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How we’ll help protect your health with a proposed South Tacoma warehouse complex.

We’ve heard recently from residents in our South Tacoma Community of Focus about a proposed development.

A developer called Bridge Industrial bought land at 5024 S. Madison St. and applied for permits to build a warehouse complex there. 

Residents of the area told us they’re concerned about health effects like increased truck traffic, air pollution near schools and homes, and groundwater protection. 

Thank you for making your voice heard. Engaged communities are healthier communities. 

We play three roles to help protect your health during this process.

We help with environmental review.  

We contribute to the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review and give written comment to the lead agency. In this case, that’s the City of Tacoma and we’ll provide comments by April 21. 

We don’t yet know about the effects of potential increased traffic in the area. We do know the health effects of poor air quality can harm people. 

People who make less money and racially, ethnically, and socially marginalized communities already suffer more from underlying health conditions. That means those groups suffer more from poor air quality. 

We have limited regulatory authority in the South Tacoma Groundwater Protection District (STGPD). It applies to businesses within the district with hazardous substances or infiltration systems. We might be involved again once it’s clear what the business and activities on the property will be. 

Trees frame a landscape view from a hill on the site of a proposed warehouse complex in South Tacoma

Current zoning regulations permit projects like this. We’re currently working with the City on South Tacoma Neighborhood Council’s proposal to update the regulation and create an Environmental Green Zone. 

But how can the current process make room to fully consider health? Health Impact Assessments evaluate the possible unintended consequences of development. Our Board of Health passed a resolution in 2016 recommending City of Tacoma assess the health impacts of large projects. Our SEPA response will include a recommendation for a Health Impact Assessment on this proposed development. 

We elevate community health messages. 

It’s important to consider the people decisions will affect. We appreciate the City of Tacoma is taking time to hear more from the community on this development, because civically engaged communities are healthier communities

City of Tacoma will hold a virtual meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 14. It will provide project information and hear public comments. You can find details about that meeting and the project on the City’s website. 

If the project is approved, we urge the City to make room for more public comment and community partnership. Explore, with the community, how this proposal could improve the neighborhood:

  • Jobs are good, but development can have unintended consequences. 
  • How can the City and the developer ensure future tenants become good neighbors and their presence a community asset—not just an employer? 
  • And finally, how will the project affect health?
    • What will it mean for air and water quality? For walkability and livability?

Regulatory permitting processes should make room to consider how development will affect community health.

We’re the reliable source of public health information and policy. 

Third, we’ll provide you with accurate local health information. Based on what we know about the proposal:

  • Part of the land was a Superfund site and the Federal Government remediated—or cleaned it up. Some contaminants remain in the north part of the site.
  • The owners must continue the cleanup if they develop the site. State and federal agencies will closely monitor the work.
  • The property owners and businesses will be required to follow state and local environmental regulations to protect groundwater and other resources.  
  • The owners must reduce the risk of harm to environmental and human health from any non-permitted use or misuse of the site. 

We also know people who live near the site care about their community and health. Health Impact Assessments help decision-makers consider health in policymaking. 

An HIA should help all stakeholders learn more about:

  • Diesel fumes.
  • Air quality.
  • Other public health concerns not covered in the routine SEPA review.

We urge the City to take time in this process to consider health. Decisions today should support better health outcomes for this community in the future.

Learn more at tpchd.org/healthequity and view Policies to Advance Health EquitySubscribe to the Your Reliable Source blog to keep up with the latest local public health information.