Will James | KNKX

Will James

South Sound Reporter

Will James covers the South Sound region, as well as housing and immigration issues, for KNKX. He came to the station from Newsday in his home state of New York. 

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Will James / KNKX

Residents of the Tiki Apartments in Tacoma say they know their complex is run down. 

But they say it's served as a refuge for renters who struggle to find apartments elsewhere, including people with disabilities, fixed incomes, or criminal records. 

Will James / KNKX

Phil Elverum's wife died in a spare room on the second floor of their house in Anacortes, Wash.

After that day in 2016, Elverum made an effort to cut the room off from the rest of the house. He threw open its lone window and closed the door, ceding the space to the rain, leaves, and birds that flew in. 

"I just wanted to air it out, neturalize the room," he said, "and let whatever thoughts and feelings were in here dissipate."

Then, one day, he opened the door again. 

"Gig Harbor, Washington State, USA" by Rick Obst is licensed under CC by 2.0 https://bit.ly/2Iuu4mr

All around the Puget Sound region, growing cities are scrambling to make room for new residents. 

But leaders in Gig Harbor, home to some of the region's wealthiest ZIP codes, are moving in the opposite direction, prompting a warning from state officials concerned about efforts to restrict home construction there. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Seattle City Council passed a "head tax" on businesses in a 9-0 vote Monday, following weeks of debate that dominated city politics and came down to last-minute negotiations over the weekend. 

Will James / KNKX

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said the City Council's proposal to tax businesses, in its current form, does not meet her "requirements."

Durkan has the power to veto the hotly-debated "head tax," though she has not said whether she would do so.

The tax would charge Seattle's largest companies $500 per employee to fund solutions to the city's housing crisis. It's estimated to raise $75 million per year.

In a statement, she indicated she wants changes to the current legislation. She raised questions about the size of the tax and how long it should last.

Will James / KNKX

Health officials have linked two cases of Hepatitis C to a nurse in a Pierce County emergency room who may have shared needles with unwitting patients, hospital officials said Monday.

Courtesy of Tiki Tenants Organizing Committee

A mass eviction from a Tacoma apartment complex is causing city leaders to take a hard look at tenant protections that have lagged behind Seattle's. 

The Puget Sound Region Prepares For May Day

Apr 26, 2018
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Local leaders, police and businesses around the Puget Sound region are preparing for May Day on Tuesday.

May Day is International Workers Day. In Seattle and other Northwest cities, it has become a day of protest for immigrant and workers rights where demonstrations are routinely quite large and have in recent years turned violent.

Will James / KNKX

Sometimes, lifting families out of homelessness requires a large investment of government time and money.

Other times, it just requires a light touch at a critical moment. 

"ST Light Rail Train" by VeloBusDriver is licensed under CC by 2.0 https://bit.ly/2IONSN9

An unbroken chain of light rail is going to connect Seattle and Tacoma by the year 2030, if all goes according to Sound Transit leaders' plans. 

They're meeting with residents in Tacoma and Federal Way this week to discuss a crucial, final link in that route.

Will James / KNKX

Tacoma City Council members voted Tuesday to allow up to six legal tent cities or other temporary shelters to open throughout the city.

That could give Tacoma a total of seven legal encampments, even more than Seattle's six.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Local leaders across Washington have launched legal campaigns against companies that make and distribute opioid painkillers, saying false advertising is partially to blame for widespread addiction. 

But for one of the counties hit hardest by the crisis, the decision to sue is a matter of debate and a question of resources. 

Will James / KNKX

Leaders in Tacoma could allow up to six legal tent cities to open. The move is part of a yearlong shift in the way city officials manage homelessness.

"Last light on Mt. Rainier, seen from Orting, WA" by ingawh is licensed under CC by 2.0 https://bit.ly/2pOJOo3

Traffic is one of the most visible consequences of our region’s population growth.

It’s getting worse around Seattle. It’s getting worse around Tacoma.

But it's also getting worse in the farthest reaches of rural Pierce County. And local leaders say it's more than a mere inconvenience. 

Will James / KNKX

 


To stand outside Bob’s Bar-B-Q Pit in Tacoma is to see a gentrification wave just beginning to curl.

 

A block away, a new artisanal coffee shop is brewing. Down the street, a developer plans to build an apartment building with studios renting for up to $1,400 a month.

 

But to walk inside Bob’s is to walk into the past.

 

Will James / KNKX

Crowds have cleared since this weekend's rallies against gun violence, but students leading local demonstrations say they have no intention of stopping.

Darryl Dyck / AP Photo/The Canadian Press

Pierce County leaders took a first step Monday toward banning safe-injection sites in unincorporated parts of the county. 

A committee of the County Council voted 2-1 to send the proposal to the full council, where members could take a final vote as early as May. 

Courtesy of the city of Olympia

Leaders in Olympia are trying to adapt to changing demographics and make room for an influx of new residents, but their plan is rankling some homeowners.

City leaders are considering changes to zoning across roughly two-thirds of the city that would allow for more of what they call "missing middle" housing in single-family neighborhoods.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Seattle City Council is reconsidering a "head tax" on businesses to pay for housing and homeless services after council members failed to pass such a tax last year.

PAULA WISSEL / KNKX

Activists and officials on the front lines of the fight against homelessness in Washington say they just had their most successful legislative session in recent history.

"Amazon headquarters sphere domes" by Kiewic is licensed under CC by 2.0 https://bitly.com/

Business leaders in King and Pierce counties took stock of the local economy at two separate summits Thursday, as they sought ways to harness the region's record job growth to solve pervasive problems.

"Theater District Light Rail Stop" by Paul Sableman is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2H4hwwU

A swath of Tacoma has made one company's list of the "most gentrified" ZIP codes in the United States.

Courtesy of the Thurston Conservation District

An election at a Thurston County land stewardship board is getting more attention than usual.

Saturday's election for an open seat on the Thurston Conservation District's board comes as the body faces a state investigation into allegations of dysfunction. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

More than 18,000 foreign workers, most of them from Mexico, traveled legally to Washington last year to labor on the state's farms, largely in the apple, pear, and cherry industries.

Recent high-profile lawsuits have thrust the state into a debate about the benefits and shortcomings of the H-2A visa program, which allows farmers to import temporary workers from other countries to make up for labor shortages at home.

Will James / KNKX

If you've ever stayed home sick from school or played hooky from work, you've probably found yourself watching "The Price is Right." 

It takes one look at the TV game show's screaming, jumping live studio audience to realize: This show has some pretty intense fans.

One Northwest family may rule them all.

No fewer than three members of the Goss family have been told to "Come on down!" and compete on the show over the past 22 years. All three walked away with prizes, with two members of the family winning "showcase" hauls worth tens of thousands of dollars.

"OUTSIDE NWDC" BY SEATTLE GLOBALIST IS LICENSED UNDER CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/2EN7Dav

A guard punched a detainee at a Tacoma detention center for immigrants facing deportation in retaliation for a hunger strike, a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington claims.

"construction continues on the Olympia City Hall" by Jason Taellious is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2GEKBPv

Stemming a tide of homelessness on the West Coast is hard enough for major cities like Seattle, where coffers are full of tax revenue from technology companies and generous levies.

When you're running a smaller city like Olympia, where the budget is about one-fortieth the size of Seattle's, the task can be even harder. 

Courtesy of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce

As Tacoma's mayor, Marilyn Strickland was known for traveling the world to court investors and promote her city as a place to do business.

Raccoons at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

If you visit Tacoma's Point Defiance Park most any afternoon, you'll see raccoons lounging about the trails by day, often next to signs warning visitors to not feed them. 

If you drive slowly enough through the park's roads, they might rush out of the misty old-growth forest to greet you, tiny paws outstretched for food. If you're on a bike, they might scurry after you for a stretch.

Elaine Thompston / AP Photo

Experts are still searching for lessons from an Amtrak derailment in Pierce County that killed three people on Dec. 18, 2017. 

Some blame the lack of a computerized safety system called positive train control, which was not yet operational on the route. Others question the design of the just-opened track, where the train was making its inaugural trip with passengers. 

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