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Nov 19

Mayor’s Update - November 19, 2020

Posted on November 19, 2020 at 3:07 PM by Joshua Stecker

Hello Gig Harbor,

As we head into the Thanksgiving Holiday, I’m wishing good health to each of you and your families. We were all feeling a bit more hopeful with some easing of restrictions and more businesses starting to open, and then the COVID numbers climbed after various holidays and gatherings. Now we are having to reverse course.

These are difficult times for us. In the past month we’ve seen our COVID cases quadruple. This is the time we want to be visiting our loved ones for the holidays, but this year will be quite different.  We need to limit our personal contact in order to get through this.  

Governor Inslee has announced updated restrictions that began this week as part of the Safe Start public health order. You can find a summary of these restrictions here. In addition, the Governor has issued a travel advisory for Washington State, recommending a 14-day quarantine for interstate and international travel, while also asking residents to stay close to home and limit non-essential travel.

The City remains committed to taking the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of our community - I ask you to comply voluntarily with these restrictions to get past this quarantine period as quickly as we can. Although city staff will not be actively looking for violations of the Governor’s order, we hope every citizen and business owner will follow the state directive to do our part to contain the spread of COVID.

I am concerned our hospitals will become overburdened and be filled so that others who need surgery or other care will be turned away or delayed. Wearing masks at this time is critical for everyone’s safety and health.

We realize that these restrictions come with great inconvenience and hardships, particularly to our business community.  By following the guidance provided, we can ensure a path to a faster reopening and the safety of our citizens. Please join me in following these restrictions for the health of our community.

Pierce County has scheduled a free local COVID mobile testing station on Friday, November 20th from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM in the Gig Harbor High School (5101 Rosedale St NW) parking lot. These tests are free, and results are available in five to seven days. There will be flu shots available at this location, also free to all.

Early on in the pandemic, we passed an emergency ordinance to make it easier for restaurants and businesses to have outdoor dining and sidewalk sales. It also waived the fee for these permits. Council is supportive of extending it throughout the COVID-19 crisis as this ordinance is set to expire on December 31. This coming Monday, November 23, Council will vote to extend this ordinance. Recently I asked Council to show its interest in extending the ordinance and the majority indicated yes.

As we finalize the 2021 budget, we’re being very cautious about predicting how much revenue we’ll bring in next year. Our sales tax reports for 2020 so far show that the City hasn’t seen a loss in revenue from the COVID-19 shutdowns, but we still don’t know what the long-term economic impacts of COVID-19 will be. Council will be reviewing the budget at a public hearing on November 23.

At the last Council meeting, we heard a report from David Fleckenstein, Chair of the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission (CACC), on the research being done to solve the need for more airline capacity for western Washington in the future. They have the difficult job of finding a place to build a new airport or possibly expand existing smaller airports. Tacoma Narrows Airport is one location they have identified as a possibility, even though they openly acknowledge the site has several deficiencies.

On October 26, Council adopted a resolution that stated we are opposed to any large-scale expansion of the Tacoma Narrows Airport. Last week I sent a letter to the CACC, PSRC (Puget Sound Regional Council) and our state and federal representatives to make our position clear: Gig Harbor cannot accommodate expansion of the airport in our backyard. I will be working with Pierce County (the airport’s owner – the site is outside of city limits) to make sure they continue to oppose expanding the airport. On Monday’s November 23 council meeting we’ll hear a briefing from Josh Brown from PSRC in regard to the airport.

PSRC was set to wrap up their two-year report with public comment by November 5. I requested an extension based on the lack of outreach and involvement of our city and community until the last moment. They have now given us an extension until January 13, 2021 for our city and the community to comment. We urge everyone to do so. You can reach out to give your comments by visiting https://www.psrc.org/aviation-baseline-study-open-house or emailing CACC@wsdot.wa.gov.

On November 9, Council approved moving forward with a project to build a shared multi-use pathway for non-motorized traffic along Burnham Drive (between Harbor Hill Drive and Harborview Drive). We have been hearing from many of you how important it is to have a safe way to walk and bike between neighborhoods.

The City is now using a new webinar platform that allows residents to join City Council meetings live and provide public comments in person. You can use the “raise hand” feature to let us know when you want to address the Council during appropriate times for public comment. I encourage all of you to log on and let us know your thoughts during these upcoming meetings.

Again, I wish each of you have a safe, warm and healthy Holiday. Happy Thanksgiving and remember to be kind to each other.

Cheers,

Kit