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Large Scale Retail Moratorium


The City Council held a public hearing on January 31, 2012, 5:30 PM in the Council Chambers ( 747 Market Street, 1st Floor), to receive community input on the Planning Commission’s recommended code changes regarding Large Scale Retail Uses.  The public notice (below) provided additional information about the hearing and how to provide comments to the Council.

City Council Public Hearing Notice - January 31, 2011

The Planning Commission completed its review and finalized its recommendations to the City Council on January 4, 2012.  The proposed code revisions were developed in response to an emergency moratorium adopted by the City Council in August 2011 and expires February 29, 2012.  The purpose of the moratorium was to prevent vesting of permits under current regulations while they are reviewed and updated to better implement the policies and goals of the Comprehensive Plan and better address the concerns brought forward by the community regarding large scale retail uses.

The Planning Commission’s recommendation would institute a new Conditional Use Permit requirement for large scale retail uses in most of the areas of the city where they are allowed.  This approach is designed to enhance the City’s ability to review these projects and ensure consistency with the Comprehensive Plan and planned character of the area, while also opening up these significant projects to substantial community outreach and input.  Additional information about the Commission’s recommendation, as well as background information about the Commission’s process, the moratorium and previous public comments, are provided below.

Relevant Documents

Listed in reverse chronological order:

Planning Commission Recommendation Letter - January 4, 2012 
Planning Commission Findings and Recommendations Report - January 4, 2012 Attachment A - Proposed Code Amendments - January 4, 2012
Attachment B - Map of Areas Affected - January 4, 2012 
Summary of Public Comments and Staff Responses Report - December 13, 2011
Oral Testimony Received by Planning Commission - December 7, 2011 
Written Testimony Received by Planning Commission
Planning Commission Public Hearing Report - December 7, 2011
Planning Commission Public Hearing Notice - December 7, 2011
Planning Commission Public Review Package - December 7, 2011
Planning Commission Review Packet November 2, 2011
Substitute Ordinance No. 28027 - November 1, 2011
PowerPoint Presentation to City Council - October 25, 2011
City Council Public Hearing Notice - October 25, 2011
Planning Commission Recommendation - Summary - October 19, 2011
Planning Commission Letter of Recommendation - October 19, 2011
Planning Commission Findings and Recommendations - October 19, 2011
Planning Commission Review Packet - October 19, 2011
Oral and Written Comments Received Through October 7, 2011
Planning Commission Public Hearing Notice - October 5, 2011
Planning Commission Public Hearing Packet - October 5, 2011
PowerPoint Presentation - October 5, 2011
Planning Commission Agenda Packet  - October 5, 2011 
Planning Commission Agenda Packet - September 21, 2011
PowerPoint Presentation - September 21, 2011
Large Scale Retail Moratorium - Ordinance No. 28014 - August 30, 2011  


At the City Council meeting of August 30, 2011, Ordinance No. 28014 was adopted, which put in place a six-month emergency moratorium (effective through February 29, 2012) that prohibits the filing or acceptance of applications for land use, building or other development permits associated with the establishment, location, or permitting of retail sales establishments with a floor area greater than 65,000 square feet in size within the City.  As stated in the ordinance, the purpose of the moratorium is to allow time for the City to review and consider whether City’s code should be amended to address the impacts, particularly economic, environmental and social, and/or to provide mitigation requirements for large retail sales establishments.


The Tacoma Municipal Code  addresses moratoria in Chapter 13.02.055.  The City Council referred the moratorium to the Planning Commission to develop findings and recommendations addressing, at a minimum: Whether the emergency moratorium is needed? If so, what is the appropriate duration of the moratorium?

The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on October 5, and made its recommendations to the City Council on October 19.  The Commission recommended that (1) the moratorium is needed; (2) the duration of 6 months be extended to 12 months, until August 30, 2012; (3) the moratorium be applicable to only Community and Urban Mixed-Use Centers; (4) the moratorium should only apply to new large scale retail buildings, substantial alterations of an existing large scale retail building, and additions to an existing large scale retail building that creates an increase of more than 10% in square footage; and (5) the moratorium should not apply to minor alterations and tenant improvements for existing large scale retail buildings; nor should it apply to the re-use of an existing large scale retail building.

On October 25, 2011, the City Council conducted a public hearing and the first reading of Ordinance No. 28027, concerning the Planning Commission's findings and recommendations.  On November 1, 2011, the Council adopted Substitute Ordinance No. 28027 to retain the moratorium.  The Council accepted the Planning Commission's findings and recommendations, except that the duration of the moratorium was maintained at 6 months and the geographical applicability of the moratorium was maintained as citywide.

Staff Contact

Brian Boudet
(253) 573-2389