Mr. Hanberg) joins us to talk about what’s happening in planning and public works at Pierce County and how the county relates to Tacoma’s growth.

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