A judge in Pierce County has thrown out two initiatives aimed at giving people in Tacoma a bigger say in development projects. The group “Save Tacoma Water” circulated petitions for two ballot measures. They would have required a public vote on development projects planning to use more than a million gallons of water a day.
Michael LaFreniere is the spokesman for the grassroots group Save Tacoma Water. He says today’s ruling undermines the ability of citizens to put forward local initiatives.
“Effectively the local initiative power here in Washington has been torn up by its roots by the courts. Local citizens are steadily losing the power of local self-determination,” said LaFreniere.
Business groups, including the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and the Port of Tacoma, said the measures interfered with the city’s power to administer water services and worried they would stifle economic growth if approved. The chamber called the decision, “good news for the future economic health of Tacoma.”
Meahwhile, “Save Tacoma Water” is still figuring out its next move. LaFreniere says that could range from an appeal, to seeking the recall of elected officials who the group says are dismissive of citizen concerns.