COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OPEN HOUSE AND PUBLIC HEARING Monday, November 6 Orting Multipurpose Center Open House: 6:00 – 7:00 PM Planning Commission Public Hearing – 7:00 PM ORTING IS GROWING! The City will hold a public open house discussion followed by the Planning Commission’s Public Hearing to receive citizen’s comments. City staff will be available to… Continue Reading
Crime Report Data Is Now Available “On-Line” Hope you like the new service available to explore our local community police incidents. Currently, only those incidents where a police report was written are displayed. We hope in the not too distant future to have all incidents available even when a formal report is not made. Have… Continue Reading
On Thursday morning, July 13, 2017, an Orting speed emphasis on Harman Way observed a vehicle at 30mph in a 25mph zone. When pulled over the driver stated he did not have his license with him, and gave a false name. Further investigation led to his real name and a computer check showed he had an outstanding felony DOC warrant for Escape, and additionally he had four outstanding misdemeanor warrants.
Needles were observed in the vehicle. A subsequent search revealed approximately 20 hypodermic needles and a quantity of methamphetamine.
The driver was booked into the Pierce County Jail on all warrants and Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance. Continue Reading
The recent death of young Cody Breslin has been a shock and a wakeup call for our community. I have seen various communications about the circumstances around his death and I wanted to take a moment to let you know what I know so far.
Until the Medical Examiner rules what the cause of death was, our police actions are limited. The death occurred at what many in our community call “the farm”. I know that this property has a history of being used for illegal activities. The police chief has shared with me that the police have responded to more than 30 incidents at this place in the last couple of years.
What Has the City Been Doing?
About 2 years ago the city forced the owner of the land to tear down one of the barns because of code violations. We were aware that people were using this barn for shelter and suspected drug use. Our code enforcement officer attended additional training this past year for up-to-date legal information on how to close down properties where illegal activity is common.
Recently the city participated in the successful prosecution of one of the residents of the farm. He is now serving a two year sentence. The City has also been working with Pierce County and the State of Washington to investigate this property for civil violations.
At the March 8th City Council meeting our attorney introduced the draft of an ordinance for the Declaration and Abatement of Chronic Nuisance Properties. To speed things up, the Council will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, March 14th at 7:00 pm. to act on this legislation.
You might also be aware that the Orting Police, with the aid of surrounding Police Departments recently shut down a drug house near the Post Office.
Illegal drugs are the scourge of our time and have been for the last 60 years. Addiction seems to be at an all-time high. The crimes that are attached to this illegal activity are many and increasing. I am committed to the full investigation and prosecution of illegal drug activity in our town. It will not be easy. It seems our courts and laws tend to favor the perpetrator more than the victims. I will need your assistance in keeping your eyes open and letting our police department know about any illegal drug activity that you might be aware of. Continue Reading
My wife, Jeannie Pestinger, has lived here for 40 years. She remembers the simpler life when the population was around 1,500 and the highway was lined with daffodil fields. She has seen many changes and appreciates the city’s efforts in guiding responsible growth since then.
In 1974 the State Legislature passed the Growth Management Act (GMA). Its purpose was to make the best use of space and infrastructure resources by concentrating building density in urban areas (cities) and not in unincorporated and more rural areas. Washington is a very attractive state. Millions of people still plan to move here in the future. More than a million are expected to come to the Puget Sound area in the next 30 years. Orting’s comprehensive plan must be approved annually by the State and County to ensure it meets GMA guidelines.
The City only has jurisdiction over growth and facilities within its boundaries, such as sewer, storm water, water utilities and internal roads. We have no control over SR162 or County roads outside of our boundaries. Even any work we do on SR162 inside the City requires State approval and permitting. However, the City can politically lobby the State and County for improvements. We do that regularly and we work together with surrounding cities.
A Building Moratorium
The City can only enforce a building moratorium if it can prove it doesn’t have adequate utilities or facilities to accommodate growth… Right now the City’s sewer, water, and storm water facilities are built for 9,000 people. Our current population is about 7,500. Any attempt to stop the final build-out of our City could expose the City to potential legal action. The City would likely lose any suits, and would be forced to approve development, pay all legal fees, and those costs would ultimately be passed on to our citizens in the form of taxes etc. It may feel good to try and stop the growth but in the end that decision would be costly to all of us and we would still end up with growth.
All new developments must provide an independent Traffic Impact Study. When impacts reach certain State limits (in the City) the developer must mitigate impacts, usually with left and right turn lanes. Additionally, all new homes must pay impact fees. This includes paying for a portion of the sewer, water, storm, school, traffic, and parks fees, and building permit fees. The average amount paid is approximately $20,000 per residence.
State Route SR 162
The City has worked hard at trying to get the State to improve SR162 to Sumner. We just participated in a study with them that shows that even with a 5 lane road to Sumner the trip will take almost as long as with just 2 lanes unless SR 167, SR 410 and the overpass are fixed. However, in the interim WSDOT will probably do some minor fixes on SR 162 to improve the highway with left and right turn lanes.
So Here We Are
Our best bet to manage our growth is to make sure developers meet our standards and provide transportation improvements when we can legally require them to do so. We should continue to lobby the State and County for transportation improvements in our region and be willing to pay our share for it.
The City is also working on the “Southwest Connector” between Whitehawk Blvd. and Calistoga Street to move through-traffic out of the downtown core and speed up the SR 162 commute. 60% to 70% of the traffic on SR162 at rush hour is actually not from Orting residents. These are commuters from South Hill, Graham and even Eatonville who are trying to find the fastest way home. We cannot stop them from coming. We are trying to get grants from the Legislature and the County for this multi-million dollar project.
On the east side of our valley we are trying to limit additional growth of the Tehaleh development through political lobbying. I’m grateful that I have been selected by the Pierce County Regional Council to represent most Pierce County cities and towns on the Executive Board of the Puget Sound Regional Council. The board develops long-range traffic and growth control plans and distributes federal funds to the 4-county region.
Recently most of the land along SR 162 has been zoned Agricultural Resource Land by the County. Only one house per 20 acres can be built, which means that the population of the valley will remain very close to what it is now.
We all love living in Western Washington but so do many other people. We have hazards we must prepare for as well. I say let’s love living here and make the most of our opportunities. I’ve talked about a lot of different issues here. If you’d like to talk more please call or send me an email. You can also speak with our City Administrator, Mark Bethune, if I am not available. Thanks for reading this. Continue Reading
22 December 2016 – Orting Police Department
Today Orting Police Department (PD) assisted Vancouver, WA, PD & the Pierce County Sheriffs’ Department in the arrest of an alleged sexually violent predator. The male suspect was wanted on three counts of Rape of a Child & three counts of Molestation. Although the suspect was thought to be in Tacoma, WA, information came available from Pierce County Sheriffs’ Department, which indicated he was in Orting. Upon learning of this information, Orting PD acted immediately to locate the individual and successfully bring him into custody. He is being transported to Pierce County jail and then he will be moved to Vancouver for arraignment. Continue Reading
As we come to the end of 2016, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I’ll be writing more often, hopefully monthly, in the “Mayor’s Corner”.
The City Council passed the 2017 budget on Wednesday December 14th. One of the Council’s goals has been a balanced budget, especially in the “General Fund”. It pays for police, court, administration, finance, and the recreation and building departments. We have other funds for streets, parks, and utilities. General Fund revenues are a portion of your property taxes, sales tax, the tax levied on power, phone, and cable services, as well as fines/penalties from the court. The General Fund includes a balance for Reserves. Reserves pay the bills from January to May until property taxes are due. They also help us withstand recessions and emergencies so that we don’t need to reduce services to our citizens.
New home construction has greatly helped the General Fund during the last few years. So while we currently bring in more revenue than expenses, this due to extra building activity, future activity is an unknown and can fluctuate. If construction was at a more normal rate we would actually face a deficit of about $100,000. Therefore I recommended to Council that we add a utility tax of 2.5% because we cannot depend on unknown future building activity. This increase would have raised your monthly utility bill by about $2.50 a month (less for seniors and the disabled). The state gave cities this taxing authority about 30 years ago because they realized how difficult it was, especially for smaller cities, to pay for government. Most cities in the state adopted the tax. Orting is one of only three cities that has not adopted it. None of us like tax increases, but I have come to see how important it is to sufficiently fund city governments and still hold them accountable and wise in how the funds are used. Council members asked me to take this out of the 2017 Budget while they wrestle some more with how to close the gap. I agreed.
The Council approved a utility rate increase on December 14, 2016.th. Your monthly utility bill will go up about $6 a month, again less for seniors and the disabled. There are miles and miles of utility pipes and lines with an estimated value of about $100 million in town. Some of these are very old and will need replacement. We also must keep up with state requirements to improve our utility systems. Since our utility bills are 20% below our neighbors in this region, the Department of Health is very concerned that we will not have the money for needed repairs and replacements. I disagree with their concerns and want to assure you that our utilities are in good order.
We expect construction to begin early spring on a left turn lane on Washington Avenue at Whitesell. I suspect that you are as frustrated as I am in trying to get to Safeway and other stores in Pioneer Village or getting stuck in a long line behind those trying to make that left turn. The City received a million dollar grant from the state to fund most of this project and the rest of the expense comes from transportation impact fees paid by developers.
Another big issue for 2017 is that we are looking at the potential of selling the Public Safety Building to the Fire District as they need to expand. If this occurs we will need to build a police station and a place for council and court to conduct business. We are having our city planner conduct a facilities planning process to help us determine the best path for this work. We have a committee that is made up of citizens and other stakeholders to help us make the best decision. We are a growing city with an old infrastructure and need to make updates. One of the alternatives that I favor is to tear down the old city hall and build a two story building that can offer one stop service from the City.
Wishing you and yours the very best,
Joachim ‘Joe’ Pestinger,
Mayor, City of Orting. Continue Reading
Please remember to purchase your 2016 City licenses for pets and business. Downloads: Business License Application Continue Reading
Basic Physical Defense for Orting Women Four Orting women completed a “pilot” class in women’s self-defense on March 13th in preparation for offering the course to the Orting community. The pilot course, called “Basic Physical Defense for Women,” was a course developed by Rape Aggression Defense Systems, Inc. (R.A.D. Systems). The course consisted of 14… Continue Reading